2021 Subaru Crosstrek Limited 2.5L – Bottom Line Review

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Limited 2.5L: 2nd generation of lifted urban adventure wagon with rugged chops. Starting at $23k w/ 2.0L H-4 + manual transmission, the tested Limited 2.5L CVT crests $31k

NIXES THE FOOT AND ARDUOUS FROM JOURNEYS: It nearly took a virus pandemic to help Americans realize how vast their nation is. Road trip trekking became a preferable escape from COVID-19 lockdown cabin fever for so many.

PAVED PARKING NOT NEEDED: For longer than any other carmaker, Subaru has been helping make a lighter impact, sure-footed trek to camp (glamping) grounds proximate or distant. Of the Pleiades six star brand’s lineup none other is as adept at tackling congested urban adventure as it is at traveling beyond the pavement’s end as the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek.

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WHAT: 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Limited 2.5L  subcompact crossover interpretation of the Impreza sportback wagon, built on the Subaru Global Platform BT, returns for a series GT 2nd Generation. It replaces a first generation Crosstrek, series GP.

Standard Power: 2.0L DOHC 16V DI gas flat-4 = 152 hp/ 145 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm + continuously variable transmission + asymmetrical all-wheel drive.

Optional Power (new for 2021 MY, Std. Sport, Limited): 2.5L DOHC 16V DI gas flat-4 = 182 hp/ 176 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm + continuously variable transmission + asymmetrical all-wheel drive.

WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: The newest Crosstrek doesn’t stray much visually from it’s immediate GP Series progenitor. Bolder body trim and lighting accents reinforce the outdoor adventure brand lifestyle theme.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Limited 2.5L: thin wisp adaptive LED headlamps, and latticed grille are cradled by more rugged dark clad lower fascia.

Raised Ruggedized Wagon: The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek retains the swept back windscreen, tall greenhouse Impreza sportback on stilts profile. Major outward differences from the preceding GP Series Crosstrek include prominent eye-brow DRLs, atop the headlamp assemblies, extending further inboard, a taller inverted “U” lower front fascia with larger dark clad pseudo inlets at the corners. Door beltlines are scooped rather than creased flaring near the rocker panels, the latter now clad similar to Outbacks. Wheel arches are fully dark plastic clad as well. Emphatic lateral “boomerang” wrap around taillamps bite further inboard of the liftgate.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Limited 2.5L: dark lower bumper corner cladding accentuates rear quarters while thinner wrap-around taillamps are adopted.

WHY: Other urban crossovers are designed cute. This compact Subie is built genuine active adventure ute.

WHEN: On-Sale (in the U.S.) since late Autumn 2020

WHERE: Subaru new vehicle dealers

WHERE MADE: Ōta, Gunma Prefecture, Japan

HOW ROADWORTHY: The last generation GP Crosstrek, tested by sibling outlet ChicagoNow.com “Drive…He Said” with the current base 2.0L flat four, could be criticized as wheezy & over-taxed. When fitted with one size larger Subaru Forester‘s 2.5L H-4 the latest Subaru Crosstrek gains considerable pep. An improved CVT and steering while SI Drive Sport mode serve up a more convincing imitation of a torque converter automatic transaxle than others of the ilk, enabling Crosstrek to move out purposefully on the open road with rare hesitance.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Limited 2.5L: optional 500 cc larger engine delivers +30 hp & lb-ft torque vs. base to a responsive CVT eeking out decent 29 mpg.

-1 Idle start/ stop is a shaker, still a more rattling idle than smoother inline-4 powerplants

All Subarus, which cannot be had as re-badged Toyota sport coupes, always come with Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and a nominal 60:40% full time torque split. +1 Selectable X-Mode cuts wheel slippage by applying ABS earlier on uphill slopes. Going down the ravine X-Mode VDC signals ABS to simulate low gearing.

Complete independence at each wheel benefits from stiffer bushings. Body rocking has been quelled and a less rippled ride is delivered by the 2021 Crosstrek.  Electric assisted steering nearly reacts slightly exaggerated to low effort inputs. Only some languid pedal response diminishes tidy slowing by the brake rotors at the corners.

HOW FAR: 29 combined miles per gallon fuel economy; 560 highway miles range

HOW BIG/ LITTLE: 5 Occupant 2+3 seating. 60/40% split flat folding Row 2 seatbacks, seatback mount releases.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Limited 2.5L: 2nd Row for 3 average adults rather accessible LATCH child safety seat latches.
    • +1 Smaller door sills than most crossovers make Subaru Crosstrek the easiest 8.7″-inches to climb into.
    • Low cowl and and power folding rear outboard headrests aid outward view.

– For Comparison’s Sake:

HOW USEFUL: The adept at fording 2021 Subaru Crosstrek is a hungry cargo holder as well.

