2021 Hyundai Kona vs. 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Comparison

Small SUVs solve the puzzle of living and commuting in the 21st century like few other vehicles on the market. They're easy to get into, easy to see out of, and easy to park. They aren't overtly spacious, but loading groceries is effortless and you can buckle a toddler into a car seat without bending much.

Distinctive styling sets the Hyundai Kona and Subaru Crosstrek apart in the compact SUV segment. In addition, both are strong sellers that offer a diverse range of engines, including all-electric and plug-in hybrid versions. If you're trying to decide between them, this 2021 Hyundai Kona vs. 2021 Subaru Crosstrek comparison should help.

Price and Value - Find the best car deals!

2021 Hyundai Kona Ultimate Gray Front Quarter Action

2021 Hyundai Kona Ultimate

Consumers shopping for a 2021 Hyundai Kona will find that it ranges in price from $20,500 to $28,150, not including a $1,185 destination charge. Trim levels are SE, SEL, SEL Plus, Night, Limited, and Ultimate.

There's also the 2021 Hyundai Kona Electric, a full battery-electric version of the Kona. It ranges in price from $37,390 to $45,600, excluding a $1,175 destination charge, and comes in SEL, Limited, and Ultimate trims. Keep in mind that a $7,500 federal tax credit will take some of the cost out of buying an all-electric Kona. Some states offer additional credits or rebates. Currently, Hyundai sells this EV only in California emissions states.

All Hyundai Konas have standard front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is a $1,400 option on all versions, except the Kona Electric.

Hyundai's Blue Link connected services are standard starting on the Kona SEL Plus trim level and on all Kona Electric trims. Your 3-year subscription includes remote engine start and locking, automatic collision notification, live emergency assistance, and rapid access to roadside services. You also get geofencing (allowing you to set limits for less experienced drivers), a vehicle finder feature for unfamiliar parking facilities, and stolen vehicle recovery. The Ultimate trims have a voice search feature for points of interest and allow you to share destinations to the Kona's factory navigation system.

If you're looking for more functionality, the updated 2022 Hyundai Kona (arriving later in 2021) has a newer version of Blue Link that lets you save multiple driver profiles with individualized mirror and seat adjustments. The revised app also allows 2022 Kona Electric owners to set a charging schedule for specific dates and times.

Hyundai provides free scheduled maintenance for the first three years or 36,000 miles that you own a 2021 Kona or Kona Electric. 

If you're researching the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, you'll find that Subaru's small SUV ranges in price from $22,245 to $27,995, not including a $1,050 destination charge. The Crosstrek comes in base, Premium, Sport, and Limited trims. All have standard all-wheel drive.

You might also look at the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid, a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) with a true AWD system. It comes in a single trim level and costs $35,345. For 2021, this plug-in hybrid SUV is eligible for a $4,500 federal tax credit.

The Subaru Crosstrek comes with Starlink connected services starting on the Premium trim. The 3-year subscription includes automatic collision notification, live emergency assistance, and rapid access to roadside help. Other features are complimentary for 6 months only. This list includes remote locking and engine start, geofencing, vehicle finder, and stolen vehicle assistance.

Most 2021 Subaru Crosstreks have a Wi-Fi hotspot, which is unavailable for the Kona. The trial subscription lasts one month and gives you 1 GB of data.

Some Subaru dealerships offer free scheduled maintenance for the first 2 years or 24,000 miles that you own a 2021 Crosstrek. The program varies by region, so you'll need to check with your dealer.

The Subaru Crosstrek ranked second among small SUVs in the J.D. Power 2020 Resale Value Awards.

Advantage: Subaru Crosstrek

Reliability and Quality - Find the best car deals!

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport Lime Green Front Quarter

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport

The Hyundai Kona did not rank among the top three models in its class in the J.D. Power 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study or the 2020 Initial Quality Study. The 2021 Hyundai Kona comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 10 years or 100,000 miles
  • Electric battery warranty: 10 years or 100,000 miles
  • Roadside assistance: 5 years and unlimited mileage

The Subaru Crosstrek also did not rank among the top three models in its class in the J.D. Power 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study or the 2020 Initial Quality Study. The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • Hybrid system warranty: 8 years or 100,000 miles
  • Hybrid battery warranty: 8 years or 100,000 miles (10 years or 150,000 miles in California emissions states)
  • Roadside assistance: 3 years or 36,000 miles

As a brand, Hyundai outperformed Subaru in both initial quality and dependability.

Advantage: Hyundai Kona

Performance and Efficiency - Find the best car deals!

