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2021 Subaru Crosstrek Changes Include a More Powerful Engine

Christian Wardlaw | Jun 10, 2020

This is an updated and expanded version of an initially published article from 03/02/2020.

One of the most popular small crossover SUVs in America, the Subaru Crosstrek offers a compelling blend of utility and capability in an affordable and safe package. What the Crosstrek lacks is power. For the 2021 model year, that’s changing.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport Plasma in Yellow

Subaru has announced that the 2021 Crosstrek will offer more power thanks to a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. It will be standard equipment in the new 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport model and in the carryover Crosstrek Limited model.

Other Crosstreks continue with the same 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine used previously, making 152 horsepower and 145 lb.-ft. of torque. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) delivers the power to all four wheels through the Crosstrek’s standard all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. Based on Motor Trend testing, the Crosstrek and Crosstrek Premium can take nearly ten seconds to accelerate to 60 mph. 

A plug-in hybrid powertrain is also available for the Crosstrek. The 2020 Crosstrek Hybrid offers 17 miles of pure electric driving before switching into gas-electric hybrid mode. Subaru’s announcements for the 2021 Crosstrek did not include changes for the Hybrid, and a Subaru spokesperson told J.D. Power that the company would discuss the future of the Crosstrek Hybrid later this year.

Thanks to its electric motor, the Crosstrek Hybrid adds significant low-end torque available as soon as the driver steps on the accelerator pedal, shaving a second off of the Crosstrek’s 0-to-60-mph acceleration time, according to Subaru. But the Crosstrek Hybrid is pricey at more than $36,000 before taking federal, state, and local incentives into consideration. 

This is where the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek’s new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder will make a difference, offering improved performance for a smaller premium than the Crosstrek Hybrid commands. 

The 2.5-liter going into the Crosstrek is the latest iteration of the automaker’s venerable horizontally opposed 4-cylinder engine, which is currently used in the larger Forester, Legacy, and Outback models. It makes 182 hp and 176 lb.-ft. of torque, representing gains of 30 hp and 31 lb.-ft. of torque over the Crosstrek’s standard 2.0-liter 4-cylinder. Plus, the Crosstrek weighs 446 pounds less than the Outback, though the larger and heavier engine will negate some of that benefit. Subaru estimates the new 2.5-liter 4-cylinder will return 29 mpg in combined driving.

New for 2020, the Crosstrek Sport is also equipped with a more effective dual-function X-Mode off-road traction control system, adding Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud settings to the system’s hill descent control function. Sport trim also includes Subaru’s StarTex upholstery, which the automaker describes as a “lightweight, urethane material” manufactured in an environmentally responsible way. The Crosstrek Sport also comes with dark gray exterior finishes, unique 17-inch aluminum wheels, yellow contrast stitching and carbon fiber-style trim for the interior, and new Plasma Yellow Pearl and Horizon Blue Pearl paint colors.

Additionally, Subaru enhances the 2021 Crosstrek’s EyeSight advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS). Standard on all Crosstreks equipped with a CVT, EyeSight gains a new advanced adaptive cruise control system with lane-centering assistance technology. A rear seat reminder system is also new for 2021.

J.D. Power data shows that 85% of Subaru Crosstrek owners agree that they like a vehicle with responsive handling and powerful acceleration. And yet, they buy this Subaru anyway. No doubt, the Crosstrek faithful will find the new, more powerful version of the crossover mighty appealing.

But nothing short of turbocharging will make a Crosstrek significantly more responsive at altitude.

The information in this article is from Subaru. It was accurate as of June 9, 2020 but may have changed since that date.

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