2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport First Test: When Power Solves Everything

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport First Test: When Power Solves Everything

Being a segment leader is hard work, especially in a segment as hot as subcompact SUVs, which continues to grow rapidly. Subaru already has a solid foundation for staying on top, and now the Forester’s 2.5-liter flat-four engine finds its way under the hood of the Crosstrek in Sport and Limited trims. Will a more powerful engine be enough to keep this crossover relevant and fend off new rivals? We have a 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport to discover.

Does the Subaru Crosstrek run better with more power?

We’ve begged Subaru for a more powerful Crosstrek since it debuted as a 2013 model. Seven years later, the automaker finally agreed. Does the 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque of the 2.5-liter make a noticeable difference from the 152 horsepower and 145 lb-ft of the base 2.0-liter? Oh yes. Passing, merging and climbing steep slopes are a snap; the Crosstrek moves quickly thanks to the larger engine. In comparison, models with the 2.0-liter feel excruciatingly slow, especially on the highway. Put your foot on the ground at highway speeds, and the CVT immediately puts the engine in the correct position. However, when stationary or at parking speeds, the transmission becomes unstable when you accelerate, causing a head butt.

On the track, the Crosstrek Sport hit 60 mph in 7.8 seconds and the quarter mile in 16.0 seconds at 87.7 mph. Our long-run Crosstrek 2.0i Premium took 1.2 seconds longer to reach 60 mph before completing the quarter mile 0.9 seconds slower at 83.4 mph. Chris Walton, editor-in-chief of road tests, noted linear power in Sport mode when launching with straddling pedals. If you simply crush the throttle, the CVT simulates gear changes, resulting in slower acceleration. The Mazda CX-30 offers straight-line performance similar to that of the Crosstrek Sport. Turbocharged versions of the Kia Seltos are faster, hitting 60 mph in 7.3 to 7.4 seconds and the quarter mile in 15.7 to 15.9 seconds.

As with most subcompact SUVs, the Crosstrek prioritizes everyday usability over outright performance. When driven in a healthy manner, this lifted sedan has good stability at high speeds and stable handling. Driving comfort remains a strong point thanks to the suspension’s ability to absorb road imperfections and severe shocks without becoming buoyant. Precise steering, appreciated by test director Kim Reynolds, makes the Crosstrek easy to maneuver around corners and tight spaces. Body roll, while well controlled, is noticeable due to the car’s comfort-oriented tuning.

On the skidpad, the Crosstrek Sport generated 0.79g of lateral acceleration and finished the course in eight in 27.9 seconds averaging 0.60g, which is in the same stage as the Mazda CX- 30 and the Kia Seltos. Surprisingly, our long-range old Crosstrek 2.0i Premium was faster in eighth (27.3 seconds), but offered similar handling capabilities to our Sport trim test car. Even more surprising: the Subaru Crosstrek plug-in hybrid passed the figure eight in 27.3 seconds at 0.62g on average. Reynolds noted excessive understeer at the limit as well as a noticeable lack of grip. Blame the latter on the standard all-season tires, which give up before the chassis. Stopping at 60 mph took 124 feet, which is on par with most subcompact SUVs. Walton observed a good initial bite but found that the Crosstrek dives a lot and the rear becomes light when braking hard.

What does the Subaru Crosstrek like to live with?

Despite its small exterior footprint, the Crosstrek is extremely practical. Four adults fit comfortably and the cargo space easily swallows bulky items, especially when the rear seats are folded down. Large windows provide an airy atmosphere and excellent visibility. The solid materials of the Crosstrek will make it easy to handle the daily commute and transport of your outdoor gear. It could use more sound insulation, however, as there is an excessive amount of engine and tire noise in the cabin. Mazda’s CX-30 has a quieter, more premium interior, but you sacrifice functionality and space as a compromise.

The Crosstrek uses a version of Subaru’s infotainment system that doesn’t include the Legacy and Outback’s 11.6-inch screen. Our test car had the optional 8.0-inch touchscreen (a 6.5-inch unit is standard) supplemented with physical buttons and shortcut buttons. This means that you will understand how to use the interface in seconds, not hours like the new configuration in other Subarus. You won’t be exploring submenus in this iteration, as most frequently used apps and features are one or two entry.

EyeSight, Subaru’s active safety suite, remains one of the most accurate systems. Lane Keeping Aid does a great job of maintaining the center of the lane, pushing you gently as you approach splitters. Adaptive Cruise Control accelerates and brakes naturally, and the distance is not so conservative that another vehicle can interrupt you. If only the system would stop making so much noise. EyeSight beeps to alert you when the lane-keeping system’s steering assistance component turns off and both stereo cameras cannot see the lane lines. Yeah, it quickly gets irritating.

Is the Subaru Crosstrek still one of the best?

The versatile nature of the Subaru Crosstrek has helped it become a bestseller in the subcompact SUV category. With more horsepower available on the Sport and Limited trims, you can have your cake and eat it too. No, that doesn’t turn the Crosstrek into a raised hot hatch. Rather think of it as a handling improvement that makes the car even more convincing despite the arrival of new competitors. Comfortable, practical, easy to drive and efficient (rated by the EPA at 26/34 mpg city / highway with the 2.5-liter), this little rig is a complete package. We’re hoping the next-gen Crosstrek builds on that formula, and maybe – just maybe – a subcompact SUV will finally catch the Golden Calipers.

CHARACTERISTICSSubaru Crosstrek Sport 2021
VEHICLE LAYOUTFront-engine 4-door SUV, all-wheel drive, 5 passengers
ENGINE2.5 L / 182 hp / 176 lb-ft DOHC 16 valve flat 4
TRANSMISSIONAuto cont variable
WEIGHT ON BOARD (F / R DIST)3262 lbs (59/41%)
Length x Width x Height176.5 x 71.0 x 63.6 inches
0 to 60 mph7.8 seconds
QUARTER MILE16.0 s at 87.7 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH124 ft
MT FIGURE EIGHT27.9 s at 0.60 g (average)
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY / ROAD125/99 kWh / 100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB0.65 lbs / mile


Subaru Crosstrek Sport First Test After 2021: When Power Solves Everything appeared first on MotorTrend.

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