2021 Hyundai Kona SEL Interior Dashboard

2021 Hyundai Kona SEL

In SE, SEL, and SEL Plus trim, the 2021 Hyundai Kona comes with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 147 horsepower and 132 pound-feet of torque. A 6-speed automatic transmission is standard.

The Night, Limited, and Ultimate trims feature a turbocharged, 1.6-liter 4-cylinder that makes 175 hp and 195 pound-feet of torque. A 7-speed, dual-clutch transmission (DCT) manages the shifting duties.

Acceleration is swift and satisfying with the 1.6-liter turbo, and the 2022 Kona will get a 195-hp version of this engine. For those who desire serious performance in a small SUV, the 2022 Hyundai Kona N will have a 280-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter engine.

Hyundai Konas equipped with the optional AWD system have a button to lock the center differential. This mode distributes torque equally between the front and rear wheels and works only at speeds below 30 mph.

The Kona Electric is front-wheel-drive only. This all-electric version of Hyundai's entry-level SUV has a 64-kilowatt-hour lithium-polymer battery pack that provides motivation for an electric drive motor rated at 201 hp and 291 pound-feet of torque.

Equipped with either of the gasoline engines, the front-wheel-drive 2021 Hyundai Kona rates 30 mpg in combined city and highway driving. With AWD, the Kona has a 27 mpg EPA combined fuel economy rating.

The EPA says that the 2021 Kona Electric will use an average of 28 kilowatt-hours of electricity per 100 miles driven (kWh/100) and gives it a 120 MPGe rating. Estimated driving range is 258 miles.

Owners often install a Level 2 home charging station, which will recharge the electric Kona in less than 10 hours. If you plug into a 100kW Level 3 station, you'll wait less than an hour.

In base and Premium trim, the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek has a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 152 hp and 145 pound-feet of torque. With this engine, you can have a 6-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

The Sport and Limited trims upgrade to a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 182 hp and 176 pound-feet of torque. The CVT is standard.

The Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid uses a 2.0-liter engine rated at 137 hp and 134 pound-feet of torque, an 8.8-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, two electric motors, and a standard CVT. Total system power is 148 hp.

A conventional AWD system is standard on all Crosstreks, including the plug-in hybrid. With the exception of the base model, all CVT-equipped Crosstreks have X-Mode, which provides both hill descent control and selectable terrain modes. The Sport trim level has an additional Deep Snow/Mud setting.

With the 2.0-liter engine, the 2021 Crosstrek has a 30 mpg EPA combined fuel economy rating with the CVT. It rates just 25 mpg with the 6-speed manual. With the 2.5-liter engine, the Crosstrek rates 29 mpg in combined driving.

With a fully charged battery pack, the Crosstrek Hybrid can cover about 17 miles on electricity alone. The EPA says Subaru's PHEV consumes 38 kWh/100. The plug-in hybrid rates 90 MPGe and has a 35 mpg combined fuel economy rating.

Advantage: Neither. The upgrade engines on both small SUVs offer solid performance. Beyond that, it's helpful to assess your priorities before deciding between a full-on EV experience (Kona Electric) and the convenience of a PHEV (Crosstrek Hybrid).

Safety and Driving Assistance - Find the best car deals!

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Limited Interior Dashboard

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Limited

All 2021 Hyundai Konas come with a basic menu of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS), including:

  • Forward collision warnings
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Lane departure warning 
  • Lane keeping assistance
  • Driver monitoring system

The SEL trims add blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic warning. The Ultimate trims have a more advanced forward collision system with pedestrian detection, along with adaptive cruise control and automatic high-beam headlight control.

The 2021 Kona earned a 5-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rated the 2021 Kona a Top Safety Pick.

All CVT-equipped 2021 Subaru Crosstrek models have the EyeSight collection of ADAS as standard (including the Crosstrek Hybrid). EyeSight is not available with the manual transmission.

The standard EyeSight package matches the features on the 2021 Hyundai Kona, save for the driver monitoring system. In addition, EyeSight-equipped Crosstreks include both adaptive cruise control and lane-centering assistance as standard.

With both the adaptive cruise and lane centering activated, the Subaru Crosstrek provides Level 2 semi-autonomous driving assistance. You must keep your hands on the steering wheel.

Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert is optional on the Premium and Sport trims and standard on the Limited and Crosstrek Hybrid. Automatic high-beams and rear automatic emergency braking are standard on the Limited and Hybrid. All CVT-equipped Crosstreks have a rear-seat reminder system.

The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek has a 5-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA for overall crash protection. It received 4 stars for front-passenger safety.

