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Exterior view of the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport

The term "Sport trim level" tends to raise mixed emotions. It's natural to read those words and wonder if they bring any sort of performance upgrades. In many cases, they don't. A lot of Sport trim levels add exterior accents and interior touches that make a vehicle look sportier, but do nothing to actually make it handle or accelerate any better.

The new 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport lives up to the implications made by its green liftgate badge. In addition to unique exterior and interior styling, it has a more powerful engine that's new to the Crosstrek lineup and a dual-function X-Mode for off-road driving through rough conditions.

Subaru didn't forget about the other Crosstrek models, though. Like the Sport, those get a redesigned front bumper, grille and fog light area trim. All Crosstreks equipped with the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) receive Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centering as part of the EyeSight Driver Assist Technology package.

Subaru gave me a week to test out the 2021 Crosstrek Sport, which has a starting price of $26,495. My press loaner had the one available options package on it and still managed to come in well below the 30K mark with an as-tested price of $29,145.

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2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport Exterior

Exterior view of the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport

Compact SUVs are typically not the most rugged-looking vehicles out there. Then again, not all of them are designed to be driven down trails and rocky paths like the Crosstrek Sport. It certainly looks the part of an adventure vehicle. Chunky black plastic cladding protects the lower front fascia and corners of the rear bumper while 8.7 inches of ground clearance keep the Crosstrek Sport's vital components away from harsh terrain. To visually distinguish the Sport from the other Crosstrek models, Subaru outfitted it with a unique set of wheel arch moldings over its special dark gray 17-inch wheels.

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2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport Interior

Exterior view of the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport

Subaru chose an interesting color palette for the Crosstrek Sport's cabin. I had seen plenty of gray and black two-tone seats before, but there was just something different about the shade of gray that Subaru used in the Crosstrek. It turned out that it wasn't so much the color as it was the material the seats were covered with. Subaru calls it StarTex. That's another word for water-repellant upholstery that's made to handle snow-covered parkas and rain-soaked jeans. The rest of the interior was largely neutrals, including gunmetal and faux carbon fiber accents. To brighten things up a little, Subaru opted for an eye-popping shade of yellow for the bottom spoke of the steering wheel and contrast stitching on areas including the door panels, steering wheel, seats and shift gaiter. Definitely not subtle, but certainly memorable.

The Optional Package (yes, that's really what Subaru calls it) I mentioned earlier added important safety technology, a power tilting/sliding moonroof and the Starlink Multimedia Plus infotainment system with an eight-inch touchscreen. Large tiles on the display made getting to core functions quick and easy. Fortunately, Subaru didn't bury everything in touchscreen menus. It put hard buttons for accessing things such as the radio and my Bluetooth-paired phone below the display, right between the volume and tuning dials. Further down was a trio of knobs that I easily gripped and ripped to get the HVAC system flowing at just the speed and temperature I preferred. The rocker switches for the front seat heaters helped me combat the winter cold around me. The only catch was they made me wish the Crosstrek Sport also came with a heated steering wheel.

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2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport Performance

Exterior view of the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport

Does the Crosstrek Sport have any more power than a regular Crosstrek? Yes! In fact, so does the Crosstrek Limited because it shares the same 2.5-liter Boxer four-cylinder engine that produces 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque - increases of 30 and 31, respectively compared to the 2.0-liter Boxer four in the Base and Premium models. A CVT with eight pre-set ratios for paddle-engaged "shifts" and Subaru's torque-vectoring Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system apply those increased levels of punch and grunt to the road.

Subaru also equipped the Crosstrek Sport with an enhanced version of its X-Mode technology. In addition to Hill Descent Control, it includes settings that help the Crosstrek Sport get through snow and dirt and deep snow and mud.

With the push of the SI-DRIVE button on the steering wheel, I could instantly change the way in which the big Boxer four delivered its power. The default setting, Intelligent, was geared more toward normal driving and fuel economy, which could go as high as 27 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. I fell significantly short of both figures after putting 178.6 miles on my tester's odometer and only hit 23.1 mpg. One press of the SI-DRIVE button engaged the Sport setting and its sharper throttle response.

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2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport Safety

Exterior view of the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport

Subaru's EyeSight Driver Assist Technology package was already stuffed with features, including Automatic Pre-Collision Braking, Pre-Collision Throttle Management, Lane Departure Prevention and Lead Vehicle Start Alert. There was a little room left in it, so Subaru filled it with Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centering for the 2021 model year. My test car's clearly named Optional Package fortified that comprehensive array of safety features with the addition of Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

Testing by both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration determined that the Crosstrek performs well in worst-case scenarios. The IIHS named it a Top Safety Pick for 2020 and the NHTSA gave it a five-star Overall Safety Rating, the highest score possible.

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2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport Overall

Exterior view of the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport

The 2021 Crosstrek Sport is just what you'd expect it to be - and maybe a little more. It has the same familiar styling and all-wheel drive capabilities you've come to expect from Subaru SUVs. Even better, it's a true Sport model with more power and capabilities than the more sedate models in the Crosstrek lineup. You can experience it for yourself at your local AutoNation Subaru dealership.

Derek Shiekhi | Jun 09, 2021

2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport Specs


4-door, 5-passenger, 4x4


3.5-liter V6, 35-kW electric motor
430 hp, 570 lb-ft
Ten-speed automatic


24/24 mpg (city/hwy)

NHTSA Safety Rating


AutoNation Drive Test Drive Review: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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