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CR’s 8 Most Reliable 3-Year-Old SUVs, And Subaru’s Pseudo-SUV Crosstrek

Consumer Reports says the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek hits the used-car sweet spot. What does that mean, and why does Consumer Reports call the Crosstrek a "Pseudo-SUV"?

Crosstrek Hits The Sweet Spot (in more ways than one)

The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek should be at the top of your used SUV shopping list. I'm not just us saying this, but an updated Consumer Reports (by subscription) ranking of the best 3-year-old small SUVs. The Crosstrek hits the 'sweet spot' with its reliability, cost-effectiveness, and unique features. 

CR says, "It's just coming off lease and has low miles. Because the lessor had to keep the car in good condition, the 2021 Crosstrek is likely to have been maintained properly, and the interior was treated well."

Crosstrek Is Reliable

Consumer Reports only recommends the most reliable 3-year-old cars and SUVs, and the Crosstrek was identified as a top pick based on CR's Annual Auto Surveys of its members. How reliable is it?

Consumer Reports rates the 2021 Crosstrek as highly reliable, giving it a score of 78/100. It's the most reliable small SUV and it has an owner satisfaction rating of 4/5, making it a cost-effective choice for used SUV buyers.  

More Crosstrek Details

2021 Subaru Crosstrek

  • Depending on the condition and trim level, you can expect to pay between $19,900 - $25,725. 
  • The owner reported MPG is 29 mpg.

CR says, "The Crosstrek is Subaru's pseudo-SUV; it's essentially an Impreza hatchback with a raised ride height and some rugged visual cues. Because it's based on the already good Impreza, it has that model's smooth ride, good fuel mileage, and roomy rear seat."

I would take exception to CR's saying the Crosstrek is "essentially an Impreza hatchback." Read my Crosstrek vs. Impreza comparison here

The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek is not just a lifted Impreza. It boasts an upgraded suspension, 8.7 inches of ground clearance, and X-Mode for severe weather capability. The Crosstrek Sport to Limited trims are equipped with dual-function X-Mode for off-road capability and extreme conditions, such as deep snow, deep sand, and mud. 

Is Crosstrek a pseudo-SUV?

According to some explanations, some crossovers, or crossover-utility vehicles (CUVs), are sometimes called pseudo-SUVs because they lack some of the characteristics of a traditional SUV, like all-wheel-drive and off-pavement capabilities.

But the exact opposite is valid for the Crosstrek. It comes with Subaru's excellent Symmetrical all-wheel-drive system, which has over fifty years of development experience. I've already discussed its X-Mode technology, which sets it apart from all other small CUVs. 

Fuel Efficiency

Consumer Reports states that the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, when mated to a CVT, returns 29 mpg overall. This fuel efficiency, which is quite good, should make potential buyers feel economical in their choice. 

Consumer Reports fails to mention that the Crosstrek Sport and Limited trims are powered by the 2.5-liter Boxer engine upgrade. It has an additional 30 horsepower and gets an EPA-estimated 27/34 city/highway mpg and 29 combined mpg

Safety Tech

CR says forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking were standard with the automatic transmission but not offered with the manual, while blind spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning were optional on all versions.

Consumer Reports overlooks the Crosstrek's EyeSight driver-assist safety tech, which has received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick award. This should reassure potential buyers about the vehicle's safety features. 

Should you buy the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Plug-In Hybrid?

CR says no. "Subaru also offers a plug-in hybrid version, which contributes to the Crosstrek's appeal, but doesn't deliver enough mileage improvement to make it a good value." Check my report here.

2021 Crosstrek Model Guide

For used SUV shoppers, the 2021 Crosstrek subcompact SUV has four trim levels. My 2021 pricing and model guide, which you'll find here, provides more information on each trim level. 

  • Base trim 
  • Premium trim 
  • All-new Sport with the 2.5-liter engine
  • The top of the lineup Limited trim with the 2.5-liter engine

What's new for 2021?

The most significant upgrade for the 2021 model year was the addition of the new Sport trim. Sport and Limited trims are powered by a new 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing 182 hp and 176 lb.-ft. of torque. 

It combines a Lineartronic CVT automatic transmission with adaptive control, incline start assist, and 8-speed manual mode with steering wheel paddle shifters.

The 2.0-liter engine produces 152 hp and 145 lb.-ft. of torque in the Base and Premium trims. Subaru still offers the 6-speed manual transmission as standard in the two trims or the optional Lineartronic CVT automatic.

I've included CR's complete list of mainstream (non-luxury) 2021 model-year small SUV Top Picks in alphabetical order.

  • Honda CR-V
  • Honda HR-V
  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Kia Sportage
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Subaru Crosstrek
  • Subaru Forester
  • Toyota RAV4

Here's A Preview 

Consumer Reports also recommended the 2021 Subaru Forester as a worthy small SUV for your 3-year-old SUV shopping list. 

CR says, "This popular small SUV delivers a combination of roomy interior, excellent visibility, commendable fuel economy, simple controls, comfortable ride, and responsive handling."

Stay tuned for the complete 2021 Forester 3-year-old compact SUV and to find out if it's the best. Come back for my report tomorrow. 

Are you looking for a used small SUV? What about the Subaru Crosstrek catches your eye? Click the red Add New Comment link below and let us know.

I am Denis Flierl, a top Torque News reporter since 2012. I’ve invested over 13 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role, working with every major car brand. I am an experienced Rocky Mountain Automotive Press member. You'll find my expert Subaru analysis here. Follow me on my X SubaruReportAll Subaru, WRXSTI, @DenisFlierlFacebook, and Instagram.

Photo credit: Subaru