The IIHS named the regular Crosstrek a Top Safety Pick, while the Crosstrek Hybrid earned a Top Safety Pick+ rating (the Institute's highest designation for safety) thanks to its additional standard safety equipment.

On a brand level, Hyundai and Subaru ranked first and second respectively in the 2020 J.D. Power U.S. Tech Experience Study

Advantage: Subaru Crosstrek

Infotainment and Technology - Find the best car deals!

2021 Hyundai Kona Ultimate Red Rear Quarter View

2021 Hyundai Kona Ultimate

The basic infotainment interface in the 2021 Hyundai Kona includes a 7-inch touchscreen display with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration. You get two USB inputs and six audio speakers. 

The SEL adds a 3-month trial subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio. The SEL Plus adds an upgraded Infinity audio system with eight speakers and a wireless phone charging pad. On the Kona Electric, the Limited trim has the wireless charging pad but only the Ultimate has Infinity audio.

If you want a larger touchscreen interface, go with the Ultimate trims. On the regular Kona, the upgraded display measures 8 inches across, while on the Kona Electric, it's a 10.25-inch widescreen display. Both setups include a navigation system with HD radio-based traffic data.

The basic infotainment interface in the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek is a 6.5-inch touchscreen display. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration is standard.

The base model has a single USB input, the Premium has two USB inputs, and all other trims have four. The base Crosstrek has four audio speakers. All other trims come with six. A premium Harman Kardon system with eight speakers is optional.

If you're old-school, the Premium model adds a CD player along with a 4-month trial satellite radio subscription.

An 8-inch touchscreen display is optional on the Crosstrek Sport and standard on the Limited and Crosstrek Hybrid. It comes with HD radio and a 4-month subscription to SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link. 

The upgraded infotainment interface also uses near field communication (NFC) to speed up phone pairing. Factory navigation is optional on the Limited and Hybrid, and it includes 3 years of free over-the-air updates.

Advantage: Neither. Features and functionality are similar, so we recommend trying both to assess your preferences.

Comfort and Utility - Find the best car deals!

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Limited White Rear Quarter View

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Limited

Standard equipment on the 2021 Hyundai Kona includes manual air-conditioning, a 6-way manually adjustable driver seat, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. There are no rear air-conditioning vents.

The SEL adds a keyless access system (the remote can stay in your pocket or purse) and heated front seats. The SEL Plus adds an 8-way power driver seat.

The Limited provides single-zone automatic climate control (standard on all Kona Electric trims) and leather upholstery. Ventilated front seats are exclusive to the Kona Electric's Ultimate trim.

Notably, the Hyundai Kona ranked third among mass-market compact SUVs in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study.

When its rear seats are occupied, the Hyundai Kona provides 19.2 cubic feet of luggage space. Folding down its standard 60/40-split rear seat yields a maximum cargo capacity of 45.8 cubic feet. Even with a battery pack on-board, the Kona Electric matches the capacity of the gasoline models. 

Basic amenities on the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek include single-zone automatic climate control, a height-adjustable driver seat, and a telescoping steering wheel. Subaru's small SUV does not have rear air-conditioning vents.

The Crosstrek Premium has heated front seats, while keyless access is optional. You can get a power driver seat on most trim levels.

The Sport trim features water-repellent upholstery, while the Limited and Crosstrek Hybrid have traditional leather. A heated steering wheel is a hybrid-exclusive option.

The regular Crosstrek has 20.9 cubic feet of cargo space behind its rear seats. With the Subaru's standard 60/40-split rear seat folded, you'll have a maximum cargo capacity of 55.3 cubic feet.

The Crosstrek Hybrid has just 15.9 cubic feet of space behind its rear seat, and a high load floor due to the battery pack makes it difficult to fit taller items. Folding the seats provides 43.1 cubic feet of space.

Advantage: Neither. The Hyundai's seat comfort is a plus for commuters, but if you're looking for utility, the gas-only versions of the Subaru have a significant edge in cargo capacity.

Learn More About the Hyundai Kona and Subaru Crosstrek - Find the best car deals!

If you’d like to learn more about these compact SUVs, be sure to read our expert reviews of the 2021 Hyundai Kona, including the Hyundai Kona Electric, and 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, including the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid. To find out how people like you rate vehicles in this segment, be sure to check out our ratings from verified vehicle owners.

Also, please keep in mind that while the information in this article was accurate and valid on May 5, 2021, it may have changed since that date. Always confirm product details and availability with the automaker’s website or your local dealership.