Subaru Crosstrek Steps Up For 2021

The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek outfitted with accessories in Plasma Yellow.
The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek outfitted with accessories in Plasma Yellow.

Back in the middle of the 20th century a bunch of car companies from countries who fought against the US in World War 2 started to send their little cars stateside.  And Americans Loved them and bought them by the droves.

Only one brand of those brands was not a company brand. It was a business deal by a Philadelphia PA wheeler dealer, who wanted to make some money selling something.  That businessman was Malcolm Bricklin, who wanted to import something people wanted to buy.

Now fifty plus years later Subaru of America has a strong market presence that sells pretty much every car they make before it is delivered to over 300 dealerships in the USA. After driving the 2021 Subaru CrossTrek Sport, I can see why.

Crosstrek for 2021

While the Crosstrek is not new, being in the US market since 2013. What is new for 2021 is that this little SUV has been improved with a more powerful 2.5 boxer engine standard on the Sport, starting at $23,295 and a Limited model, starting at $27,995. These are in addition to the Base and Premium models, as well as the PHEV model which we tested for our site last year, and did a Queer4Cars YouTube Video on last year. While Sport and Limited benefit the most from the improvements, you will see changes across the whole model lineup.

New for all Crosstrek models this year are redesigned wheels and a redesigned front fascia that includes a new bumper and grille. Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control is standard on trims with EyeSight, which is Subaru’s forward facing dual camera system. And a number of other upgrades from durable StarTex upholstery and the addition of dual-function X-MODE, on the Sport model. X-MODE adds more capability to the Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and Active Torque Vectoring. To add an extra level of safety to the Crosstrek Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centering is available on the CVT equipped sport model


What is a Subaru Crosstrek, you ask? It is a smaller version of the Subaru Outback Station Wagon SUV. And the Crosstrek is considered a small SUV, not a crossover. This is due to its standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and overall high ground clearance and capability. And the fact that for its small size it has room for four passengers, five if you squeeze someone in the middle back seat, and plenty of cargo room under a tall opening rear hatch.

Exterior Styling

While the exterior overall design has not changed you will notice some well placed updates. The 2021 Crosstrek feeatures standard 17-inch alloy wheels in black with machine finish, roof rails, black side cladding, and a gloss black rear roof spoiler. This is not just for looks as the Crosstrek continues to be quite capable with 8.7-inches of ground clearance which will be useful in both city and off-road driving. The new Sport is available in seven exterior colors including new Plasma Yellow Pearl and Horizon Blue Pearl.

Interior Styling

The Sport model features StarTex™ seating, which is a premium environmentally friendly material that is not leather nor plastic. The Sport interior equipment includes the Premium trim’s content. Yellow stitching has been added to the door trim panel armrests, leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift boot, multi-function display visor, and center console storage box lid. Carpeted floor mats feature the Sport logo and yellow stitching.

StarTex™ & More

StarTex™ upholstery is a lightweight, urethane material manufactured without polyvinyl chloride (PVC), phthalate or chlorine. The backing of the floormats is made from 25 percent recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

The Limited cabin features black or gray leather with orange stitching on seats, door armrests and instrument panel, plus a 6-way power driver’s seat. Standard amenities include leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift lever handle; Keyless Access with Push-Button Start; STARLINK 8.0-inch Multimedia Plus system; and high-grade multi-function display with color LCD.

Engine & Transmission

For 2021 Subaru has put the proven 2.5-litre boxer engine into the Crosstrek.
For 2021 Subaru has put the proven 2.5-litre boxer engine into the Crosstrek.

Two Power Levels for 2021 The Cross Trek Sport and Limited now feature the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder Boxer engine that has been featured in the Forester since 2019.  This engine produces 182 hp and 176 lb.-ft. of torque.

And yes there still is use the efficient and responsive 2.0-liter 4-cylinder BOXER engine that delivers 152-hp and 145 lb.-ft. of torque. That is available on the Base and Premium models, which you can get the conventional six-speed manual transmission.

Transmissions – While there is a standard 6 speed manual transmission, on Base and Premium trim level Crosstrek models. All CVT-equipped models except the Base feature an 8-speed manual mode function with steering wheel paddle shifters that allow the driver to control the transmission via eight pre-set ratios. The base model features a driver-selectable Low Shift Mode for more control when descending hills.

The distinctive and more powerful new Crosstrek Sport is the only Crosstrek model to feature the dual-function X-MODE® with Hill Descent Control with SNOW/DIRT and DEEP SNOW/MUD selectable settings to optimize AWD performance for difficult weather or road conditions. X-MODE has Hill Descent Control for enhanced performance in low-friction and off-road conditions.

Also standard on all CVT-equipped models, SI-DRIVE is a powertrain performance management system that allows the driver to tailor the vehicle’s throttle characteristics by choosing between “Intelligent” and “Sport” modes. Selecting “Intelligent” mode helps smooth out accelerator inputs for fuel saving, while “Sport” mode tunes the throttle to emphasize performance.

The Sport model I drove during the 2-hour drive had the Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission. While I know there is a lot of dislike for CVT’s and at first I could tell that it was indeed a CVT. Within a few miles it was not even apparant. The pickup and response was excellent with this transmission paried up with the 2.5-liter Boxer engine.

CVTs have come a long way since those early days when they were indeed pathetic.  This one in the Crosstrek is achieving EPA-estimated fuel economy of 28 city / 33 highway / 30 combined MPG. I understand the 6-speed manual models are rated at 22 city / 29 highway / 25 combined MPG.


My only long term experience with Subaru had been in older Legacy models and the PHEV Crosstrek I reviewed last summer. Driving this 2021 for me was a real pleasure. I liked the perkiness of the engine, the detail to the interior, the touch and feel of the materials as well as the interior space configuration. The small touches like usability of the roof rails and the addition of the LED light inside the rear hatch so that you could see in the dark as you were loading the cargo area.

Would I buy this 2021 Crosstrek. Why Yes I Would! Espcially at the price point that these come in for. While they are a tad more expensive than last year’s models, they bring so much more to the table than the few dollars extra they cost.

While Subaru’s need little promotional incentives, you may find your best deal through a credit union, professional association or other group that you belong to, that has a buyers agreement with specific dealers.  

Subaru has always offered tough, long lasting, extremely capable cars that were and are somewhat unsexy! Subaru pioneered things like symmetrical all-wheel drive on all their cars, an eyesight camera system that sees things ahead and brings them to your attention as a driver. And as a company they have long been ahead of the curve with the enviorment, making sure their plants are zero-waste. These are the things that Subaru’s customer base, just adores and make them proud to own one of the vehicles they produce.

Words by William West Hopper. Images by WWH and the official brand media provided photographs.
William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret
William West Hopper, VIP Tour Guide at the 2019 Washington DC Auto Show. Photo by Bonnie M. Moret

Mr. Hopper has been a lifelong automotive enthusiast seeing his first Subaru models in a small sidewalk display at the King 0f Prussia Mall in 1970. You can find him driving a variety of vehicles and talking about them through various mediums.


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