2015 Subaru Crosstrek XV 2.0i LimitedPosted on August 31st, 2015
All-wheel drive crossover fills all the squares
By Nina Russin
Subaru was born from the needs of buyers with active lifestyles. Standard all-wheel drive, high ground clearance, advanced active safety features, versatile cargo areas and engines that run well at altitude made Subaru the obvious choice for endurance athletes as early as the 1970s when the company also sponsored the US Ski team.
Although the brand has always offered buyers a lot of value, some models lacked refinement in the areas of ride comfort and NVH as compared to the competition. Never being a company to rest on its laurels, Subaru is addressing the problem by improving existing models.
Case in point: the 2015 XV Crosstrek, with insulating windshield glass on the Limited model that significantly improves interior quiet. Having driven earlier versions of the car, I was surprised by how quiet the 2015 test car is on the highway.
While the Limited is the most upscale version of Subaru’s midsize all-wheel drive crossover,
it’s still quite affordable. Base price on the test car is $24,795, with standard features including leather upholstery, satellite radio, a rearview camera, Bluetooth interface, HD radio, smartphone connectivity, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and roof rails.
An option package adds keyless start, power moonroof, real-time weather and traffic updates and the EyeSight driver assist system that automatically applies the brakes if the driver fails to recognized a stopped car or pedestrian in the car’s path.
Power comes from a 148-horsepower Boxer engine and continuously variable automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is standard across the model lineup. The Crosstrek’s 8.7-inches of ground clearance makes driving in the snow or clearing obstacles on unimproved dirt roads a piece of cake.
Test drive in Arizona
This week I drove the Crosstrek around the Phoenix, Chandler and Scottsdale, Arizona metropolitan areas as well as on a weekend trip south to Tucson. With its 34 mile-per-gallon highway fuel economy, versatile cargo area and improved handling, the Crosstrek proved to be an excellent companion around town and on the open road.
The two-liter engine has plenty of power around town. Horizontally opposed cylinders look similar to boxing gloves, hence the name. The design is inherently balanced, making it ideal for an all-wheel drive car. I’m not a big fan of continuously variable automatic transmissions but this one seems to work pretty well. Shifting is linear with none of the rubber band feel that makes some competitive products unpleasant to drive. The purpose of using a CVY versus a traditional step transmission is better gas mileage because of the infinite number of gear combinations. The fact that an all-wheel drive can achieve an EPA average fuel economy rating of 29 mpg-combined city and highway is pretty remarkable.
Despite its high ground clearance, access and egress to both the passenger compartment and cargo bay is quite good. Smaller drivers will appreciate the low lift-over height in the cargo area. Putting bicycles up top isn’t too much of a stretch.
A four-wheel independent suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and a compact double wishbone system in back that enabled engineers to maintain a spacious cargo bay. For 2015, the team improved the electric power steering system for quicker response: especially noticeable on the highway.
Visibility around the perimeter is quite good, thanks to a generous greenhouse. The standard rearview camera makes it easier to monitor cross traffic in parking lots. The test car comes with steering sensitive fog lamps that illuminate when the driver corners at night. The adaptive lamps illuminate dark intersections where pedestrians might be waiting to cross: something conventional headlamps would miss.
Subaru has raised the bar considerably on its interiors, with nicer, soft touch materials and better fit and finish. As someone with disproportionately long legs, I especially appreciate the height-adjustable seat and tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel that enable me to find a comfortable seating position. Lower lumbar support is quite good.
The leather upholstery is very attractive, although not the most practical choice for endurance athletes who, like me, get pretty dirty in the summer. I had a towel over the driver’s seat for most of the week so I wouldn’t leave a personal signature in the form of sweat rings.
Designers did a much better job of styling the infotainment area than in former models. The buttons are easier to use (they were too small), both the gauge cluster and center stack screen are easy to read in bright sunlight, and all controls are accessible from either front seating position.
Keyless entry and start enables the driver to enter the car and fire the ignition without removing the key fob from his pocket adding a measure of safety after dark.
Second-row seats fold flat to make the Crosstrek bicycle friendly. I especially like the available waterproof cargo mat that can hold dirty running shoes or a wetsuit and cleans up with a hose and water.
The Subaru XV Crosstrek comes with front, side, side curtain and driver’s knee airbags, antilock brakes, stability control, all-wheel drive, a rearview camera, tire pressure monitoring and daytime running lamps.
The 2015 Subaru Crosstrek received a five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and is an IIHS Top Safety Pick.
Like: A versatile, affordable crossover with standard all-wheel drive.
Dislike: Bland exterior styling.
Model: XV Crosstrek 2.0i Limited
Base price: $24,795
As tested: $28,521
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: 26/34 mpg city/highway2015, Best Value 2015, Active Lifestyle Vehicles, auto review, performance, pricing, standard safety, Subaru