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2021 Subaru Crosstrek Review

The Subaru Crosstrek earns a spot in the middle of our subcompact SUV rankings. It’s aided by a smooth ride and an intuitive infotainment system, but it’s hampered by a ho-hum base engine and a subpar predicted reliability rating.

Pros & Cons

  • Roomy cabin
  • Straightforward tech features
  • Cushioned ride
  • Standard all-wheel drive
  • Bland base engine
  • Moderate body roll
  • Fewer upscale cabin materials than rivals
  • Below-average predicted reliability rating

New for 2021

  • Refreshed exterior styling
  • Sport trim debuts
  • Stronger engine option added

Rankings & Research

The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek's #8 ranking is based on its score within the Subcompact SUVs category. Currently the Subaru Crosstrek has a score of 7.3 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 26 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

7.3

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 7.9
Performance: 6.8
Interior: 7.2
Safety:
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of 9.1 for safety is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Subaru Crosstrek?

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Is the Subaru Crosstrek a Good SUV?

The Subaru Crosstrek is a good subcompact SUV. For such a small vehicle, it has plenty of space for passengers, and its cargo capacity is good too. Its infotainment controls are straightforward, and, all-new for 2021, the Crosstrek can be had with a stronger engine that delivers quicker acceleration. It’s also one of the few models in the class capable of venturing off road. However, this SUV has a disappointing predicted reliability rating, and plenty of rivals have nicer cabins and sharper handling.

Why You Can Trust Us: 26 Reviews Analyzed

Our goal is to make shopping for your next car as easy as possible. You'll find everything you need to know about this vehicle in our comprehensive review. It combines concrete data like horsepower ratings, fuel economy, and cargo space dimensions with 26 professional reviews.

This Subaru Crosstrek review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2018.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we never accept expensive gifts from carmakers, and an outside firm manages the ads on our site.

Should I Buy the Subaru Crosstrek?

The Subaru Crosstrek checks off most of what you’d want in a small SUV while still being one of the most capable off-roaders in the class, but it does have a few shortcomings. For something more fun to drive, consider the Mazda CX-30. For something more luxurious, try the Hyundai Kona. While this Subaru gets good gas mileage, the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid gets even better fuel economy.

Find a 2021 Subaru Crosstrek for sale near you »

2020 vs. 2021 Subaru Crosstrek: What's the Difference?

For 2021, Subaru refreshes the Crosstrek’s exterior styling and introduces a new Sport trim. However, the big change is the availability of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine in the Crosstrek Sport and Limited trims.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 Crosstrek »

Here are this vehicle’s key changes since Subaru redesigned it for the 2018 model year:

  • 2018: fully redesigned with 4-horsepower engine bump, new nine-speed automatic transmission, more passenger room, and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • 2019: EyeSight made available in every trim; Crosstrek Hybrid reintroduced
  • 2020: gained standard automatic climate control; stop-start feature added to models with continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT)
  • 2021: stronger engine option now available; Sport trim debuts; updated exterior styling

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Crosstrek, 2019 Crosstrek, and 2020 Crosstrek reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Subaru Crosstrek Cost?

The entry-level Subaru Crosstrek has a starting MSRP of $22,245. That’s pricey for a subcompact, but keep in mind that this Subaru comes standard with all-wheel drive. Getting AWD in most rivals adds a few thousand dollars to the price tag.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Subaru dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Subaru deals page.

Subaru Crosstrek Versus the Competition

Subaru Crosstrek vs. Honda HR-V

In a side-by-side comparison, the Honda HR-V ranks neck and neck with the Subaru Crosstrek. The Honda has more cargo room and nimbler handling, but the Subaru has a gentler ride and more intuitive infotainment controls. Both vehicles have underwhelming base engines, though unlike the HR-V, the Crosstrek has a stronger power plant available. Getting it requires spending a lot more money though. Choosing between these subcompact SUVs is a matter of preference.

