2013-2017 Subaru Crosstrek
Upgrading the stereo system in your Crosstrek
2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017
In brief: This Crutchfield Research Garage article gives you an overview of your Crosstrek's stock stereo system and your aftermarket upgrade options. 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
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.
The standard radio handles all the basics, but you'll want something with a bit more kick (Crutchfield Research Photo)
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!
The factory navigation radio looks a bit different, but the replacement process is the same (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Replacing your 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.
You'll start by setting the parking brake and disconnecting negative battery cable to prevent any electrical short. Better safe than sorry, to coin a phrase.
The next thing to do is turn the climate control to "heat." This sounds weird, but stick with us. There's a bit of integration in this dash panel, and you'll need to disconnect some stuff before you get to the receiver.
You'll need to release some of the climate control cables before you get to the radio (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Under the driver’s side of the dash, release the climate control cable from the clip and post. Feel around for the tab on the back of the post. Once you find it, press the tab to release the cable ring and slide the ring off the post. You'll do the same stuff on the passenger’s side, too, but the control cable on the passenger’s side is black. Just a little FYI there….
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.
Now it's time to remove the receiver. Starting at the lower side edges, use a panel tool to pry out the receiver/climate control trim panel and release fifteen retaining clips. Do this carefully, because you don't want to damage the trim panel.
Make sure to note how to reconnect these harnesses before you disconnect them (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Once the panel is free, disconnect all of the wiring harnesses. Pay close attention to the climate control cable routing, because you'll want to get that right when you reinstall everything. Take some notes, and/or get a couple of pictures with your phone or a digital camera. It'll help, trust us.
Remove the trim panel, then remove the four Phillips screws securing the factory radio. Pull out the old radio, disconnect the wiring harness, and remove it from the vehicle.
To install the new one, 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
Steering wheel audio controls
It's relatively easy to retain the steering wheel audio controls when you install a new stereo in your Crosstrek. When you enter your vehicle information, our database will choose the adapter you need to make your factory steering wheel controls work with your new receiver.
The front doors can house your choice of 6-1/2" or 6-3/4" aftermarket speakers (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Replacing your 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.
The tweeters are very easy to reach and remove (Crutchfield Research Photo)
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 prying 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.
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. There's also no wiring harness adapter, so we recommend using Posi-Products speaker connectors to connect the tweeters to the factory wiring. They're a lot easier than soldering, and you'll also get a much more secure connection.
Tools needed: Panel tool, Phillips screwdriver
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 you'll need to drill new mounting screw holes to mount the new ones. Drilling a hole is not the most challenging DIY task, obviously, but you are drilling into your car, so work carefully, know what's around and behind the spot your drilling into, and always wear eye protection.
You'll start by prying open the screw cover behind the door release and removing one Phillips screw. Then, you'll pry open the screw cover inside the door pull cup and remove one Phillips screw.
Next comes the removal of the door panels. Pry out the sides and bottom of the door panel to release the retaining clips, then disconnect the wiring harness, door lock and release cables and remove the door panel. That'll expose the speaker, which is secured by three Phillips screws. Remove those, disconnect the harness, and remove the old speaker.
Place the new speaker in the cavity and mark the spots for the new mounting holes. Remove the speaker and drill the holes with a 1/8" bit. From here, just connect the speaker wiring adapter (included with your Crutchfield speaker purchase) to the car's wiring and secure the speaker. BTW, your new speakers might not come with mounting screws, so check the box before you start the job and make your run to the hardware store if needed.
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
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'll 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
There's room for bass back here if you want it (Crutchfield Research Photo)
Bass in your Crosstrek
If you like 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.
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.
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.
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.
Find the audio gear that fits your car or truck
Visit our Outfit My Car page and enter your vehicle information to see stereos, speakers, subs, and other audio accessories that will work in your vehicle.