USED: 2021 Subaru Crosstrek: From Sporty to Refined, This AWD SUV is the Ideal Playmate

2021 Subaru Crosstrek

And now, there’s even more to love.

Climbing into the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Limited, the doors close with an appealing “thunk.” I notice the handsome, modern interior with body-colored accents on the steering wheel. There’s easy access to a pair of USBs in the front and two more tucked into the center console. I dial-set the automatic climate control, skipping the heated seats despite the brisk, late summer air. The power seats (standard on the Limited trim) accommodate my small stature, and visibility is excellent thanks to tall windows, a wide windshield and narrow front “A” pillars that separate the front windows from the windshield.

I also notice a bit of bulk in my upper right line of vision. It’s the casing for one of two cameras for the EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, standard on Sport and Limited models, and installed behind the rearview mirror on the windshield. EyeSight provides adaptive cruise control with advanced distance management, lane keep assist and sway warning, pre-collision brake warning, and pre-collision throttle management, which helps slow the vehicle by reducing power to the engine in case of an imminent crash. Blind-spot detection and rear cross-traffic alert are standard on Limited but optional on Premium and Sport, so check those boxes when shopping for the Crosstrek.

Related: Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid Review: A Use Less, Give More, Feel Better Car

I drove the Limited model through the rolling hills of Virginia recently and got to know the features and test out the technology in the Crosstrek. The Limited is the top of the line, featuring leather seats with shaded orange inserts, lovely topstitching, soft touches, and refined, well- designed materials. For vegans and fans of water activities, consider the Sport instead. The seats feature StarTex, a durable fabric free of PVC, phthalates, chlorine, and animal content. Both trims come with a nice, thick rubberized liner for the cargo area and carpeted floor mats made from recycled materials.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek

View from the driver’s seat in the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport; notice the body-paint detail on the steering wheel.? Rebecca Lindland

The Subaru Crosstrek Offers a Refined Drive Experience

Once on the road, the level of refinement and attention to detail is evident in the quiet cabin. There’s minimal road noise from the tires, and the engine thrums unobtrusively. I’m using Android Auto (Apple CarPlay is available too) with Google Maps through the 8” touchscreen assisted by a melodious voice and clear directions on a complicated route. I make a few quick turns through the charming town of Middleburg, and then the drive opens up to a winding, beautiful country road.

With a check for the speed limit displayed on the Google Maps screen, I press the accelerator, and all 182 horses take notice. The Crosstrek isn’t a race car, but power is there when you need and want it. Steering is weighty and responsive, with a confident, smooth ride and a willingness to dive into corners and hug the curves. The cabin remains quiet at higher speeds, even with the optional Harman Kardon 12-speaker sound system off.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek

The infotainment screen, driver information screen and, behind the steering wheel, the instrument cluster in the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek.? Rebecca Lindland

Four Ways to Crosstrek: Standard, Premium, Sport and Limited

There are four trims in the Crosstrek lineup for 2021, all with Subaru’s famous Symmetrical all-wheel-drive, nearly 9” of ground clearance, and 1,500 pounds of towing capacity. Two new colors include a gorgeous Plasma Yellow Pearl that’s neither yellow nor plasma nor pearl but instead, the exact shade of ripening limes. It’s fabulous. A horizon blue pearl furthers the palette. Inside, there’s room for five with 60/40 split-folding rear seats, useful USB ports in front, power windows and side mirrors, automatic climate control, cruise, and 4G LTE WiFi in all but the base model.

The entry and Premium trim lines have a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with 152 horsepower paired with a six-speed manual transmission with an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT) optional. Upgrade to the Sport and Limited and you’ll get the all-new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with 182 HP and using a blessedly well-mannered linear CVT. A CVT is often whiny under full throttle, showing its displeasure at being pressed with a high-pitched minor key wail. But not this CVT, which instead is as well-modulated as your favorite NPR personality.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek

A rear view of the Subaru Crosstrek Limited.? Rebecca Lindland

Go Ahead, Take it Off Road, Too

The route brings me to a dirt road packed with loose gravel, just the kind of path to a camping site or off-road running trail, and all-wheel-drive kicks in to provide the same level of traction as on tarmac. I test the brakes, slamming hard at 50 MPH, kicking up dust, dirt, and rocks. The Crosstrek stays straight and true on multiple attempts thanks to torque vectoring, a fancy way of saying variable levels of power (or torque) transfer to each wheel based on conditions.

Back on paved pathways, the Crosstrek handles potholes and rough surfaces with aplomb, and I’m again impressed with the confident, athletic suspension and tuning. Throughout the 80-mile course, this compact crossover behaves predictably and safely, with lane departure warning and blind-spot monitoring discreet but useful. The seats remain comfortable over the two-hour drive.

Pulling into the hotel, I check my fuel economy. It’s 26.2 miles per gallon, a tad less than the 27 city/34 highway/29 combined estimate. I drove the car hard with aggressive starts and stops mostly on back country roads, so those numbers are not unexpected.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek

The Crosstrek Sport door jambs are flat so you can stand on them to reach the roof rack.? Rebecca Lindland

Here’s Something to Love: A Roof Rack That’s Easy To Reach

Thinking of active lifestyles so popular among Subaru owners, I check out the passenger-door flat step providing access to the fully adjustable roof rack. The second-row seats fold down quickly from the rear cargo area, providing a level space for all your gear. A slew of accessories is available for the Crosstrek. Some of my favorites include an auto-dimming rearview camera, auto-dimming exterior mirrors with an approach light (great for illuminating the ground in the dark), all-weather floor liners, and rubber seat-back protectors in case of muddy (but adorable) two and four-legged paws.

Related: 10 Reasons to Love the New 2020 Subaru Outback Even More

2021 Subaru Crosstrek

The cargo area in the Subaru Crosstrek.? Rebecca Lindland

There’s so much to like in this all-new 2021 Subaru Crosstrek

And that includes the price. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • Standard Crosstrek with the 2.0-liter engine and 6-speed manual transmission, $22,245.
  • The Premium model adds standard features such as fog lights, heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, auto on/off headlights, six speakers, 4G LTE WiFi and two USB inputs up front is $23,295
  • Crosstrek Sport with the bigger 2.5-liter engine, standard Eyesight, a host of goodies including X-Mode with deep snow/mud settings starts at $26,495
  • The Limited model I drove comes with 18” tires, leather seats, power driver’s seat, color multifunctional display, folding rear seat armrest, an 8.0” multimedia screen, and reverse automatic braking starts at $27,995.
  • Destination fees on all trim levels is $1,050.

The four-door, five-passenger all-new 2021 Subaru Crosstrek compact crossover is a just-right partner for all sorts of adventuring. Whether it’s safely distancing to the mountains, cruising around to get out of the house for a while, or retrieving online ordered groceries from your local supplier, the Crosstrek is a willing participant.

Disclosure: I was Subaru’s (socially distanced, fully safety focused) guest for this test drive; all opinions are my own.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek

The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek has a center infotainment screen, an upper screen with fuel economy and climate details and underneath is a cubby with two USB ports.? Rebecca Lindland

Have a thought or comment? Share it with us on social media! You can find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And be sure to sign up for our email newsletter!

I never remember a time I didn't know every car on the road. I've never met an SUV I... More about Rebecca Lindland