On trips out to the country as a kid, I’d daydream about four-wheelers running over rutted muddy hills or spitting up chalk dust clouds on gravel roads. I was surprised to revisit that fantasy on Appalachian Ohio’s country roads in the 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Sport.

Typically, the Subaru WRX STI takes flight in rallycross dreams, but with two kids and all the detritus of family living, I’ve aged into practical things like the Crosstrek small crossover and shoe inserts.

Since its launch for 2013, the Crosstrek has paved the way for small crossover SUVs to follow, from the Jeep Renegade and Ford Ecosport to the Kia Seltos and Hyundai Venue. Most of those vehicles have all the body cladding of the Crosstrek but very little of the actual off-road capability characteristic of Subaru.

The Crosstrek’s capability has been overshadowed by a ho-hum 152-horsepower 2.0-liter…

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