2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek
2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Review:
Subaru has a knack for the counterintuitive.
That’s an outsider’s way to describe the 2013 XV Crosstrek, an all-new entry from Japan’s master of all-wheel drive and boxer engines. But it would flummox Subaru insiders, who consider the tidy crossover to be completely in keeping with their tradition.
After all, this is the company that stayed the course when the industry stampeded toward truck-based sport utility vehicles more than a decade ago. Instead of joining the herd, Subaru calmly went about its business of delivering car-based utility vehicles that today are classified as crossovers.The designers and engineers took the existing mid-size Legacy sedans and station wagons, jacked them up on their suspension systems and gave them a new, outdoorsy identity as Outbacks. Later they did the same with the compact Impreza, and added high-performance models as well.
The only nod to the SUV craze came with the introduction of the Forester, which was still a crossover but looked more like a truck. Then the company added the bigger and more powerful crossover Tribeca, which looked exactly the part.
Against conventional wisdom, Subaru locked onto continuing success, even in the economically devastating years of the recent recession. The company had US sales of 266,989 in 2011 and is shooting for 320,000 this year.
The idea behind the XV Crosstrek, according to Michael McHale, Subaru’s corporate communications chief, is to provide active customers with a low priced vehicle that can take them to places others cannot tread.
That’s a hallmark of almost all Subaru products. Except for the new rear-drive BRZ sports coupe, all of the company’s vehicles come standard with all-wheel drive. They also feature horizontally opposed engines, in which the cylinders lie flat, feet to feet, on both sides of the crankshaft instead of leaning or standing straight as in V or in-line engines.
Also called boxer or flat engines, they have a low profile and enable a lower center of gravity for whatever vehicle they power. That’s the case with the new XV Crosstrek, where it offsets the vehicle’s tall profile.
The Crosstrek stands nearly four inches taller than five feet, which gives it a higher driving position than a typical sedan. But it’s relatively easy to enter and exit, not at all like a big SUV. The height enables ground clearance of 8.7 inches for some modest off-road duties. The Subaru folks brag that it has slightly more clearance than a Jeep Grand Cherokee.
However, the Crosstrek lacks the equipment for anything more serious than pockmarked logging roads. There’s no hill descent control or low range for crawling over trackless wilderness. But it should easily handle blizzard conditions.
The Crosstrek is not a particularly powerful machine. There’s only one engine: 148 horsepower four-cylinder connected to either a five-speed manual gearbox or a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). The latter seamlessly alters gear ratios according to conditions. There are no shift points.It is mated to an all-wheel drive system that automatically apportions power to the wheels depending on conditions. That AWD system is different from the one connected to the manual gearbox, which divides the power 50-50 between the front and rear wheels.
With the CVT, the Crosstrek manages good EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy of 25/33/28 miles to the gallon. It’s less with the manual shifter: 23/30/26. Subaru claims the highway mileage with the CVT is the best of any all-wheel drive crossover.
But that’s only true if you don’t apply the crossover designation to the Impreza Sport, the Crosstrek’s garage mate, which has a better fuel economy rating. However, it’s hard to avoid a comparison because the two vehicles are so similar.
In the Subaru lineup, the Crosstrek slots in between the Impreza Sport hatchback and the somewhat larger Outback and Forester. It is spun off the same platform as the Impreza, is similarly sized and priced, and has almost the same interior design and space.
For example, the Crosstrek is 14 feet 7 inches long, an inch longer than the Impreza Sport hatchback. It has passenger/cargo volume of 98/22 cubic feet and weighs 3,175 pounds. The Impreza’s passenger/cargo volume is 98/23 cubic feet and it weighs 3,240 pounds. Yet the CVT-equipped 2013 Impreza’s city/highway fuel economy of 27/36 miles to the gallon beats the Crosstrek’s 25/33.Except for the exterior styling, the only real differences between the two are that the Crosstrek is about four inches taller, giving it more of a crossover appearance, and it has the 8.7 inches of ground clearance, or nearly three inches more than the Impreza’s 5.9 inches.
The two vehicles also are similarly priced in their upper ranges, with the Impreza less expensive in the lower ranges. The Crosstrek does not have a cheaper entry-level model. There are two well-equipped trim levels: Premium and Limited. The tester was a premium with the CVT and a navigation system, which had an estimated sticker price of $25,790.
All of that said, it seems likely that the Crosstrek and the Impreza hatchback will attract different groups of customers simply because they have a different street presence and character, with the Crosstrek getting the nod as a crossover alternative.
Model: 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Premium four-door crossover utility vehicle.
Engine: 2.0-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder, 148 horsepower.
Transmission: Continuously variable automatic.
Overall length: 14 feet 7 inches.
EPA passenger/cargo volume: 98/22 cubic feet.
Weight: 3,175 pounds.
EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 25/33/28 miles to the gallon.
Base price, including destination charge: $22,790.
Price as tested: $25,790 (estimated)