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The 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek is a chiseled urban dirt runner based on the steady Impreza platform.
Standard all-wheel drive; superior off-road capabilities; spacious cabin; crossover utility in a compact, fuel-efficient package.
Sluggish midrange power; transmission drones under load; restrictive infotainment system.
Available XV Crosstrek Models
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The 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek is an all-new model.
The formula will probably seem familiar. Americans like crossovers, so an automaker takes one of its core car models, raises the suspension and adds some body cladding. Subaru has done this successfully with its Outback series, so it's no surprise that the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek is built using the same formula. The Crosstrek is essentially an Impreza hatchback with additional wheel travel and refined suspension tuning for off-road or broken-pavement midtown adventures.
Based on the fully redesigned Impreza that debuted last year, the XV Crosstrek offers the same 2.0-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder that generates 148 horsepower. All-wheel drive is standard, and the XV Crosstrek offers a choice of a five-speed manual or continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). But Subaru wants us to think of the XV not as an Impreza variant, but as its own model (even though it will be called "Impreza XV" in other world markets).
That's a fair request. The XV Crosstrek rides 3 inches higher, to begin with. Key suspension points and components are beefed up to handle additional abuse. And with its black cladding and alloy wheels, the XV certainly looks able to withstand minor scrapes with branches and rocks. Inside, the cabin is geared toward utility and function, with minimal frills. Quality materials, comfortable seats and a quiet highway ride, however, keep the Crosstrek competitive with benchmark compact sedans.
Its combination of all-wheel drive, cargo space and fuel efficiency make the XV Crosstrek unique in its class. The Nissan Juke is also a compact all-wheel-drive crossover that's more fun to drive, but comes up much shorter on cargo space and versatility. Same goes for the Mini Cooper Countryman, which costs more but outshines the Crosstrek on style points. Only the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport gets near the Crosstrek with its combination of ground clearance and a cavernous hatch area. Of the two, we think the Subaru is a better all-around package.
The 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek is a five-passenger crossover available in 2.0i Premium and 2.0i Limited trim levels. Standard equipment on the 2.0i Premium includes 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, heated mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer, air-conditioning, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated front seats, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming and a six-speaker audio system with CD player, USB port and auxiliary jack.
Options for the Premium model include a sunroof and a touchscreen navigation system that incorporates a rearview camera, voice controls and satellite radio.
The 2.0i Limited adds automatic headlights, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, the rearview camera and the same six-speaker audio system found on the Premium but with the addition of a 4.3-inch LCD display. The sunroof and a navigation system (with satellite radio) are also available for the 2.0i Limited.
The 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek features a 2.0-liter horizontally opposed "boxer" four-cylinder engine that produces 148 hp and 145 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and is coupled to an all-wheel-drive system with a 50/50 front/rear power distribution. Optional on the Premium and standard for the Limited is a CVT coupled to a different all-wheel-drive system that typically apportions more power to the front wheels, but directs power -- up to 100 percent -- rearward when traction is needed.
Subaru estimates the XV Crosstrek will return fuel economy of 23 mpg city/30 mpg highway and 26 combined with the manual. Getting the CVT improves those estimates to 25/33/28.
The 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek comes standard with stability and traction control, antilock disc brakes, front side airbags and side curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag and active front head restraints.
The XV Crosstrek has not yet been crash-tested by government or insurance agencies, but the Impreza hatchback on which the XV is based received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's highest possible rating of "Good" in frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests.
The Subaru XV Crosstrek follows a template similar to its Impreza counterpart, with a clean and minimal interior featuring no-fuss controls arrayed on the center stack and surrounding the steering column. Dash and door panels are wrapped in soft-touch trim in an elegant (if austere) presentation, and the cabin is surprisingly quiet on-road. The available touchscreen infotainment interface is improved even from its most recent overhaul, although some of the electronic nannies ? you're locked out from adjusting the stereo's tone controls while driving, for example -- are annoying and border on deal-breaking.
As befits a car built to inspire wandering and adventure, the XV Crosstrek is slightly roomier than a base Impreza and there's even plenty of room for 6-foot drivers and passengers. With the rear seats up, the Crosstrek offers 22.3 cubic feet of storage space. Lower those seats and space jumps to 51.9 cubes. That's about 15 more cubic feet of space compared to the Juke and 10 more than the Mini Cooper Countryman. A flat load floor means you're able to maximize most of that additional space.
Around town and on the highway, the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek's 2.0-liter/CVT combination does exactly what's asked of it: mind fuel consumption. From a stoplight, the XV's initial acceleration is surprisingly quick, and once at highway cruising speed, the powertrain is relaxed and responsive to passing maneuvers. But the CVT allows the engine to run out of breath in its midrange, right about when you're preparing to merge into a busy lane or when making a sharp trail ascent. If fuel economy isn't a primary concern, we suggest opting for the manual transmission with its hill-start assist; it doesn't make the engine any more powerful, but does offer more control over power delivery.
Dynamically, the XV Crosstrek is every bit a traditional Subaru, confident and composed on loose, slippery roads, where its all-wheel drive and traction control systems make the XV's reactions fairly predictable. Suspension tuning -- refined from the base Impreza -- even makes the Crosstrek fun while ambling around on dry curvy roads.
The Crosstrek stands 3 inches higher than the Impreza, offering 8.7 inches of ground clearance. That's enough to glide through snowy streets and find all but the most remote surf breaks and trailheads. The XV's lack of torque and stock tires, however, prevent any serious scrambling over steep and lumpy terrain.
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