CHATHAM, Mass. – Subaru continues to expand on its growing position in the American market, bolstering its hot-selling Crosstrek subcompact sport utility (SUV) range for the 2021 model year with the addition of the new Sport version with standard 2.5-liter boxer engine (also standard in the Limited variant) and enhanced EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology.

The Horizon Blue Pearl Crosstrek Sport I spent the week driving, though looking very much like the 2013 Crosstrek XV sitting in my other garage bay, displayed just how far the all-wheel drive (AWD) specialist company have come in the last eight years.

Like the entire line of Subaru products built from the global platform introduced with the 2017 Impreza, the new Crosstrek Sport is quieter, smoother, more-solid feeling, more economical and just flat-out better than the previous generations – which is saying a lot as Subaru vehicles have been excellent for many years.

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The new Sport, in addition to the more powerful 182-horsepower, 176-pounds-feet-of-torque engine, comes with more pronounced black wheel arches surrounding uniquely styled 17-inch sport alloy wheels with dark gray finish (shod with225/60R17 98H all-season tires) and gunmetal finish for the front grille, side mirrors and badging.

Global platform provides the solid underpinnings

The Crosstrek Sport’s responsive handling is a product of the low-slung, flat design of the four-cylinder boxer engine in conjunction with the sport-tuned four-wheel independent suspension system (MacPherson-type struts up front, double wishbone with coil springs in the rear and stabilizer bars at both ends).

Of course, the AWD system (all Subaru models, except the BRZ sports car, have standard AWD), working with the Vehicle Dynamics Control with all-wheel, all-speed traction control (TCS) and rollover sensor, contributes to the handling capabilities. The/ Crosstrek’ s AWD comes with Subaru’s X-MODE® with Hill Descent Control. The latter uses increased Active All-Wheel Drive engagement for enhanced capability in a wider range of environmental conditions and offers driver-selectable SNOW/DIRT and DEEP SNOW/MUD settings.

Power-assisted 4-wheel discs — 11.6-in. ventilated front and 10.8-in. solid rear — with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and four-channel / four-sensor ABS with Brake Assist and Brake Override safety systems and Active Torque vectoring comprise the braking system.

Enhanced Subaru EyeSight

Crosstrek models equipped with the Lineartronic CVT (continuously variable [automatic]  transmission), including the Sport, come with award-winning EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology, Subaru’s ADAS. The EyeSight system has been enhanced for 2021 with new Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centering. The suite of driver assist technologies also includes Automatic Pre-Collision Braking; Pre-Collision Throttle Management; Lane Departure Prevention; and Lead Vehicle Start Alert.

The Subaru Crosstrek, when equipped with EyeSight, received the highest possible rating of “Superior” for front crash prevention by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Thanks to the one option package included on the Crosstrek I drove, this Sport had Blind-Spot Detection with Lane0Change Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, thus fleshing out the vehicle’s ADAS.

Further safety equipment includes seven airbags: driver and front passenger frontal airbags, side curtain airbags and side pelvis/torso airbags, as well as a driver’s knee airbag.

Quiet, comfortable driving environment

The Sport features some unique interior pieces when compared to its Crosstrek siblings. Yellow stitching visually sets this interior apart adding accenting to the leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift boot, center-console storage compartment lid, simulated-leather door trim panel armrests and multi-function display visor on the dash.

The stitching also adds pop to the new water-repellant, durable StarTex® upholstery which provides a grippy surface, holding driver and passengers in place during spirited motoring.

The CVT can be “manually” shifted – there are eight simulated gear ratios – by either the console-mounted selector or the steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters.

A power sunroof is part of the referenced option package which includes ADAS like blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic assist. In addition, it also includes the Subaru STARLINK 8-inch Multimedia Plus System.

This enhanced infotainment system includes Apple CarPlay; Android Auto; Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and audio streaming; single-disc CD player; Sirius XM satellite radio and Travel Link; WiFi hotspot and HD Radio.

Value a big part of the story

The weather during my time in the 2021 Crosstrek Sport, aside from one day of torrential rain and thunder, was benign, so I was not able to sample the SUV under conditions which have helped propel Subaru from cult car to mainstream powerhouse, especially in the country’s northern states. Subaru championed its AWD setup, along with its solid build construction, as safety-oriented vehicles ready to take on the toughest weather conditions.

My decades of experience owning and driving a variety of Subaru cars and SUVs confirmed their capabilities when the weather did not want to cooperate. The Crosstrek Sport fits into this group by design and engineering – and it does it while getting 37 miles per gallon while I drove it. This compares very well with the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s rating of 27 mpg in the city, 29 combined and 34 on the highway.

The very well equipped 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport will not empty your wallet at the gas pump nor in the dealership. This comprehensively equipped subcompact SUV, including the sunroof-plus option package, and destination and delivery, carried a MSRP of $29,145.

The Subaru Crosstrek Sport is simply a lot of SUV in an efficient package; another solid hit for the AWD specialists.

Next week TBR Drives the Genesis GV70 compact SUV.