• 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport - Driven

Subaru has upped the ante for the Crosstrek by introducing new safety tech, a new trim, and a more powerful engine

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Subaru introduced the Crosstrek last decade as a successor to the Outback Sport. It was essentially an Impreza with an off-road bias. This formula worked well for the company as it soon became the best-selling Subaru in the U.S.

For the 2021 model year, Subaru introduced a new ‘Sport’ trim along with a new engine option that further makes this a desirable product. Will these upgrades help Subaru sell more than Crosstreks than it has in the previous years?

Subaru Crosstrek Drivetrain, Fuel Economy, and Towing Capacity

  • 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine
  • 152 Horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque
  • Six-speed manual gearbox
  • CVT optional
  • Hybrid option with an electric motor
  • 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine
  • 182 Horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque
  • CVT with eight-speed manual mode function
  • All-wheel-drive system as standard
2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport - Driven Drivetrain
- image 965867
Up until the 2020 model year, Subaru offered just a single powertrain option across its lineup – a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes 152 ponies at 6,000 rpm and 145 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm.

For the 2021 model, this engine option is available as standard on the base and the Premium trims. Power is sent to all the wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox. A Lineartronic CVT is available on the base trim as a standalone option, but as part of a package on the Premium trim. It also features the company’s Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system as standard.

Subaru also offers a Hybrid trim of the Crosstrek that makes use of the same 2.0-liter engine paired with a permanent magnet electric motor. The engine generates 137 horsepower and 134 pound-feet of torque, whereas the motor dishes out 118 horses and 149 pound-feet of torque. The combined power output is estimated to be somewhere around 148 horses.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport - Driven Drivetrain
- image 965863

Saving the best for the last, Subaru has introduced a new 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine on the 2021 Crosstrek. It will be offered on the newly inducted Sport trim and the Limited trim.

This engine made its debut in the 2019 Forester, and just like the 2.0-liter engine, this also is a part of the Boxer series. It churns out 182 ponies at 5,800 rpm and 176 pound-feet of twist at 4,400 rpm.

This is 30 horses and 31 pound-feet of torque more than the 2.0-liter mill. It is mated to a slightly different The new engine sends power to all the wheels via the slightly-different Lineartronic CVT.

Crosstrek Gearbox and Drive System

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport - Driven Drivetrain
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Although CVTs help extract the maximum fuel efficiency, they are lousy performers in general. Known to create the ‘rubber band effect’, you won’t complain as long as you’re easy on the accelerator. But, the minute you floor it, you will be left wanting for more. The CVT paired to the 2.5-liter engine comes with an eight-speed manual mode function with paddle shifters that allows the driver to control the transmission via eight pre-set ratios. Both the CVTs, including the one on the Hybrid, come with Adaptive Control and Incline Start Assist.

The Subaru Crosstrek is offered with a Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive System, Vehicle Dynamics Control, Traction Control System, and Active Torque Vectoring as standard on all the trims and engine options. The Base and Premium trims feature a driver-selectable Low Shift Mode for more control when descending hills. The other trims come with Hill Descent Control and X-Mode function, which is basically a drive mode function. The Sport trim features an enhanced ‘dual-function’ of this X-mode that comes with Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud modes.

What Is The Crosstrek’s Fuel Economy?

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport - Driven Exterior
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With the new 2.5-liter engine under the hood, the Subaru Crosstrek delivers 27 mpg in the city 34 mpg on the highway, and 29 mpg combined. These figures are on par with the CX-3 and the HR-V. The Mazda CX-3 returns 27 mpg in the city, 32 mpg on the highway, and 29 mpg combined from its 2.0-liter engine. The HR-V, with its four-pot mill that displaces at 1.8 liters, delivers 28 miles in the city, 34 miles on the highway, and 30 miles combined for every gallon of gas it consumes.

But, it comes with the biggest fuel tank, which means your stops to quench the Crosstrek’s thirst will be limited. It comes with a 16.6-gallon fuel tank, which is much bigger than the 13.2-gallon tank on the HR-V and the 12.7-gallon tank on the CX-3.

