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2021 Subaru Crosstrek Review

Big news: The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek is available with a larger engine, a 2.5-liter flat-4 that produces 182 horsepower and 176 lb.-ft. of torque. The 2.5, from the larger Forester, is available in the new Crosstrek Sport model and the Crosstrek Limited, where it mates exclusively to continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

The familiar 2.0-liter flat-4 engine continues to be available as the standard powerplant in the base and Premium versions of the 2021 Crosstrek. It sends 152 horsepower and 145 lb.-ft. of torque to all four wheels via a 6-speed manual transmission or the CVT. While that horizontally opposed 2.0-liter engine gets the job done, we have long thought the Crosstrek needed a bit more power.

That’s because the Crosstrek is an impressive automobile, an all-wheel-drive vehicle that blends the easy around-town maneuverability and practicality of a compact hatchback with the off-road abilities of a crossover SUV with 8.7 inches of ground clearance.

The Crosstrek has several competitors (the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-30, Hyundai Kona, Nissan Kicks, Chevrolet Trax, and Jeep Renegade come to mind), but none have standard all-wheel drive (AWD). Also in the Crosstrek’s favor: excellent fuel economy. With the 2.0-liter or the new 2.5, all Crosstreks equipped with the CVT get 33 mpg (2.0) or 34 mpg (2.5) on the highway. All Crosstreks also have lots of safety equipment, highlighted by the EyeSight safety suite that’s standard on models equipped with the CVT.

A Crosstrek Hybrid is planned for 2021, but Subaru hasn’t released any information about the model. Last year, it was a plug-in hybrid model with an all-electric range of 17 miles.

What’s New for 2021?

In addition to the available 2.5-liter engine, the Subaru Crosstrek gets a redesigned grille and front bumper for 2021. Moreover, the Crosstrek Sport is a new model for 2021. It’s highlighted by the new 2.5, plus a water-repellent interior fabric and styling tweaks that include pronounced fender liners and a gunmetal-color grille. Last, the adaptive cruise control that’s part of the EyeSight safety suite now includes automatic lane-centering. See the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek models for sale near you

What We Like

  • New 2.5-liter engine
  • Good fuel economy
  • Excellent safety scores and resale value
  • Standard EyeSight safety suite on CVT-equipped models
  • Good on dirt or snowy roads

What We Don’t

  • 0-liter model lacks gusto
  • EyeSight safety not offered on manual transmission cars
  • Crosstrek manual has unimpressive EPA mpg

How Much?

$23,295–$29,045 (includes $1,050 destination fee)

Fuel Economy

The base 2021 Subaru Crosstrek continues to be powered by a 2.0-liter flat-4 with 152 horsepower. The new Crosstrek Sport, along with the Crosstrek Limited, has a 2.5-liter flat-4 with 182 hp and 176 lb.-ft. of torque. While the 2.0-liter is available with a 6-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), the 2.5 mates exclusively to a CVT.

The 2.0-liter Crosstrek with CVT is rated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at 28 miles per gallon city/33 mpg highway/30 mpg combined. When the Crosstrek is equipped with the standard 6-speed manual transmission, fuel economy drops to 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway/25 mpg combined, owing to its simpler mechanical AWD system.

Surprisingly, the EPA fuel efficiency of the 2.5-liter Crosstreks, the Sport and the Limited, is about the same as that of the 2.0-liter CVT cars. Both 2.5-liter Subaru Crosstrek models are rated by the EPA at 27 mpg city/34 mpg highway/29 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

Four trim levels of the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek are available: base, Premium, Sport, and Limited. The 2.0-liter engine and 6-speed manual transmission are standard on the base and Premium, while the Sport and Limited models get the 2.5-liter and CVT automatic (which is optional on the base and Premium models).

The base Crosstrek ($23,295 w/6-speed manual; $24,645 w/CVT) comes with a 6-speed manual transmission, raised roof rails, 17-in alloy wheels, automatic climate control, a 6.5-in touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a tilt/telescopic steering wheel. When you order the CVT, the base Crosstrek comes with X-Mode AWD, SI-Drive, automatic stop/start, and Subaru’s thorough EyeSight safety suite, which includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist.

If you select a Crosstrek Premium ($24,345 w/6-speed manual; $26,695 w/CVT), it comes with fog lights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, the All-Weather package (heated front seats, heated side mirrors and windshield wiper de-icer), and a retractable cargo cover, plus satellite radio and paddle shifters. A $1,995 option includes a moonroof, a power driver’s seat, a blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, and pushbutton ignition.

New this year is the Crosstrek Sport ($27,545). It’s equipped with the 2.5-liter engine and the CVT, plus a dual-function X-Mode all-wheel-drive system with a snow/dirt setting and another for deep snow and mud. The Sport also has aggressive fender liners, dark gray 17-inch alloy wheels, a unique water-repellent interior fabric, and side-view mirrors with integrated directional signals. A $1,600 option package on the Sport includes a moonroof, an 8-in touchscreen, a blind-spot monitor, and rear cross-traffic alert.

