Subaru Outback Too Expensive for You? Try a Crosstrek

Need a smaller, cheaper alternative to the Subaru Outback with rugged style and off-road capability?

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The Subaru Outback is one of our favorite cars. Subie’s OG crossover / off-road station wagon is spacious and practical; it’s safe, handles well, and is ready for the worst weather conditions, thanks to Subaru’s outstanding all-wheel-drive system. It meets just about every need (except the one for speed). Indeed, it may be the best all-around family car on the market.

Now, the Outback is not super-expensive, with a starting price of $26,645. But that’s just the base model. To buy a well-appointed one, you need to level up to Premium trim, which starts at $28,895. For the more powerful turbo engine, you need at least the Onyx Edition XT trim that starts at $34,895. You can price an Outback past $40,000 if so inclined.

Scoring a cheaper Outback on the used market? Not that great of a value play. The Outback has exceptional resale value.

Maybe you love everything about the Outback, but the price is just too steep. Or you don’t need all that space; something similar but smaller and cheaper would fit you nicely. Well, you’re in luck, because Subaru sells a cat that fits that exact bill: the Crosstrek. It starts at just $22,145, and a well-outfitted Premium trim begins at $23,195.

The Crosstrek offers the same rugged style and capability.

The Crosstrek looks like a more compact Outback, with the same athletic style. It doesn’t just look the part, either; the Crosstrek also has Subaru’s all-wheel-drive system, and offers with the same Subie-standard 8.7-inch ground clearance as the Outback, Forester and Ascent.

The Crosstrek has a feature the Outback abandoned.

Both the base and Premium Crosstrek trims can be paired with a six-speed manual, which offers far more engagement than Subaru’s CVT. The Outback dropped the stick shift for the U.S. market when the fifth generation model debuted in 2015.

The Crosstrek now offers the Outback’s engine.

Subaru has resolved the Crosstrek’s biggest drawback, a lack of power. For 2021, the Crosstrek receives an optional 2.5-liter flat-four engine that puts out 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque — the former of which is a 30-hp bump.

The Crosstrek is still (relatively) spacious.

Where the Crosstrek struggles to match up with the Outback is cargo space. The Outback crushes a lot of rivals with its voluminous 75.7 cubic feet of potential trunk volume. The Crosstrek does not skimp on space for its size, however, delivering 55.3 cubic feet of potential storage room.

Just be wary of other Crosstrek drivers.

Statistically, Subaru Crosstrek drivers are the most likely to be involved in accidents. But that’s probably due more to the youth of many Crosstrek drivers than the car itself.

Buy Now: $22,145

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