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The New 2021 Subaru Complete Model Change Preview

The Subaru brand is on the move with more changes on the way for the 2021 model year. See what’s coming for the 2021 Subaru Forester, Crosstrek, WRX STI, and BRZ.

Subaru Corporation made significant changes to the 2020 Subaru Outback and Legacy models which now ride on the new Subaru Global Platform, a new turbocharged 2.4-liter engine, technology upgrades, and standard EyeSight driver-assist system. But what changes are coming for the 2021 Forester, Crosstrek, Ascent, Impreza, WRX/STI and BRZ models?

Subaru introduces new models every five years with a mid-cycle refresh in the fourth year. The Forester compact SUV received a total remodel for the 2019 model year and a few new upgrades for 2020 with the main feature being a new Rear Seat Reminder. For 2021 models, look for the Forester to get very few changes in its third year of the product cycle.

2021 Subaru Forester will only get minor upgrades2020 Subaru Forester

The 2021 Subaru Outback and Legacy will also get very few changes in the second year of the product cycle. Subaru won't make many revisions with dimensions, sheet metal, and most specifications remaining identical to the 2020 models. You can read about the 2020 model change here.

Subaru introduced the Ascent as an all-new vehicle for the 2019 model year, and only published two changes for the 2020 Ascent. The engineers added a power rear gate lock function and a new Rear Seat Reminder system on all trim levels. The 2021 model will be the third year, so there won’t be many changes made to the 2021 Ascent. They will be announced in late spring or early summer 2020. Read our Ascent two-rear report card.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek will get a refresh with exterior and interior revisions2020 Subaru Crosstrek

The Subaru Crosstrek, originally introduced in 2013, received a complete remodel for the 2018 model year. 2020 models received minor updates and for the 2021 model year (fourth year of the product cycle), Crosstrek will get a refresh with exterior and interior revisions. The first all-electric Subaru will likely appear in 2021, though the Japanese automaker has made no announcement if it will arrive as a Crosstrek.

The Impreza sedan and 5-Door compact models received a new design from the ground up for the 2017 model year. The 2020 Subaru Impreza received a refresh to the exterior and interior and 2021 models will be very similar. Look for the Subaru Impreza compact to get an all-new design in 2022.

2021 Subaru WRX STI will get a complete remodelSubaru STI Performance Concept

The sport-tuned Subaru WRX and performance-tuned WRX STI sedans receive complete redesigned less often (every six, seven, or even eight years) than the brand’s core volume models. The first generation WRX lasted six years (2002 through 2007), the second generation seven years (2008 through 2014).  Subaru introduced the current generation in 2015 and refreshed the car for 2018.

Some automotive sources have reported the all-new WRX and WRX STI will arrive in late 2020 as 2021 models. Subaru Corporation in Japan and Subaru of America are famously tight-lipped about future production plans of their performance cars so nothing has been released from the Japanese automaker and everything beyond this is speculation.

What engine will power the next-generation WRX and WRX STI?

The next-generation Subaru WRX will likely keep the FA20 2.0-liter turbocharged Boxer engine probably with some modest tuning and power upgrades from the current 268-horsepower. Some sources say Subaru will drop the EJ25 2.5-liter turbocharged engine in the STI and it will also get the FA20 powerplant with power upgrades around 315-horsepower. The current 2.5-liter STI engine cranks out 310-horsepower).

There have also been reports the next-generation STI will get a steroidal version of the FA24 2.4-liter turbocharged Boxer engine that powers the new Ascent, Outback, and Legacy models. Again, this has not been confirmed by Subaru and remains speculation. Many enthusiasts have asked for a return of the WRX/STI hatchback body style, and if it ever returns, don’t expect to see it soon. Subaru is selling every car it can build, so it doesn't make sense for them to invest in engineering resources to add lower-volume performance model variants.

an all-new 2021 Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 are coming2020 Subaru BRZ tS

2021 Subaru BRZ

Last but not least is the 2021 Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86. We do know the next-generation BRZ/86 is coming because it was confirmed by Toyota when they announced their increased stake in Subaru Corporation. The BRZ/86 was first launched in 2012 and is the brand’s lowest volume model and it’s why they needed Toyota to help with production costs.

The 2021 Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86 will get a complete remodel. Some reports say the second-generation BRZ/86 will be powered by the new FA24 2.4-liter turbocharged engine and move on from the naturally aspirated 2.0-liter powerplant. Subaru Corporation has made no announcements confirming or denying the reports, so don't get your hopes up.

You Might Also Like: Subaru’s 2020 Corporate Report Reveals Why They Are More Than A Car Company

Denis Flierl has invested nearly 30 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his reports are archived on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on FacebookTwitterInstagramSubaru Report. Check back tomorrow for more Subaru news and updates!

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Photo credit: Subaru USA


Rob (not verified)    December 30, 2019 - 12:43AM

Why do auto manufacturers (Subaru) stay w/ cvt transmission with their problems (20000+miles) vs going back to the gear transmission?

XTman (not verified)    December 31, 2019 - 3:20AM

I wander when would Subaru sell us an all electric Forester, equipped with 4 electrical motors (one per wheel), that would be able to turn on the spot with a minimal turning radius, that is approaching its diagonal wheelbase. Similarly to battle tanks , this could be accomplished by driving one side's wheels forward and the other side's backward.