60/40% split folding 2nd Row seat backs; Cargo bay floor chrome hook anchors; Cargo bay wall ring-style hooks; Cargo-area 12V outlet; +1 Low cowl and and power folding rear outboard headrests aid outward view; +1 Non-intrusive cargo area wheel arch

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Limited 2.5L: a wide and tall liftgate with minimal wheel arch intrusion

Cabin storage = Steep angled lower center stack handheld device bin w/ USB port; 6 cup, bottle holders

+1 Tall + wide liftgate cargo load aperture w/ minimal wheel arch intrusion

-1 No power liftgate option; Short door pockets; No overhead sunglasses bin

HOW SAFE: 8 airbags; IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus; Rear camera w/ predictive grid (forward view incl. on Touring trim); sonar front & rear Park Distance Control; Blind spot, rear cross traffic & lane departure warning; Auto parking brake hold; Standard LED headlamps, auto high beam.

Partial Autonomous Driving:

EYESIGHT suite STANDARD on all models = Pedestrian detection braking; Forward collision avoidance braking; Lane Departure warning & keep assist; Adaptive Cruise Control;   Lead vehicle start alert; Automatic High beam LED headlamps.

Included with LIMITED (optional on lesser):  Blind Spot detection;  Rear cross traffic warning;  Lane Change Assist; Steering adaptive LED headlamps

    • +1 Accurate lane tracking, above-head console system activation / de-activation switches
    • -1 Slow to resume speed adaptive cruise control

HOW PEOPLE FRIENDLY: The second generation Subie Crosstrek continues with an evolution of the brand’s modern business sport cabin theme, from its copper ringed, white backlit ELD dual analog dial gauges sandwiching a color trip display to a relatively uncluttered center stack dominated by 8.0″ -inch touch LCD display, pleasingly arranged larger audio and climate dials and nominal switchgear, all finished with enhanced detail. Enhanced contrasting panels soothe the eyes. The traditional hand parking brake is a bow to ruggedness. To preserve some Subie quirkiness, the separate center dash top multi-function display is retained, as well as the the hanging chad controls between horizontal and vertical steering wheel spokes.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Limited 2.5L: driver’s entry

Heated, power adjust 6-way driver, 4-way manual passenger seats 4 power windows, front x full express; Auto climate control; Leather tilt + telescoping steering; 2nd Row and aft dark tint privacy glass; Power moon-roof (optional);   Manual tilt/ telescoping steering wheel.

Cool Gizmo(s): Large center dash top multi-function display vehicle angle graphics

Details Done Right: Light + dark gray leather seating; Contrasting light gray textured pillars + mesh headliner; Contrasting orange stitching on seats, door panels, center stack padding; Simulated light carbon fiber accents; Dual analog needle dial gauges w/ copper accent rings;  Flush door and center console toggle switchgear; Berber floor mats; Premium durable mesh headliner.

Nearly Non-Descript: -1 Hard door pocket linings; Coarse plastic rocker panel covers; Hard plastic center console casing; Thin cargo bay carpet


8.0″ Starlink Multimedia Plus portrait oriented, upper mid dash embedded, touch LCD infotainment screen; Rotary audio volume dial, selection, defroster & Home screen switches ; Bluetooth, hands-free communications; SMS messaging; TomTom voice command/ guidance 3-D HDD GPS navigation (optional); Android Auto + Apple CarPlay; Starlink Apps; USB x 3, 12V x 2; Mobile device near field communications (NFC)

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Limited 2.5L: available TomTom voice command + guidance GPS navigation features high res 3-D maps on 8.0″ touch LCD screen

+1 High definition color graphics; Fairly oleophobic display screen

-1 Glossy infotainment screen can’t escape glare the way hooded upper center dash status display does.

Audibly: 8 speaker, 432 W Harman Kardon (optional) = Limited crispness, sufficient volume

Applications (mobile powered): Pandora music; Aha radio

Starlink Apps: Chimani, an onboard guide to landmark travel; Ebird ornithological identifier favoring Audubon members; Eve Connect monitors connected home security and climate. (Also iHeart radio, weather, calendar, news, Yelp business reviews.)

By Subscription: SiriusXM (90 days trial) ; Sirius TravelLink apps (3 years included); TomTom over the air map updates (3 years included)

HOW MUCH: $31,440 = as tested 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Limited 2.5L AWD suggested retail price

WHAT’S MISSING: Toned down steering reaction; Blind spot warning ought be standard

ANY COMPETITION: Jeep Compass AWD: +1 roomier, more storage, locking center differential; Mazda CX-30 AWD: +1 steering heft & accuracy, orthopaedists seats, prestige materials.

FINAL WORD: A more powerful & modernized adaptation of the standard for rugged urban active lifestyle adventure motoring.

Contributing Editor: J. Flynn

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