The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek is part of the second generation of Crosstreks, which was introduced back in 2018. This year, the Crosstrek sees a few exciting changes that are sure to draw attention.
There is a new 2.5-L 4-cylinder engine that offers more power than ever before,getting the Crosstrek up to speed more quickly than the 2020 model's 152-hp engine. That one only gets from 0 to 60 mph in an impressively slow 10.3 seconds. For Subaru fans, the new 2.5-L is sure to bring some much-anticipated, exciting change.
Also new for 2021 are more standard features than ever before. You will see exponentially more standard driver aids as those are in such high demand. And they truly make a new vehicle like this worth the investment.
There are a lot of other things that buyers will enjoy about the Crosstrek this model year. The high ground clearance, coupled with standard all-wheel-drive, is helpful for when you want to go on a thrilling off-roading adventure. And, for a hatchback, you get a lot of extra space for all your camping gear. Not to mention that the vehicle has superb outward visibility and a highly compliant ride quality.
The downsides? The handling is not quite as exact as some of the Crosstrek's rivals. It fails to inspire as much confidence while handling difficult turns. But that is really about it. Last year's biggest issue was the base engine, and that has been taken care of with the new 2.5-L engine.
Overall, though, the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek is a top performer in most aspects for a hatch. It has a lot to offer, but knowing what to expect from each trim level is important. That is where this trim level comparison review comes in handy. We will go through each of the Crosstrek's four trim levels: the base, Premium, Sport, and Limited trims. We will compare each one and, at the end, let you know which trim level we think will be the most attractive to the average driver. So, stay tuned until the very last word!
Compare the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Base vs Premium Trim. - What is the Difference?
Let us start things off with the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek's base trim, which is simply known as the base trim. We will simply refer to it as Base for the purpose of clarification. This trim level is powered by the old 2.0-L 4-cylinder engine that does not quite cut it on the power end of things. Of course, it does still come with all-wheel drive (which is actually called Symmetrical All-wheel-drive by Subaru) and a standard 6-speed manual transmission.
The Premium trim level comes with this powertrain as well. This means that both trim levels get 152 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque. Bear in mind that the new 2.5-L engine is not available at all on either trim level. Subaru Intelligent Drive is available on each though, but it requires that you get the optional CVT equipped. The base has a CVT that comes with adaptive cruise control and incline start assist while the Premium's CVT adds an 8-speed manual mode with paddle shifters included. The max towing capacity on all trim levels is 1,500 pounds.
Other standard mechanical features include vehicle dynamics control, active torque vectoring, and traction control. Options exist for X-MODE (which optimizes the transmission ratio and engine's output) and hill descent control. The chassis on all trims includes electric power-assisted rack and pinion steering, a 4-wheel independent raised suspension, 4-wheel disc brakes, brake assist, and a brake override program.
Now, let us talk about the exteriors of these two trim levels. They both have a magnificent 8.7-inch ground clearance, which really makes off-roading all the more thrilling. Both vehicles ride atop 17-inch alloy wheels painted black with a machine finish., and all-season tires come with them. Multi-reflector halogen headlights light up the front, but the Premium gets fog lights added on. Both have a roof spoiler, but the black folding side mirrors on the base trim get upgraded to body-colored mirrors on the Premium. Both have body-colored door handles.
The All-Weather Package gets made standard on the Premium, which means the windshield wiper de-icer and heating function on the side mirrors gets standardized. Both trims get variable intermittent windshield wipers that have two different speeds, a single-speed rear windshield wiper, black finished raised roof rails, and cladding for the wheel arches. The Premium gets an option for a power tilting and sliding moonroof.
When it comes to interior design, these two trims are also fairly similar. You get 20.8 cubic feet of cargo space when the rear seats are left up in their place, and this can be maxed out to 55.3 cubes when you fold the rear seats down. There is a 6-way manually-adjustable driver's seat and 4-way manually-adjustable front passenger seat. The Premium trim levels gets a steering wheel wrapped in leather added on as well as orange stitching added to the cloth upholstery. The standard 2.4-inch LCD instrumentation screen can be upgraded to a 4.2-inch version on either trim level. A multi-function display is standard, showing fuel economy numbers, travel time, and ambient temperature, just to name a few things.
What about the Crosstrek's creature comforts though? The Base and Premium trim levels both come with power windows with auto up/down on both front windows, power side mirrors, electronic cruise control, a 3-spoke steering wheel with multiple controls mounted onto it, and a manually tilting and telescoping steering column. The Premium also gets auto on/off headlights, dual front USB input ports, and illuminated sun visors up front. Both have an illuminated glove box, but the Premium also gets a cargo tray for the rear seat and a retractable and removable cargo area cover.
