Subaru gives Impreza a boost with new Crosstrek
"When North American Subaru dealers got a look at the XV Crosstrek destined only for Europe, they said, “hey we can sell that here too!"
Just in time for Halloween comes a 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek we have affectionately dubbed “The Great Pumpkin” because of its striking Tangerine Orange paint.
A slightly evil looking pumpkin at that, with its wickedly distinctive 17-inch alloy wheels.
XV Crosstrek (the XV stands for crossover vehicle) is basically a taller version of the Impreza wagon, which was all new for model year 2012. It gets new bumpers and fender cladding, but the big difference is in ground clearance. Crosstrek rides three inches taller than Impreza, making it a better choice as an occasional off-roader or as a daily driver in areas with heavy snowfalls.
Originally Crosstrek was designed to be a crossover that Subaru could sell in Europe, with its narrower roads and tighter parking spaces. But when Subaru’s North American dealers got a look they said, “Hey we can sell that here too!”
Crosstrek comes in three trim levels - Touring, Sport and Limited - and ours is the base model, with an MSRP of $24,495. At that price, you do not get leather, a sunroof or a navigation system, but the Touring model is nonetheless very well equipped for the money with standard features such as four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, electric power steering, automatic HID headlamps, heated front seats and outside mirrors, cruise, automatic climate control and a 4.3-inch colour multi-function display.
Like all Subes, Crosstrek gets symmetrical all-wheel drive and a horizontally opposed “boxer” engine. In this case it’s the Impreza’s 2.0-litre flat four, which is more economical to operate than Forester’s 2.5L engine. Some critics have found the Crosstrek’s 148 hp to be lacking, but 0-100 km/h acceleration is a little under 10.0 seconds with the standard five-speed stick, a little over with the optional CVT.
Our test car is equipped with manual transmission, and even though it would be improved with a 6th gear for highway cruising, it’s preferred to the CVT for both quieter operation and slightly better performance. Shifts are quick and precise and the clutch feels just right.
What the Crosstrek lacks in acceleration it makes up for in fuel economy and handling. I have averaged 8.0 L/100km in a mix of highway and city driving, and with its fully independent four-wheel suspension system - MacPherson struts up front, double wishbone setup in the rear, and stabilizer bars both front and back - Crosstrek corners competently at high speeds and is nimble in urban traffic.
You sit high, with an SUV’s commanding view of the road, but without the penalty of poor fuel economy. Crosstrek’s ride is well modulated; perhaps a little on the firm side.
The cabin is quite comfortable for four, can handle five passengers in a pinch and has 1,470 litres of cargo space with the split rear seats folded forward - same as Impreza, but not quite as much as Forester or the Kia Sportage, and a bit more than Toyota’s AWD Matrix.
Crosstrek’s biggest competition may not be any of the compact SUVs or crossovers from other manufacturers, though, but Subaru’s own Impreza wagon, which offers the same drivetrain and symmetrical AWD for a couple thousand dollars less.
But as much as I like the Impreza, I think I’d buy the Crosstrek just to get those killer wheels. And if you don’t want to be Cinderella, with a pumpkin for a coach, there are other cool colours such as Desert Khaki and Deep Cherry Pearl.
2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek
Trim level: Touring
As tested before taxes: $24,495
Options on test car: none
Configuration: Front engine/ all-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 2.0L H4/5-spd manual
Power/torque: 148 hp/145 lb.-ft.
Fuel (capacity): regular (60L)
Fuel economy ratings: 8.9 L/100km city; 6.7 L/100km highway
Observed fuel economy: 8.0 L/100km over 668 km
Warranties: 3 years/ 60,000 km (basic); 5 years/ 100,000 km (powertrain)
Competitors: Ford Escape; Honda CR-V; Hyundai Tucson; Kia Sportage; Suzuki SX4; Toyota RAV4
Strengths: proven AWD system; fuel economy
Weaknesses: needs another gear; could use more horsepower; sparse instrumentation