2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport
Adventure and Youth Distilled to an even stronger Love
By Kevin Joostema, Partner, Car-ED.com | September 2020
Subaru has developed two new trims for the high volume Crosstrek 2021 model year: the Sport and the Limited. Both models share the introduction of the larger and more powerful 2.5-liter direct-injection SUBARU BOXER engine to the Crosstrek family. While the Limited comes with upgraded 18-inch wheels and everything but the kitchen sink, it is the Sport model that keeps you falling in love with Subaru as a brand, yet again. The Sport contains the core elements of the great Crosstrek but in a distilled, more concentrated, manner.
What is this vehicle?
These distilled elements start with the fact that the Crosstrek is more a true SUV than the newer competitor crossovers being introduced in this compact vehicle category. With segment leading ground clearance of 8.7 inches and the standard, symmetrical 4 Wheel Drive of Subaru (versus All Wheel Drive systems of competitors), it is an SUV, not a crossover with SUV styling.
The Sport model elements that are distilled to a stronger statement begin on the exterior. It has a unique gun metal color scheme on exterior parts – starting with the grille design, a new and exclusive 17-inch wheel design with gun metal (gray) color, and the side mirrors and the badging. The front bumpers are beefier in look while the wheel arches have a unique and more angular and bolder design.
Dynamically, these accents are not just for show. They reflect the inner fact that there are upgraded coil springs and dampers for the vehicle off-road performance and the extra power of the 2.5L engine.
Speaking of the stronger engine (shared with the Limited model) – the 2.5L engine produces 182 hp – that’s a +30hp jump over the regular 2.0L engine. Torque is also raised +31 lb-ft to 176 lb-ft. This extra power and strength is managed with an upgraded torque converter and a taller top gear selection. All with almost no impact on fuel economy!
A dual-function X-MODE is exclusive and standard on the Crosstrek Sport model – with settings for snow, dirt, and mud. Again, distilling the goodness of all Crosstreks and making this element even more special and concentrated to the goodness of the 4WD system.
(X-MODE® with Hill Descent Control is a 4WD control system for the brand that electronically optimizes the engine, transmission, and other systems for increased traction in slippery conditions).
Inside there is yellow stitching throughout as a signal that this is the Sport model. Starting with the seats as well as the Crosstrek name embroidered on the seat tops, the yellow stitching continues through on all major stitched areas as well as into the gauge cluster inner rings and the steering wheel accents.
The StarTex TM seating material, exclusive to Subaru, is a vegan material that is lighter than leather and an environmental statement.
There are of course new colors for the model as well – a Plasma Yellow Pearl and Horizon Blue Pearl. Both are quite dynamic and look interestingly different as the day light progresses.
Who is this vehicle for?
Overall the Crosstrek is the 3rd highest sales volume for Subaru at 130,000+ sold in 2019. While representing near 20% of total brand sales, it has been the fastest growing model line in Subaru’s history and has already sold over three-quarters of a million (757K) units since introduction in 2012. The Crosstrek attracts the youngest SUV buyers for those seeking a Subaru – they are in their 30s (or younger) and have a comparatively active and adventurous lifestyle.
Subaru expects the Sport and Limited may represent up to half of all Crosstrek sales going forward. Sport in particular is planned to get 15-20% of the total (leaving Limited with near 30% or more). So over half of new Crosstrek buyers may end up with the new 2.5L engine – a significant shift for the brand and model line.
Why is this vehicle important to you, the buyer?
The Crosstrek lifestyle is the real deal – being rated the highest in 6 vehicle descriptors from actual owners. It is the leader among all 16 competitors in terms of being:
- Durable and able to withstand hard use without being damaged
- Designed to handle poor road conditions
- Driven off road
- Used for camping
- Used to carry outdoor sports gear
- Purchased for safety
The Crosstrek is also the only model (so far) for which Subaru offers an electrified model. The Crosstrek Hybrid is actually a Plug-in Hybrid, allowing you to have pure electric range of 17 miles.
Interesting facts about the Crosstrek and Subaru!
- The Crosstrek began in 2012 as a dedicated model name as an offshoot from what was then called the Subaru Outback Sport (funny enough, another “Sport” trim)! So, this version of Crosstrek is really the 4th generation of this model (not 2nd).
- The Crosstrek is the fastest growing model in Subaru history – reaching over 140,000 units from the 2012 introduction to 2018.
- The stars in the Subaru logo refer to the Pleiades star cluster. Also called the “Seven Sisters” it is among the nearest star clusters to earth.
What Impressed Us / Top Likes:
The extra power in the Sport (+30 hp and +31 lb-ft torque) is all the more amazing as it only hurts fuel economy overall by 1mpg – almost nothing. In fact, for highway mileage, it is actually 1 mpg better (34mpg highway), which increases overall range for the vehicle to well above 500 miles.
