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Subaru Crosstrek Suddenly Sees Brand's Biggest Decline, Last Year It Was The Mega-Star

In the first six months of 2019, Subaru Crosstrek sees the brand’s biggest decline. Last year it was the hottest model in the lineup. What changed?

Last year, the Subaru Crosstrek was the brand’s mega-star achieving a new annual sales record with 144,384 units sold to customers in 2018. Through the first six months of 2019, the small SUV has seen the biggest drop in the Subaru all-wheel-drive stable. Crosstrek is down -21.5 percent for the year, the brand’s biggest decline of any of their all-wheel-drive SUVs.

What changed for the sought-after Crosstrek? Did the popular recreation-purposed “go-anywhere” vehicle, that’s been so favored with an active group of buyers, all of a sudden become irrelevant? In an interview with Ward’s Auto, Tom Doll, president, and CEO-Subaru of America says “Our biggest issue is we don’t have enough supply.”

2019 Subaru CrosstrekCrosstrek Supply issues

The problem with Subaru Crosstrek is not with the vehicle itself, but with Subaru Corporation not being able to supply enough of the small SUVs to customers here in the U.S. market. Earlier this year, Subaru lost nearly 10 days of factory output as it stopped production at its sole assembly plant in Japan to address a problem with electric power-steering units in Crosstrek and Forester vehicles. Subaru said that shutdown could cripple shipments to the U.S. alone by 10,000 vehicles and possibly more.

Torque News asked a Subaru dealer near Denver what they are experiencing and why the Crosstrek sales have dropped so much from last year. The source told us “We haven’t seen a lack of demand here at our dealership, we are selling them almost as fast as Subaru is sending them to us.”

2019 Subaru CrosstrekSubaru Crosstrek is Japan built

The Crosstrek is only built at the factory in Japan and not here in the U.S. like Outback, Ascent, Impreza, and Legacy. Supply of those vehicles has remained steady unlike shipments of the Crosstrek SUV from the factory in Gunma. Subaru has to supply the Crosstrek not only to the U.S. but an entire global market.

2019 Subaru Crosstrek

There are still plenty of customers looking for a new 2019 Subaru Crosstrek, but they are having to wait for the model and color they want. Subaru Corp is still playing catch up from the glitch that shut down the plant from January 16 through January 28. Subaru just expanded the plant in Lafayette, Indiana to build the new Ascent family hauler. It looks like they need to expand again and build the in-demand Crosstrek in the U.S. too. Stay tuned.

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Photo credit: Subaru USA


janice jones (not verified)    July 6, 2019 - 10:25AM

I have a Crosstrek, 2018 Limited. Early on, I complained that the transmission slips. I took it to a Dealer who said it wasn't enough to bother with. A Subaru rep contacted me, I thought the issue would be resolved. She never contacted me again.At low speeds, accelerating or de accelerating, very jumpy.

Matt (not verified)    July 6, 2019 - 2:17PM

In reply to by janice jones (not verified)

Mine does something similar but it isn't slip, it's just engine breaking because it is in a low effective gear ratio. I like it because it means I have to do less actual breaking in traffic. I let the engine do it for me.

Janice (not verified)    July 7, 2019 - 11:18AM

In reply to by Matt (not verified)

My Crosstrek is my 5th. Subaru. The slip or jump or lurch happens in acceleration or slowing between 20-26 mile speed.
After 4 Outbacks, cannot imagine what is wrong. I lease my cars, so probably Honda next time.
Outbacks are a great wagon. So far.

VS (not verified)    January 9, 2020 - 1:52AM

In reply to by Matt (not verified)

That CVT erked me to no end, the square wheel, warped rotor feel in traffic, the shuddering that wind up car feeling. Had a 2014 Crosstrek nothing but issues. After being a big Subaru fan, I will never again buy a (Subaru) CVT. Got a conventional 6 speed auto transmission and 2.4 liter GDI and AWD, couldn't be happier, smooth and moves when I expect it to. Good Luck

Alan (not verified)    July 6, 2019 - 5:56PM

In reply to by janice jones (not verified)

I too have a 2018 Crosstrek Limited with a similar problem. I call it a lurch.. Sometimes when slowing down prior to stopping, like at a stop sign, when I take my foot off the brake pedal expecting a gentle roll, the car lurches forward with unwanted and unexpected acceleration. It’s dangerous. My Subaru dealer (in California) said it’s a common complaint and there is no fix for it. Also, the car sometimes rolls effortlessly at 25 - 40 mph and sometimes rolls with a drag, a jerky braking effect that slows down the speed. Very annoying. Honda does CVT well. Subaru not very well.

