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The Best SUVs Under $25,000 - Subaru Crosstrek Is Now Behind 4 New Subcompact Models

There is one area where the competition is catching the new 2021 Subaru Crosstrek. See why Subaru is falling behind.


What are the best small SUVs under $25,000? The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek is the leader in many areas over the competition but has fallen behind four new Subcompact models. A recent study from Consumer Reports (by subscription) shows the SUVs under $25,000 with safety features that come standard does not include the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek.

The Hyundai Kona, Nissan Rogue Sport, Chevrolet Equinox, and Kia Sportage all have standard advanced driver assist systems (ADAS) features available for a starting price of less than $25,000. Does Subaru Crosstrek offer standard ADAS systems?

2021 Subaru Crosstrek, pricing, specs, features, safety

Yes, but it’s an option on lower trims because of its standard manual transmission. The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek has a starting price of less than $25,000 ($23,295 base trim) and offers forward collision warning, city- and highway-speed automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and blind-spot warning as an option. Subaru’s EyeSight driver-assist requires the optional Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and is not standard on Crosstrek base and Premium trims.

The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek would make the top five best Subcompact SUVs under $25,000 list, if not for its 6-speed manual transmission. Subaru’s EyeSight safety technology is not compatible with a manual gearbox, so Subaru can’t offer it on lower trims as standard equipment. It is an optional feature on Base and Premium.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek, pricing, specs, features, safety

Safety is why Subaru will discontinue the manual shifter on all its core models soon. Subaru still offers the manual shifter in two of its non-performance cars, the 2021 Crosstrek and 2021 Impreza compact sedan and hatchback models. Subaru will likely drop all manual shifters in Crosstrek and Impreza to bring EyeSight driver assist technology as standard equipment to their entire non-performance car lineup.

Dropping the manual is also about improved fuel mileage. The Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) automatic gets improved fuel efficiency compared with the manual gearbox. The 2021 Crosstrek with a 6-speed manual gets an EPA estimated 22/29/25 city/highway/combined mpg. The automatic gets considerably better fuel mileage at 28/33/30 city/highway/combined mpg.

It’s a trend many automakers are making, and the end of the manual transmission is coming soon. As Subaru Corporation makes its EyeSight technology standard in all new models and looks to improve fuel mileage in its lineup, look for the Japanese automaker to phase out the manual shifter in the 2022 Subaru Impreza and 2023 Subaru Crosstrek.

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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Photo credit: Subaru


mor (not verified)    October 25, 2020 - 3:49PM

My driver assist technology has always come standard - it's called paying attention to the road and my driving (and a manual transmission has always helped me to stay mentally and physically engaged with that driving).

Guilio Elcarelli (not verified)    October 26, 2020 - 1:44AM

I have a 2018 Crosstrek Limited with all options. The car gets 24.7 combined MPG. On road trips it gets about 30MPG. I wish it got 28/33/30. I drive it very moderately. I wish the EPA numbers were seated in reality.

Gary (not verified)    October 26, 2020 - 7:21AM

I disagree. I love my 6 speed manual and believe it is a huge mistake for Subaru to stop selling it. I get 35 mpg hwy and 30 mpg local driving. I do not like the car driving me. The CVT is also far more expensive to repair and maintain, and it is not as good off road. Laziness is not a good excuse to avoid shifting.

Brad (not verified)    October 27, 2020 - 2:20AM

In reply to by Gary (not verified)

36.0MPG @ >=65MPH in my 2018 Crosstrek 6MT on a 450 mile trip from Orange County (CA) to Sacramento. Sure, it's gutless. If I had wanted guts, I'd a' got a WRX. 25MPG around town, driving it like I stole it. Love this $21500 econo-box.

Marty and King-Baker (not verified)    November 4, 2020 - 10:51AM

I purchased a 2016 Crosstrek about a year Nd a half ago, with 26k miles on it. It had been the salesman's wife's leased vehicle. It was 1st Subaru, and I do not think I will EVER buy anything but one now. I have been the Dodge Mini-van mom, the Ford Expedition mom (hauling the soccer team), then owned a 2015 Ford Escape - worst car i ever owned - blind spots everywhere. I LOVE MY CROSSTREK SO MUCH, I ALREADY WANT THE 2021 MODEL!! Mine only has 45k on it, but oh how sweet the 21 looks!!