The Impreza Outback is all grown up! Borrowing queues from its Subaru siblings, the XV Crosstrek boasts an athletic look. I believe Subaru’s been pretty spot-on with the styling of their recent cars. The front end is handsome but conservative, so it probably won’t look very aged 10 years down the line. The raised ride height, flared fenders, 17” black and chrome accented wheels sets it apart completely from the Impreza.
The small-SUV market has been booming in the recent years, and for good reason. North Americans are really buying into the utility that these cars provide with none of the usual SUV drawbacks. So, in a segment that’s already blessed with great offerings, what does the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek have to offer? Firstly, let’s address the elephant in the room… yes, Subaru already makes the Forester, which is very much a small SUV already. So what exactly is the point of the XV Crosstrek? It’s sort of the best of both worlds but at the same time, it inherits some bad genes but represents both sides as well. Identity crisis?
Borrowing queues from its Subaru siblings, the XV Crosstrek boasts an athletic look. I personally believe Subaru’s been pretty spot-on with the styling of their recent cars. The front end is handsome but conservative, so it probably won’t look very aged 10 years down the line. The raised ride height, flared fenders, 17” black and chrome accented wheels sets it apart completely from the Impreza. My tester had a MSRP of $26,495 including the Sports Package that adds a sunroof and a rear spoiler, which does give it a good aesthetic stance.
The XV Crosstrek is built on the Impreza platform and we were expecting it to retain the Impreza’s nimbleness. It did, sort of. With a raised chassis, the XV Crosstrek does indeed have more body roll and dive under braking than the Impreza. On top of that, there is more play in the steering than we’d like, the electric steering system lacks feedback, and the ride is a little firm. However, it’s got decent handling characteristics for a car of this class, and to be honest, it’s not that far off from the base Impreza. There’s no doubting that this is certainly one of the best handling cars in its class.
Subaru offers the car in both 5-speed manual and CVT versions, mated to a 2.0L flat-four, and I’m sorry to say the powertrain is definitely the car’s biggest downfall. The engine produces 148hp and 145lb-ft of torque and the CVT transmission that my tester was equipped with did a good job of delivering power smoothly. However, the engine noise under acceleration is poor at best and the car felt very underpowered in general. Honestly I don’t even know why Subaru bothered with equipping it with paddle shifters, it doesn’t make the car go or feel like anything other than absurd amounts of slow. I would really really love to see Subaru offer a turbocharged version. I averaged approximately 10.0L/100km on mixed city and highway driving, which is acceptable considering the cold temperatures. Subaru’s numbers are 8.2L/100km city and 6.0L/100km highway. I had to the opportunity to test some of the XV’s off-roading capabilities and came out sincerely impressed. The raised ride height coupled with Subaru’s superb symmetry AWD system gives the XV Crosstrek so much more utility. The car had no problems on slippery muddy terrain, inclines, and puddles. I think Canadians would really appreciate the capabilities of the XV Crosstrek, especially those that have to suffer through our infamous winters. I’d be confident taking this car to many, many places. Speaking of which, the XV Crosstrek comes standard with raised roof rails which is a nice feature for those who enjoys outdoorsy activities such as biking, skiing/snowboarding, kayaking, or camping.
In terms of interior features, the XV Crosstrek is pretty basic. It just feels slightly dated and non-modern. The cluster and console layout is decent but personally I found the buttons a little hard to use, especially the up/down ones on the steering wheel which gave my fingers quite a bit of resistance. There is a small display above the center console that displays various information about its AWD system, fuel economy, range, and A/C settings, exterior temperature and time. Front and rear headroom and legroom are pretty good, as with cargo space when the seats are folded down.
After spending a week with the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, I think I’m beginning to see where it fits into Subaru’s lineup. Subaru may very well have shot themselves in the foot because they’ve essentially built a car that looks great, much better than the Forester, that gets better fuel mileage than the Forester, and the fact that its practicality and utility are second to none in its class. As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, the car’s got a bit of an identity crisis. You could see this car as a glass half empty or a glass half full. The Subaru XV Crosstrek would have been an awesome little SUV if it weren’t for the disappointing drivetrain, but because of it, it’s simply “good”.
2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Gallery