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2013-2017 Subaru Crosstrek

How to upgrade the stereo system in your Crosstrek

subaru xv crosstrek

In brief: This Crutchfield Research Garage article gives you an overview of your Crosstrek's stock stereo system and your aftermarket upgrade options. We'll tell you all about:

Then, use our vehicle selector to find the gear that will fit your Subaru.

Overview of the Subaru XV Crosstrek

The XV Crosstrek is much more than an Impreza with a lift kit. Sure, it's pretty much exactly that, but it's also very much its own vehicle. All Subarus (Except the BRZ, obviously) appeal to people who want and need all-weather traction. But Crosstreks, by virtue of a little in-house monster-truck engineering, tend to attract people who go like to go off-road on purpose.

Detailed stereo and speaker removal instructions

MasterSheet image
With step-by-step disassembly instructions and plenty of up-close, detailed photos, our exclusive Crutchfield MasterSheet™ takes the guesswork out of removing the factory stereo and speakers. It's free with your Crutchfield order, or you can purchase one separately for just $9.99.

Whether you're crawling up a logging road or just rolling through the suburban jungle, the Crosstrek is a handy car to have. There's a decent amount of space, it's good on gas, and you get to do all sorts of SUV sorts of things without the hassle of trying to parallel-park an SUV. And if you like good sound, the Crosstrek is a marvelous place for an upgraded audio system.

subaru crosstrek radio

The standard radio handles all the basics, but you'll want something with a bit more kick (Crutchfield Research Photo)

The factory stereo system

Subaru stereo systems aren't known for their awesomeness, but the company has been trying a lot harder recently, and the Crosstrek's stock gear is decent enough as these things go. Even the base radio has built-in Bluetooth® connectivity, and the noise (and quite possibly the funk) will arrive via four or six speakers. It's not awesome, but it is adequate. You can definitely do better, though.

A variety of single-DIN (2" tall) and double-DIN (4" tall) receivers will fit with the help of the dash kit that's included at a discount (along with a wiring harness) with your Crutchfield stereo purchase.

When you replace the stock receiver, you'll lose some factory functionality, like satellite radio. That's easy to solve with the right receiver and a SiriusXM tuner. And a subscription, of course!

Note: If your Crosstrek is equipped with the Starlink Safety and Security System, you’ll need to relocate the Starlink module in the dash and make sure the module remains connected. Doing this will ensure that the front speakers will continue to work. Questions? Just ask our experts.

subaru crosstrek navigation receiver

The factory navigation radio looks a bit different, but the replacement process is the same (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Removing the factory radio

The Crosstrek's dash is an uncomplicated and functional environment, which we like on many levels, but especially when it comes to receiver replacement. It's not the easiest thing you'll ever do, but it's totally do-able for the average DIY-er.

There are some differences in how you'll approach the job, depending on whether you have a 2013-14 model or a 2015-17 model. We'll cover all of it in the Crutchfield Mastersheet™ for your car, which is included free with your stereo purchase.

For cars with manual climate controls, removing the stock radio involves disconnecting the climate control cables. Making a note of how the cables are routed before you remove them will take some of the hassle out of reconnecting them. You might even want to take a picture with your phone before you disconnect anything.

Hybrid note

If you have a Crosstrek Hybrid, you need to know that the hybrid's gas-electric hybrid powertrain makes replacing the stereo a bit more complicated. As you might expect, these hybrid trucks contain some very sensitive electronics, so here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Be sure to only use a multimeter when testing wires, and NEVER use a test light to test wires in this vehicle. Doing so could cause some serious (by which we mean dangerous and expensive) damage.
  • A hybrid is not the car to choose if you want to build a massively powerful audio system. The thirsty current draw of high-powered gear is not a good thing for the hybrid's electrical system. Don't exceed a 30-amp current draw or 350-watt RMS power rating.

To install your new stereo, follow the instructions included with your dash kit and Crutchfield-approved wiring harness adapter. When that's all straight, slide the receiver into place, secure everything, then get to work on the climate control connections. Be sure to test the radio and the climate controls before buttoning everything up completely.

Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver, small flat blade screwdriver

Read our Car Stereo Buying Guide for shopping tips and advice.