Subaru’s top Crosstrek offering is the Limited ($29,045), a 2.5-liter model with 18-inch alloy wheels, leather seating, active LED headlights, rear cross-traffic assist (with automatic braking) and even a rear-seat reminder that has you check the back seat for a sleeping infant (or other precious cargo) whenever you leave the vehicle. Options on the Crosstrek Limited include navigation, a power moonroof, and a Harman Kardon audio system.

Safety

Every 2021 Subaru Crosstrek has seven airbags and a wealth of available safety options. Subaru’s EyeSight driver-assist system is standard on all Crosstreks fitted with the CVT. It includes adaptive cruise control (now with lane-centering), automatic emergency braking, a lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assist. Also available: active LED headlights that point into corners and reverse automatic braking, which helps prevent accidents while you’re backing up.

In crash tests, both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have given the Subaru Crosstrek top marks in almost every category. The Crosstrek gets a 5-star overall rating from the NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS (when equipped with the EyeSight system).

Behind the Wheel

With the 152-horsepower 2.0-liter flat-4 engine, the Subaru Crosstrek feels adequately powered, but barely. We expect the 182-hp 2.5-liter to be much better, thanks to added horsepower and torque that should make this Subaru much more relaxed in everyday chores while scoffing at long mountain grades that would have taxed the 2.0-liter.

With either engine, though, the Subaru Crosstrek has a nimble feel, and the suspension is tuned for good overall ride comfort while maintaining a reassuring stability on curvy roads.

Off-road, however, is where Subaru’s small crossover SUV shines. CVT-equipped Crosstreks have electronically managed X-Mode AWD, which allows them to climb rocky hills with a surprising ease. And when it’s time to come down, the Hill Descent Control (standard on CVT models) takes the risk out of it, managing the brakes in a skillful fashion. As a driver, you must take your foot off the Crosstrek’s brake pedal to let HDC work, but you’ll be glad you did when you’re safely the bottom. It’s a truly amazing display of electronics at work.

Other Cars to Consider

2021 Jeep Compass — The Jeep Compass offers similar power, interior room, and features, plus the off-road Trailhawk trim. But its reliability, fuel economy, and resale numbers aren’t as good as the Crosstrek’s. Nor are its available driver-assist features.

2020 Honda HR-V — The HR-V offers a choice of front– or all-wheel drive, and a lower base price. It also holds its value nearly as well as the Crosstrek. But the Honda doesn’t offer the Crosstrek’s extensive list of driver assists or features. Nor can it venture as far off-road.

2020 Hyundai Kona — The Hyundai Kona offers a turbocharged engine, a locking center differential on AWD models and loads of standard and available equipment, and an excellent 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. The Kona’s back seat is tiny compared to the Crosstrek’s.

Used Subaru Outback — A 2015-2018 Subaru Outback offers more interior room than the Crosstrek, but the same 8.7 inches of ground clearance and excellent safety features.

Questions You May Ask

What is X-Mode AWD?

X-Mode is standard on all Subaru Crosstreks equipped with a CVT. It’s an electronically controlled AWD system that manages the throttle, transmission, front/rear coupling force, and the automatic application of individual brakes to limit the slipping of the tires and provide Hill Descent Control. The new Crosstrek Sport model gets dual function X-Mode, which has snow/dirt and deep snow/mud modes. The Crosstrek equipped with the 6-speed manual transmission has a less-advanced AWD system, which is why its fuel economy is so comparatively poor.

What is SI-Drive?

SI-Drive, standard on all Crosstreks fitted with a CVT, has two driver-selectable modes: Intelligent and Sport. In Intelligent mode, fuel economy is improved. In Sport, the throttle and CVT are more responsive.

Is the Subaru Crosstrek’s 2.5-liter flat-4 engine new?

No. While it’s new to the Crosstrek, the 182-horsepower 2.5-liter flat-4 comes from the larger Forester, where it displays good power and efficiency.

Can I take the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek off-road?

You can, but it’s not designed for rugged off-roading and creeping over large boulders. Rather, the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek shines on dirt roads and muddy trails, thanks to its 8.7 inches of ground clearance and its advanced X-Mode AWD (CVT-only).

How long is the Subaru Crosstrek’s warranty?

Subaru provides a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty on the 2021 Crosstrek. The powertrain protection plan lasts for five years or 60,000 miles.

Where is the Subaru Crosstrek made?

Subaru builds the Crosstrek in Gunma, Japan, at the same plant that makes the Forester.

Autotrader’s Advice

We’ve always thought the Subaru Crosstrek needed more power, so we’d opt for the new 2.5-liter models over the 2.0. You get 30 extra horsepower, and the fuel economy remains excellent. What’s more, the Subaru Crosstrek Sport and the Crosstrek Limited (the 2.5-liter models) come standard with a blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert, two safety technologies we find especially convenient and useful. Find a Subaru Crosstrek for sale

 

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