Automatic climate control is standard on both trim levels. A 6.5-inch STARLINK infotainment system comes standard on the Base trim level, and the Premium gets an upgraded version of this system. This means that you get standard smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, SiriusXM, and an auxiliary jack fitted for 3.5 mm. The Base is outfitted with a 4-speaker sound system; meanwhile, the Premium gets a 6-speaker system instead. It also gets 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot connectivity.
Standard safety features on both the Base and the Premium trim levels include daytime running lights, monitoring system for the tire pressure on each tire, and a rear-view camera. STARLINK Safety and Security gets equipped on the Premium, giving you access to features like automatic collision notification, enhanced roadside assistance, SOS emergency assistance, diagnostics alerts, and remote locking and unlocking. A keyless entry system comes on both trim levels too.
Compare the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Premium vs Sport Trim Level. - What is the Difference?
So, what does the Sport change? Quite a bit. It equips the new 2.5-L 4-cylinder engine, for starters. This engine gets 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque. Intelligent Drive gets equipped, and so does the CVT with adaptive cruise control. X-MODE becomes standard on the Sport, as does the hill descent control function.
The Sport gets some exterior upgrades too. It gets upped to 17-inch dark gray finish alloy wheels. Also, there is a sport grille done in black with chic gunmetal finish. The folding side mirrors also get the gunmetal finish in addition to integrated turn indicators. There is special sport wheel arch cladding too.
Inside, some changes get made too. A leather-wrapped shifter handle is standard, as is the StarTex water repellent upholstery set off by sporty yellow contrast stitching on the cloth. The 4.2-inch LCD instrumentation screen comes standard as well.
Keyless vehicle access with a push button start function and PIN-code vehicle access come equipped, as do the paddle shifters for the CVT. The rear seat also gains two USB charging ports. The 8-inch Multimedia Plus infotainment system is an option, adding on NFC technology and controls that can be voiced-activated.
A big upgrade here is the EyeSight Driver Assist Technology bundle that comes as an option on the lower trim levels. This gives the Crosstrek a pre-collision braking system, pre-collision throttle management, sway warning with the lane departure warning, and lane centering with the adaptive cruise control feature. High beam assist also becomes standard while a blind spot monitoring system opens up as an option.
Compare the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport vs Limited Trim. - What is the Difference?
With regard to the mechanical aspects, the line-topping Limited trim remains the same as the Sport. And there is nothing wrong with that since the 2.5-L 4-cylinder engine is rather superb. The Limited does get upgraded to larger 18-inch painted black machine finish alloy wheels. LED steering responsive headlights get added on, as do body-colored folding side mirrors that have turn indicators built into them.
Inside, the driver's seat becomes power-adjustable. The upholstery gets upgraded to leather with chic orange contrast stitching. A color multi-function display gets equipped as well. Other standard features include a folding rear armrest with two cup holders and the 8-inch STARLINK Multimedia Plus system (with the option of upgrading to a system with built-in navigation). There is also an option for an 8-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. Blind spot monitoring is made standard as well as reverse automatic braking. However, that is the extent of the upgrades that you will get on the Limited trim level. There are still plenty of optional stand-alone features left open.
Which Trim to Choose?
So, which of the four 2021 Subaru Crosstrek trim levels are you supposed to choose? Which one is going to appeal the most to the average buyer? While each of these four trim levels is priced to sell and has a good amount of standard features for their respective prices, we think that the line-topping Limited trim level is the one that most buyers will be attracted to.
Why do we say that? Well, blind spot monitoring is something that most drivers want these days, and even though the Crosstrek has relatively small blind spots, having this system in place can be helpful when you have to drive around in congested traffic or on the highway a lot. Some of the other upgrades are desirable too, and the leather upholstery definitely looks as nice as it feels, holding up and breathing well over longer rides.
The Limited also has that 2.5-L engine, which we think more drivers are going to be looking at this model year. While you can get it on the Sport, the Limited has more of the features that drivers want in addition to this powerful engine upgrade. The 2.0-L engine is just too sluggish, and there really is not much of a difference in their fuel economies. That is a major factor in why we think that the Limited is the 2021 Crosstrek trim level to choose and why many drivers are going to be attracted to it. Still, it is going to be hard to go wrong with any Subaru Crosstrek this model year.
• Compare the 2020 Subaru Crosstrek Trim Levels