Skip to main content

New Subaru Crosstrek Sport Vs All-New Ford Bronco Sport - The Choice Is Obvious

The all-new 2021 Ford Bronco Sport and new 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport arrive this summer. Which should you buy? The choice is obvious.


The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek is a new all-wheel-drive model with a new engine and upgraded suspension for improved performance and off-road ability. Along with the all-new 2021 Ford Bronco, both are aimed at buyers with active lifestyles. How does the Bronco Sport compare with the Crosstrek Sport?

The Bronco Sport is different than the new Ford Bronco and shares more mechanically with the Ford Escape riding on a car-based platform. The new model comes in four outdoorsy-themed trim levels including base ($28,155), Big Bend ($29,655), Outer Banks ($33,655), and Badlands ($34,155).

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport vs 2021 Ford Bronco Sport

Like the Crosstrek Sport the Bronco Sport plays up the off-road image and is geared for the outdoor enthusiast who will also use it as a daily commuter. Neither the EPA nor Ford have released any fuel-economy ratings for the Bronco Sport. The Crosstrek Sport gets an EPA estimated 27/34 city/highway mpg and 29 combined mpg.

The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter three-cylinder with 181 horsepower and 190 lb-ft of torque. A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 245 horsepower and 275 lb-ft is available on the top trim Badlands. An eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are standard, with upper trim levels offering a more sophisticated AWD system with a twin-clutch torque-vectoring rear differential.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport vs 2021 Ford Bronco Sport

At 172.7 inches long and with a 105.1-inch wheelbase, its footprint is similar to the Subaru Crosstrek at 175.8 inches long and 104.9-inch wheelbase. The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport ($27,545) is powered by a 2.5-liter Boxer engine producing 182 horsepower and 176 lb.-ft. of torque and is paired with a Lineartronic CVT automatic transmission. Subaru’s Symmetrical all-wheel-drive is standard.

Ground clearance measures 7.8 inches for the Bronco Sport base trim and 8.8 inches for the Badlands. The Bronco Sport models offer a choice of drive modes including Normal, Sport, Eco, Slippery, and Sand, while the Badlands trim adds Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl modes.

The Subaru Crosstrek Sport offers 8.7 inches of ground clearance and comes standard with a dual-function X-Mode with Hill Descent Control, with Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud settings. They optimize all-wheel-drive performance in severe weather and off-pavement conditions over the standard Crosstrek.

The Ford Bronco Sport has a total cargo volume go 65.2 cubic feet and a tow rating of 2000 lbs with the 1.5-liter engine and 2200 lbs with the 2.0-liter engine. The Crosstrek Sport has a total cargo volume of 55.3 cubic feet and has a tow rating of 1,500 lbs.

Which outdoor model would you buy?

Just like no one ever buys the base Crosstrek trim, few if any buyers will opt for the 2021 Ford Bronco base model. They will likely choose the Big Bend with a starting price of $29,655. This is $2,110 more than the comparably equipped Crosstrek Sport. If buyers opt for the upper-trim Outer Banks or Badlands, they will pay $6,110 to $6,610 more than Crosstrek.

Ford is hoping that outdoor enthusiasts are willing to pay extra for the prestige and hype around a brand-new model. Subaru has a loyal fan base who can purchase an off-road ready 2021 Crosstrek Sport model with similar power and features for thousands less. The choice is obvious.

You Might Also Like: Subaru Crosstrek Sport - Why The Automaker Left Out An Important Trail-Ready Upgrade

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 and the founder of 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, Ford


Digitaldoc (not verified)    July 29, 2020 - 3:23PM

Not that obvious actually. We have no performance data on either the new Crosstrek Sport, nor the Bronco Sport so we don't know the performance of either, but folks may prefer the Ford product simply to get away from the CVT and get a torque converter auto that many buyers prefer. Furthermore, the upgrade engine of the Crosstrek is similar power to that of the base engine of the Bronco Sport, and Subaru is not matching the power of the 2.0T for the upgrade option so those that want more performance will gravitate towards the Ford product. Really, we need some impressions of both vehicles after they are driven to make a choice, so this is anything but obvious at this point.

