Sales of subcompact SUVs and crossovers are strong, and the Crosstrek is clearly one of the darlings of the segment, especially here in the Pacific Northwest. The Crosstrek offers rugged looks, a comfortable ride, practicality, decent fuel economy and 8.7 inches of ground clearance for light off-roading.
Base Price: $26,495
As Tested: $29,145
Mileage: 27 mpg city/34 mpg highway/29 mpg combined
The XV Crosstrek, as it was first known in the U.S., was introduced for the 2013 model year. It got a makeover for 2018. Subaru’s EyeSight suite of driver assistance technologies was made available on all trims for 2019. A few more features were added for 2020, and for 2021, the Crosstrek gets some exterior styling tweaks, the addition of the new Sport trim, and a more powerful engine on the two top trims.
The five-passenger 2021 Subaru Crosstrek comes in four trims: Crosstrek, Premium, Sport and Limited. Starting prices range from $22,245 to $27,995. Those are a bit high for the class, but the Crosstrek comes standard with all-wheel-drive which usually costs more on most rivals.
A 2020 Subaru Crosstrek plug-in hybrid is also available with a starting price of $35,145.
The Crosstrek and Premium trims are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 152 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque, paired with either a six-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission.
The Sport and Limited trims get the same engine as the base Forester and Outback: a 2.5-liter Boxer four-cylinder that generates 182 horses and 176 pound-feet. The CVT is the only available transmission with this engine.
While the base engine accelerates in a leisurely fashion, the bigger engine helps the Crosstrek hustle while merging and passing at freeway speeds. The Crosstrek handles more like a car than SUV and is comfortable as a daily driver. The ride is on the firm side but not jarring, even on rough roads. Steering is responsive, making the Crosstrek easy to negotiate on curvy roads and cramped parking lots. However, you will notice some body roll and there’s a fair amount of road and engine noise. Visibility is good all the way around.
Fuel efficiency is decent for a small crossover. EPA ratings for my tester are 27 mpg city and 34 mpg highway with a combined rating of 29. I got 27 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The new Sport trim has the dual-function X-mode with Hill Descent Control with snow/dirt and deep snow/mud settings to optimize AWD performance in challenging weather and/or road conditions. All other Crosstrek trim levels with the CVT feature X-mode with Hill Descent Control.
The cabin is pleasant but not as upscale as many competitors. It has a more functional feel, signaling that the Crosstrek is ready for things like outdoor adventures and traveling with your pooch. Controls are sensibly laid out and easy to see and reach. There are some soft-touch materials, and my tester has Subaru’s StarTex upholstery with eye-catching yellow stitching and accents. The cabin is roomy and it’s easy to forget that you’re in a subcompact vehicle. Four adults fit comfortably in the two rows of seating.
Standard features include a rearview camera, cloth upholstery, automatic climate control, Subaru’s StarLink infotainment system with a 6.5-inch touchscreen, four-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, USB port, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, roof rails, and rear spoiler.
Available features include proximity keyless entry, remote start, push-button start, StarTex water-repellant cloth upholstery, leather upholstery, six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, eight-inch touchscreen, navigation, six-speaker audio system, eight-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, satellite radio, HD Radio, three additional USB ports, Wi-Fi hot spot, rear seat reminder, and a moonroof.
Crosstrek models equipped with the CVT come with the Subaru EyeSight suite of driver assistance technologies including adaptive cruise control with lane centering, automatic pre-collision braking, pre-collision throttle management, lane departure prevention, lead vehicle start alert, and auto start-stop.
Available driver assistance technologies include blind spot detection with lane change assist, and rear cross-traffic alert.
The StarLink infotainment system comes with a 6.5-inch standard touchscreen or an optional eight-inch touchscreen. The system is user-friendly and responds quickly to touch and voice commands. There are handy physical knobs and buttons for common functions such as volume and climate.
The 2021 Crosstrek has lots of cargo space for the class with 20.8 cubic feet with both rows of seating in place, and 55.3 cubes with the second row folded. The rear seats split fold 60/40 but don’t fold entirely flat; still there’s plenty of space for your gear for outdoor fun.
8.6-inches of ground clearance for outdoor adventure
Decent fuel economy for the class
User-friendly infotainment system
Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
High starting price for the class
Lackluster base engine
Cabin not as upscale as competitors
Noticeable body roll
My tester starts at $26,495. The moonroof, blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and Multimedia Plus are $1,600. Destination fee is $1,050 bringing the grand total to $29,145.
If you want a popular subcompact crossover that’s comfortable as a daily driver and practical for outdoor adventures, the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek should be on your list. It’s a good all-around option in the class.