Tensile cracks in soil slopes, especially developing at the crown, have been increasingly recognized as the signal of slope metastability. In this paper, the role of crown cracks in natural soil slopes was investigated and their effect on stability was studied. A numerical slope model based on the extended finite element method (XFEM) simulating the tensile behavior of soil was used. Before the simulation, a numerical soil tensile test was applied to validate the use of XFEM on tensile behavior of soil. Slope failure was simulated by using strength reduction technique, which can determine the potential slip surface of slope. The simulation results show that the crown crack forms in natural soil slopes when the plastic zone starts penetrating, and therefore it is reasonable to consider the crown crack as the signal of slope metastability. A sensitivity analysis shows that cracks are at the position of the tension zone or very long can obviously affect the slope stability. The stress variation analysis from the initial deformation to slip surface penetration shows that the slope is at a state of compressive stress initially. When plastic zone starts to penetrate, the upper part of slope generates tension zone, but the extent of tension zone is limited until slope failure. This shows why tensile cracks are difficult to form and be stretched in the deep part of the slope. The application of XFEM on slope stability analysis can be used to assess the tensile strength of soil and predict slope failure disaster.