- More power
- New Crosstrek Sport trim level
- Same off-road rugged looks
- Did we mention more power?
- Looks nearly identical
- No word on price
- Manual models lack safety features
- Base engine still pokey
The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek is a familiar face with an available new heart to tackle the wilderness.
The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek is the smallest crossover available from the automaker and related to the Impreza hatchback.
The Crosstrek uses similar hardware as other small cars from Subaru but hikes up its hip waders for a taller ride height, adds more body cladding, and new for this year, it adds a can-do attitude with an available new engine.
The biggest change to the small crossover for 2021 is a more powerful engine that addresses a long-running complaint of ours. A 182-horsepower flat-4 borrowed from the Forester is standard in Crosstrek Sport and Crosstrek Limited models.
The 2021 Crosstrek goes on sale in summer but Subaru hasn’t yet said how much it will cost. It will be available in base, Premium, Sport, and Limited trim levels, all equipped with standard all-wheel drive.
Style and performance
The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek doesn’t stray far from how the small crossover has looked since its debut in 2013. The Crosstrek still looks like a hatchback on stilts, with plenty of cladding to suggest it can handle more than a rutted two-track.
This year, Subaru updated the grille and fog lights on the Crosstrek, although it’ll take a keen eye to spot the differences.
Inside, the Crosstrek eschews form for function, with a large center touchscreen for infotainment, big climate control knobs, a small vehicle information display that includes off-road information, and a straightforward layout.
The new Crosstrek Sport trim level borrows durable synthetic leather upholstery from the bigger Outback XT Onyx Edition and adds contrast stitching for visual flair.
Under the hoods of the Crosstrek Limited and new Crosstrek Sports, is a 182-hp 2.5-liter flat-4 borrowed from the Forester and paired exclusively with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and all-wheel drive. It’s nearly a 20% increase in horsepower compared to the base 2.0-liter flat-4 and likely to improve the Crosstrek’s leisurely acceleration. The EPA rates those versions at 29 mpg combined. We haven’t yet driven those versions and will report back once we do.
The base Crosstrek and Crosstrek Premium still manage with a 152-hp 2.0-liter flat-4 paired to a 6-speed manual transmission or CVT. All-wheel drive is standard on all Crosstrek models.
Although relatively slow, the base Crosstreks still manage 30 mpg combined when equipped with a CVT, according to the EPA, and are off-road ready. Manual-equipped Crosstreks are rare and rate lower at 25 mpg combined.
Every Crosstrek has 8.7 inches of ground clearance and models equipped with an automatic transmission include an off-road mode that helps navigate tricky terrain. Crosstrek Sport versions go further with a terrain selection system that includes snow/dirt and mud/deep snow settings.
Comfort, safety, and features
The Crosstrek is relatively roomy for four adults with room behind the second row for gear. It still rides on a wheelbase that measures 104.9 inches from hub to hub, and rear-seat passengers get more than 36 inches of leg room, which is more than many compact cars but less than the Forester.
Behind the second row, the Crosstrek holds more than 20 cubic feet of cargo. With the second row folded, that space expands to more than 55 cubic feet. Roof rails are standard on all Crosstreks, in case that’s not enough room for the tent, kayak, bike, rods...
The IIHS called the Crosstrek Limited a Top Safety Pick+ in 2020 thanks to its good crash-test scores, highly rated headlights, and automatic emergency braking systems. (Other trims don’t include those headlights and were rated Top Safety Picks.) Federal testers gave every Crosstrek a five-star overall score.
Automatic-equipped Crosstreks get a suite of active safety features that include automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control.
Every Crosstrek gets 17-inch wheels, cloth upholstery, and a 6.5-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
Premium models add heated front seats, two USB ports, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and uprated audio.
Crosstrek Sport models add the uprated engine, synthetic leather upholstery, and interior trim accents.
The Crosstrek Limited adds leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, an 8.0-inch touchscreen with smartphone software, and uprated headlights. The 8.0-inch touchscreen is optional on all trims except the base Crosstrek.
The 2021 Crosstrek will go on sale this summer. A plug-in hybrid version is available in a limited number of states including California and sold in small quantities. Changes to that model will be announced later.