Matt (not verified)    July 6, 2019 - 2:37PM

The article argues against the title by saying the dealers can't keep the vehicles on lots. This is positive for the brand is it not?

Molly (not verified)    July 6, 2019 - 4:01PM

I have one I will sell you. I am going back to Ford. Less than 54k miles and the bearings went bad. At 60k they wanted a thousand dollars to do the recommended maintenance, which included changing all the spark plugs...At 60k it should still be in good shape. Low quality car..

Natalia (not verified)    July 6, 2019 - 7:02PM

As someone with a crosstrek I'm not surprised that it has declined. The crosstrek compared to other small SUVs is weak under the hood. And Subaru refuses to do anything about it. And then Subaru comes out with a potential turbo model... then says no the market isnt in demand for it. So alot of us in the crosstrek go elsewhere to fill this niche

Kevin (not verified)    July 6, 2019 - 11:00PM

In reply to by Natalia (not verified)

The power under the hood is not less than other vehicles of comparable capabilities. You may perceive it as such. Therefore if you are not happy with it but another car and quit whining. My Subaru gets around great. It's not a $40k or more sports car, not designed to be one. Show me a vehicle that can get you where you want to go when you want to comfortably and still get 30 mpg or thereabouts for less than $26k. They don't make them except Subaru. As far as reliability, my 2013 Forester went over 60k mi without issue before I traded it in last year for 2018 Crosstrek. If something breaks in next 3-4 yrs Subaru will fix it. I'm very happy with mine and will probably look to buy #3 in 5-6 yrs....B)

Luma3d (not verified)    July 6, 2019 - 7:29PM

I bet it's because of its lack of power and the cvts. Tons of owners are having issues and instead of recall warranties have been extended. Add a 2.0 with 200 horses and a proper transmutation and watch sales explode.

Dougil (not verified)    July 6, 2019 - 9:46PM

In a short one year other cars like hyundai kona, the honda and toyota subcoms have stepped on style and versatility. I dont think production has much to do with it. Subaru ignored the crosstrek, and the result is that nobody's interested. They made the forester a better and nicer car and sales are up because of that. In todays competitive car market, manufacturers have to be on their toes every minute.

Edward Blair (not verified)    July 6, 2019 - 10:41PM

I have a 2018. The transmission is nothing but trouble. It jerks constantly. The radio is problematic too. If it had a better transmission and a stronger motor it would be the best small SUV. Dealer quick to sell you one but not interested in fixing them, giving you the "they all "do that" line and the word is getting around. Maybe that is why the sales are down. Maybe they all really do have bad transmissions! Bad Karma Subaru. I predict they will have a great few years followed by a dramatic slump in sales as the poor drivability results in a lack of repeat customers, myself included.

Matt (not verified)    July 8, 2019 - 12:38PM

In reply to by Edward Blair (not verified)

By the jerk do you mean that little bit of engine breaking at slower speeds? I like having some engine breaking, because it means I have to do less real breaking in traffic. I like mine. This is a feature, not an issue.

John M. (not verified)    July 7, 2019 - 12:08AM

2016 Outback owner here and will add a 2020 Crosstrek next year. A lot of whiners on this Torque News. I'll have to delete it from my Google news feed. Just go to Reddit Crosstrek to find some informative owners who utilize their Crosstreks in the manner they were meant to be used. Hilarious the guy who's "going back" to Ford! That, and the fact he was with Ford in the first place.. Lol. Sorry, Honda DOES NOT do a CVT well.

