A woodsman in urbanite attire
Since Subaru began sales in Canada in 1978, they've been associated with winter safety and practicality. Ask anyone what they think of Subaru and they'll probably say things like: smart choice, AWD, practical, utilitarian, family vehicle. Rarely do you hear the words modern, attractive, stylish, design, hip, cool or urban uttered in the same sentence as “Subaru.”
Well, all that's about to change (or so the folks at Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. hope), thanks to the brand new 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek.
On the heels of the Subaru BRZ explosion on the market, Subaru is launching its latest compact SUV on a market that's already hip to the Subie vibe.
While Subaru may be leaning more towards aesthetic appeal with the XV Crosstrek, the focus on core technology is still there in Subaru's renowned BOXER engine and symmetrical full-time AWD.
Although three trim levels are available on the XV Crosstrek (Touring, Sport Package and Limited Package), the engine will remain the same throughout: the 2.0L BOXER four-cylinder that produces 148 hp and 145 lb-ft of torque. Two transmissions are also available: a 5-speed manual and an updated, much-improved CVT that comes with standard-equipped paddle shifters on the steering wheel (thank you Subaru for that one).
While I'm excited that Subaru has returned to the 2.0L configuration, I did wish for a bit more oomph behind the wheel. My first thought was: Throw a turbo in the XV and then we'll talk... no pressure Subaru.
And while I'm never one to bash a manual transmission, I do kind of wish there was a 6-speed in the Crosstrek as well – and I wasn't the only one who felt that way. It's not that a 5-speed doesn't work (my '04 WRX sports a 5-speed), just that it feels old-fashioned. And it's not like Subaru doesn't offer a 6-speed in its lineup (the 2013 Legacy and 2013 Outback feature 6-speed manual transmissions). With the revs sitting at 3,400 rpm at 110 km/h on the highway, engine noise is apparent and you wish for that 6th gear.
Dressed to impress
Here's where the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek is a “different” Subaru. A great deal of attention was paid to the exterior design of the XV Crosstrek, and I commend Subaru on their efforts. While it's not a complete departure from the Subaru line (as the BRZ seems to be) it's different enough to turn heads -- and the right heads.
Targeted at Gen Y buyers (and those who are also considering the MINI Cooper Countryman and Nissan Juke), the XV Crosstrek is a woodsman in ubranite attire.
Sleeker than an Outback and beefier than an Impreza, the XV Crosstrek strikes a pleasant balance between off-roader and city dweller. It's fancy without being impractical, and functional without being brutish. High wheel wells, a 220 mm ground clearance and practical roof rails mean this Subaru can pretty much go anywhere, and look good while it does -- as long as it's not sitting on those horribly angular, flower-y rims.
Offered in colours such as Deep Cherry Pearl, Desert Khaki and Tangerine Orange, the XV Crosstrek currently sports the “wild child” badge in the Subaru lineup (though shame on FHI for not offering the XV in Rally Blue!).
Inside, the Subaru XV Crosstrek offers the standard fare: air conditioning, power windows, locks, satellite radio, and an available entertainment system with 6.1” touchscreen and navigation. It is very much a Subaru inside, user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing in all trim levels.
Don't be fooled by this Subaru's urban nightlife looks. It's more than capable on rougher terrain thanks to Subaru's standard symmetrical AWD. As a 50/50 split in the manual models or 60/40 with an automatic CVT set-up, the XV gets the job done and isn't afraid to get down and dirty.
We took the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek through some pretty rough terrain during torrential rain and it didn't disappoint. Bumps, rocks, fallen branches, elevation changes: the XV took them all in stride.
Priced to kill... the competition
Looking at where Subaru hopes to place the XV Crosstrek on the market, it wins by a mile in the price department. With a starting MSRP of just over $24k you get a well-equipped, AWD vehicle that's great for the family and can live as easily on tight city streets as it can on wide-open backwoods roads.
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