Subaru finally offers the larger 2.5-liter engine in the Sport and top Limited versions of the Crosstrek.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The Subaru Crosstrek has always been a great choice for Pacific Northwest residents, but the 2021 version is even better with the more powerful 2.5-liter engine available in the Sport and Limited trims.I always wanted to love the Subaru Crosstrek and now I do, in the form of the 2021 Crosstrek Sport. The Crosstrek has always had a lot going for it in terms of hatchback utility and the legendary Subaru symmetrical all-wheel-drive that has made the brand synonymous with the Pacific Northwest. But until now, most Crosstrek models haven't had the engine power that the car deserves.

For 2021, Subaru added the Crosstrek Sport trim level, and gave the Sport and the top Limited trims more power. The top trims now include the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine also found in the Forester and other models. Subaru has been developing this engine for more than 20 years, so it's both reliable and powerful. The 2.5-liter plant is rated at 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The hatchback design makes the 2021 Subaru Crosstek one of the most practical compact crossovers on the market.

The engine comes mated to Subaru's Lineartronic continuously variable transmission. Subaru's CVT is also well-developed, with paddle "shifters" that give you seven pre-set drive ratios, similar to gears. Plus, this engine has enough torque to drive the CVT with authority.

Finally, although all Crosstrek models receive Subaru's all-wheel-drive system, the Sport trim comes with X-Mode, which optimizes the engine and all-wheel drive system to provide the best possible traction on low-grip surfaces. The Crosstrek Sport also includes the Deep Snow/Mud setting and hill descent control for X-Mode, so it's the perfect vehicle if you love winter sports and outdoor activities.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The Subaru Crosstrek is based on the compact Impreza, and the interior of the 2021 models are the most refined ever offered, with practically all available automotive technologies.

The Crosstrek Sport comes with Subaru's EyeSight system, which combines advanced adaptive cruise control with lane centering, lane departure and sway warning, a pre-collision braking system, and pre-collision throttle management. Crosstrek Sport has standard automatic high beams, and all the usual safety gear that Subaru provides.

On the road, the Crosstrek Sport is a joy to drive. The suspension is raised enough to give you a good view and comfortable entry and egress, but not so much that the vehicle feels unbalanced or top-heavy. The suspension is firm and confident, with precise steering. Finally, there's plenty of engine power if you have to make a pass on a short double-lane section of road in the mountains.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek features special interior trim, like these front bucket seats.

Inside, the Crosstrek is functional and comfortable. The heated seats that are part of the All-Weather Package are standard on the Sport trim, along with special StarTex upholstery that resists water and cleans up nicely. A 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system is standard, and you can option up to an 8-inch screen if you prefer.

You can still get the base 2.0-liter Crosstrek with a six-speed manual transmission starting at $22,245, and that's a bargain. The Crosstrek Sport starts at $26,495 and in my opinion it's worth every extra penny. Visit your nearest Subaru dealer to experience it for yourself.

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - The rear seats of the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek are surprisingly roomy for a compact crossover.

2021 Subaru Crosstrek

Base price: $26,495

Price as tested: $29,145

Type: Compact SUV

Engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder (182 hp, 176 lbs-ft)

Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission

EPA estimated mileage: 27/34

Overall length: 176.5 inches

Curb weight: 3,265 pounds

Final assembly: Gunma, Japan

PMG PHOTO: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - There is plent of cargo space under the hatch of the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek, which is one of the best affordable wet weather and recreation vehicles available today.

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