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Photos: Subaru USA

Joining the 2013 Subaru model line in the United States is the Subaru XV Crosstrek.  At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss the XV Crosstrek as a dolled up Impreza hatchback, but looks can be deceiving. Much more than an Impreza sportback, the XV Crosstrek has undergone some of the same transformations from sportback to crossover that has made Subaru’s Outback line a runaway success.

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The transformation from the already capable Impreza to XV Crosstrek begins underneath the vehicle. The XV Crosstrek’s four-wheel independent suspension has been raised to provide 8.7 inches of ground clearance, putting it toward the top in its class. The XV Crosstrek gets its stopping power from larger 4-wheel disc brakes over the standard Impreza with 11.6-inch discs up front and 10.8-inch discs in the rear.

To enhance visual impact, Subaru has fitted the XV Crosstrek with black rocker panels and wheel arches as well as a rocker spoiler and roof rails.  The front and rear bumpers are also specific to the XV Crosstrek , while model specific 17-inch wheels sit at all four corners with beefy 225/55/17 all-season tires providing the traction on and off the road.Subaru_XV_Crosstrek-15

The XV Crosstrek’s running gear centers around Subaru’s signature Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, with power generated by a 148-horsepower, 145lb-ft 2.0-liter Boxer engine. Our tester was fitted with a CVT transmission, while a five-speed manual is also available on the Premium model.  Incline Start Assist is standard across the line with both transmissions.

Subaru_XV_Crosstrek-39The interior of the XV Crosstrek is built with functionality and durability in mind rather than gimmicks and flash. The interior is well laid out with controls being extremely easy to use. There is honestly something to be said for dials and knobs, which Subaru has done a wonderful job with in the interior of the XV Crosstrek. There is also no shortage of storage areas and bottle holders to dump all the items today’s active lifestyle individual might have on them. A six-speaker stereo is standard as is the All-Weather Package which includes heated front seats and mirrors.

Interior capacities are respectable for a compact crossover, with 37.7-inches of headroom and 35.4-inches of legroom. The cargo area is 22.3 cubic feet with the rear seats up, but nearly doubles to 51.9 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.

On paper, the XV Crosstrek seems impressive but the proof is in the driving.  Though we didn’t get to go full blown off-roading, it performed admirably in the dirt and sand with the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive working diligently to maintain traction in even the most slippery of surfaces. The XV Crosstrek also drove exceptionally well in the rain during a very wet Houston winter week.  Ride quality on paved roads is firm, but damped appropriately to provide a comfortable experience.

Subaru_XV_Crosstrek-44If there is one shortcoming with the XV Crosstrek, it’s the somewhat reluctant engine.  This is not a performance oriented vehicle by any stretch of the imagination, and basic highway passing maneuvers required putting the pedal to the floor in almost every occasion.  A few more horsepower would make the driving experience much more enjoyable.

Fuel economy is rated at 23 city/30 highway, in which observed fuel economy over the span of 240 miles mixed driving fell in the 25.5mpg range.

In my week with the XV Crosstrek, I very much enjoyed the vehicle. Though it isn’t the fastest, or the biggest, or even the best looking compact crossover in the segment, it is the most unique. With prices starting at just $21,995 for the XV Crosstrek 2.0i Premium, it’s also a great value when you consider that includes the same great Subaru build quality as the rest of the line and the fantastic Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system.  The combination of quirky personality with capable off-road performance and fuel-efficiency makes the XV Crosstrek a great choice for young, active lifestyles.

Subaru provided the XV Crosstrek to Speed:Sport:Life for testing purposes.

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Zerin Dube

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