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New Subaru Crosstrek - Why The Automaker Left Out An Important Trail-Ready Upgrade

The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport gets new safety upgrades but not the best LED headlights. Why did Subaru not include the important upgrade?


Subaru upgraded the newly-refreshed 2021 Crosstrek subcompact SUV with the latest safety technology with advanced adaptive cruise control with lane centering capability but failed to give lower trims the best LED steering responsive headlights. The Sport’s inferior Halogen headlights could leave you stranded on the trail. If you want the best headlights, you’ll have to opt for the top-trim Limited or Hybrid model.

The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Premium starts at ($23,295) with a 6-speed manual and ($24,645) with optional CVT. The all-new Crosstrek Sport starts at ($26,495) and both trims come with Halogen reflector headlights that are not curve adaptive and have no high bean assist.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport

You will have to buy the top-trim Limited ($27,995) to get the best LED steering responsive headlights with automatic height adjustment control and LED daytime running lights and LED fog lights.

Why do I want LED headlights?

We aren’t sure why Subaru didn’t give the new Sport trim that will be more likely used on dark trails at night the best headlights. And there is a big difference between the Halogen reflector headlights and the LED headlights.

There is so much difference that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2020 Crosstrek Premium Halogen headlights a “Poor” rating and the Crosstrek Limited with LED headlights an overall “Good” rating. This is the difference between the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport getting the highest IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus award or the lesser TSP.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek SportAre LED headlights that much better?

Around a curve, in IIHS testing, the LED Steering Responsive Headlights will project up to 300 feet, while the Halogen headlights only project a little over 200 feet. That could be the difference between seeing a deer jump into the road and being able to avoid hitting it.

The Halogen headlights are ok for urban driving but not the best on a dark mountain road or driving in the fog. Imagine being deep in the high country, hitting a deer, or worse, hitting an elk, and having it go through the windshield. You could be stranded with no cell service until someone comes along the next day.

We know why Subaru didn't upgrade the new Crosstrek Sport with LED headlights. All automakers hold some new features back for the next model change. It's called planned obsolescence, and next year they can tout the new 2022 model as better and improved without making expensive major chnages.

The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek does come standard with EyeSight and received the highest possible rating of “Superior” for front crash prevention by the IIHS if you do hit something. Now Subaru needs to give the trail-rated Crosstrek Sport the best LED steering responsive headlights so you can see farther and around corners. It will likely be coming next year.

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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 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.

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Photo credit: Subaru USA


Miller (not verified)    July 21, 2020 - 8:21PM

I would agree. Subaru has always been chintzy with the features on all but the Limited in an attempt to upsell. Now it's 2022 before Subaru catches up with the rest of the industry with LED lights...

jg (not verified)    July 22, 2020 - 11:44AM

Here's the letter I sent to Subaru after looking at packages and options the day the ordering opened up. They did the same thing with the Forester Black Edition (where you couldn't get decent options) and it floundered in sales until they came out with the Forester Sport (which I just bought yesterday instead of the Crosstrek Sport).

I am writing to tell you how displeased I am with the inability to equip the new Crosstrek Sport with, what I consider, base safety equipment of LED headlights and fog lights. In addition, the inability to add a decent stereo (Harmon Kardon) like every other Sport edition and the lack of the center dash multi-function display is particularly annoying and 100% a deal-breaker.

I have been waiting for the ordering to begin so I could get 2 Crosstrek Sport vehicles with the 2.5 liter engine for my kids, who have a 2017 Impreza Sport and a 2018 Crosstrek Limited with the STI package. I particularly like how this same engine in my wife's 2019 Forester Touring operates and is a vast improvement over previous years (I have bought about 10 different Subaru vehicles in the past 5-8 years), but your desire to include outdated and limited technology and options is very disappointing.

With so many electric vehicles coming to market with extremely advanced technology included, these limitations on available options (that I am more than willing to pay for) are going to drive customers away.

jg (not verified)    July 22, 2020 - 3:07PM

In reply to by jg (not verified)

Response, in case anyone is interested. They really do listen to consumers and (coincidence or not) have implemented changes that I (and probably others) have asked for. -----

Thank you for contacting Subaru of America, Inc. We appreciate you taking time out of your day to contact us.

I will pass on your feedback to Product Development for their consideration. Past input from our customers has been helpful in initiating changes to our newer models. The most valued opinion of any business is that of its customers. Your comments are valuable to us in that they provide us with a clear picture of our products as seen by our customers.

Thank you for the opportunity to be of assistance.

RAMPANTRANGER (not verified)    January 18, 2021 - 9:00PM

100% AGREED! Also, why not integrate the satellite maps? Crosstreks go off the trail, they need to make bright LED lights and satellite mps available! Android auto is nice, but what if my phone dies?...lost

MissingNo (not verified)    February 11, 2022 - 8:14PM

@jg it's 2022 and the Sport Trim still does not come with LED headlights, That response Subaru gave you is their boiler plate mass response crap they give everyone, they will continue to let their customer down and not listen. What a shame in 2022 to pay $30k+ out the door for a adventure car with crappy halogen lights.

djbzz (not verified)    April 7, 2023 - 3:35PM

According to Consumer Reports, the halogen headlamps offer better visibility.
I'd like to by the hybrid version, but the halogens are not available.

Overpriced LEDs are not always better than halogen. And, when LEDs do eventually go out, be prepared to spend some serious money for replacements.