The fuel economy for the 2.0-liter engine is rated at 28 mpg in the city, 33 mpg on the highway, and 30 mpg combined when mated to the CVT, and 22 mpg in the city, 29 on the highway, and 25 combined when mated to the manual gearbox. The Hybrid mill, on the other hand, returns 90 MPGe.

How Much Can The Crosstrek Tow?

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport - Driven Exterior
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This is the only aspect where the Crosstrek lags behind. The Subaru can tow 1,500 pounds, which is 263 pounds less than the HR-V’s towing capacity, and a full 500 pounds less than the CX-3.

Subaru Crosstrek Exterior Design

  • Nine different exterior shades
  • Gunmetal grille finish on the Sport trim
  • LED headlights only on the top trim
  • Black plastic cladding for a rugged, off-road look
  • 8.7-inch ground clearance
  • Longest, widest, and tallest compared to its rivals
2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport - Driven Exterior
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The 2021 model year didn’t bring a lot of changes to the exterior other than the new grille and the fog light inserts. The station wagon-esque look is evident all around. The new Sport trim, however, looks different from the rest of the line-up. The wing mirrors have a gunmetal finish while the grille is black with a gunmetal finish. There are black plastic elements on all the sides and it is a buzzkill, honestly. But, that said, it is more rugged and abuse-friendly in this avatar.

The Sport trim rides on 225/60 section tires wrapped around 17-inch wheels with a dark gray finish. The base and Premium also come with 17-inch wheels, but a different finish, whereas the Limited and Hybrid trims come with 18-inch wheels. The Sport trim doesn’t come with LED headlights or fog lights. That is ‘Limited’ (pun intended) to the top trim. Stuff like roof rails, rear spoiler, body-colored door handles, and wheel arch cladding is standard on all the trims. Subaru offers nine different exterior colors on the 2021 Crosstrek, including two new shades:

  • Crystal Black Silica
  • Cool-Gray Khaki
  • Ice Silver Metallic
  • Magnetite Gray Metallic
  • Pure Red
  • Crystal White Pearl
  • Lagoon Blue Pearl
  • Plasma Yellow Pearl (New)
  • Horizon Blue Pearl (New)

How Big Is The Crosstrek?

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport - Driven Exterior
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When compared to its immediate competitors, the Subaru Crosstrek is the longest, widest, and tallest vehicle.

It measures 176.5 inches in length, which makes it 6.1 inches longer than the Honda HR-V and 8.2 inches longer than the Mazda CX-3. The Crosstrek is 71 inches wide and 63.6 inches tall as opposed to the HR-V which measures 69.8- and 63.2 inches, and the CX-3 which measures 69.6- and 60.7 inches.

As expected, the Subaru takes the cake in terms of the wheelbase, too. It measures 104.9 inches, making it 2.1 inches longer than the Honda’s and 3.7 inches longer than the Mazda’s. As for the front and rear tracks, they are 61- and 61.2 inches wide on the Crosstrek, 60.4- and 60.3 inches wide on the HR-V, and 50- and 59.9 inches wide on the Mazda CX-3.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport - Driven Exterior
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Even in terms of the angles, the Crosstrek beats its Japanese counterparts. It has an approach angle of 18 degrees and a departure angle of 28.6 degrees. The approach and departure angles on the HR-V are rated at 16.7- and 23.9 degrees, and 15- and 28.1 degrees on the CX-3. This is courtesy of an impressive ground clearance of 8.7 inches, which is more than the Honda HR-V’s maximum ground clearance of 7.4 inches, and even more than the Mazda CX-3’s 6.3 inches.

Subaru Crosstrek Sport vs competition - exterior dimensions
Subaru Crosstrek Sport Mazda CX-3 Honda HR-V
Length 176.5 168.3 170.4
Width 71 69.6 69.8
Height 63.6 60.7 63.2
Wheelbase 104.9 101.2 102.8
Front Track 61 60 60.4
Rear Track 61.2 59.9 60.6

How Much Does The Crosstrek Weigh?

