2021 Subaru Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek
Denis Flierl's picture

It Saves Fuel In The New Subaru Forester, Outback, And Crosstrek But You Don’t Like It

Automakers improve fuel mileage on new vehicles, but customers don’t like new technologies that make cars more fuel-efficient. Check out one feature on the 2021 Subaru Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek customers would rather not have on their new vehicle.

A new study by Consumer Reports says customers like the improved fuel mileage on the latest models like the 2021 Subaru Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek. The Japanese automaker uses direct-fuel-injection, smaller turbocharged engines, a CVT automatic transmission, and auto-stop-start on its new models. But the latter is not a fuel-saving feature owners like on their vehicle.

“There are no free rides in this business,” says Gabe Shenhar, associate director of Consumer Report’s auto-test program. “Drivers might find the stop/start annoying, or turbo lag could make a car hesitant to accelerate. Aerodynamic styling might result in a lower, curvier car that compromises visibility and ease of access.”

2021 Subaru Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek

Auto-Stop-Start is one of the most controversial gas-saving features on new Subaru vehicles. Many automakers use the system that automatically stops the engine when you come to a complete stop for more than a few seconds. It’s designed to save a little fuel every time the car stops at a stop sign, or you wait at a traffic light.

The frequent starting and stopping of the engine become tiresome to some drivers who live in urban areas, especially if you commute in heavy stop-and-go traffic every day. Some drivers say they don’t like the car stopping and starting because they fear the system could fail, and the engine won’t restart and leave them stranded. They also consider the extra wear on the engine and starter.

2021 Subaru Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek

Why is Subaru slow to bring a new electric vehicle?

“Automakers have been slow to build EVs in part because, until recently, battery costs have been quite high,” says Chris Harto, a senior transportation policy analyst at CR. “That is rapidly changing. Expect to see a lot more compelling EVs over the next few years.”

Subaru Corporation will bring its first-ever electrified SUV developed with Toyota sometime in 2022. Until then, customers who buy a 2021 Subaru Forester, Outback, or Crosstrek will deal with technologies designed to save fuel.

You Might Also LikeHow To Disable the Auto-Start System On Your Subaru

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

Subaru Report - We’ve got you covered! Check back tomorrow for more unique, informative SUBARU news, reviews, and previews you can trust.
Leave your comments below, share the article with friends and tweet it out to your followers!
Photo credit: Subaru

Subscribe to Torque News on YouTube.

Follow Torque News on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.


