By on May 12, 2021

2021 Subaru Crosstrek

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Limited Fast Facts

2.5-liter horizontally-opposed “boxer” four-cylinder (182 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm; 176 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm)

Continuously-variable automatic with eight-speed manual mode; all-wheel drive

27 city / 34 highway / 29 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

8.8 city, 7.0 highway, 8.0 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $27,995 (U.S) / $34,495 (Canada)

As Tested: $31,400 (U.S.) / $36,674 (Canada)

Prices include $1,050 destination charge in the United States and $1,900 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek isn’t changed much, and that’s almost certainly a good thing for Subie.

After all, the Crosstrek, like other Subaru products, is popular with the brand faithful because of its utility abilities. So it behooves Subaru not to screw with it too much.

That said, no automaker wants to hear that a vehicle is getting long in the tooth while working on the next-gen version, so as often happens, the Crosstrek gets a refresh. In this case, the nip and tuck mostly involve the front grille and bumper.

A new Sport trim joins the lineup, and that model gets a new 2.5-liter “boxer” horizontally-opposed four-cylinder that makes 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque. So, too, does the Limited model that’s tested here. Finally, models that have Subaru’s EyeSight driver-aid tech standard – in other words, models equipped with a continuously-variable automatic transmission – add adaptive cruise control with lane centering.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek

The visual changes are mild, so even with a new engine underhood, the overall package feels familiar. And looks familiar, of course, despite the mild changes.

Inside, I did find the larger infotainment screen an improvement over what Subaru has previously had on offer, while the rest of the cabin is functional in nature if a bit boring. Your neighbor won’t have his socks knocked off by the design, but you’ll find it easy to use.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek

With less than 200 lb-ft of torque on tap and a CVT (with eight-speed manual-shift mode) getting that power to ground, plus the added weight of a standard all-wheel-drive system, you’d expect the Crosstrek to be less than swift, and you’d be correct. Acceleration is merely adequate for most commuting duty.

Nor is the Crosstrek particularly engaging to drive, though its ride is acceptably compliant. However, it can be a tad noisy on the freeway. The steering feels ponderously heavy.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek

Not that most Crosstrek buyers care. Like the Outback or Forester, the Crosstrek’s appeal has little to do with driving dynamics. It’s all about utility and safety here. While I was unable to test its utility beyond stuffing a suitcase in the back for a road trip – I just don’t have a kayak sitting around – it does seem, at least on paper, to be able to get your bike/canoe/tent whatever to the trailhead just fine.

Value plays a part in the equation, too – this top-trim Limited rang the register at $31K. That’s not bad for a wagon-like vehicle that has a modicum of off-pavement ability to go along with safety and utility as well as decent fuel-economy numbers.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek

Standard or available features of note include dual front USB, Bluetooth, automatic climate control, keyless entry, roof rails, 18-inch wheels, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio, blind-spot detection with lane-change assist and rear cross-traffic alert, dual rear USB, LED headlights, high-beam assist, keyless entry and starting, LED fog lamps, navigation, moonroof, Harman Kardon audio, and leather-trimmed seats.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek

Subaru’s core lineup is focused on safety and utility. Knockout design takes a backseat, and while the brand can and does do performance very well – see the BRZ or WRX/WRX STi – that aspect is relegated to dedicated vehicles.

Subie is happy – and successful – by focusing on the well-packaged vehicle that won’t set hearts racing but will make buyers feel their money was well spent. In that regard, the Crosstrek remains as familiar as ever.

[Images © 2021 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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24 Comments on “2021 Subaru Crosstrek Limited Review – New Engine, Fresh Face, Familiar Utility...”


  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Do Crosstrek owners need a bigger engine to go faster?

    https://www.motorbiscuit.com/this-car-has-been-in-the-most-accidents-in-the-u-s/

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      Here is the 2020 version of the 2016 ‘study’ which was behind the USA Today story which was behind the motorbiscuit link:

      https://insurify.com/insights/car-models-with-the-most-accidents-2020/

      The insurify writeup was poor to begin with, and subjected to some terrible reporting along the way.

      TL;DR: It doesn’t say what they told you it says.

      The data actually represent “percentage of drivers [of a given make and model] with an [prior] at-fault accident on their record” – so more of a “What vehicles are more relatively popular with [previously] dangerous drivers?” list.

      (Seems to be a combination of aggressiveness, overconfidence [some youth component in there?] and general cluelessness.)

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        What it really says (the 2020 data):
        • 25.88% of Subaru Crosstrek drivers have a prior at-fault accident.

        What the headlines and summaries sort-of stated (not correct):
        • 25.88% of Subaru Crosstreks have been involved in an accident where the driver was at fault. [This would be nuts.]

        • 0 avatar
          bullnuke

          Now,now ToolGuy. You’re not helping with the “All Things Subaru Bad” vibe that is so common on this site. I’m waiting for a couple of posts regaling the B&B about “I know a guy who’s brother-in-law’s neighbor had a Subaru that” (choose 1: a. had blown head gaskets 12 times in a year b. had three wheel bearing dissolve in an afternoon c. had a white-hot failed CV joint jump into his lap while driving his children to school),” so I’ll never own one of those flat-engined pieces of crap.”.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Didn’t you have to get your engine replaced?