Compare the Crosstrek and HR-V »

Subaru Crosstrek vs. Toyota C-HR

The Toyota C-HR comes with a long list of standard safety technology and has outstanding handling, but in most respects the Crosstrek is the better vehicle. It comes with all-wheel drive, which you won’t find in the C-HR. The Subie also has more room for passengers and cargo. Both models have bland base engines, but the Subaru’s optional one is unmatched by the Toyota.

Compare the Crosstrek and C-HR »

Compare the Crosstrek, HR-V, and C-HR »

Crosstrek Interior: Not so Subcompact

Crosstrek Cargo Space

This vehicle has 20.8 cubic feet of space behind the rear seats. Folding them down opens up 55.3 cubic feet. Both totals are above average for a small SUV.

How Many People Does the Crosstrek Seat?

Up to five people can sit in this two-row SUV. Cloth upholstery is standard, but you can upgrade that to water-repellant cloth or leather-trimmed upholstery. Heated front seats and a six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat are also available.

The front and back rows both have plenty of space for most adults to sit comfortably, and the seats are well-cushioned and supportive. However, the low-set driver’s seat lacks lumbar adjustment.

Crosstrek and Child Car Seats

The Crosstrek comes with two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats. There’s also a tether anchor for the rear middle seat, which can borrow lower anchors from either outboard seat. The whole setup is easy to use.

Crosstrek Interior Quality

Although the Crosstrek has a few soft plastics in its cabin, as well as appealing aesthetics such as available orange stitching, you’ll find more upscale materials in many of its classmates, such as the Mazda CX-3.

Crosstrek Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

Subaru’s StarLink infotainment system is intuitive. The touch screen’s menus are well-organized and easy to read. There are also well-placed physical controls to adjust the audio and climate settings.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 6.5-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a four-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, and a USB port
  • Available infotainment features: an 8-inch touch screen, navigation, a Wi-Fi hot spot, three additional USB ports, HD Radio, satellite radio, and a six- or eight-speaker stereo
  • Additional standard features: automatic climate control
  • Other available features: push-button start, proximity keyless entry, and a moonroof

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Crosstrek Performance: Get the Engine Upgrade

Crosstrek Engine

Which engine you get depends on trim level. The base and Premium models have a 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 152 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. This engine is weak. Acceleration is sluggish, and merging lanes on the highway requires careful planning. You can choose between a six-speed manual transmission and a continuously variable automatic (CVT).

Sport and Limited trims upgrade to a 2.5-liter inline-four that puts out 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. That’s the same engine found in the base Subaru Forester and Subaru Outback. Here, it suits the Crosstrek well, helping provide quicker bursts of acceleration and power. The CVT is the sole transmission offered with this engine.

Crosstrek Gas Mileage

With its base engine and CVT, the Crosstrek returns an EPA-estimated 28 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. Those are good ratings for a small SUV. Adding the manual transmission drops fuel economy to 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway. Models with the larger flat-four engine and the CVT get 27/34 mpg city/highway.

For something even more fuel-efficient, you might consider the plug-in Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, which has 17 miles of all-electric range.

Crosstrek Ride and Handling

For the most part, this Subaru has a comfortable and composed ride. Its suspension is firm, but not harshly so, and it does its job smoothing over bumps in the road. While that firmness sharpens the Crosstrek’s handling, there’s too much body roll for it to feel sporty. Its 8.7 inches of ground clearance and standard all-wheel drive help give the Subaru some light off-road capability.

Read more about performance »

Crosstrek Reliability

Is the Subaru Crosstrek Reliable?

The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek has a below-average predicted reliability rating of 2.5 out of five.

Subaru Crosstrek Warranty

Subaru backs the Crosstrek with a three-year/36,000-mile warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Crosstrek Safety

Crosstrek Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek an overall safety rating of five out of five stars, with five stars in the side crash test and four stars in the frontal crash and rollover tests.

As of this writing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not evaluated the 2021 Crosstrek.

