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2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport is a nimble, off-road capable small SUV Featured

Posted On Sunday, 03 January 2021 12:44 Written by
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The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport gets upgrades to its design, engine options and technology/safety features. The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport gets upgrades to its design, engine options and technology/safety features. Photo courtesy of Subaru

The subcompact crossover market is quite saturated these days — which competitors including Honda’s HR-V, the Kia Seltos, Hyundai Venue, Mazda CX-30 and Jeep Renegade, among many others.

But Subaru, a brand that doesn’t top sales charts but has fiercely loyal followers, has perhaps the best offering in this segment — the Subaru Crosstrek, which gets a strong design upgrade, more powerful engine option and safety/tech upgrades for 2021. I recently spent some time behind the wheel of a 2021 Crosstrek Sport, and I’m back with a full report on a vehicle that spices up its segment.


The exterior of the redesigned 2021 Crosstrek stands out from the competition, both in terms of its sleek look and unique colors offered. Subaru has never gone the way every other automaker has with its designs, and this is no exception.

The vehicle features a redesigned front fascia that includes a new bumper cover and grille, new wheel design, and new color options such as Plasma Yellow Pearl and Horizon Blue Pearl. I had a test vehicle with the yellow pearl color and it looked very sharp and unique on the roadways.

Moving inside, you'll find an extremely comfortable vehicle in terms of materials used, especially considering the lower price range of this vehicle. Of course it's nowhere near a luxury level of quality, but Subaru never claimed it was. In the realm of subcompact SUVs, you'll feel very happy about what you see inside the Crosstrek Sport vs. the competition.

Moving beyond comfort, the overall design of how controls are placed on the steering wheel and in the center console is very well done on the Crosstrek. Drivers of all levels of tech understanding should be able to figure things out without any problem. 

For 2021, the all-new Crosstrek Sport trim level delivers features such as sport wheels with dark gray finish, gunmetal finish on the front grill side mirrors and badges, new water repellent and durable upholstery, and yellow stitching on the seats, steering wheel and dashboard, and simulated carbon fiber interior trim accents.

Also standard are a 60/40 split fold-down rear seatback, dark tint privacy glass, roof rails and rear spoiler. My test vehicle also featured a power moonroof.

My only concern with this vehicle’s design is the limited rear leg Room, and overall limited cargo space due to its smaller size of the vehicle. If you are going on adventures, equipment such as bikes or canoes will need to be stored above the vehicle or carried behind it.

The Crosstrek has a cargo capacity of 20.8 cubic feet with seats up, and 55.3 cubic feet with rear seats down.


Compared to other smaller SUVs, Subaru's Crosstrek Sport offers a much more enjoyable ride quality due to its new, more powerful engine. You can accelerate very quickly when needed (0-to-60 time is under 8 seconds, and the overall power is more than satisfactory for the segment).

Maneuverability, handling and braking performance are excellent in the Crosstrek Sport. It’s a vehicle that feels very light, so you actually have to watch yourself so you don't go too fast (a trait I tend to like on vehicles). Its weight is just 3,296 pounds, putting it toward the lower end of the SUV weight chart, which explains why it’s so punchy and responsive to driver input.

And for the cherry on top, you get some basic all weather/off road functions in the Crosstrek Sport. It has an 8.7-inch ground clearance, and choosing X Mode allows for better performance on snow, dirty and muddy roads. Don’t go crazy with the offroading, as this isn’t a Wrangler, but it offers a much better ability in this category than Subaru’s subcompact crossover competitors. The Sport trim level also features Hill Descent Control.

There are a couple different engines offered in the Crosstrek, including the new 2.5 liter, 4-cylinder Subaru BOXER engine that is standard on Sport and Limited Trim levels. This engine features 182 horsepower and 176 lb.-ft. of torque, and is paired with a CVT automatic transmission.

The two lowest trim levels (Base and Premium) will get a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder BOXER engine featuring 152 horsepower and 145 lb.-ft. of torque. These two options can be chosen with a manual 6-speed transmission, or a CVT automatic.

On the higher trim levels, including the Crosstrek Sport, there is also an 8-speed manual shift mode that can be used with steering wheel paddle shifters for those who want a manual driving experience in conjunction with the CVT.

One thing about Subaru that everyone should love is its commitment to all-wheel drive, and their symmetrical all-wheel drive setup is standard across the Crosstrek line. Towing capacity on the Crosstrek is limited to 1,500 pounds.


The tech features and safety offerings in the 2021 Crosstrek Sport are both very strong.

First, let’s talk about the STARLINK infotainment system, which features a nice two-screen setup. Up top, a smaller screen lists the time, temperature outside, average mpg and your climate control information. Below that, there is a larger (6.5 or 8 inch options) touchscreen which works very well and controls the music output — offering FM, AM and Satellite radio, as well as streaming music from your phone via Bluetooth.

If you want to avoid the touch controls, voice commands work effectively for delivering audio and phone commands.

Other standard tech features on the Crosstrek include: A pair of 12-volt power outlets, multiple USB ports, automatic climate control, daytime running lights, power door locks and exterior mirrors, and power windows with one-touch auto up/down. Smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Audio allows for phone mirroring.

The vehicle also features a CD player, and a 4-month trial of SiriusXM Radio. Another helpful feature on the Crosstrek is the Rear Seat Reminder which reminds drivers to check for their children or pets before leaving the vehicle. 

On the safety front, Subaru offers the innovative Eyesight driver-assist technology package. This system has expanded to include Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centering, and is standard on all CVT equipped models of the Crosstrek. Other features of this system are: Automatic Pre-Collision Braking; Pre-Collision Throttle Management; Lane Departure Prevention; Lead Vehicle Start Alert (letting you know if the vehicle ahead of you has moved); Auto Start-Stop; and more.

You also get a helpful rear-vision camera for assistance in parking situations, brake assist technology, tire pressure monitoring system, and blind spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert. 

The 2021 Crosstrek contains seven airbags, and has been a top IIHS safety pick every year since 2015. On the Limited trim level, you move up to the 8-inch touchscreen with Navigation, which can be controlled by voice and is powered by TomTom.

The Crosstrek Sport offers very impressive fuel mileage, with numbers at 27 mpg in the city, 34 on the highway, and 29 combined. While driving the Crosstrek Sport, I averaged 26.6 mpg. The vehicle has a 16.6 gallon tank, so fuel-conscious drivers could potentially be pushing 500 miles on a fill-up.


The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport I tested was priced at just over $29,000; and the base price starts about $27K for the Sport trim. Base Crosstrek starts just over $22K; Premium trim starts around $23K; and the high-end Limited trim starts just under $28K.


The redesigned 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport is a fun-to-drive subcompact SUV with some basic off-road and all-weather credibility. It’s the best option for adventurous types who aren’t committed to a more expensive, fully rugged vehicle but don’t want a simple grocery-getter compact SUV either.

===== can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport  
  • Price as tested: $29.145
  • Best feature: Powerful, responsive drive; Off-road ability  
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars  
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Compact SUV buyers looking for a fun ride with some off-road capability
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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