The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek might not look all that different, but it's what's under the skin that counts. Subaru announced a number of upgrades for the Crosstrek on Tuesday, the most significant of which is a more powerful engine option.
Opt for a 2021 Crosstrek Sport or Limited and you'll be treated to the 2.5-liter boxer-four found in the Forester, with 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque, paired with a continuously variable transmission. (No, this isn't the turbocharged Crosstrek of your dreams, but hey, it's a nice upgrade.) The older 2.0-liter engine will still be standard in the Crosstrek's base and Premium trims, with its anemic-by-comparison 152 hp and 145 lb-ft. The one advantage the smaller engine has is that it continues to be available with a six-speed manual transmission, if you prefer to row your own gears; a CVT is optional. Regardless of engine or transmission, every Crosstrek comes standard with Subaru's Symmetrical all-wheel drive.
The larger engine doesn't appear to have any sort of fuel economy penalty, either -- in fact, on the highway, this more powerful boxer might actually prove to be more frugal. Subaru says the 2.5-liter Crosstrek is rated at 27 miles per gallon city, 34 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined. The 2.0-liter, meanwhile, achieves 28 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 30 mpg combined with the CVT. The manual transmission reduces those numbers pretty drastically, to 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined.
Subaru hasn't confirmed any updates for the plug-in Crosstrek Hybrid just yet, so it's unclear if that model will receive any changes for 2021. A company spokesperson said details about that model will be revealed later.
The aforementioned Sport trim is a new addition to the Crosstrek lineup for 2021, and it's set apart with unique wheel arch moldings, specific 17-inch wheels, a gunmetal finish on the front grille and, of course, the requisite badges. Inside, the seats and floor mats get yellow stitching, and a number of other yellow trim pieces are found throughout the cabin. It nicely matches the new plasma-yellow pearl exterior paint, but this brightwork might not look so great against other colors. The Sport is mechanically identical to other Crosstreks, though it does get a dual-action X-Mode drive selector, with Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud settings.
Every CVT-equipped Crosstrek comes with Subaru's EyeSight suite of driver-assistance tech, which includes precollision braking, lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning and other features. New for 2021, EyeSight adds the latest iteration of Subaru's adaptive cruise control tech, with updated lane-centering software for more natural action on the road. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are optional on Premium and Sport models, and standard on the Limited.
As for in-car tech, because the Crosstrek's cabin hasn't been thoroughly updated, it continues to use the older version of Subaru's Starlink infotainment system, housed on a 6.5-inch touchscreen, with standard and . A larger 8-inch screen is optional on other models and standard on the Limited. If you're looking for the massive, portrait-oriented screen as seen in the and Outback, you're out of luck.
Pricing will be announced closer to the 2021 Crosstrek's on-sale date in late summer, but we don't think it'll be too different from the 2020 model's $23,155 starting price (including $1,010 for destination). It's unclear how big the price jump will be for the 2.5-liter engine, though it'll likely be worth it to finally give the Crosstrek the stronger guts it deserves.
First published June 9.