I LOVED my 2018 Subaru Legacy and after hitting a deer and totaling in I felt it was a no brainer to buy a new one. I bought the 2020 Legacy.and love everything except the stupid auto start stop I shut it off every time and see no reason they could not figure out a way to be able to permanently disable it.
This feature offer no real milage gain. Just add extra complexity and weight on the vehicle. Better add a hybrid option.
I am done with Subaru. My 2013 (which had oil burn issues since day one, and had two engine rebuilds, had just hit 180,000 miles. And boom, my CVT exploded. Almost got me killed when it caused my car to come to a very fast stop with lots of shaking and noises. They wanted $9000 foe a rebuilt Subaru Trans and Front Diff!!!!!! I had a warranty (Car Shield) that got me a used transmission, but it was a mess of a process. While this was going on i got to extensively drive all the new model Subaru. Start/Stop is a joke, and dangerous. One of my loaner Outbacks would jump forward when it started. I almost rear-ended some cars because of it. And yes, driving like 2000 miles in a Forester, I saved like .03 gallons of gas. Not worth it for 1 gallon saved. My favorite new Subaru to drive was actually the Crosteck with the new engine. It was zippy and handled well. It just didn't have room for my gear. But if you are thinking about a new Subaru, you might want to jthink again, especially if you drive a lot. Your better off going Toyota or really anything at this point. I like the Chevy Equinox with the Turbo 2.0 more than I would have thought. And might as well just go F-150. Sure, you will pay more in fuel, but there won't be costly repairs until well after 300k miles.
Of all the tings that didn't happen...this post didn't happen the most. Not physically possible for the engine starting to propel the car forward unless you're not capable of using the brake pedal efficiently. You did not have a warranty on your 180,000 mile car. Toyota and every other manufacturer is going to be putting the same functionality on their vehicles. You're clearly not capable or willing to buy a new vehicle, so my guess is you'll probably end up with another 100,000+ mile piece of garbage and then blame the manufacturer when it fails. Although I would love to see your fictional F150 or Chevy Equinox make it to 180,000 miles with zero repairs. Where do these people come from?
Might as well stop driving - virtually all Nissan Automatics have been CVT for years - I've experienced the EXACT same thing as you described - the wheels locking up as a result of a CVT failure - with a brand-new rental car i took out, except it would do it randomly during deceleration and not at higher speeds - that went back straight away and i waited until I watched them take it to their contracted mechanic who deemed it "Unsafe for Rental" on the spot, after I took him for a test drive and caused it to happen - he freaked out (much like I did when it first happened) - I detest CVTs with a passion and don't trust them either...
I currently traded in a 2015 Forester for a 2021 Forester Dark Blue Pearl Sport. Overall i do like the car but i've had to get used to keyless ignition and the Stop/Start feature. I have inquired on that and there is a button below the dash on left side you can push to disable the feature . It does reset each time you turn off the vehicle so when you gop back in and start it, the feature is renabled!
No auto stop/start in my Forrester with a manual transmission...just but one of those. Oh wait, subaru stopped selling those in the US. Plan B it is then. I only live 10 miles from work, I'll ride my bicycle.
I almost traded my 2018 for a 2021 I am so glad I didn’t. I am so glad for these reviews. I won’t buy another one unless they stop this nonsense. If not, Toyota here I come again
Had Auto Start/Stop on my 2020 Outback. It's incredibly rough when it starts up, far worse than my previous two BMWs that had it. Plus if it starts while you're still stopped at a light, the car will tend to lurch forward too if the brakes aren't applied with a lot of force. It's just a horribly designed system on the Subaru. And disabling it on the 2020 Outback takes multiple presses through options on the touch screen which is annoying as well.
I kind of can side with both sides of this discussion. I drove my 2010 Forester for 10 years and 160k miles. I loved the car. No major issues what so ever. A few annoying things here and there but just that, annoying not dangerous. Since my normal commute for the last 3 years is 80+ miles a day I did not think my fozy will be able to handle it for much longer so plan for replacement. I drove 2019 Premium with engine SS , I test drove 2020 as well. I do not care for the ss for the very same reasons many people here stated. By my research it does not save anough gasoline and lessen anough pollution to justify extra expenses with more weight and degradation of parts from extra use. But I can live with it. I liked the new bigger size overall, and some other changes. I wanted the keyless ignition, and new safety options. But at the same time I also researched Toyota hybrids. And finally decided that I will go with 2020 RAV4 hybrid. The price was only a few thousand difference. The 2020 fozy sport I build out was 31k OTG. The 2020 RAV4 hybrid XLE I chose to buy was 32.5 OTG You get all the safety and improvements as the Forester sport, but also extra 6 to 8 miles per gallon on average. I am mostly highway driver. So AWD needs to be only snow bad weather capable. My research show that while Toyota hybrid AWD is not as good as Subarus it is still a very capable system and is more than enough for me. My take on this if you really don't like the new Subaru you have other options just as good.
Auto stop/start is annoying but I've gotten in the habit of pushing the button to turn it off after starting the car. It's not enough of an annoyance to influence my car buying decisions.
I've had my 1st Subaru, a 2020 Forester, for about a month now, and I'm already in the habit of pressing the Ignition button with my right hand, pressing the 'A' button to disable the Auto S/S with my left hand. Easy peasy. ASS is the only flaw in an otherwise perfect car for me.
So glad I have a 2018 Outback. No way I want auto stop/start in my car. This is going to cost more in repairs to the vehicle than any fuel savings.
My 2019 Forester Sport is my third Subaru (all Foresters; jumped up a trim level each time). It's easily my favorite. Best safety features, best acceleration even without Sport mode, best MPG. I have zero interest in turbo: reduced MPG, premium gas. I don't have a problem with auto stop/start. Of course I am probably an exception - I "waste money" on extended warranty. It is nice to get the prorated refund when I trade in, plus the $500 bonus for staying with Subaru.
Just leave the rear defroster on and the auto stop/start doesn't happen.
Purchased new 2020 Outback XT, wifes car In all the years of our marriage never did I hear the language that she used when she found out she couldn't permanently disable the SS feature. Start car then go through two screens to disable only until you shut the car off, then repeat. I sure hope Subaru learns from their customers. Its hard to sell cars when you make your customers unhappy.
While some fuel saving features do indeed save fuel, they are poorly presented to the end users and sometimes mandated with little or no studies of effective outcomes. I see more trucks and large vehicles on the roads now than ever! Can we be real about overall fuel savings!
Auto-stop/start can be over-ridden without pressing any buttons at all. If you give a very slight double-tap to the brakes as you apporach the stop, the system is Auto-stop is overridden and the engine stays running. Found this out during a ten minute test drive.
I think you miss the point and perhaps Subaru should be a bit more transparent explaining the “stop-start” feature. The fuel savings of the system is minuscule but Subaru is very ecology driven and that’s where the impact could be felt should the feature become commonplace.
It may be better to buy used. Tesla is moving a lot quicker towards better tech than traditional auto companies. We do not know the full capability of Tesla new batteries. However you can agree this new battery will be better than what is out there. I would expect twice the charge that would make a 200 mile battery 400 mile and quicker charging.
100% Workaround 2 steps: 1. Go to Settings/Car/Defogger and set to Continuous 2. When you start your car Turn On the Rear Defroster/ Defogger. THAT'S IT! Work 100% on 2020 Outback. You only need to turn on the Defogger each time you start your car. Continuous setting stays on permanently. So much of Subaru's computer screen options and other controls need a total overhaul it's sad. I moved from Ford to Subaru and expected much better (have had a Subie before). Wish I had stayed with Ford.