Apparently I’m a stereotypical Subaru shopper. Most of my neighbors are pretty well accustomed to the weekly process of new cars showing up on my doorstep, but when the Subaru XV Crosstrek showed up everyone asked me how I liked my new car. Apparently, being young, spending a lot of time in the mountains and having an urban homestead gave me away. During winter I value AWD and I have a special place in my heart for a 5-door, so I was excited to see how the Crosstrek would do.
The XV Crosstrek replaces the Outback Sport, the more petite version of the Outback, and is basically a Subaru Impreza Sport hatch with a few extra inches of clearance and some extra armor on its flanks. The name is certainly confusing, XV stands for crossover vehicle and crosstrek carries the same meaning. Not sure why they chose to use both.
With 8.7 inches of ground clearance the vehicle will easily handle high snow drifts, double track dirt roads, flooded roadways and plenty of mud. Due to a lack of underbody armor, however, I would not recommend taking on anything too rocky.
The XV Crosstrek shares its 148-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder Boxer engine with the Impreza. You get your choice of a five-speed manual or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), I whipped the 5-speed around for a week and was very happy with its shifting. All-wheel-drive is of-course standard.
Most drivers will probably opt for the CVT which continuously varies the gear ratio as opposed to automatically shifting between 6 or so set ratios. I’m glad I had the 5-speed as I often find CVTs to be a bit sluggish in response, especially when looking for a little extra boost in power. The gas-mileage savings in the CVT, however, are hard to argue with. The Crosstrek is rated at 25 mpg city and 33 mpg highway by the EPA. After a week of hard driving my test car managed 28.2 mpg.
The XV Crosstrek is available in two trim levels Premium ($21,995) , which I tested, and Limited ($24,995). The Limited trim level adds leather, automatic climate control and a 6-speaker HD radio system.
On the road the XV Crosstrek is firm, pot holes ring through and Colorado’s late winter roads really rang through. Steering was surprisingly light and felt a bit vague, but not bad. Lean the car into a corner and you will get very little body lean, despite the added ride height. The brakes were great and the car stopped confidently. On the road, the car does prove to be a bit loud. It’s not overwhelming, but you will hear a lot of road, tire and wind noise in the cabin, especially if you ask the car for a bit more power.
The interior is surprisingly spacious given the overall size of the car, even in the back there is plenty of room for a full grown adult. The fabric appointed seats were firm, supportive and comfortable. Visibility inside the cabin was also excellent. The instrument panel in the car is shared with the Impreza and features simple rotary knobs for controlling climate and the entertainment system. Cargo space in the back was generous, especially when combined with the split folding rear seats.
Despite a few minor short comings, which I expected given the platforms roots in high-performance vehicles like the WRX and STi, the XV Crosstrek is a very competent driver that might offer up a bit more fun than expected to enthusiasts. The XV Crosstrek is a great economical utility vehicle with enough sportiness to keep things interesting on the road, if you love the Impreza but need a little more clearance this is the vehicle for you.