Subaru has been a steady-paced car brand for many years, giving consumers a focused product that has long stuck to its roots for providing reliable all-wheel-drive transportation appliances for the masses at relatively affordable prices. In the compact hatchback segment, the Subaru Crosstrek has been a cult following among those who live the adventurous lifestyle or ones who want something that has value in its ability to grapple at snow and off-roading terrain as well as serve as a decent and safe vehicle for every-day commuting.
The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek is refreshed with a new grille and front bumper and adds the brand’s welcomed 2.5-liter 4-cylinder boxer engine. The addition of the new engine gives the Crosstrek some much-needed new life, in the form of some extra power. That power, 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque does wonders for the Crosstrek to transform it into a vehicle that I can now recommend. Before, the Crosstrek made do with an underpowered 2.0-liter engine with only 152 horsepower. Unfortunately, that same engine is still offered in the Crosstrek for its lower-level trims (base and Premium trims).
With my Crosstrek Sport trim test vehicle having the larger and more powerful engine, it is more appealing even though the engine still gets mated to a CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). The engine and transmission work together to get the Crosstrek up to speed and make it feel zippy enough that it doesn’t feel dangerous like the base and Premium trim levels of the Crosstrek that have only 152 ponies at your beckon. The CVT also does well to emulate a traditional automatic transmission with virtual shift ratio step-downs, also aiding in the acceleration. Still, the Crosstrek isn’t going to win many races no matter which engine choice you have – but it does have some extra pep in its step with the larger engine, now.
Out on the road, the Crosstrek is surprisingly compliant and smooth without unwanted body motions considering its higher ground clearance (8-inches) for tackling off-roading terrain. The engine does well to rev high and the CVT is nicely programmed to allow the engine to get into its powerband without expected hesitation. Overall, the Crosstrek Sport is much improved over the outgoing model years with the less-powerful engine. Fuel consumption isn’t all that different for the two engine choices, where my Crosstrek Sport 2.5-liter gets a consistent and respectable 27 mpg city and 34 mpg highway.
The interior of the Crosstrek is minimalistic at best. There’s an abundance of hard plastics, but through the years, Subaru has improved a few areas by adding soft-touch surfaces, in addition to having a soft-touch upper dashboard surface with accented-color stitching as part of the Sport trim to match the other yellow-colored Sport-theme. The seating areas are surprisingly spacious, as is the rear cargo area in the hatchback/wagon style of the Crosstrek. Fold the split seatbacks down at you have just over 55 cubic feet of storage out back.
In the area of tech, the Crosstrek has plenty of it but it seems to hide some of the active safety features, which do wonders to monitor the road ahead through the latest EyeSight driver-assist system that incorporates adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic braking, lane departure warning and mitigation, and blind-spot monitors. The infotainment system fed through an optional 8-inch touchscreen is simplistic but doesn’t have the refinement to its interface that you get from competing brands. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are nicely integrated into the system, which could use some better sound quality through the paltry six-speaker setup. Also, the Crosstrek could use an update to its headlights to depart from its halogen bulbs on all of the trim levels and opt to make the Limited trim’s Adaptive LED headlights standard – that would go a long way for nighttime visibility that is somewhat poor with the halogens.
At the bottom line, the Subaru Crosstrek is a good value starting at a price of just $22,245 and landing at $29,145 for my Crosstrek Sport test vehicle. The Limited trim only adds about $1,500 and is well worth the upgrade just to get the adaptive LED headlights, leather seats, and larger 18-inch wheels over the Crosstrek Sport’s halogens, StarTek water-repellent upholstery, and 17-inch wheels.