          • 0 avatar
            bullnuke

            Ajla – Yep, it was using 11oz of oil in 1,200 miles. Repairs took one day, I was given a new loaner, they didn’t argue about repairing it at all, cost me nothing, and used no oil afterwards for the 30k miles I further owned it. Try that with the bestest, greatest, most well engineered brand like Honda (I did for a failed transmission at 9,000 miles and ended up eating the $4k for a new tranny because, “We have more lawyers than you can afford”). I also have a 2011 Outback CVT with 159k miles with only a wheel bearing replaced at 152k.

          • 0 avatar
            SCE to AUX

            @bullnuke: Your first post listed everything I would like to say, because I’m no Subaru fan (although the new electric one has me interested).

            Your second post tells me that you got great customer service, but replacing an engine isn’t exactly a vote of confidence in the product.

  • avatar
    ajla

    It seems like a Crosstrek XT that uses the WRX engine would be in line with the times.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I actually think there is a market for compact “hot” CUVs.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I believe so too.

        I’ll support them as long as the performance CUVs get hot platform mates with less ground clearance.

        I’d also argue that the Santa Cruz with 2.5T and AWD along with dual clutch trans will be faster than people expect. (Like 14 sec quarter mile.)

  • avatar
    JMII

    I wonder if Subie will bring back the Baja if the Santa Cruz and Maverick take off. If they did I assume it would based on the bigger Outback.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Tim please explain the ‘safety’ aspect of this vehicle, and how it is ‘safer’ than other lower or similarly priced vehicles.

    And what about utility? Isn’t its back seat rather cramped and its hatch smaller than other similarly or lower priced vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      As you know, safety is part of Subaru’s marketing — and reputation. We could argue all day long about true that is, citing IIHS stats and comparing features to competing brands, but regardless of whether the Crosstrek is safer than its competitors or not, Subie certainly works to sell it on safety — hence the Eyesight system.

      If I missed a chance to do some research, that’s on me, though I wasn’t really arguing too much in favor of the Crosstrek’s safety as much I as was pointing out that it’s part of a brand with a rep for safety and it’s reasonably priced.

      I didn’t find the rear-seat too cramped for my tall frame, though it’s not super roomy, either. The hatch swallowed a backpack and suitcase with ease.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Tim, thanks for your response but isn’t the raison d’etre of TTAC to ignore the marketing bumf and hype and ‘tell the truth’?

        Are Subarus truly safer? If so, then why/how? How does the back seat and hatch size compare to their competition?

        • 0 avatar
          tomLU86

          Arthur, your logic is compelling, as usual.

          Good, critical, objective auto journalism is going the way of the manual trans.

          In all fairness to the car press in general, and our host, cars have become very good. The drive toward optimization has blurred the differences, there is less of interest to write about. Perhaps that’s it.

          Or maybe I find new cars boring, perhaps because I’m older

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Tom thanks But honestly I often feel like the ‘broken watch’ or ‘blind squirrel’.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    O lordy, when did they add wings to the Subaru emblem? –eyeroll emoji–

  • avatar
    settsu

    Having recently exited a lease early from a 2019 Impreza (at a profit!), I’ll say that for the money they are reasonably equipped and very competent transportation, especially in inclement weather. On the not particularly special OEM tires, it could haul itself through relatively deep suburban CO snow with little fuss. But overall it was a generally forgettable vehicle with seemingly fragile body panels that seemed exceptionally dent-prone, and was subject to 3 (4?) recalls in the two and a half years I had it. Based on my experience, I be hesitant to venture too far out in a Crosstrek, despite its outdoorsy costume and Subaru’s marketing.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    These things have become inexplicably cool around here. Lots of younger people are driving them, and often spending some money to modify them. I’ve seen quite a few with small lifts and big tires, and a few with wholesale engine swaps to FA20s or FA24s.

    Personally, I don’t get it. You can get a Forester for only a tiny bit more, and have way more utility without much if any reduction in driving pleasure. You can get that Forester with a stock turbo engine for what people are paying all-in for modified Crosstreks. But the Forester is a box on wheels with a dowdy image, and the Crosstrek doesn’t seem to be considered dowdy for whatever reason.

    • 0 avatar
      redapple

      dal>>>

      Or one could get a non super high level trim OUTBACK for about the same $

      Tim Healey

      CAN THE START STOP BE DEFEATED >????

      RE Eyesight. Subaru uses the stereo camera and lidar sensor for the adaptive cruise and pre collision braking. CAR&DRIVER tested it 14 months ago VS Cadillac, volvo, BMW (? ) and another. Subaru was the winner. So, this would bolster the superior safety claim/reputation.

      Subaru ? > Not a toyota – honda – HK.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Bigger motor and a CVT, or smaller motor with a 6 speed manual? Good job torturing me Subie.

  • avatar
    thornmark

    legendary Scotty Kilmer on Youtube says to stay away from Subarus because of their poor transmissions and engines

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