If you’re looking for a full-time city runabout and part-time adventure-mobile, you can’t do much better than a 2021 Subaru Crosstrek. The lifted, crossoverized hatchback comes standard with AWD and has three available drivetrains. So if you’re sure you want a 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, which trim level is the best for you?
2021 Subaru Crosstrek Base Model Pros and Cons
Even in base form, the Crosstrek has a lot going for it. Unlike some of its competitors, including the Honda HR-V, Nissan Rogue Sport, and Jeep Compass, the Subaru Crosstrek comes standard with AWD. The base Subaru Crosstrek is powered by a 2.0-liter flat-four-cylinder engine that makes 152 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual transmission comes standard, and a CVT automatic is available.
If you opt for the CVT, you also get Subaru’s EyeSight suite of active safety features, which includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control. A 6.5-inch touchscreen Starlink infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration comes standard. If you want AWD for not a lot of money, the base Subaru Crosstrek could be for you (the Limited is shown below).
2021 Subaru Crosstrek Premium Pros and Cons
One rung up from the base model is the Crosstrek Premium, which builds on the lower trim level’s equipment list by adding automatic headlights, halogen foglights, heated body-color side mirrors, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cloth upholstery with orange contrast stitching, dual front seat USB ports, and a six-speaker audio system.
We had a 2018 Subaru Crosstrek Premium in our long-term test fleet for a year and particularly appreciated its compliant ride and mild off-roading capability thanks to its 8.7 inches of ground clearance (the same as the base model). We weren’t so fond of the small 6.5-inch touchscreen, poky acceleration, and lack of hands-free keyless entry and push-button start—all issues that can be remedied by upgrading to an options package or the next higher trim level.
2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport Pros and Cons
After hearing complaint after complaint about the Crosstrek’s sluggish drivetrain, Subaru finally did something about it for the 2021 model year. The Crosstrek Sport is the first trim up the ladder to receive the gutsier engine, a 2.5-liter flat-four good for 182 hp and 176 lb-ft. A CVT with paddle shifters and eight simulated gears is the only transmission available. In our tests, a 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport hit 60 mph in 7.8 seconds, or 1.2 seconds quicker than our previous 2.0-liter long-termer. That’s on par with the Mazda CX-30 but slightly behind turbocharged versions of the Kia Seltos. Still, it’s a huge improvement over the base 2.0-liter engine.
Besides the bigger engine, you also get 17-inch alloy wheels with a dark gray finish, a unique black Sport grille with gunmetal accents, gunmetal painted side mirrors with integrated turn signals, special Sport fender cladding, StarTex faux-leather upholstery with yellow contrast stitching, a 4.2-inch display in the gauge cluster, hands-free keyless access with push-button start, dual rear USB charging ports, and an available 8.0-inch touchscreen Starlink infotainment system. The Crosstrek Sport is a bit pricey for a subcompact SUV at around $27,500, but that price also gets you a lot of content, AWD, and the upgraded engine.
2021 Subaru Crosstrek Limited Pros and Cons
The Limited model is the second Crosstrek to come standard with the more powerful 2.5-liter engine. In addition to that extra power, you also get a touch more luxury than the Sport, with standard features like the 8.0-inch touchscreen system, leather-trimmed upholstery with orange contrast stitching, a power driver’s seat, body-color side mirrors with integrated turn signals, LED foglights, LED swiveling headlights, and 18-inch alloy wheels finished in black. A Harman Kardon premium audio system and onboard navigation are optional.
When we drove a Crosstrek Limited way back in 2017, we said, “The fully loaded Crosstrek 2.0i Limited looks like a helluva value. Feels it, too, the moment you take it out of your driveway.” The Crosstrek Limited starts around $30,000, which could get you a decently equipped larger Subaru Forester. But if you prefer the size of the Crosstrek and feel like treating yourself, the Limited is a good option.
2021 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid Pros and Cons
Now for something completely different. The Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid is a plug-in hybrid variant of the small SUV that has a 2.0-liter flat-four and permanent-magnet AC synchronous electric motor that put out 148 hp combined. The plug-in’s lithium-ion battery pack allows for a claimed all-electric range of 17 miles and 90 mpg-e or 35 mpg combined when running as a regular hybrid.
If you’re interested in the Crosstrek Hybrid, then you’ve probably already narrowed down your choices within the Crosstrek lineup. Still, you should know what you’re trading for that hybrid capability. The battery pack cuts into the Crosstrek’s cargo area, shrinking it from 20.8 cubic feet normally to 15.9. Naturally, the hybrid components add weight (roughly 500 pounds, in this case). This was felt during limit testing but was less noticeable on the street. In our First Test, we called the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid a “a solid choice for someone considering their first plug-in or for folks who want to save money at the pump while experiencing daily driving and off-roading on all-electric power.”
So Which 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Model Is Best?
For our money, we’d go with the mid-grade Subaru Crosstrek Sport. It finally has the power we’ve always wanted and offer a good assortment of features without breaking the bank. Plus, it looks great with those gunmetal accents.
2021 Subaru Crosstrek Trims:
- Sport (MT’s Pick)