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Want A New Subaru Crosstrek With A Manual Transmission? The End Is Near

How long will Subaru still offer a manual transmission in the Subaru Crosstrek? Why the end of the stick shift is almost here.


What Subaru models still come with a manual transmission? A few years ago, customers could get a Forester, Outback, and Legacy with a manual gearbox. In 2021, Subaru only offers the manual shifter in the 2021 Crosstrek, Impreza, WRX, WRX STI, and 2022 BRZ. But Subaru will drop the manual gearbox in the Crosstrek and Impreza soon.

According to IHS Markit and ZF Group, a recent report from Automotive News (by subscription) says the manual’s market share sits at only 1.2 percent in North America. The reason is partly due to new safety technology in vehicles works best with automatics. Subaru offers EyeSight as standard equipment in all Forester, Outback, Ascent, and Legacy models. But none have a standard transmission.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek, 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport, pricing, specs, features
photo credit: Budds Subaru

The smart safety features can function with manuals, but Subaru has chosen not to spend the money to adapt its EyeSight driver-assist system to work with manual transmissions. They also see the declining customer demand for standard transmissions in Crosstrek and Impreza models.

Anton Pawczuk, a spokesman for Subaru product management, says the automaker’s decision not to adapt EyeSight to manual models was economic. According to Automotive News, in Canada, manual sales the Impreza were 14.4 percent, and Crosstrek was lower at 10.1 percent in 2020.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek, 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport, pricing, specs, features
photo credit: Competition Subaru

“If it’s only 10 percent of your sales and dropping, then your choices are either to improve EyeSight as a technology and make it better for the vast majority of vehicles that have it, or try to create something for the manual,” Pawczuk said.

Torque News reached out to Subaru of America, and a spokesman said they only sell six percent of its Crosstrek models with a 6-speed manual transmission. The other 94 percent get the Lineartronic CVT automatic transmission or the upgraded Lineartronic with 8-speed manual mode with steering wheel paddle shifters on the new 2021 Crosstrek Sport.

Dropping the manual is also about improved fuel mileage. The Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) automatic gets improved fuel efficiency compared with the manual gearbox.

The 2021 Crosstrek with a 6-speed manual gets an EPA estimated 22/29/25 city/highway/combined mpg. The automatic gets considerably better fuel mileage at 28/33/30 city/highway/combined mpg.

Subaru remains committed to offering manual-equipped vehicles, Pawczuk said, but regulation would force it to decide whether to invest in adapting its AEB for use with manuals.

Will Subaru keep the manual in its sports cars?

Performance enthusiasts don’t need to worry. Subaru won’t drop the manual in its sports cars anytime soon. The BRZ sports coupe manual sales account for 79.0 percent, and the WRX sports sedan are 86.1 percent.

But demand for the manual in the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek compact SUV and Impreza sedan and hatchback are dropping steadily. Look for Subaru to discontinue the 5-speed manual in the Crosstrek and Impreza soon. The end is near.

You Might Also Like: How the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Ranks With 10 Small SUVs With The Most Cargo Space

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: main image Budds Subaru


Carl (not verified)    May 27, 2021 - 1:22AM

If Subaru offered any of their larger vehicles with a turbo and a manual, I'd have bought one years ago. Unfortunately America isn't allowed a fun, fast, versatile mountain cross-over.

Frank McLauren III (not verified)    May 27, 2021 - 4:56AM

If it means the next wrx/sti will be available in a hatchback again, great. If not, truly sad. (Hybridization/Electric cars will kill off manuals anyway. Might as well do a last hurrah for ICE vehicles and make manuals til the end)

David Klinger (not verified)    May 27, 2021 - 11:29AM

Subaru makes a variety of models ( many with a manual gear box ) for other countries... While in Montenegro, I saw a 2 liter diesel 6 speed Forester... I'm still disappointed they'll never make it to the USA due to emissions... 38 MPG sounded fabulous !!

iamstd (not verified)    May 27, 2021 - 2:19PM

The problem with the fuel economy argument is that the EPA numbers don't reflect real world numbers. One quick look at user-submitted numbers on for same year Crosstreks shows that the CVT gets 2 mpg less than the manual across the board. Autos have definitely gotten more efficient over the years, but they still see to be designed only to hit specific targets and that doesn't necessarily help the consumer.

Nick (not verified)    May 27, 2021 - 6:21PM

I own a manual Crosstrek and I'll be the first to tell you that you aren't missing out on anything. The rev hang they programmed into it in the name of fuel economy makes shifting it smoothly in the lower gears without jerking it around next to impossible; and first is geared so ridiculously low that it's next to useless your rock crawling Everest. When I test drove it I attributed the poor shifting to my own incompetence and figured I'd get myself sorted out pretty quickly. Three years later I'm better at it but it's still pretty trash compared to my long gone GTI, 70's VW, 70's Toyota. I love a manual but the Crosstrek is hands down the worst one I've driven sadly.

Steve (not verified)    May 27, 2021 - 11:14PM

I've got the manual transmission Crosstrek, bought it new in 2019. Took forever to find a dealer with one in stock and had to travel quite a way to get it. I new I planned to abuse my new car and the only way to keep it alive was with a standard transmission. As I was towing my trailer, with a stump grinder in it, I knew full well the automatic never would have survived that 4,700 pound load. A real world comparison of my 2019 lifted with oversized tire manual transmission Crosstrek to a 2021 fully stock automatic version shows the manual can get better mileage than the automatic and I don't have to deal with the auto start auto stop crap they went to to gain mileage.

Mary (not verified)    June 5, 2021 - 1:38AM

I have a 2012 manual Outback. It is 1 of 4 produced that year with the options I wanted and one of the last off the line in Lafayette. I waited 8 months for it. My next car will be an automatic because I will need my grandkids to drive when we vacation and they can't drive a stick.

Marta (not verified)    July 15, 2021 - 8:37AM

That the end is near makes us very unhappy. We're a Subaru family and we all love to drive manuals. I had to six weeks for my manual 2018 Impreza; likewise it took a long time to get my manual 2019 Crosstrek. Perhaps sales would be better if they were more readily available. I know several people who gave up and bought the CVT versions, and unhappily so. My husband settled for a CVT Outback and regrets it. He's done with Subaru. I will be too when the Crosstrek manual becomes extinct. So much for consumer choice in America. :( p.s. I get way better gas mileage driving stick than any published numbers for the CVT.

Richard Sammis (not verified)    September 22, 2021 - 9:48AM

All eyes on Subaru to see if 2022 Crosstrek will have a stick. My dealership says they might have news by this Friday. If the manual transmission option is gone, there will no longer be an all wheel drive hatchback vehicle with a stick for sale in North America. Shoot me.

Richard Sammis (not verified)    September 22, 2021 - 9:50AM

All eyes on Subaru to see if 2022 Crosstrek will have a stick. My dealership says they might have news by this Friday. If the manual transmission option is gone, there will no longer be an all wheel drive hatchback vehicle with a stick for sale in North America. Shoot me.

Tang (not verified)    March 7, 2022 - 10:36AM

The best driving experience is manual shifting in every Subaru model with enough horse power. Shortly if Subaru offers Impreza and crosstrek with current 2.5 li manual transmission every buddy love it.I hope upcoming 2023 models deserves it.