Angelo Melendez (not verified)    July 29, 2020 - 9:57PM

In reply to by Digitaldoc (not verified)

The choice for off-roading vehicles with endless capabilities is the obvious choice Subaru. The engine alone, 2.5 boxer engines “EJ#’s” are a well-known solid platform for many off-road enthusiasts. Respectfully at the end of the other hype spectrum, that goes to Ford, for attempting to re-create an original legend known as the Ford bronco it will never hold up to the original beast which still has more potential than the renovated new option available. As a automotive enthusiast myself, Would appreciate if the automotive industry stopped attempting to re-create originality and start imagining original products all these new tarnishes hurts the label and the brand. With all due respect it looks like a damn Flex ....

Ty (not verified)    July 30, 2020 - 12:39PM

In reply to by Angelo Melendez (not verified)

Respectfully the best off road Subarus are still soft roaders at best. They'll get you anywhere you need to go on a normal road. But none of them are true off readers. At least the bronco sport can be had with low range and a locking differential. Thats worth quite a bit in the sort of terrain that neither of these cars will ever get in. Also the EJ is a very dated platform, the new cross trek will be getting an FB not an EJ. At least the Bronco will get a modern motor and transmission, I wouldnt be surprised to see very good MPG numbers out of the new Ford stuff. And that 2L turbo motor is in a ton of stuff, pretty reliable so far.

Sam (not verified)    July 29, 2020 - 5:55PM

Thanks for writing this article. I believe you may, however, be comparing apples to oranges. Given the size and shape and difference, the better comparison would be the subaru forester and the bronco sport. I would love to read that article.

Hope this is helpful and gives you a good opportunity.

Thank you!

Digitadoc (not verified)    July 29, 2020 - 10:19PM

In reply to by Sam (not verified)

Let's see Forester vs the Bronco Sport? Another obvious choice as the Subaru has Symmetrical AWD with X-mode in the top trim with a CVT, and therefore just has to be better than just about everything else!

Dakota (not verified)    July 31, 2020 - 10:41AM

In reply to by Michael Smith (not verified)

On modern day cars it is a good thing. The modern Subaru CVT has a gear ratio spread similar to a ford 10-speed. Subaru also frequently sees 200k plus miles out of most units... We all need to stop thinking about the early 2000's CVTs... those days are gone. There was a day when the torque converter slush box sucked too. Technology moves forward with or without you.

MiddleClass (not verified)    July 29, 2020 - 7:29PM

You compare the top trims of both models and end by saying they have similar power? Absolutely not. The Bronco Sport will be the better choice by a mile and then some.

Troy Revill (not verified)    July 29, 2020 - 8:19PM

I have a 2014 Crosstrek Limited , it's ok . I have owned lots of Ford's . I have wrenched more on the Subaru than my 98 F150 4x4 with 280000 miles. And the F150 doesn't need oil between changes at 6000. Finally replaced the f150 this spring with f150 4x4 5.0. next will be the Subaru. The Bronco looks way better.

Ian (not verified)    July 29, 2020 - 10:13PM

Not even a close choice the Crosstrek suffers from terrible CVT and it's not even close to the overlanding spec of the bronco, plus with the option of a 2l turbo the bronco wins hands down

ChrisTexan (not verified)    July 30, 2020 - 10:43AM

I think it's obvious within a certain set of criteria. For those who need off-road for 2 weekends a year on their camping trip to the cabin, but daily-drive 350 days a year on normal commutes/roads, the Subaru is blatantly obvious. It will assuredly have better manners, economy, and just general-purpose user-friendliness over the Bronco.
Those commenting that the "Badlands with turbo" option makes the Bronco a better choice... not really no, unless testing shows a huge performance gain (unlikely as I expect it'll weight substantially more, and gearing will be less suited to daily performance), it'll be the less practical, less enjoyable vehicle that you paid a LOT more for, on those 350 days a year. 15 days it might be somewhat more enjoyable, and if you do MORE off-roading, and get into more serious stuff (or need to tow a 2000lb boat trailer which is obviously over the 1500# limit of the XTrek), then there are arguments to be made. But for 95% of people needing something that can get them to their weekend campsites and home safely, or drive safely in Colorado or Wyoming winter conditions every day, the Subaru makes tons more sense starting with the price and through the features. It'll be interesting to see the first "head-to-head" comparisons of the released products though.