Crosstrek Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Rearview camera

Available advanced safety features:

  • Forward and reverse automatic emergency braking
  • Forward collision warning
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane keep assist
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Automatic high-beam headlights
  • Adaptive headlights

Read more about safety »

Crosstrek Dimensions and Weight

The Crosstrek is 14.7 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,117 to 3,298 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Built?

Subaru builds the 2021 Crosstrek in Japan.

Which Subaru Crosstrek Model Is Right for Me?

Subaru makes the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek in four trim levels: base, Premium, Sport, and Limited. The two lower trims have a 152-horsepower 2.0-liter engine, and the two higher ones feature a 182-horsepower 2.5-liter engine. All-wheel drive is standard throughout the lineup. A moonroof is available in all but the base model.

There’s also the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, which we review separately. It’s a plug-in hybrid with an electric-only range of 17 miles.

Subaru Crosstrek

The base Crosstrek has a starting MSRP of $22,245. Its roster of standard equipment includes a 6.5-inch touch screen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a USB port, Bluetooth, a four-speaker stereo, automatic climate control, and alloy wheels.

A continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) can be added for $1,350. If you buy the CVT, you also get the EyeSight suite of driver assistance technology, which features a pre-collision warning and braking system, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control. Remote start costs $465.

Subaru Crosstrek Premium

Retailing for $23,295, the Subaru Crosstrek Premium adds heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a second USB port, satellite radio, a six-speaker stereo, and a Wi-Fi hot spot.

If you get the CVT, you can also get a $1,995 package with proximity keyless entry, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, a six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, and a moonroof. Remote start remains an option.

Subaru Crosstrek Sport

The Subaru Crosstrek Sport starts at $26,495. It comes with the CVT, unique interior styling accents, Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive), StarTex water-repellant cloth upholstery, proximity keyless entry, and two rear-seat USB ports. The Sport also adds automatic high-beam headlights and the EyeSight package, as well as a few off-roading features like X-Mode and hill descent control.

Many of the previous options are available, although their pricing may be different. For example, remote start now costs $370. You could also get the package offered in the Premium trim, with an 8-inch touch screen replacing the power-adjustable seat, for $1,600.

Subaru Crosstrek Limited

With a starting MSRP of $27,995, the top-of-the-line Limited trim gains the 8-inch touch screen, HD Radio, leather-trimmed upholstery, a six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, adaptive headlights, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and larger alloy wheels. This is the only trim to come with reverse automatic emergency braking.

For $2,300, you can get navigation, an eight-speaker Harman Kardon stereo, and a moonroof.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Subaru dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Subaru deals page.

See 2021 Subaru Crosstrek specs and trims »

The Final Call

There’s a lot to like about the Subaru Crosstrek. It may not be the sportiest or most upscale subcompact SUV, but it has a refined ride, standard AWD, good fuel economy, and easy-to-use infotainment controls. This vehicle also impresses with roomy seats and an above-average cargo capacity. However, keep in mind that its predicted reliability rating is below average.

Don't just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "When it comes to rugged car-based crossovers, few brands do it quite like Subaru. The 2021 Crosstrek subcompact SUV epitomizes the Japanese automaker's personality in a neatly sized and thoughtful package. Based on the Impreza hatchback, the Crosstrek inherits a decidedly carlike driving experience but offers more ground clearance and truckier styling—and it can be had as a plug-in hybrid." -- Car and Driver
  • "We've always loved the idea of an off-road-able compact wagon, and Subaru hit the bull's-eye again with the 2018 Crosstrek. If you loved the last one, you'll love this Crosstrek just the same or even more." -- Motor Trend (2018)
  • "Supplying value, quality, safety, capability, utility, advanced technology, and plenty of colorful character, the 2018 Subaru Crosstrek is likely to continue delighting the people who have made this model one of the company's best-selling vehicles. And though it faces a new onslaught of competitors … it is also likely to remain a standard-bearer within its segment." -- New York Daily News (2018)
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