Shop for car stereos that fit your Subaru Crosstrek

Steering wheel audio controls

In most cases, it's reasonably easy to retain your Subaru's steering wheel audio controls when you install a new stereo. When you enter your vehicle information, our database will choose the adapter you need to make your factory steering wheel controls work with a compatible aftermarket receiver.

subaru crosstrek front door

The front doors can house your choice of 6-1/2" or 6-3/4" aftermarket speakers (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Removing the factory speakers

Replacing the Crosstrek's speakers has a couple of challenging parts, but like we said above, this is a great project for the car audio DIY-er. You'll have to drill some new mounting holes for the aftermarket speakers, but that's not too hard if you work carefully.

subaru crosstrek dash tweeter speaker

The tweeters are very easy to reach and remove (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Dash tweeters

The corner dash tweeters are wired in parallel with the front door woofers, so a set of aftermarket component speakers is an ideal choice for 6-speaker cars.

You'll start the replacement process by using a panel tool to pry up the speaker grille to release four retaining clips and removing the grille. Remove the two Phillips screws securing the tweeter, then pull it out, disconnect the harness, and remove the stock tweeter. You might want to use a piece of paper to protect the dash when you're doing the prying.

There's no mounting bracket available for these tweeters, so you'll need our universal backstraps (or hot glue or silicone) to secure the new ones.

Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver

subaru crosstrek front door speakers

You'll need to drill new mounting holes for your new front door speakers (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Front door speakers

The front doors can happily house your choice of 6-1/2" or 6-3/4" aftermarket speakers. The job isn't that hard overall, but in some cases, you'll need to drill new mounting screw holes to mount the new ones. Drilling a hole is not the most challenging DIY task ever, but you are drilling into your car. Work carefully, know what's around the spot your drilling into, and always wear eye protection.

Make sure the speakers are working properly before you put the doors back together. And also check the door lock and window operation, just to be sure there aren't any stray wires gumming up the works.

Tools needed: Panel tool, small flat blade screwdriver, Phillips screwdriver, drill with 1/8" bit

subaru crosstrek rear door speaker

Replacing the rear door speakers is a lot like replacing the ones up front (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Rear door speakers

Replacing the rear doors involves pretty much the same list of activities you enjoyed while working on the front speakers. Back here, you can install 5-1/4" or 6-1/2" full-range speakers. For the smaller ones, we recommend adding a set of foam speaker baffles. These inexpensive baffles will fill up the space, help fill out the sound, and they'll also protect the speakers from dust and damage.

You might be drilling into these doors, too, so work carefully and don't forget the eye protection.

Tools needed: Panel tool, small flat blade screwdriver, Phillips screwdriver, drill with 1/8" bit

Read our Car Speakers Buying Guide for more information.

Shop for speakers that fit your Subaru Crosstrek

subaru crosstrek cargo area subwoofer

There's room for bass back here if you want it (Crutchfield Research Photo)

Bass in your Crosstrek

If you like big bass, the Crosstrek offers a decent amount of space for a subwoofer box if you want to use it. How much bass you add depends on your listening habits and how you use your vehicle.

The cargo area offers a 42" W x 15" H x 29"/23" D space to work with, so there's room for a decent-sized sub box. If you still use that space for groceries, gear, and dogs, though, you might want to choose a smaller enclosure or even a smaller powered subwoofer. We offer plenty of options, so talk to a Crutchfield advisor if you're having a hard time deciding what's right for you.

Learn more about building a bass system in our Car Subwoofer Buying Guide.

thule sidekick

Thule's Sidekick is a great way to transport your extra gear

Other options for your Crosstrek

Here are some other ideas for your Crosstrek. If you want to see more, check out our Automotive Accessories section.

Add an amp (or two)

A new 4-channel amplifier will help you get the most out of your new speakers. You'll get cleaner power (and a lot more of it), which will result in much, much better sound. A mono amp can provide the juice you need for your new subwoofer, too. Learn more about adding amps to your system in our Car Amplifier Buying Guide.

Roof-mounted storage

Crosstrek owners tend to have a certain affinity for outdoor adventures. Recreational pursuits such hunting, fishing, and camping require a lot of gear, so sometimes you need even more space than this hatchback has to offer. Lightweight cargo carriers, bike racks, and other travel storage gear from Thule will give you the extra space you need.

Floor mats and cargo liners

Quality WeatherTech mats and liners will help protect your Crosstrek from dirt, damage, dog hair, and discarded juice boxes.

Security

Installing a security system in your Crosstrek isn't easy (security systems rarely are), but it's less complicated than it could be. Our Crutchfield Advisors can help figure out what you need to get the job done, but we usually recommend taking your car and new gear to a professional installer.

Let's get started!

Ready to shop? Use our vehicle selector to find the gear that will fit your car or truck. If you have questions, give us a shout via phone, chat, or email

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