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport - Driven Exterior
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The Subaru Crosstrek, despite its dimensions, is not the heaviest of them all. It weighs 3,265 pounds, which is a little over 100 pounds heavier than the HR-V’s curb weight of 3,142 pounds, but significantly less than CX-3’s 3,990 pounds.

Subaru Crosstrek Interior Design

  • Yellow theme for the Sport trim
  • Water-repellant upholstery with yellow stitching
  • Leather upholstery with orange stitching on Limited trim
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • 6.5-inch touchscreen on lower and mid trims
  • Eight-inch touchscreen system on higher models
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard
  • 55.3 cubic feet of maximum cargo space
2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport - Driven Interior
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The Crosstrek’s cabin doesn’t look cheap by any means, but it isn’t plush either. Step into the driver’s seat and you’ll get cockpit vibes courtesy of all the buttons and switches around you. Behind the three-spoke, chunky steering wheel is a neat and crisp instrument cluster. There is ample space at the front and back, but storage spaces aren’t aplenty. It comes with black interior elements in general, but Subaru has introduced another theme here that will draw polarizing opinions.

To complement the new yellow exterior shade, Subaru has also offered a yellow interior theme that is an absolute cringe. There’s a new water-repellant StarTex upholstery with yellow stitching for the seats. The yellow stitching continues on the door panel, armrests, steering wheel, center console, floor mats, and basically wherever stitching is required.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport - Driven Interior
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Even the instrument cluster is not spared. The inner rings in the speedometer and the tachometer are finished in yellow, with a color LCD MID screen throwing out all the necessary information in between them. The bottom spoke of the meaty steering wheels is the most prominent yellow in the whole cabin, and this present in our Crosstrek with a black interior, too. This, by the way, is exclusive to the Sport trim. The Limited trim comes with leather-trimmed upholstery with orange contrast stitching.

The other features offered inside the cabin on the Crosstrek include (not specific to any trim):

  • Power driver’s seat
  • Heated front seats
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Keyless entry
  • Auto headlights
  • Illuminated and Lockable Glovebox
  • Automatic Climate Control

How Is The Crosstrek In Terms Of Technology

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport - Driven Interior
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There’s nothing much to write home about in terms of technology on these trims. In the bottom three trims, the Subaru Crosstrek comes with a 6.5-inch Starlink Multimedia touchscreen infotainment system. It supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Limited and Hybrid models come with an eight-inch touchscreen system. Navigation and a Harman-Kardon audio system are optional on these trims. The base trim comes with a four-speaker audio system, whereas the rest have a six-speaker setup.

Is The Crosstrek Spacious?

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport - Driven Interior
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Yes, the Subaru Crosstrek is quite spacious on the inside. In the first row, it offers headroom of 39.8 inches and legroom of 43.1 inches, both of which are more than the CX-3 and the HR-V. The CX-3 and the HR-V come with a headroom of 38.4 inches and 37.6 inches, and legroom of 41.7- and 41.2 inches. The Crosstrek also offers 56.7 inches of shoulder room and 55.1 inches of hip room. The CX-3, on the other hand, offers 53.5- and 52.3 inches, whereas the HR-V offers 56.8- and 53.1 inches of shoulder room and hip room, respectively.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport - Driven Interior
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In the second row, the Crosstrek comes with a headroom of 38 inches, legroom of 36.5 inches, shoulder room of 55.6 inches, and hip room of 55.2 inches. The CX-3 and HR-V come with 37.2- and 38.3 inches of headroom, 35- and 39.3 inches of legroom, 50.4- and 54.5 inches of shoulder room, and 49- and 47.4 inches of hip room.

