2021 Subaru Crosstrek: Have Engines, Will Sell?
As we reported some months ago, the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek corrects a flaw that’s hitched a ride with the otherwise useful and appealing little vehicle since its inception: a lack of power.
Even with a very mild power bump for 2018, the lifted-and-cladded Impreza five-door’s 2.0-liter Boxer four-cylinder still struggled under the burden of heavy loads. Punching through deep, wet snow also revealed its shortcomings.
For 2021, however, there’s finally choice for Crosstrek buyers. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder joins the fray, along with a new trim. Getting into that extra displacement will of course require additional cash.
The engine is not an a la carte option. To tap the borrowed Forester mill’s 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque, one must choose the new Sport trim or opt for the high-zoot Limited. Going Sport means borrowing all the Limited’s interior content, while adding extra special wheel arch cladding, a gunmetal grey grille, expressive 17-inch alloys, and yellow interior stitching to go with faux carbon fiber and gunmetal trim and StarTex urethane-based fabric. Things you’ll rest your hand on come wrapped in leather.
Subaru claims the new engine, paired with a standard continuously variable automatic (sorry, stick fans), returns fuel economy of 27 mpg city, 34 highway, and 29 combined. That’s a penalty of 1 mpg on the combined cycle when compared to the 2.0L auto.
All 2021 Crosstreks receive mild alterations to the front fascia, with a rejigged grille and fog lights for all but the base “Base” trim. That entry-level ride sees revamped fog light insert covers that are sure to impress no one.
Going Sport doesn’t just bring aboard look-at-me flourishes and a bigger engine — it also makes the Crosstrek slightly more capable in the rough, with dual-function X-Mode (with Hill Descent Control) adding snow/dirt and deep snow/mud settings to the drive mode roster. Obviously, all-wheel drive remains standard kit.
Base and Premium buyers can still outfit their Crosstrek with a six-speed manual, earning themselves a fuel economy drop in the process, all CVT buyers will see hill descent control and an SI-Drive function that allows them to select between “intelligent” and “sport” settings. The former aims for fuel economy; the latter, well, you can guess.
All but Base buyers can expect eight simulated speeds via flappy paddles when in manual mode.
Elsewhere, the ’21 Crosstrek sees a bolstered suite of Subaru EyeSight safety features come standard on CVT-equipped models. The package includes advanced adaptive cruise control with lane centering, automatic pre-collision braking, pre-collision throttle management, lane departure prevention, lead vehicle start alert, auto stop-start, and rear seat reminder. All but the Limited come with a 6.5-inch touchscreen. The 8-inch unit (capable of receiving over-the-air updates) found in the Limited can be optioned in lesser trims, however.
Going the Limited route also sees a host of driver-assist features added to the standard equipment list. Among them, reverse automatic braking, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. The 18-inch wheels seen above are standard. If staying in touch with the outside world, including with Subaru and whatever emergency services exist in your area, is important, all but Base buyers can opt for a Starlink connected services package.
Crosstrek sales faltered slightly in 2019, sinking 9 percent after rising steadily since the model’s 2013MY introduction. The availability of additional power corrects the Crosstrek’s main weakness, so to speak, so when normal times return we’ll see if it can help the model recapture lost ground.
The ’21 Crosstrek arrives in dealerships in late summer.
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As a driver of 2018 6MT Crosstrek who would definitely trade for a 2021 2.5 6MT but probably not the 2021 auto trans. We also have a 2015 5MT Crosstrek in the family. I will probably test drive the 2.5 when it is available. Maybe I can be persuaded. Maybe not directly comparable, but I will also look at the Bronco MT. Probably end up just driving the wheels off my Crosstrek
Count me also as a "dinosaur." I've always favored "driver's cars" with minimal distractions and nannies. I don't use phones in the car either. Simplicity--lack of turbo and the associated plumbing, fully mechanical AWD system, and lack of EyeSight and its associated baggage and nagging were, besides the towing capability and manual transmission, what drew me to the Crosstrek. I thought the peak power was actually decent, but off the line it was sluggish. Very disappointed in Subaru's decision to punish enthusiasts and not provide a manual 2.5 liter. Might have to spring for a Tacoma.