I don't think there are any advantages to the manual, and I have a manual. I think the Subaru AWD will sort things out on snow or ice covered roads. X-Mode might come in handy on the CVT models. In your scenario, real snow tires and patience are all you need. I bought the manual because I enjoy rowing through the gears. But even for me, I think the CVT is the right choice in almost any situation.I'm pretty sure the pro off roaders contend that an automatic and hence a CVT is more effective the gnarlier
the trail becomes. But 99% of Crosstek owners are not going rock crawling and will only face very light trails if at all.
So the CVT vs stick question should really only come down to preference.
I would prefer to see some discussion about the relative advantages of stick vs CVT when facing
snow and ice cover roads. And trying to get up snowy icy hills. These are conditions that
perhaps 50% of Crosstrek owners will face rather than rock crawling.
I ask because I love a manual trans and just can't bring myself to buy a CVT.