Subaru has made a habit out of producing quirky little all-wheel-drive vehicles that may not become hugely popular, but achieve definite fan status. Remember the Brat and how about the Baja? Well, the latest is the Subaru XV Crosstrek. This jacked up Impreza can indeed tackle the trail to the campground, but it can also make its way through the urban jungle as well.
Subaru has long been known for the versatility of its all-wheel drive hatchbacks and wagons, striving for that perfect balance between SUV usefulness and small car practicality. But, no effort has nailed that equation better than the Impreza Sport based, 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek. Not only does this urban crossover pack standard four-corner traction, 8.7 inches of ground clearance, and a rugged exterior design; it also boasts car-like comfort and good fuel economy. And it’s all wrapped in an easy to maneuver and park city friendly size.
8.7-inches is a surprising amount of ground clearance for any crossover, much less one this small. After all, the Jeep Grand Cherokee boasts just 8.6-inches. Curb hopping anyone? All that ground clearance turns this Impreza into a capable little Billy Goat off-road, as well. But it does come with a down side. Compared to the Impreza, Crosstrek’s ride quality is on the harsh side. The beefed up suspension resists pot holes, but also provides a very stable platform for uneven terrain.
Sharing Impreza Sports’ 2.0-liter boxer engine means the driving experience is confident if not overly powerful with only 148-horsepower and 145 lb-ft. of torque on tap. Sadly, we won’t see the new twin-cam 2.0-liter diesel that’s available for Crosstrek in Europe. Those oh so lucky Europeans also get a 6-speed manual, while we must make do with a 5-speed as the standard transmission. Our test car came equipped with a whiney CVT auto.
Nowhere is it more obvious that this is a modified Impreza Sport, than inside the cabin; as the dark, monochrome theme speaks volumes. But we’re not complaining, as it actually seems more fitting here in this rugged little runner. Though we will complain about the same hard to use touch-screen radio and sat-nav. system that’s located in the otherwise straightforward center-stack. In back, rear seat room is fine for three children or two adults. And the 22.3-cubic ft. of cargo space expands to 51.9 cubic-ft. with the rear seats folded.
Now it may just be our red necks showing, but we love the jacked up stance and tough, all-purpose look of the XV. Most of the body panels are the same as the Impreza Sport compact, but unique front and rear fascias, as well as the expected body cladding down the sides and around the fenders give it a much different look. We’re also fond of the cool black and silver 17-inch alloy wheels; though we’d quickly replace the 225/55 all-season rubber with some proper all-terrains to really complete the look.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are not as good as some compact hatchbacks, but pretty impressive compared to other all-wheel-drive crossovers; 25-City, 33-Highway, and 28-Combined. We averaged just 26.5 miles-per-gallon of Regular gas in mixed driving. Still, the Energy Impact Score comes in much better than average at 11.8-barrels of annual oil consumption with CO2 emissions of 5.2-tons.
Despite being based on the Impreza Sport, that big boost in ground clearance classifies the XV as a Sport Ute. And at our test track, we were expecting a rather Jeep-like experience, but found the Crosstrek to be a capable handler. The much anticipated body roll never materialized; with understeer more of an issue.
It’s certainly not much to brag about off the line, as it crawls to 60 in a lazy 9.8-seconds and to the end of the quarter mile in 17.5-seconds at 79 miles-per-hour, about the same as the Impreza Sport. Braking was also similar at 121-feet, with standard ABS-equipped discs at all 4 wheels providing smooth and drama free consistent stops.
While the Crosstrek may have been designed more for the European market than ours, with the Forester growing in size, there’s actually room for it in Subaru’s lineup here, as well… and when it comes to pricing, it slides nicely right in between the Impreza Sport and a well-equipped Forester, starting at $22,790.
Subaru buyers are a unique lot, and the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek is a unique vehicle that should suit more than a few of them. But unless you need the additional ground clearance, or just really like the tougher look, you’ll be fine with an Impreza Sport. So, whether your typical attire revolves around wearing hiking boots or loafers, Subaru has got a fun and capable compact just for you.
Torque: 145 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 9.8 seconds
1/4 mile: 17.5 seconds @ 79 mph
EPA: 25 mpg city/ 33 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 11.8-barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 5.2 tons/yr