mReview: Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i-S e-Boxer EyeSight – The Cross-trainer Of Crossovers

Published by on . Updated on 30 Dec 2023
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Go-everywhere capability, do-everything versatility and all-day driveability come together in Subaru’s compact SUV.

The new Crosstrek replaces the old XV, which was the first Subaru SUV with all four of the automaker’s core technologies – Subaru Global Platform, Subaru boxer engine, Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and EyeSight.

The “Crosstrek” name is not new though, having already been used in North America for years while the rest of the world, including Japan, simply called it “XV”. This rationalisation was overdue, not only because the “XV Crosstrek” is an almost international model which doesn’t need regional differentiation, but also because it’s probably more cost-effective to produce one set of model-name emblems instead of two. “Crosstrek” also sounds suitably outdoorsy, like “Forester” and “Outback”, Subaru’s other SUVs. 

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1702229142699 D38 V0928 FotorThe Crosstrek rides comfortably and handles confidently, more so than the XV. 

In its latest third-generation form, the Crosstrek persists with the same core technologies which defined the previous XV but improves nearly everything, starting with the exterior.

Size-wise, the Crosstrek is still clearly smaller than the Forester, but now shares the same wheelbase (2,670 mm, up from 2,665 mm) as Subaru’s most popular SUV. It’s a bit shorter from bumper to bumper, by 5 mm, than the XV and its roofline is a little lower, by 15 mm. The Crosstrek continues to be a genuine off-roader despite its suburbanite mission, so it still comes with roof rails and a generous ground clearance of 220 mm, which is again shared with the rugged Forester.

The Crosstrek design is distinctive in any cluster of Japanese crossovers, and leans more towards the sporty side of the sport-utility equation than the more utilitarian XV. 

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1702229206627 D38 V0900 FotorCrosstrek design is distinctive in any cluster of Japanese crossovers, especially in Oasis Blue.

The bigger and bolder grille, for instance, is a hexagonal mesh affair with a touch of new-gen WRX, and the 18-inch alloy wheels are styled like shuriken ninja stars which definitely didn’t come from a Ninja Van. The tusk-like bumper claddings and chunky fender claddings look pretty rugged, while the perky rear end with its C-shaped tail-light clusters is like a compacted Outback. 

Three fresh paint jobs were formulated just for the Crosstrek – Oasis Blue (on the test-car), which reminds me of Doraemon; Offshore Blue, which looks almost gray under certain conditions; and Sun Blaze Pearl, which is a dramatic burst of orange.

Less eye-catching but useful are the aerodynamic details which enhance the car’s driving stability – an air outlet at the trailing edge of each front wheel arch allows moving air to exit from the wheel well more freely and hence reduce the effect of front-tyre lift, while another air outlet at each side of the rear bumper reduces the trapping of air which could cause body sway.

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The performance provided by the 2-litre e-Boxer petrol-electric engine (pictured above) is always adequate and, if needed, gentle and relaxed, but it’s a mild hybrid setup which is neither powerful enough to feel zippy nor economical enough to feel thrifty. That being said, the Crosstrek e-Boxer is noticeably punchier than the Forester e-Boxer while returning similar mileage, mainly because the smaller Subaru is about 100 kg lighter.

On the move, the Crosstrek rides comfortably and handles confidently, more so than the XV. The electronic power steering (a dual-pinion system related to the one in the current WRX) feels natural in the hands and flows well with how the car changes direction.   

To the Crosstrek’s credit, the ride remains comfortable and the handling stays confident regardless of terrain and weather, because this is a true all-wheel-drive machine, complete with Subaru’s X-Mode system that makes every off-road venture a walk in the park, even for the urban dweller on a driveaway holiday whose idea of a slope is a mall ramp. 

When the going gets tough, such as “ponding” or potholes or dirty/hilly/sandy/grassy/muddy ground, or a disaster-zone combination of all these tricky driving conditions at the same time and place, the tough Crosstrek keeps going. 

Admittedly, the drive-anywhere ability of the Crosstrek, or the Forester for that matter, might be vehicular overkill for Singapore where crazy school runs and busy multi-storey carparks are the usual challenges, but it could mean the difference between going somewhere and getting stuck in rough-and-tumble parts of Asia such as Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Taiwan. 

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1702229675882 D38 V0943 FotorCrosstrek interior is a huge upgrade from XV's in design, quality, equipment and feel-good factor.

Despite the Crosstrek’s toughness, it has a welcoming interior which is a huge upgrade from the XV’s in design flair, perceived quality, modern conveniences and feel-good factor, although the overall cabin space for four adults is largely unchanged. The boot (pictured below) seems to have shrunk a bit, but with its tonneau cover, cargo net hooks and bag hooks, it is practical enough for whatever cargo a Crosstrek is expected to transport. The front seats are supportive and the backseat space is decent.   

The cockpit’s centrepiece is an 11.6-inch infotainment touchscreen, which also takes pride of place in the WRX Sedan, WRX Wagon and Outback. 

The operation/customisation/visualisation of driving information, entertainment options (including wireless Apple CarPlay, wireless Android Auto and both USB-A and USB-C ports) and vehicle settings is easy, and speedy once you get the hang of it. The combo of physical switches and digital buttons is logical. The instrument cluster retains analogue meters, with a 4.2-inch LCD multi-info display in between, which is another physical-digital combo that works well.

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The Crosstrek’s nifty Driver Monitoring System (DMS), also found in the Forester, WRX and Outback, not only looks out for signs of distracted, tired or drowsy driving and alerts the driver accordingly, it also uses facial recognition to register up to five different drivers and recall their preferred configurations for seat, mirrors, driving data and last-used climate setting.

The DMS is helpful and the “tablet” is fancy, but the Crosstrek’s greatest piece of kit is EyeSight, Subaru’s signature safety gadget. This is the newest enhanced version which integrates a third, monocular camera to supplement the pair of stereo cameras and widen the system’s field of detection. Better software maximises the better hardware.

My experience with the Crosstrek EyeSight system went beyond the shores of Singapore to include a one-week Seattle road trip and a Taipei airport run with a long detour. 

The Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) is smoother than ever in its automated acceleration/deceleration and really quick when detecting/tracking a vehicle in front, while the ACC Lane Centering Function provides just the right amount of steering control to keep the Crosstrek smack in the middle of its traffic lane. The Pre-Collision Braking, tested in a Motor Image Taiwan circuit with “pedestrian” standees and all, is reliable and effective, and would be a potential lifesaver.

The real killer in the case of the Crosstrek in Singapore is the prevailing COE price for Category B. The Subaru cross-trainer of crossovers can overcome many obstacles, but not the high wall of high COE.

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Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i-S e-Boxer EyeSight
Price (at time of publishing): $184,800 including COE  VES Band: B
Boxer 4-cylinder 16-valve hybrid

1,995 cc
Power & Torque:
150 bhp @ 5,800-6,000 rpm 
& 196 Nm @ 4,000 rpm
7-speed Lineatronic CVT
Driven Wheels:
14.5 km/L
0-100 km/h:
10.5 seconds
Top Speed:
199 km/h
Fuel Tank Capacity:
48 litres
Dimensions (L x W x H):
4,480 mm x 1,800 mm 
x 1,600 mm
2,670 mm
Cargo Capacity:
315 - 1,314 litres

Read More: mReview: Subaru Forester e-Boxer MHEV 2.0i-S EyeSight - Still a Crowd Favourite

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