Subaru Crosstrek Sport vs competition - interior dimensions
Subaru Crosstrek Sport Mazda CX-3 Honda HR-V
1st Row Headroom 39.8 38.4 37.6
1st Row Leg Room 43.1 41.7 41.2
1st Row Shoulder Room 56.7 53.5 56.8
1st Row Hip Room 55.1 52.3 53.1
2nd Row Headroom 38 37.2 38.3
2nd Row Leg Room 36.5 35 39.3
2nd Row Shoulder Room 55.6 50.4 54.5
2nd Row Hip Room 55.2 49 47.4

How Much Cargo Can The Crosstrek Carry?

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport - Driven Interior
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The Subaru Crosstrek has a fairly spacious cargo area. It offers more space than the Mazda CX-3, but less than the Honda HR-V. With all the seats in place, the Crosstrek offers 20.8 cubic feet of space, which is three cubic feet more than the CX-3, but 3.5 cubic feet less than the HR-V.

Flip down the rear seats and you have 55.3 cubic feet of space in the Subaru, 42.7 cubic feet in the CX-3, and 58.8 cubic feet of space available in the HR-V at your disposal.

Subaru Crosstrek Pricing

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport - Driven Exterior
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The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek is offered in five different trims and here’s how it is priced:

  • Base - $22,245
  • Premium - $23,295
  • Sport - $26,495
  • Limited - $27,995
  • Hybrid - $35,345

If you’re looking for the previous model which came with the 2.0-liter engine as standard, here’s how it is priced:

  • Base – $22,145
  • Premium – $23,195
  • Limited – $27,395
  • Hybrid – $35,145

As you can see, the difference is barely a few hundred bucks, so we’d strongly recommend going for the 2021 Crosstrek.

Is The Subaru Crosstrek Better Than The Mazda CX-3?

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Given the kind of sales numbers the CX-3 clocks, it may very well be considered as a niche product. This is one car that doesn’t boast of any fancy specs and features, but it still connects with you. The simple, timeless exterior styling make this a looker in my books. The cabin is cramped, especially at the rear, and even the cargo space is limited. But, if you’re an enthusiast, all this won’t matter because of its driving dynamics.

The CX-3 comes with a 2.0-liter, Skyactiv-G four-pot mill under the hood that makes 148 horses and 146 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to all the wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox. It doesn’t seem impressive on paper, but the nimble ride and handling and the corner-carving abilities make this one fun car to drive. If you’re ready to compromise on all the aspects of the driving experience, the CX-3 would be a better pick. It starts at around $22,200.

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Subaru Crosstrek Sport vs Mazda CX-3
Subaru Crosstrek Sport Mazda CX-3
Engine 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer Skyactiv-G 2.0L 4-cylinder engine
Fuel regular regular
Horsepower 182@ 5,800rpm 148hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque 176 @ 4,400rpm 146ft-lb @ 2,800 rpm
Transmission 6-speed manual 6-Speed AT
Towing Capacity 1500 2000
Fuel Economy 27/34/29 27/32/29
Curb Weight 3,265 3,990
Fuel Capacity 16.6 12.7

Read our full review on the Mazda CX-3

Is The Subaru Crosstrek Better Than The Honda HR-V?

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The Honda HR-V belongs to a segment where automakers offer more show than substance. Unlike the rivals which are all about the pizzazz, the gizmos, and other such shenanigans, the HR-V is practical and utilitarian. The HR-V will play a pivotal role now on because Honda is retiring the Fit and the former will serve as the smallest vehicle in the company’s line-up. It is almost barebones in all the trim except the top Touring, but, the cabin and cargo space is what makes this a top contender.

The HR-V is powered by a puny 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine that makes an embarrassing 141 horses and 127 pound-feet of torque. To make matters worse, it is mated to a CVT. These specs are a perfect recipe for a fuel-efficient engine, but in terms of performance, you’d better look elsewhere. For petrol-heads like us, no amount of extra space makes up for the driving experience, and hence, we’d pick the Crosstrek over the HR-V. This Honda product starts at around $21,200.