Matt (not verified)    July 8, 2019 - 12:49PM

In reply to by John M. (not verified)

Whiners, many of which didn't actually read the (admittedly clickbait) article. The article says Subaru cannot keep up supply because of an issue with power steering units. Not because of a lack of demand, not because of the CVT, not because the lack of features, and not because of the perceived "low power". Lack of high power doesn't mean low power. The car has adequate power.

Sylvain Beland (not verified)    July 7, 2019 - 11:34AM

I went to a Subaru dealer to inquire about a 2019 Subaru Forester. The sales person told me they were flying off the shelf and there was a 3 month wait for one. Now I know they are NOT flying of the shelves as they had to stop manufacturing them for quality issues. Who is it that said " never trust a sales person" ? I'm not waiting 3 months for my 45K car.

Sylvain Beland (not verified)    July 7, 2019 - 11:35AM

I went to a Subaru dealer to inquire about a 2019 Subaru Forester. The sales person told me they were flying off the shelf and there was a 3 month wait for one. Now I know they are NOT flying of the shelves as they had to stop manufacturing them for quality issues. Who is it that said " never trust a sales person" ? I'm not waiting 3 months for my 45K car.

Greg Webster (not verified)    July 7, 2019 - 7:29PM

2013 only 60k miles and the rear rotor hubs and bearings rusted up and failed. Cost me $1200. Just shy of warranty. What's up with the cheap metal fabrication these days Subaru? Not buying another one or referring.

J v (not verified)    July 8, 2019 - 6:10AM

Also it does not have parking sensors and electronic brakes and the infotainment system is Outdated ,that associated with mechanical problems ,easy to see why the sales had declined

Matt (not verified)    July 8, 2019 - 1:20PM

In reply to by J v (not verified)

The vehicle is so small it doesn't really need parking sensors, but it does have a backup camera. Also, the article said there was a decline in supply due to manufacturability, not a decline in demand. The salespeople can't keep them on their lots.

Digitaldoc (not verified)    July 8, 2019 - 1:10PM

I don't buy the lack of supply is their issue. After all, the shutdown was in the winter, and the problem has persisted.

Rather, the Crosstrek sold better with less competition. Now that the Kona has been out for a little over a year it can't compete for some buyers that either want a cheaper vehicle, or a turbo engine. Hence the numbers dropped.

Their hybrid version has done nothing to improve sales.

They need to add a turbo as an option, and fix these CVT issues and the sales will improve.

Steve Moffett (not verified)    July 10, 2019 - 9:28PM

Drove Crosstek across Wyoming and back as rental when other rental 2018 Outback infotainment system crashed day before,apparently a common malady.
Decent car but woefully underpowered on mountain roads and passes and cvt struggles. Not fun to drive at all. Wife has 2014 Outback loves it, no issues. I drive Audi’s with 2.0 T and 220-252 hp. Subaru needs to offer the wrx engine or at least the turbo of the Forester and a decent transmission in the Crosstek and a lot of people would come back to it. Mazda finally put a 250hp turbo in the CX5 and it’s a whole different car. Hopefully Subaru execs are following these comments.

Sydney Dalpé (not verified)    August 30, 2019 - 8:23PM

I have a 2018 sport edition (Canada). I find the windshield ventilation to be not sufficient for cold climate and the car ABSOLUTELY need MORE POWER. I beleive that the power issue is was is hurting the sales.

VS (not verified)    October 3, 2019 - 1:50PM

By reading these comments I see Subaru has done nothing to fix the terrible CVT. I ownd a 2014 XV Crosstrek right out of the box it shuddered and bucked in traffic. slowing down its CVT bucked like a manual transmission left in gear. Subaru kept telling me nothing was wrong. Besides the AC failing I had both rear wheel bearing hubs, and both front axle shafts go bad, numerous other problems (one that stranded me needing a tow at 1AM. The CVT started surging and lurching forward when the car was stopped (At time it was so hard it felt like my car was hit from the rear.....Subaru service (3 different area centers) could never reproduce the problem.... At 75K miles the P Zev junk was traded for a Hyundai.