Jakof Hardr (not verified)    July 30, 2020 - 12:05PM

I had a 2001 Outback and it kept on getting stuck in the snow for some reason. I took it into my Subaru dealer to have it looked at and they said that everything was working fine. I sold it as I found this symmetrical all-wheel drive just did not work properly!!

Kev (not verified)    July 30, 2020 - 12:13PM

I don't think anyone's comparing the old-body, tiny Crosstrek (or any Subaru) with the pretty new Bronco. Branding and popularity aside, how do approach angle and tire size options factor in? The Bronco is for people who want a Bronco, or people who want a Jeep. Subaru's are great, but milder.

Christian (not verified)    July 30, 2020 - 1:04PM

Not that it matters, and of course it is preference, but we can't forget about looks. I am not crazy about either, but Subarus are not beautiful vehicles. The Bronco, if I had to choose, looks better. To say that a plasticy station wagon looks good boggles my mind. Again, I get it, it's just looks, but I put a shirt on in public because I do care a little bit what image I am portraying.

Christopher Hoffman (not verified)    July 30, 2020 - 1:31PM

Comparable power and features for thousands less? You just pointed out the bronco sport has way more power with the 2.0 and it's larger. How is this remotely comparable? Not to mention that 2.5 with suffer even further at altitude.

Subaru owners are funny though. The 2.5 is a solid power plant riddled with head gasket issues up until, what, 2016? Has a cvt. Plus side is the AWD mode.

But we haven't seen a bronco sport off-road. Most likely the bronco sport will outperform and go further off road. I'm not bashing Subaru, but they are nothing special.

Bad Kitty No M… (not verified)    July 30, 2020 - 1:56PM

Why not wait until the Bronco has been out for a while and can be properly assessed? Personally I'm very interested in the Bronco Sport, as it can be had with a manual transmission which shoots it straight to the top of the list as manuals are no longer being offered in most models.

TomJ (not verified)    July 30, 2020 - 9:13PM

In reply to by Bad Kitty No M… (not verified)

The bronco sport has 8 spd automatic trannies across the board. The Bronco 2 or 4 door is available with the 7 spd manual with crawl gear, when equipped with the 2.3 Ecoboost.

William Johnson Jr (not verified)    July 30, 2020 - 2:46PM

CVT is "obvious"? Are you kidding me? Love the boxer engine, but that lack of a tranny is a deal breaker.

Robert W. Taylor (not verified)    July 30, 2020 - 4:08PM

Take a little time to research Subarus CVT transmissions. They have had numerous recalls and lawsuits due to poor performance.

Adam (not verified)    July 30, 2020 - 4:14PM

The Venn Diagram of people interested in the Crosstrek Sport and people interested in the Bronco contains two circles that don't overlap.

Tomj (not verified)    July 30, 2020 - 4:28PM

Sometimes less, is just less. The bronco sport is much better in basically all aspects than the Subaru Crosstrek, provided the Subaru dreamt change much from the current Crosstrek. The transmission alone on the Crosstrek is a reason to not buy it, and instead buy the bronco sport. The Ford has more space inside, has more power available, and easily a better off road system. The Subaru is much more of a soft roader than the bronco sport. Granted, the bronco sport is not a full hardcore off roader like the Bronco. The bronco sport even tows more than the Subaru. Reliability wise, the Ford will surely be more dependable than the Subaru as those flat 4's have head issues and transmission problems. The bronco sport is based on already available known engines, transmission, and chassis, so this isn't a stretch to say that it will be more reliable than the Subaru.

Black Water (not verified)    July 30, 2020 - 6:59PM

Subura's big in Colorado, not to popular in most other states. Design hasn't changed much in twenty years. Ford is going after Jeep with the Bronco, Jeep sells well nationwide and fit and finish are poor from FCA. Ford has a winner with the 2 and 4 door Bronco, and several models and upcoming modifications that will develop a huge following.

homer ogle (not verified)    July 30, 2020 - 7:10PM

I have a 2014 crosstrek with no issues for my purposes it's the best for the money and if you do your research you will buy the the one that suits your purpose but in my expirence i've found there's nothing on a ford that won't break down.