|32.5||Cargo Space (cu. ft.)||20.8|
|250||Max Horsepower (HP)||182|
|2,200||Max towing (lbs)||1,500|
When it comes to crossovers and SUVS, there are literally endless options for buyers to choose from. This may sound like a good thing at first, but the dizzying array of choices can sometimes lead to confusion and a bad case of “analysis paralysis.” Take the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport vs 2021 Subaru Crosstrek: at first glance, these two vehicles seem to have nothing in common, but in fact, they’re fierce competitors for adventure-seeking buyers looking for all-terrain capability and the latest powertrain technology.
The all-new 2021 Ford Bronco Sport is a throwback to Ford’s first-ever Bronco, a beloved and iconic nameplate that’s been reimagined with newer features and more aggressive performance ability. Subaru is well-known for building a lineup of all-wheel drive vehicles that aren’t quite cars yet don’t quite meet the criteria for SUV distinction, either. The Crosstrek falls into a more general crossover category, and since it’s been around for a while, it doesn’t offer the excitement of the brand new Bronco Sport.
What happens when we compare these two vehicles side-by-side? Which one is the best fit for families? How about off-roaders? Are they similar in price and available features, like technology and infotainment? We dig deep into the spec-sheets of both the Bronco Sport and the Crosstrek to see how these two popular models compare in the categories that buyers care about most. Are you searching for an all-season, all-terrain SUV or crossover? Take a look at the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport vs 2021 Subaru Crosstrek.
Most SUV buyers are looking for a few common features. First, they want capability, which translates into off-roading, towing, hauling, and all-weather driving ability. The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport takes capability to the very edge, with an available 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine that delivers 250 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. Even the standard 1.5L EcoBoost engine delivers a respectable 181 hp and 190 lb-ft of torque. In addition to standard 4x4, the Bronco Sport also includes Ford’s Terrain Management System with seven available G.O.A.T. (Goes Over Any Terrain) modes. With a simple twist of the dash-mounted dial, drivers can choose between Sand, Slippery, Sport, Eco, and Normal. If you’re buying a Badlands trim, you’ll also get Mud/Ruts and Rock Crawl modes.
The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek works hard to deliver capability too but falls short when compared with the Bronco Sport’s off-roading prowess. The Crosstrek offers either a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder or a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and standard all-wheel drive. The maximum horsepower is capped at 182, and torque falls well short at 176 lb-ft - that’s less than the base engine in the Bronco Sport. Subaru offers an X-Mode setting for drivers needing more traction at low speeds when conditions are slippery, but the system doesn’t come close to Ford’s multi-option G.O.A.T. mode system.
When it comes to towing capability, if you’re hauling a trailer or a boat, take a closer look at the Bronco Sport. Offering 2,200 pounds of max towing capability and a special Trailer Tow Package, the Bronco Sport is designed for hauling. The Crosstrek can haul up to 1,500 pounds, but that may not be enough to trailer your toys on a weekend road trip. Also, the Crosstrek comes with either a six-speed manual transmission or a CVT, while all Bronco Sport models come equipped with a modern eight-speed automatic.
The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek comes standard with a paltry and dated 6.5-inch infotainment touchscreen. If you want the larger available 8-inch touchscreen instead, you’ll have to upgrade to the more expensive Limited or Hybrid trims. By comparison, every 2021 Ford Bronco Sport comes standard with an 8-inch touchscreen. Still, both vehicles offer standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.
Ford’s infotainment system runs on the SYNC 3 operating system, while Subaru relies on STARLINK. The editors at Auto Guide dubbed SYNC 3 a “winner” in its list of the best operating systems, while STARLINK was deemed a “loser.” STARLINK performed sluggishly, according to testers, and the touch response was slow and lacked fluidity. SYNC 3, on the other hand, was quick and intuitive, and reviewers loved its “dead simple” layout.
Technology isn’t just reserved for infotainment in either of these vehicles. Both offer a long list of semi-autonomous driver-assist safety systems. Subaru’s standard EyeSight system includes four different systems, including Pre-Collision Braking, Lane Keep Assist, Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control, and Pre-Collision Throttle Management. These systems work together to keep the vehicle in its intended lane of travel and at a safe distance from the vehicle ahead. The system is designed to mitigate the severity of crashes through automatic braking capability.
Ford offers its Co-Pilot360 safety technology standard on all Bronco Sport models. The safety suite also includes four different systems: Auto High-Beam Headlamps, Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert, Lane-Keeping System, and Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking. The optional Co-Pilot360 Assist+ adds Adaptive Cruise Control that lets drivers set cruising speed and distance from the vehicle ahead. Stop-and-Go can bring the vehicle to a stop and start right up again when traffic gets moving, while Lane Centering scans road lines and keeps the Bronco Sport centered in its lane.
Both Subaru and Ford have equipped their 2021 models with connectivity capabilities for added convenience and smartphone integration. Subaru’s STARLINK system offers a one-touch connection to live operators in the event of a crash or other roadside emergency. The subscription-based service also has an app that allows drivers to remote start the Crosstrek, as well as set the climate control. The system is available on the Crosstrek Premium, Sport, and Limited trims. It’s not available on the base model.
Ford offers FordPass Connect, with a built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot that allows up to 10 devices to connect at once and has a range up to 50 feet outside the vehicle. The system also has a smartphone app for remote start and climate control settings. Drivers can even schedule remote engine start times, a handy and convenient feature that daily commuters will love. The FordPass app also makes vital vehicle data accessible, so drivers can conveniently check fuel levels and keep an eye on upcoming service recommendations. Best of all, FordPass Connect is free with no subscription plan required.
When it comes to interior space and features, the Ford Bronco Sport is the hands-down winner. Subaru vehicles have long been known for their spartan, unexciting interior finishes, and the 2021 Crosstrek is no different. Described as “drab” and “basic” by Car and Driver, the Crosstrek favors simplicity over creature comforts, even on the higher-end trims. It also offers far less interior cabin space, with 21 cubic feet of cargo volume against 33 cubic feet for the Bronco Sport. Additionally, the Bronco Sport wins on first and second-row headroom.
The Bronco Sport is also wildly customizable, thanks to a lineup of five distinct trims, and with 106 cubic feet of passenger volume, it’s a lot more comfortable for front and back seat occupants. Buyers looking for all the creature comforts will love the Outer Banks, with its standard leather seats and heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel. Also standard is a power moonroof, a premium 10-speaker Bang & Olufsen HD audio system, and a wireless charging pad.