Entry price: $22,245
Price as tested; $31,791
This week, we’re behind the wheel of the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, one of the popular all-wheel-drive (AWD) SUV compacts that have helped make Subaru a household name. Introduced back in 2013, Crosstrek is built to compete with the deluge of small crossover/SUV vehicles that are currently vying for consumer approval.
Crosstrek is still a combination of the popular compact Impreza hatchback augmented with a bevy of off-road upgrades. Built on the same Impreza platform in Ota, Gunma, Japan, Crosstrek features a distinct body style, higher ground clearance and affordable pricing.
New for ’21, aside from a few exterior and interior tweaks, is the availability of the Subaru 2.5-liter Boxer four-cylinder, previously unavailable and offering more horsepower and, surprisingly, better highway fuel mileage. Specifically, the 2.5 delivers 182 horsepower and 176 lb. ft. of torque with 27 city and 34 highway EPA fuel mileage. This compares much better to the 2.0-liter Boxer four, where 152 horsepower and 145 lb. ft. of torque and 28 city and 33 highway are the comparisons. That extra 30 horsepower makes a huge difference.
There are a few engine trim restrictions, however, as the 2.5 is not available in the lesser priced models and a six-speed manual is not available with the 2.5. However, if you choose a 2.0 trim that comes standard with the manual transmission, a $1,350 optional Lineartronic Continuously Variable automatic transmission is available with the 2.0 engine.
Regardless of choice, consumers can expect the usual well-cultivated four-wheel drive technology and Subaru quality build in every Crosstrek that comes off the assembly line. Crosstreks enjoy strong sales numbers thanks to Subaru’s prowess to attract interest from all consumer age groups, which is something every manufacturer strives for in this day of expanding younger age groups or baby boomers living longer. So be it a boomer cruising along proudly or a student off to college, Crosstrek has them all covered.
Thanks to Crosstrek’s versatility as a family mover, weekend camping partner or snow covered highway navigator, drivers can expect roomy surroundings, the proven four-cylinder “Boxer engine” and the heralded Symmetrical 4x4 underpinnings for safe travels. Subaru’s horizontally opposed 2.0 and 2.5 engines sit low in the engine cradle allowing for better handling and outstanding traction dynamics.
For 2021, five Crosstrek models are available, four of them gas powered and one a Hybrid version. The Base ($22,245) and Premium ($23,295) feature the 2.0-engine and six-speed manual while Sport ($26,495) and top line Limited ($27,995) come standard with the 2.5-liter Boxer with the CVT automatic. The Crosstrek Hybrid ($35,145) also comes standard with the CVT and the 2.0 engine although availability currently is limited.
Now standard on all 2021 Crosstrek trims is Subaru’s EyeSight that monitors traffic movement, optimizes cruise control, and warns you when you’re swaying outside your lane. Included with EyeSight is an Automatic pre-collision braking feature that can apply full braking force and bring you to a complete stop in emergency situations. There’s also Lane Keep Assist that corrects and steers you back into your lane. Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centering, an all-new feature for 2021, can take some of the stress out of driving by helping with steering, braking, and throttle control - both in daily traffic and on long road trips.
Although you’ll notice a noisy engine under full throttle, the advantages of the Crosstrek outweigh any concerns. Excellent owner reliability ratings, a 2020 Top Safety Award from the IHHS, 5-Star Government crash ratings and a Consumer Reports 2021 Buying Guide top overall for Small SUVs are most important accolades.
On the road, expect a very comfortable ride with sporty handling and then, when you go off-road, the Crosstrek is fully prepared for your weekends of 4x4 fun.
Inside, you’ll recognize some Impreza core values, but Subaru then complements the Crosstrek SUV with some nice off-road enhancements. Our top line tester included stitched leather appointments, heated seats, a Starlink 8.0-touch screen Multimedia system with Apple/Android capability, SiriusXM Satellite, AM/FM/CD, 3.5-inch auxiliary jack, Bluetooth and much more. Our Limited then upgraded the stereo for an additional $2,395, resulting in an infotainment Navigation upgrade, three years of Sirius Travel Link and Travel, an eight-speaker 432-watt Harmon Kardon stereo amplifier upgrade and even a power sunroof. It’s a lot of extras for the money and recommended.
Notable is the cargo room, which is very roomy for a compact class vehicle. Thanks to 60/40 rear seats that fold down, owners will be pleased with up to 55.3 cu. ft. of cargo space available. With the second row seats up, Crosstrek’s wide body design allows room for three passengers although the center position will be a bit tight for normal size individuals. Overall, the interior receives high grades with good leg and head room and lots of standard amenities.
Standard Crosstrek fare includes all the powers, torque vectoring ride, fully independent suspension, all expected air bags, four-wheel ABS disc brakes, climate control, cruise, remote keyless entry, 17- or 18-inch tires on aluminum-alloy wheels, USB ports, and nearly nine inches of ground clearance to assist when you go off-road.
Our Limited came with the 18-inch tires and really nice two-tone dark/bright alloy wheels. Also notable is standard Q-Mode, which enhances the 4x4 system to better handle slow speed traction capabilities to each wheel when needed. Your dealer will explain all trim features and options when you visit or call. Online communication and purchasing is also available.
In addition to the aforementioned $2,395 infotainment option, when adding $150 for a bumper cover, $132 for all-weather floor liners, $1,060 for delivery and $58 for emission compliance, the final tally came in at $31,791.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 104.9 inches, 3,351 lb. curb weight, from 21 to 51.9 cu. ft. of cargo space, 1,500 lb. tow capacity, 8.7-inches of ground clearance and a 16.6 gallon regular grade fuel tank.
Crosstrek for ’21 is still one of my favorite, affordable, compact SUV/Crossovers. If shopping this segment, make sure you drive one and check for current dealer incentives.
Likes: Design tweaks, better off-road capability, bigger engine.
Dislikes: Engine noise, still could use a few more horsepower.
Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and Gannett Co. Inc. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840.
Test Drive column: 2021 Subaru Crosstrek
Entry price: $22,245