Tested: 2021 Subaru Crosstrek 2.5L Could Use Even More Power

The Subaru Crosstrek is a bit like the person in the grocery store checkout line who is seemingly dressed for a hike. You’ve seen them: dark socks with Merrell boots, a spaced-out mien, daydreaming about artisanal hammocks while taking occasional sips out of a plastic Nalgene bottle covered in stickers. Like the person in that costume, the Crosstrek is an Impreza hatchback with an about-to-go-hiking look provided by a suspension lift, a new front bumper, and black-plastic body cladding. On the car-to-truck crossover spectrum, the Crosstrek is way over on the car side, alongside vehicles such as the Mazda CX-30 and Toyota RAV4.

HIGHS: Improved acceleration, rugged looks, more carlike than other crossovers.

For 2021, the Crosstrek offers a 182-hp 2.5-liter flat-four, which comes standard on the top two trim levels, the new Sport as well as the Limited. The engine enjoys a significant 30-hp advantage over the base 2.0-liter and hits 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, a substantial 1.6 seconds quicker than before. In the merge-onto-the-freeway 50-to-70-mph test, the old engine took 6.6 seconds, the new one is quicker, but it’s still a lengthy 5.4 seconds. While we appreciate the extra power, the sounds remain as joyless as the smaller flat-four and pairing it to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) intensifies the flat-four’s waffling drone under acceleration. Unfortunately, the smaller engine’s playful six-speed manual can’t be had with the 2.5-liter. In our hands, the larger engine’s superior acceleration doesn’t affect fuel economy. The 2.5-liter posted an identical 23 mpg same as the last 2.0-liter CVT Crosstrek we tested. And, curiously, the 2.5-liter model gets a better EPA highway rating than the 2.0-liter model: 34 mpg versus 33.

Michael SimariCar and Driver

LOWS: New engine isn’t any more pleasant than the 2.0-liter, the Mazda CX-30 exists.

The new Sport model comes standard with the 2.5-liter engine and starts at $27,545. Sport models slot in above the base Premium model and below the top-tier Limited trim of our test car. In addition to the engine upgrade, our $31,440 Limited model arrived with hill-descent control and X-Mode (a sort of low-speed off-road cruise control), 18-inch machine-finish wheels, and orange stitching inside, plus the one major $2395 option package that includes a moonroof, 8.0-inch center screen with navigation, and stereo upgrade. Despite the dress up, much of the hard plastic inside is a reminder that the Crosstrek shares a lot with a $20,220 base Impreza. Strong sales indicate that Crosstrek buyers don’t seem to sweat fit and finish too much. Some competitors such as the Mazda CX-30 boast richer interiors, but buyers who want a car with SUV traits, its 8.7 inches of ground clearance, supple ride, and new engine ensure it’ll be ready for a nice hike.

Specifications

Specifications

2021 Subaru Crosstrek 2.5

VEHICLE TYPE

front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door wagon

PRICE AS TESTED

$31,440 (base price: $27,545)

ENGINE TYPE

DOHC 16-valve flat-4, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement

152 in3, 2498 cm3
Power

182 hp @ 5800 rpm
Torque

176 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm

TRANSMISSION

continuously variable automatic

CHASSIS

Suspension (F/R): struts/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 11.6-in vented disc/10.8-in disc
Tires: Falken Ziex ZE001 A/S, 225/55R-18 98H M+S

DIMENSIONS

Wheelbase: 104.9 in
Length: 176.5 in
Width: 71.0 in
Height: 63.6 in
Passenger volume: 97 ft3
Cargo volume: 21 ft3
Curb weight: 3351 lb

C/D TEST RESULTS

60 mph: 7.5 sec
100 mph: 22.2 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 8.2 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 4.4 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 5.4 sec
1/4 mile: 16.0 sec @ 88 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 169 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad*: 0.81 g
*stability-control-inhibited
Standing-start accel times omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.

C/D FUEL ECONOMY

Observed: 23 mpg

EPA FUEL ECONOMY

Combined/city/highway: 29/27/34 mpg

C/D TESTING EXPLAINED

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