Jesse (not verified)    January 3, 2020 - 8:07PM

The CVT transmission is used strictly for increased mpg versus traditional automatic transmissions. That's it. For regular transmissions the trend is for multiple gears. The popular automatics go from at least 6 forward gears to as many as 10. Needless to say this adds complexity. Again, this is for increased mpg. Basically regulations are driving the auto industry in what they develop and future innovations.

Susan Luehring (not verified)    January 13, 2020 - 6:44AM

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE BRING BACK THE TURBO TO THE FORESTER! 181 hp is horrible in the Forester!! I am a loyal Subaru owner and have purchased 2 Forester XT's in the last several years and I was ready to trade in for a new one in 2019. I was extremely disappointed that the XT model was gone but I kept my fingers crossed that you would realize your mistake and bring the Turbo engine back to the Forester in 2020. No such luck. I really wanted a new Forester so I went and did a test drive of the new Forester. There is not enough power in that car without the turbo. I will never buy a Subaru again unless you put the turbo back into the Forester. Sincerely, a sad Subaru Forester customer.

Marilyn M (not verified)    February 11, 2020 - 5:36PM

In reply to by Susan Luehring (not verified)

I wanted to get a Forester, but didn't for the same reason - I want more engine power / torque in my car. When I press on the gas, I want that car to go, not rev until it can get speed on the highway - no way. I also want a quiet cabin. I do not want to hear any wind noise coming through the windows, which is what i get now in my 2014 Honda CRV. I am so looking forward to trading it in for a more powerful and quieter SUV. I had an 2001 Outback that was quieter and more powerful than my CRV - I still miss my Outback, but I do not want a station wagon looking care, so I am hoping that next year's Forester will be that car.

John Pappas (not verified)    September 8, 2020 - 1:33PM

In reply to by Susan Luehring (not verified)

We have 2 turbo Subarus in our driveway a 2016 wrx and a 2017 forester St If a bolt of lightning had to hit 1 of them I would pic the wrx as the forester St is not replaceable right now. Though there have been pluses having Toyota holding part if Subaru the down side is those Toyota bean counters. If there's no large financial gains they will not build the car. Why do you think that the 2 fun cars Toyota has are not built by them( 1 Subaru built and 0ne BMW built.

Adam (not verified)    January 28, 2020 - 10:08AM

Is the Crosstrek XTI ever going to be a thing? I have a 2005 WRX that I bought brand new in April 2005, and it's still goin strong. I don't really have much interest in the new WRX's or STI's. I'm holding out hope for a Crosstrek XTI to be my next brand new Subaru after seeing articles about it online.

Jamie (not verified)    February 4, 2020 - 11:21AM

Big rumor out on youtube states the 2021 xv crosstrek out maybe in Aug will have fb2.5 with 182hp. It seems legit

jamie hayden (not verified)    February 10, 2020 - 7:05PM

2021 crosstrek with 2.5 video has been removed from youtube. The guy claims Subie doobie doo made him take it down..

Leonel B Velarde (not verified)    February 11, 2020 - 2:13PM

I have been thinking about buying a Subaru, but I keep reading that the engine has a head gasket factory problem. Also the transmission has an issue of it's own. These being are two major components, ¿why isn't more attention put to it by Subaru? LBV

George Meyer (not verified)    February 18, 2020 - 2:37PM

PLEASE, PLEASE include a rear window wiper on next gen WRX and Impreza Sport, be it a hatchback or fastback or Viziv-type Impreza. You will then be among the rare breed that has them (911s, etc.). Think back to Toyota Celicas or Acura Integras. Also want great mileage and great brakes! I've had 3 Subarus.

volkan (not verified)    February 21, 2020 - 4:07AM

I am a Subaru fan and currently driving a WRX but Subaru is really lazy.
Don't care for the 2015 refresh on the REX it's a 10 year old tech and engine. It's an expensive car at $30k - and $40k on the STI.
We need all-new model, with all-new interior like yesterday.

Butch Varketo (not verified)    March 4, 2020 - 8:57PM

I purchased a new 2020 Forester in October. I do like the vehicle except for the auto start/stop feature which you have to turn off (disable) every time you start the car unless you want to be vibrated off the road every time you restart the vehicle after coming to a stop. This feature, to me, makes me wish I had never purchased the Forester. Like I said, I like everything else about the vehicle but I cannot get over the rattling of my teeth every time the the vehicle stops and then restarts when you begin moving again, I just hate this feature. I think all that Subaru would have to do is issue a software update that would allow the owner to turn the feature off and it would be deactivated until such time as the OWNER wanted to turn it back on which for me would be never. My other car is also a 2020 with this feature but I was able to go into the vehicle settings and turn the start/stop feature off and it will not turn back on again until I go back into the menu to reactivate it, that will never happen. The car gets great mileage and is comfortable on the road. I simply cannot remember to deactivate the feature every time I get in the car and it just ruins my day when it shuts the engine off tne then the vehicle shudders to restart. Please Subaru fix this problem.

Don Levin (not verified)    March 11, 2020 - 6:45PM

In reply to by Butch Varketo (not verified)

Totally agree. I’ve read Obama, thru EPA, mandated 53mpg avg, Without Congress voting. CVT & Auto SS resulted. EPA offers money for making SS come back on. Heavy duty starter and battery and very little to no gas saved. Trump is trying to overturn this but there’s opposition.