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My earliest memory of Subaru is at its stateside introduction, when entrepreneur Malcolm Bricklin imported Subaru’s not-ready-for-primetime Subaru 360 into these never-ready-for-it United States. As that initiative wound down Subaru’s product line revved up, with products more appropriate to this country’s import market. Beyond the 360, I clearly remember more conventional compacts – in the early ‘70s – at the Chicago Auto Show, and not too much later Subaru’s first 4WD wagon. That all-wheel drive recipe, roughly 50 years later, has evolved into another variant of Subaru’s Crosstrek, new for 2024.

With a quick glance you’ll be hard-pressed to recognize the differences between last year’s iteration and this new one. The Crosstrek keeps its tall wagon architecture, and while the sheetmetal has been redrawn, the visual differentiation is most obvious in the Crosstrek’s rubber cladding. That cladding, above the wheel openings and accenting both front and rear bumpers, isn’t as off-putting as that which ‘embraces’ Subaru’s newest Outback, but one look and you’ll have your broker buying Rubbermaid. To Subaru’s credit, our Premium trim, finished in Offshore Blue Metallic, presented an upscale vibe well north of the Crosstrek’s $30K window sticker.

Subaru’s support of U.S. National Parks is large – and ongoing.

My wife and I bought a Crosstrek in the summer of 2014, which was our second Subaru; in 2011 we had purchased a new Forester. Opting for a base trim level with the 2.0 liter boxer four and 5-speed manual transmission, the Crosstrek combined tight interior packaging with a tossable platform. And the manual trans made for a genuinely entertaining second car, despite the engine’s modest 148-hp output. The 2024 iteration offers a more substantial presence, despite the small uptick in overall dimensions. And with its emphasis on comfort over – at least figuratively – the earlier model’s cut-and-thrust capability, it feels more like a Buick (in the best sense) than anyone’s idea of a BMW.

Inside, that emphasis on comfort is reinforced by front buckets proportioned for American backsides rather than those in Subaru’s Japanese market. And while the foldable rear seat is still better geared for seating two rather than three, two adults can be genuinely comfortable. With that rear seat folded, you’ll find a flat expanse capable of swallowing just about anything you’d wish to throw in there. (Other than, you know…bodies. For that there’s the 3-row Ascent.)

Behind the wheel the driver is offered a clear display of info immediately in front, along with what can initially appear to be a confounding display of info in Subaru’s 11.6-inch Multimedia Plus system, available for the first time – in the Premium trim and up – in the Crosstrek lineup. Of course, within the course of a week we were reasonably comfortable with it, but for my money – such as it is – I’d opt to go for the standard-level screen, which is smaller and less (visually) intrusive.

If the dash tells you what’s going on under the hood, it’s Subaru’s flat four doing the work under that hood. Base and Premium trims of the Crosstrek offer a 2.0 liter Boxer 4-cylinder, delivering 152 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of torque. With the 2024 redesign a manual transmission is no longer available, so you’ll need to love/like/tolerate (or bemoan) Subaru’s CVT. The Continuously Variable Transmission, in almost all instances, boosts efficiency, but that efficiency comes with – in almost all instances – a mind-numbing drone at certain speeds. Subaru’s application is less irritating than many, but in the absence of genuine responsiveness (think 0-60 in under 10 seconds, but not much under…) you’ll want to have a distraction; perhaps you catch up on e-mails.

One trim level up from Premium is the Crosstrek Sport, which is the first in the lineup – with about a $3K bump – to supply a 2.5-liter engine with 30 more horses and 33 more lb-ft of torque. This drops the 0-60 time to 8.2 seconds (in Car and Driver testing), while giving you a slightly more expressive trim and ‘Sport’ – so your peeps will know you are one – badging.

If contemplating real utility along with all-season capability – on fire roads or what we today laughingly call ‘pavement’ – you can’t do much better than Subaru’s 2024 Crosstrek. I could see buying one for ourselves in the next year, and passing it along to our 10-year old grandson Rhys, when Rhys is licensed, ready to navigate between cars…and not – notably – into them.

Boldt, a contributor to outlets such as, Kelley Blue Book and Autoblog, brings to his laptop some forty years of experience in automotive retail, journalism and public relations. He is a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, The Washington Automotive Press Association and L.A.'s Motor Press Guild. David is the Managing Editor of txGarage, a regular panelist on the AutoNetwork Reports webcast/podcast, and the automotive contributor to Dallas' Katy Trail Weekly.

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