Of Ground Clearance & Back Roads - 2012 Subaru Impreza Long-Term Road Test

2012 Subaru Impreza Long Term Road Test

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2012 Subaru Impreza Sport: Of Ground Clearance & Back Roads

October 26, 2012


Earlier this week we all headed north to Willow Springs Raceway to fulfill our annual driver training requirement. My ride for the trip was the 2012 Subaru Impreza Sport.

I got there early, so I took the Subie on a few dirt roads to kill the time and to see if maybe it would have done just as well as our 2012 Honda CR-V on my recent trip to Nevada. Not from a cargo perspective -- to the surprise of no one the Honda is the clear winner there -- but from a back road competence point of view. Would the Impreza Sport have done as well?

In a word, no. The ground clearance isn't quite the same (5.9 versus 6.7) and the front bumper doesn't offer near as much angle of approach as the Honda. On top of that the CR-V's brush "rub zones" and rockers are unpainted textured plastic all around, while most of the low-hanging bodywork on the Impreza is painted body color. As a result I had to be more wary of the pucker bushes that run down the middle of two-track dirt roads and the small stones that tend to get flung up by the tires.

Pity, because I like the Subaru Impreza in principle. If only they made a version that was a bit taller and more ruggized for back road road exploration...


As of a couple of weeks ago they do, and it's called the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek. It's our Impreza in that it has the same body, 2.0-liter engine and interior, but it's hiked up on taller suspension and tires to the tune of 8.7 inches of ground clearance, a full 2.8 inches more than our car and 2 inches more than the CR-V.

According to my calculations about 0.8 inches comes from the larger radius of its 225/55R17 tires; our Impreza wears 205/50R17 rubber. The other 2 inches, therefore, must come from the suspension.

The height increase improves approach angle all on its own, of course, but the underside of the nose also stair-steps up to improve it further. And the XV's wheel arches and lower extremities are textured and unpainted to reduce the visible wear and tear associated with shrubs and flying stones.

And you can get it in orange.

OK Subaru, how about we trade? ;)

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 8,894 miles

XV photo coutersy Subaru of America 

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