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Subaru Crosstrek Sport vs Honda HR-V
Subaru Crosstrek Sport Honda HR-V
Engine 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer 1.8 liter In-Line 4-Cylinder
Fuel regular Gas
Horsepower 182@ 5,800rpm 141 @ 6500 rpm
Torque 176 @ 4,400rpm 127 lb-ft @ 4300
Transmission 6-speed manual CVT
Towing Capacity 1500 1763
Fuel Economy 27/34/29 28 / 34 / 30
Curb Weight 3,265 3,142
Fuel Capacity 16.6 13.2

Read our full review on the Honda HR-V

Did The Crosstrek Sell More Than The CX-3 And The HR-V In The Past Years?

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport - Driven Exterior
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In 2018, the Subaru Crosstrek recorded its best sales since its inception – 144,384. In 2019, these figures dropped down a bit to 131,152, and in 2020, they further slumped down to 119,716.

The HR-V sold much fewer units in comparison. In 2018, Honda moved 85,494 examples of the HR-V. In 2019, 99,104 examples were sold, but 2020 saw a fall in sales again as Honda sold only 84,027 examples of the HR-V.

The Mazda CX-3 is the worst performer of the lot. In 2018, the sales numbers for the car stood at 16,899. In 2019 it was 16,229, and in 2020, Mazda managed to roll out just 8,335 examples of the CX-3.

Subaru Crosstrek Warranty

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport - Driven Exterior
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All the Crosstrek models come with a New Car Limited Warranty of 3 years/36,000 miles as standard. It also comes with a Powertrain Limited Warranty of 5 years/60,000 miles on all the engine options.

Subaru Crosstrek Optional Packages

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport - Driven Exterior
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Base Trim

Subaru offers just one package on this trim. A CVT with EyeSight Driver Assist Technology which includes:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Pre-Collision Braking
  • Lane Departure and Sway Warning
  • Lane-Keep Assist

Premium Trim

You have three different optional packages for this trim, which include:

A CVT with EyeSight Driver Assist Technology which includes:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Pre-Collision Braking
  • Lane Departure and Sway Warning
  • Lane-Keep Assist

The above package, plus:

  • Power Moonroof
  • Blind-spot Detection
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Alert
  • Keyless Entry with Push Start Button

And, a third package which includes the above features, plus:

  • Six-way Power-adjustable Driver’s Seat
2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport - Driven Exterior
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Sport Trim

This trim is offered with just one optional package and it includes:

  • Power Moonroof
  • Blind-Spot Detection
  • Rear Cross-Traffic Alert
  • Starlink Eight-inch Touchscreen Infotainment System
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible
  • SiriusXM with Travel Link
  • Two USB Ports

Limited Trim

Comes with two optional packages – one with Moonroof, and the other which includes all the features of the package offered on Sport trim, plus:

  • Navigation
  • Eight-speaker Harman-Kardon audio system
  • 432-Watt Amplifier

Hybrid Trim

This trim comes with the most equipped package, which includes all the features of the package on the Limited trim, in addition to:

  • Pandora and Aha smartphone app integration
  • Cloud-based apps support
  • Heated steering wheel

Subaru Crosstrek Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport - Driven Exterior
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The Subaru Crosstrek is one of the safest vehicles you can buy at this price point. It has received the Top Safety Pick+ rating consecutively since 2015. For the 2021 model, Subaru has taken it up a notch by offering the EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, which includes:

  • Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centering
  • Automatic Pre-Collision Braking
  • Pre-Collision Throttle Management
  • Lane Departure Prevention
  • Lead Vehicle Start Alert
  • Auto Start-Stop
  • SI-Drive

It comes bundled with a lot of other features, which are optional in most of the trims and standard on the Limited trim. Some of these include:

  • High-Beam Assist
  • Reverse Automatic Braking
  • Brake Assist
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System
  • ABS and Airbags
  • Leave it
    • Yellow-theme interior
    • Honda HR-V offers more space

Source: Photo Credit: Phil Daix

Sidd Dhimaan
Sidd Dhimaan
Senior Editor, Truck Expert, EV Expert - sidd@topspeed.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. Fast forward to today, and he is currently serving as a senior editor, pickup truck expert, and EV expert.  Read full bio
About the author

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