The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Is the Best Subcompact SUV You Can Buy This Year

The subcompact SUV segment grows more populated each year. The variety makes it hard to decide which one to buy. But consider the Subaru Crosstrek. Take a look at what made it MotorTrend’s Best Subcompact SUV of the Year.

The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek vs. rivals

The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek offers a more powerful engine than two other popular competitors, the Chevy Trax and Toyota C-HR. The Trax also has a notoriously harsh ride, which isn’t helped by its unsupportive seats. The C-HR’s ride quality is relatively better, but it’s not as roomy as other SUVs in this segment. And unlike the Subaru Crosstrek, the C-HR doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

Interestingly, MotorTrend places the Crosstrek higher than several other models with better reviews. The Mazda CX-30 is cheaper, boasts a more powerful engine, and great handling. The Subaru Crosstrek also lands above the Kia Seltos, which has a better interior overall and more storage space.

Why MotorTrend loves the Subaru Crosstrek

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For 2021, Crosstrek Sport and Limited models offer a stronger engine capable of 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque. It’s paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The Sport trim is new for this year and comes standard with an automatically adjusting drive mode system and water-repellent seats.

Regardless of the trim or engine, every Subaru Crosstrek comes with standard AWD. For the Crosstrek’s base MSRP of around $22,000, that’s a good deal. According to MotorTrend, the Crosstrek is one of the few cars in its class that’s truly suitable for light off-roading.

The Subaru Crosstrek Sport is the best model for the job, outfitted with hill descent control and Subaru X-Mode. This setting operates only at low speeds and keeps the transmission in a lower gear for better traction on rough terrain. The Crosstrek also offers nearly nine inches of ground clearance.

Despite AWD, the Subaru Crosstrek is surprisingly efficient. Models with the CVT are rated for up to 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. You can save even more fuel with the Crosstrek Hybrid, which also boasts exceptional off-roading prowess.

Plus, the Subaru Crosstrek’s interior is spacious enough for passengers of all heights, and the seats offer adequate support. It offers more cargo space (up to 55 cubic feet) than several rivals. According to Consumer Reports, the Crosstrek’s smooth ride is on par with a luxury vehicle.

Crosstrek CVT models also provide an extensive array of standard safety features. The Eyesight safety suite has forward automatic emergency braking, lane assistance technology, pedestrian detection, and forward-collision warning. On higher trims, this system also includes rear automatic emergency braking and automatic high-beams.

But the Crosstrek isn’t perfect

Despite MotorTrend’s warm praise, you might want to avoid the Subaru Crosstrek for a few reasons. With several hard plastic components and cheap-feeling controls, the interior is a mixed bag compared with other rivals. You might also think the lower trims’ touchscreen is too small.

MotorTrend editors also weren’t fans of the lower trims’ engine, producing only 152 hp. That’s decent power for a smaller car, but it struggles to propel a vehicle of the Crosstrek’s size. Critics also agree this engine is too noisy, especially when passing. The larger engine makes the Subaru Crosstrek more expensive, but it’s definitely worth the up-charge.