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2021 Subaru Crosstrek - Review by Larry Nutson

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More power; new Sport trim

By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau

The global microchip shortage has impacted car sales for nearly every brand. Subaru’s June sales were down about 20% due to lack of vehicles on dealer’s lots. However, for the first half of 2021 overall sales are up by about 20%.

The Crosstrek is Subaru’s number three seller, after the Forester and Outback, and its sales are up 40% for the first half of the year.

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The 2021 Crosstrek got a few updates the most important of which is a new 182-hp 2.5-L 4-cylinder Boxer engine that is now standard on the all-new Sport trim as well as the Limited trim. The Crosstrek also received a redesigned front fascia and grille, new wheel designs, a couple new colors, and adaptive cruise control with lane centering is added to the EyeSight Driver Assist Technology suite.

The new 182-hp engine is a welcome change. It has 30 additional horsepower plus increased torque over the 152-hp 2.0-liter four that was used on prior year’s Limited trims and remains the engine powering the Base and Premium trims.

Sport and Limited trims with the 2.5-L engine have a Lineartronic CVT. Base and Premium trim levels are offered with either a standard 6-speed manual transmission or optional Lineartronic CVT. All CVT-equipped models except the Base feature an 8-speed manual mode function with steering wheel shift paddles that allow the driver to control the transmission via eight pre-set ratios. All Crosstrek models are equipped as standard with Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and Active Torque Vectoring.  

The new Sport trim is for the off-roader and features the dual-function X-MODE with Hill Descent Control with Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud selectable settings to optimize AWD performance. Unique exterior trim elements include specific wheel arch moldings, Sport-type 17-inch alloy wheels with dark gray finish, and gunmetal finish for the front grille, side mirrors and badges.

The Sport interior equipment includes the Premium trim’s content, plus exclusive StarTex upholstery with yellow stitching. StarTex upholstery is a lightweight, urethane material manufactured without polyvinyl chloride (PVC), phthalate or chlorine. Yellow stitching has been added to the simulated leather door trim panel armrests, leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift boot, multifunction display visor, and center console storage box lid. Carpeted floormats feature the Sport logo and yellow stitching.

The Sport is further distinguished by its cabin with gunmetal and simulated carbon fiber interior trim accents, a high-grade combination meter with color LCD and yellow metallic finish trim rings, and a high-power LED rear gate light.

To recap, the 2021 Crosstrek is offered in Base and Premium trims with 152-hp and Sport and Limited trims with 182-hp. Base trim starting price is $22,245, Premium is priced at $23,295, Sport is $26,495, and Limited is $27,995. Add $1,050 to all for destination and delivery.

For my Crosstrek drive experience I drove a Limited trim finished in Horizon Blue Pearl, one of the new 2021 colors. This Limited was equipped with the optional $2,395 Moonroof/Navigation and Harmon Kardon audio package, bringing the total to $31,440 including destination.

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This five-seat four-door with a big rear hatch is a compact size utility vehicle. At 176.5 inches long it makes for comfortable big-city maneuvering and parking. There’s 8.7 inches of road clearance which helps out in deep snow or soft-roading. Cargo volume is modest at 20.8 cu.ft. but it expands to 55.3 cu.ft. for those bigger hauling jobs.

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My last Crosstrek drive was in a 2018 model with 2.0-L engine. Looking back at my comments from then, I would opt for the Sport or Limited with the 2.5-L engine since the 2.0-L is a bit slow off the line. There’s very little fuel economy penalty for this, if any at all. The 2.5-L is rated 29 combined mpg with 27 city mpg and 34 highway mpg. The 2.0-L is rated one mpg better in city rating and yet one mpg lower in highway. Your driving style, the load you carry, and the terrain and weather you usually drive in will make for differences.

Ride and handling is confident and comfortable. Steering is nicely weighted and the brake system is smooth and linear. Overall, driving dynamics are quite good. Fit and finish, interior trim quality and appearance, as well as control ergonomics and the infotainment system all are well designed.

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More facts, figures and details on the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek can be found at The EyeSight Driver Assist Technology suite is a full contingent of advanced driver-assist safety (ADAS) features that help keep you out of harms way.

The Subaru Crosstrek is a practical choice for a good value compact utility. Once only the favorite of New Englanders and those in mountainous states, Subaru vehicles have gained in popularity around the U.S. It’s a good alternative to other similarly priced utility vehicles.

Happy motoring!

© 2021 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy