Subaru has a long history of delivering rugged all-wheel-drive conveyance for the masses, long before the SUVs became the must have accessor for suburbia.  But, they also have a more recent history of being a little frugal when it comes to horsepower. So let’s see if an updated Crosstrek is more history in the making. 

The Subaru Crosstrek rolls into the 2021 model year, 3-years into its 2nd-generation. Now, this Impreza-based crossover has only been in the Subaru lineup since 2013 when it debuted as the XV Crosstrek, but you can certainly trace its roots back to this 1983 Subaru Traction Wagon. 

Those were the days, as back then, Subaru wasn’t ashamed to call a wagon a wagon. But even then, underhood, was what we called an “archaic” 1.8-liter flat 4-cylinder. It produced just 95-horsepower, leading to a lengthy 13.5-seconds just to reach 60 miles-per-hour, and that was with a turbo!  But, there was enough room in the engine bay for the spare tire.  How cool was that? 

To the present, and the big news for 2021 addresses that common complaint of not enough juice under the hood. It’s not a new engine, rather the Forester’s naturally aspirated 2.5-liter flat-4. Output is the same here as in the Forester, 182-horsepower and 176 lb-ft. of torque, and this engine is now standard in Sport and Limited trims; along with a CVT transmission. 

Base and Premium trimmed Crosstreks stick with the 152-horsepower 2.0-liter, and believe it or not, a 6-speed manual; a CVT is optional, but of course all come with all-wheel-drive.  

That 30 extra horsepower in our Limited tester did not disappoint at the test track, shaving more than 2-seconds off our last Crosstrek test’s 0-60 time to a much more respectable 7.8-seconds.  Now we’re talkin’, Subaru!

It’s still by no means a burner, but it felt noticeably faster from the get-go. The typical CVT-induced engine moaning and delay to get to full power are still here; but we’re much happier with the overall results and a ¼-mile time of 15.9-seconds at 88 miles-per-hour.

You can shift manually through 8 simulated gears that Subaru has engineered into the CVT, but the only benefits are psychological. 

Subaru makes no mention of any suspension changes; and while there was a lot of roll through our cone course due to the substantial 8.7-inches of ground clearance, the Crosstrek has always exceeded our expectations when it comes to handling. 

Light steering, and gentle traction control intervention, allowed us to get through here quickly and cleanly, with no drama, and even a little bit of fun.

Brakes felt very solid for a couple runs, delivering respectable stopping distances of 117-feet from 60; but then they began to fade, and pedal feel got progressively mushier. But, all-in-all a very stable and solid performer. 

This gen Crosstrek made big strides on improving the interior, so no major changes this year. Limited comes with things you might expect like leather surfaces with orange stitching, a 6-way power driver’s seat, All-Weather Package, and an 8.0-inch touch screen for Subaru’s Starlink Multimedia Plus system. A 6.5-inch touchscreen is standard. 

And, there’s also some things you might not anticipate like steering responsive headlights, High-Grade dash-top multifunction display, and even an upgraded sound insulating windshield. 

If you want TomTom navigation on that touchscreen instead of relying on your smartphone, you’ll have to add a package that also includes a moonroof and upgraded Harmon Kardon stereo. 

Still adequate comfort in all seating positions, and wide open access to the great 20.8 cubic-ft. of cargo space, maxing out at 55.3 with the 60/40 split seat backs folded. 

And if you can’t fit it inside, standard roof rails enable multiple ways for you to store it up top. 

Standard EyeSight Driver Assist Technology now features Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centering.

In order to showcase the updated status; all Crosstreks get a new grille and fascia up front, complemented by new wheel designs. 

Here, Limited trim adds 18-inch black machine-finish alloy wheels and body-colored mirrors with turn signals.

2.5 Government Fuel Economy Ratings are only slightly worse than the 2.0-liter at 27-City, 34-Highway, and 29-Combined.  We averaged a quite good 31.1 miles-per-gallon. 

That rates a better than average Energy Impact Score, 11.4-barrels of oil yearly, with C02 emissions of 5.0-tons.

Base pricing starts at $23,295; our top tier Limited at $29,045; with Premium and Sport trims in between.

The Sport version is actually new for ’21 and features gun metal finishes for the grille and side mirrors; as well as 17 inch alloy wheels with more rugged-looking fender flares. 

It also gets unique interior trim, as well as Subaru’s upgraded dual function X-Mode all-wheel-drive, with hill descent control, for enhanced performance off road. 

Whichever route you choose, you won’t have to pay extra for all-wheel-drive; making the Crosstrek as good a value as ever. 

We’re never one to turn away from more horsepower; so we really appreciate the additional oomph Subaru has made available in the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek.

Once again, they’ve made a favorite of ours, just a little bit better; and given it the means to power towards the front of the crowded small crossover segment. 


  • Engine: 2.5L flat 4
  • Horsepower: 182
  • Torque: 176 lb-ft.
  • 0-60 mph: 7.8 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 15.9 s @ 88 mph
  • EPA: 27 City / 34 Highway / 29 Combined