The 2.5L engine is much more refined than I ever expected from a Subaru boxer engine. It may be due to the new global platform in use since 2018 (implemented on Impreza and Crosstrek first!) but it really makes a difference in smoothness and feel and does away with what has always been a negative for me about Subarus – the rough feeling engine noise and vibration. The extra power is just right and really pushes away any negative feedback one might have if you were aware that it was a CVT. Most regular drivers don’t care that it is a CVT, but this engine makes it even more forgettable. There were also paddle shifters on the steering wheel that contributed to the overall fun-to-drive factor of this distilled Sport model. It’s actually hard to use all 8 gear choices of the transmission that are available when in manual/paddle shifter mode – but it is fun trying.
Lane Centering and “Advanced ACC” (Adaptive Cruise Control)
Overall Subaru, like many of the Japanese brands, has a suite of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) that are standard for all, or almost all, models. For Subaru this is called EyeSight® and is standard for 2021 on all Crosstreks. New for 2021, though, is the addition of Lane Centering technology as part of the Advanced ACC. Subaru’s system uses the cameras in the front of the vehicle to track the side and center lines of the lane you are in. As such the software literally steers the vehicle to the “center” of the lane. Where this gets very cool is on a curve. When approaching a curve, the vehicle actually begins to steer into the curve to keep the Crosstrek in the center of the lane. In essence, it feels like it is anticipating the curve. As a driver, it makes me a better driver and keeps my attention on the road as I can anticipate the curve earlier due to the feel of the wheel starting to turn. While I don’t love all driver aids, this one I really like for the anticipatory feel it can give the driver. Additionally, this element is not widely available yet – so kudos to Subaru for developing their own version of it and bringing it to the masses as standard.
StarTex TM Seating Material
The StarTex seat material is one of the nicest designs and softest looking and feeling alternative seat materials I have experienced. For the Sport model we love the model name stitched into the seat back in Yellow stitching. The environmental statement is strong – StarTex has no PVC, Pthalates, Chlorine, or animal content. 25% of the backing material is recycled PET. The material is also lighter than leather. As a kicker, the carpeted floor mats also have recycled content.
Items to Make Better (Least Favorite Things):
Yellow Accents on Steering Wheel
While the overall yellow accent stitching is great and looks great everywhere, there is one exception. The “decor” U-shaped trim piece on the bottom of steering wheel up close doesn’t match well with all the stitching. While being consistent, it also just looks sometimes like a different color (maybe it is a material and size/shape thing), but perhaps it can have an option for a customized accessory to switch out – to carbon fiber trim or black enamel, etc.
Lane Centering engagement
The Lane Centering system seems to disengage or “non-active” quite frequently, which as a drive that likes that feel kept me trying to “re-engage” it while driving. This was actually distracting and not an aide. Perhaps the system can be recoded to be “on” for longer durations (before shutting off)?
Dual Function X-Mode and Driver Modes
Choosing 4WD modes can only be done when not moving. Can the speed at which it can be selected be increased? Additionally, while moving another mode system graphic appears to flash between “S” and “I” transmission modes that makes one think the 4WD mode system may be overridden. This interface to the driver of what modes are “on” or “chosen” should be expanded/improved so it is clearer and more constantly present.
Segment and Competitors:
The Compact SUV segment continues to experience explosive growth. Everyone seems to want an SUV, even if in “style” only. Many of the newest “crossovers” are being introduced in this segment.
The leaders besides Crosstrek include:
- Honda HR-V
- Toyota C-HR
- Hyundai Kona
- Jeep Renegade
- Jeep Compass
- Chevrolet Trailblazer (new)
- Kia Seltos (new)
- Mazda CX-30 (new)
- Nissan Roque Sport
Pricing and Availability:
The Subaru Crosstrek Sport and Crosstrek Limited are both available now in Subaru retailers.
- The MSRP of the Crosstrek Sport is $26,495.
- The MSRP of the Crosstrek Limited is $27,995.
Considering the average new car transaction price is near $38,000 now, these price levels seem like a great value for all the content and unique, distilled elements you get in the Sport model.
I guess that is why the Subaru Crosstrek is consistently awarded best value awards. Currently, Kelley Blue Book named the Crosstrek as the Best Resale Value in its class for 2020 and the Crosstrek has had the highest residual value in its segment for four years running according to ALG.
For additional specifications and configurators, please go to: https://www.subaru.com/vehicles/crosstrek/index.html
or www.car-ED.com to see if the Subaru Crosstrek of other Compact SUVs best connect to you.