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If you’re in the market for a subcompact SUV, you probably have the 2021 Mazda CX-3 and the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek somewhere on your list of vehicles to check out. Fortunately, both make for pretty decent options. But, of the two, which makes for the best choice? Unfortunately, choosing between the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek and its Mazda competition isn’t all that easy.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek near a creek
2021 Subaru Crosstrek | Subaru Crosstrek

The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek is standard with all-wheel drive

If you’re in the market for a vehicle that offers year-round capability, the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek makes for a great pick. Much like other Subaru models, this year’s Crosstrek comes standard with the automaker’s iconic Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system. Consumer Reports says that when paired with the Crosstrek’s impressive ground clearance, it boasts the ability to take on everything from slippery pavement to a muddy trail, and even rugged dirt roads.

As for the 2021 Mazda CX-3? This year’s model comes standard with front wheel drive, though all-wheel drive is available. Unfortunately, it will cost you. But, according to Car and Driver, a Mazda CX-3 outfitted with all-wheel drive may be well worth the extra spend. Why’s that? Because according to Car and Driver’s reporting, when equipped with all-wheel drive, the 2021 Mazda CX-3 delivers “control-enhancing predictability that makes it easy to drive quickly.”

It offers a better driving experience than its Mazda competition too

When it comes to getting behind the wheel of either of these vehicles, you’ll be pleased to find that both vehicles aren’t all that bad to drive. The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek and the 2021 Mazda CX-3 both offer a decent amount of power under the hood, and both are pretty fuel efficient too. That can make choosing between them pretty difficult.

But, in the end, its the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek that offers the better driving experience. According to Consumer Reports, while the Mazda CX-3 does offer sporty handling, its cabin is loud and you can expect plenty of wind noise when hitting highway speeds. The Subaru Crosstrek, on the other hand, offers a well-cushioned ride and low levels of road and wind noise even when on the highway.

Owner satisfaction might be a struggle for the 2021 Mazda CX-3

All that cabin noise has had a negative impact on the CX-3’s predicted owner satisfaction too, Consumer Reports’ data shows. This year’s model received a two out of five predicted owner satisfaction rating. According to Consumer Reports, the low rating can be attributed to the CX-3’s comfort levels, road noise included. Consumer Reports predicts that some owners might find themselves questioning the overall value of the CX-3 too.

Fortunately, the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek was able to earn a slightly higher rating. With a four out of five predicted overall owner satisfaction rating, this year’s Crosstrek earned better comfort and value ratings than its Mazda competition.

2021 Mazda CX-3 parked in a city setting
2021 Mazda CX-3 | Mazda

The 2021 Mazda CX-3 is the cheaper option

The 2021 Mazda CX-3 does, however, have the edge when it comes to pricing. While the Subaru Crosstrek comes accompanied by a $22,245 base price, the CX-3 will run you about $20,640. Add on all-wheel drive, and that price jumps up to $22,040, which is still cheaper than the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek.

In the end, though? Choosing between these two vehicles is going to take a test drive. While the Mazda CX-3 does make for the cheaper option, the Subaru Crosstrek reportedly offers a better driving experience. 


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