2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek: Cool, comfortable, capable–and a bargain, too
By Don Hammonds Ever heard of the saying, "Same, but different?" That phrase can be aptly applied to Subaru's new 2013 XV Crosstrek, a rugged yet thoroughly comfortable small crossover that hit the market this sales year. Yes, it's clearly derived from the company's popular Impreza. Yes, it has all-wheel drive. And yes, it hsa the same air of invincibility and comfortable familiarity that all Subarus share. But at the same time, it's quite different from the Impreza, and consumers should be aware of that before they make any assumptions. Psychically, the XV Crosstrek feels a lot more rugged and heavier in an even more reassuring way. It's a supremely comfortable vehicle that, in a positive way, feels as familiar as a pair of old slippers that you head to automatically after a tough day. It has a generous 8.7 inches of road clearance and a raised suspension system, so you can definitely hit a lot more off road spots as you would with any other tough SUV without the huge bulk and sometimes jittery feeling that you get with an SUV. And it's pretty roomy inside, and easy to get in and out of unlike some SUVs. It has more high strength steel in its bodyu structure, so you're clearly ready for just about anything thrown at you underway. And generally, as Subaru says in a news release, it has an "expanded capability chassis." See what we mean when we say it's distinct from the Impreza? Our test model was the XV Crosstrek 2.0 Limited which had a quite reasonable base price of $24,495. The only option was a $2,000 navigation and moonroof packagem, and with destination and delivery, the final price was $27,290. At that price, and considering the standard equipment, the XV Crosstrek has a broader level of market appeal than one might think when competing with crossovers of various sizes. Standard equipment included 17 inch alloys, an alll weather package that included heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors and windshipeld wiper de-icer, vehicle dynamics control with traction controll system, and rollover sensor, leather upholstery, dark tint privacy glass, upgraded instrumentation and an ECO fuel gauge, automatic climate control, full power equipment like power electric steering, brakes, etc an outside temperature gauge with road surface freeze indicator, and really practical items like a retractable cargo cover, removable cargo tray, roof rails and cargo tie-down hooks. A lot of those items you can't even get on other small crossovers, at any price. See what we mean by a bargain? Power for the five door XV Crosstrek comes from a four cylinder, 2.0 liter, 148 horsepower "Boxer" engine, backed by the CVT automatic transmission. The mileage rating is 25/33 with the CVT. By the way, the XV Crosstrek's CVT has what Subaru calls "Active Torque Split AWD that "actively manages the power split based on acceleration, deceleration and available traction. The system powers all four wheels and will transfer power to the wheels with the best grip." If you get the Limited model, you will receive Bluetooth hands free phone connectivity and audio streaming, USB port, 3.5mm auxiliary input jack, a six speaker system, a 4.3 inch LCD screen, iTunes tagging and rear vision camera, a Radio Data Broadcast System and Ipod control capability. This is the kind of car you get and fall in love with and keep forever, because it's so reassuring and stable to drive, and it looks really cool, too, with the blacked out alloys, sleek fastback design and it has a roomy, comfortable interior to die for. There's plenty of stretch out room inside, and it's absolutely perfectly sized and equipped for urban living, not to mention its superb off-road capabilities. We loved the XV Crossover. Perfect size, superior off road capability, luxurious appointments, pretty cheap price tag by today's standards, and good looks spelled a winner in our book. Needless to say, it's built like a tank, and there's absolutely no concern whatsoever for fit and finish, quality control, etc. And as a sidenote to Subaru, the XV Crosstrek is hugely popular in Pittsburgh. You see them everywhere here. Problems? We weren't crazy about the eco gauge because the needle seemed to swing wildly and efforts to keep the indicator on the plus side of the gauge were hard to manage. We found the fuel economy data generated in the car's information center to be far more helpful. And the navigation screen is pretty small, with graphics, particularly for audio functions, to be a bit tough to read because of the size of the print. But admittedly, these are matters of personal taste, plenty of people will be just fine with these items.