2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek PremiumPosted on September 24th, 2012
Five-passenger crossover for outdoor enthusiasts
By Nina Russin
It’s no accident that so many athletes are Subaru loyalists. Nor is it simply the all-wheel drive, which is standard equipment on most Subaru models. Subaru has the longest contiguous relationship with endurance athletes of any major car manufacturer, dating back to the company’s sponsorship of the US Ski Team in the mid-1970s.
Although Subaru’s total sales volume is a fraction of larger auto manufacturers, it’s hard to travel more than a city block in places such as Boulder and Flagstaff without bumping into one. The new XV Crosstrek is a slight departure from best sellers such as the Impreza and Forester. Styling is more aggressive, and the vehicle is slightly larger for enhanced passenger and cargo space.
But the Crosstrek’s core mission is very much like that of its Subaru brethren: to take people for whom time on the trails is a way of life, where they want to go in any kind of weather. In addition to all-wheel drive, engineers focused on fuel economy and standard safety as key attributes. The test car with a four-cylinder engine and continuously variable automatic transmission averages 33 miles-per-gallon on the highway.
The Premium model is the base grade with a $22,995 sticker, excluding the $795 delivery charge. Standard convenience features include Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, remote keyless entry, roof rails, cargo tie downs and a removable rubber cargo matt, and tilt and telescoping steering wheel. A moonroof and navigation option package adds $2000, bringing the final MSRP to $25,790.
Designed to get dirty
Scratch-resistant cladding on the Crosstrek’s lower front fascia, wheel wells and along the side skirts means that owners don’t have to worry about paint chips from rocks on unimproved roads. Standard daytime running lamps make the vehicle easier to see on canyon roads or in low light conditions.
The temperature gauge includes a freeze indicator to let the driver know when rain-slicked roads might get icy. A standard all-weather package includes heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer.
Ground clearance is 8.7 inches: plenty to clear obstacles on dirt roads. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels come with all-season tires. Buyers in areas with severe winters might want to add a separate set of rims with winter tires for the snow.
The engine is configured to favor torque over horsepower, since low-end power is more important for climbing steep grades, towing and traversing uneven trails. Although Subarus don’t have the two-speed transfer case necessary for extreme off-road driving, I’ve driven them over dirt trails the Forest Service had ignored for years, and they’ve done just fine.
A timing chain in lieu of a belt saves an expensive maintenance procedure at about 60,000 miles. Direct ignition delivers fuel directly into the engine cylinders rather than through the valves, reducing parasitic loss. Not only does this enhance gas mileage; it also reduces toxic emissions, enabling the model tested to achieve PZEV status.
The Crosstrek has a short wheelbase for a vehicle its size: 103.7 inches. The turning circle is a scant 34.8 feet, which makes it very maneuverable on narrow roads as well as inner city streets. Despite being larger than other Subaru crossovers, the Crosstrek is small enough to park on the street, and has a low enough profile to fit inside any covered garage.
Test drive in Arizona
I spent the past week driving the new Crosstrek around Phoenix. I was anxious to see how Subaru’s new crossover would function for a small family, which might include one member commuting to work.
Engineers wisely contained the Crosstrek’s curb weight, to get the best performance out of the 148-horsepower four-cylinder engine. While this meant sacrificing some sound insulation around the passenger compartment, the benefit is surprisingly good acceleration off the line. I had no problems merging onto the highway from two-lane entrance ramps, or passing slower vehicles in rush-hour traffic.
The “boxer” engine design has two pairs of cylinders positioned opposite each other. It works very well for all-wheel drive applications because of its inherent balance. Front-to-rear weight balance is also quite good, with no tendency to push in the corners.
The active torque split all-wheel drive system which comes with the automatic transmission can deliver up to 100 percent of engine power to the wheels with the best traction. Although Phoenix weather is typically sunny and dry, all-wheel drive comes in handy during our seasonal summer monsoons when surface streets are submerged in water.
An electric power steering system saves weight over a mechanical unit. It also eliminates hydraulic components which can wear out over time, and reduces internal pumping losses. I found the steering to have plenty of assist at low speeds, with nice on-center response on the highway.
Visibility around the perimeter is good. The rearview camera eliminates blind spots beneath the rear glass and in the back corners when the driver shifts into reverse. I had no problems monitoring traffic in the adjacent lanes on the highway, or seeing highway traffic when merging off on entrance ramp.
The Subaru Crosstrek can comfortably hold four adults. The second-row center position doesn’t have much legroom due to the car’s tall floor tunnel and the location of the center console, but it is fine for short trips around town.
Cloth seats on the test car are attractive and easy to clean. I had plenty of lower lumbar support on a drive of about two hours. Standard seat heaters keep front row occupants warm in the winter. Redundant steering wheel-mounted controls and standard Bluetooth connectivity minimize driver distraction.
Athletes will appreciate the large bottle holders in all four doors and ambient temperature display.
An analog display in the gauge cluster indicates instant fuel economy. A second display at the top of the center stack adds driving range. Designers put a large hood over the top center stack display to make it readable in bright sun.
Despite its tall ground clearance, ride height for the Crosstrek is lower than for some of its competitors. Not only does this ease access and egress; it also lowers the lift-over height for the rear gate. With second-row seats folded flat, the Crosstrek easily meets our bicycle-friendly standards.
An optional trailer hitch enables the Crosstrek to tow up to 1500 pounds: below our ALV minimum standard, but enough for a small trailer.
The Subaru Crosstrek comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, traction and stability control. Incline start assist prevents the vehicle from sliding backwards when the driver accelerates from a stop up a steep grade.
The all-new Crosstrek is rolling out to Subaru dealerships nationwide
Like: An affordable, versatile active lifestyle vehicle with all-weather capability and a bicycle-friendly cargo area.
Dislike: Excessive engine noise during hard acceleration
Model: XXV Crosstrek 2.0i Premium
Base Price: $22,995
As tested: $25,790
Horsepower: 148 Hp @ 6200 rpm
Torque: 145 lbs.-ft. @ 4200 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 25/33 mpg city/highway2013, Best Value Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, performance, pricing, standard safety, Subaru
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