The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sports gets a new 2.5-liter engine but gets upstaged by the Mazda CX-30. For 2021, the Mazda CX-30 receives a new 2.5-liter engine also, but it's turbocharged. When you look at the raw numbers, it blows away the Crosstrek Sport. Which model is best? It all depends on what's most important to you.
How much horsepower does the CX-30 2.5 Turbo have?
The Mazda CX-30 2.5 turbocharged inline-four-cylinder model develops 250 horsepower and 320 left of torque with 93 octane fuel and 227 horsepower and 310 lb-ft with 87 octane fuel. Our guess is, after a couple of high priced fill-ups, most buyers will choose the less expensive regular-grade unleaded. But 227 horsepower/310 lb-ft is impressive.
What difference does torque make?
Those wondering what torque is in simple terms, lb-ft of torque is what gets a vehicle moving from a stop and helps pull the car up a hill, and it's needed when towing. With the Mazda CX-30's 320-310 lb-ft of torque, you'll be able to get up to speed quickly from a complete stop, and it will pull steep hills with less effort. You won't likely be pulling a small trailer.
The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport 2.5-liter horizontally-opposed four-cylinder Boxer produces 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. It's hard to compare the two engines because the Crosstrek is naturally-aspirated (non-turbo.) We've driven the new Sport trim, and you can read how it performed at altitude in the mountains of Colorado here.
The CX-30 2.5-liter turbocharged engine comes coupled with a 6-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel paddle shifters.
Subaru Sport comes mated with the Lineartronic CVT automatic transmission that helps improves fuel efficiency. The CVT features a manual mode simulating an eight-speed manual transmission and also features steering wheel paddle shifters.
What is the fuel mileage on the CX-30 Turbo compared with Crosstrek Sport?
As of this writing, we do not have fuel mileage estimates for the CX-30 2.5 Turbo. The naturally-aspirated (non-turbo) CX-30 with the 2.5-liter engine gets an EPA estimated 24/31 city/highway mpg and 26 combined mpg with all-wheel-drive. The turbocharged CX-30 will likely get less.
The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport with the 2.5-liter Boxer engine gets an EPA estimated 27/34 city/highway mpg and 29 combined mpg using regular 87 octane fuel.
What about cargo space?
The Mazda CX-30 and Subaru Crosstrek are similar in size and cargo-carrying ability. Crosstrek has a little more overall passenger volume (100.9 cu-ft vs. 94.1 cubes) and slightly more cargo volume (20.8 cu-ft vs. 20.2 cubes in the CX-30).
What is the price of the Crosstrek Sport vs. Mazda CX-30?
Mazda has not released pricing on the CX-30 2.5 Turbo, but it will likely be more than the Crosstrek Sport ($26,495.)
Two things set the Crosstrek Sport apart from the new CX-30 2.5 Turbo model. Both models come standard with all-wheel-drive, but the Crosstrek Sport adds extra off-pavement all-weather performance.
The advantage Crosstrek Sport has over the CX-30 is its standard dual-function X-Mode offers extra grip on low-friction surfaces. Crosstrek also comes with 8.7-inches of ground clearance vs. 7.9-inches in the CX-30. The extra ride height will make a difference in clearing obstacles if you take the Crosstrek or Mazda off-pavement.
In-line four cylinders vs. horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine
What no one talks about is a car's balance. The new Subaru Global Platform helped reduce Crosstrek's center of gravity by 5 millimeters, and the Subaru Boxer horizontally-opposed flat-four engine sits lower in the chassis than Mazda's taller in-line engine. It helps reduce body roll by 50 percent and translates to better handling and responsiveness in curves and over rough terrain. In everyday driving, it helps maintain stability in all driving situations.
The 2021 Mazda CX-30 2.5 Turbo is a smart new entry in the subcompact SUV segment has a lot to offer urban shoppers. If you need more power, the CX-30 provides a compelling alternative for commuters, and it has sporty driving dynamics. The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport offers the most for urban-adventurers with active lifestyles looking for an all-wheel-drive vehicle for off-road adventures and getting far away. Which model is best? It all depends on what's most important to you.
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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 USA, Mazda