2013 SUBARU XV CROSSTREK. Click image to enlarge

As a side note to the cargo area, my wife was getting sick of hearing our grocery bins constantly smashing off the walls in the hatch as they slid on the nonabrasive carpet from side-to-side, even when driving the XV in the most passive way.  So, we had a rubber cargo liner installed by Subaru like the one I had in my previous hatchback.  Not only does this protect the carpet from spills and stains, it also prevents our junk in the trunk from shifting around.  I would recommend it to any owner of a wagon, hatch, van or crossover.

The biggest issue both Jonathan and I have with the XV has to do with its ride.  For a tall crossover, the ride feels way too firm.  Every imperfection in the road is felt in the XV and on badly broken pavement the vehicle can become rather bouncy.  But there is a positive trade-off for this harsh ride in that the XV is quite responsive.  One thing Jonathan had to add was this: “Although I’m still not a fan of the drivetrain noise (just a bit too whiney for me), I really liked the steering feel and handling of this little ute. Steering is quick and doesn’t feel completely detached from the road as many crossovers tend to.”

Even on the winter tires, the XV likes to be tossed hard into corners and the generous levels of steering response have no business being in a ‘utility vehicle’.  However, any thoughts of barnstorming this Subaru quickly evaporate thanks to its weak powertrain.  Hey Subaru: you already have the chassis and steering ready to go, why not drop the 2014 Forester’s turbocharged engine into this baby and create the XT Crosstrek?

2013 SUBARU XV CROSSTREK. Click image to enlarge

But then it snowed… and just as when Sir Isaac Newton got walloped in the head by an apple, I had a revelation.  The XV Crosstrek could be one of the best snow vehicles on the market today.  With its generous 220-mm ground clearance, proven all-wheel-drive system, compact dimensions, relatively light weight and low power, the XV laughs at deep snow.  Driving across the GTA during our first real snow storm of the year, the XV was unflappable.  While many others were fighting for traction on the stop-and-go highways, the XV just moseyed along like it was a bright sunny day out.  Changing lanes was easy thanks to the high ground clearance that would keep the body of the XV above the slushy muck accumulating between driving lanes.  When we finally got to our small side street, it had not been plowed but the road we were turning off had just been cleared off recently, leaving a two-foot mound of snow blocking access to our street.  No problem for the XV, it just drove through it like it didn’t exist.

However, traction and ground clearance are only part of safe winter driving.  Thanks to low weight and modern electronic aides, the XV corners and stops very well in the white stuff as well.  Although it eliminates empty parking lot drifting fun, the non-defeatable stability control keeps the XV on its intended path at all times.  Even if the stability control is ‘off’ it is always there to ensure the XV does not get completely out of shape.  I was purposely trying to the get the XV out of sorts in the snow and it would have none of it.  The most novice driver would look like a pro in the snow with the XV, proper snow tires and some sensible driving.

With two months down, I greatly look forward to the final month with the XV as it will be making a trip up to Deerhurst Resort that, for those unfamiliar with it, is located in the heart of the snow-belt in Central Ontario.  As well, the XV will be taking on a few of its direct, entry-level crossover competitors in a comparison test at the end of January so we will be able to see just where it stacks up against the competition.

Pricing: 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Touring
Base Price: $24,495
Options: $1,300 (CVT Automatic)
Freight & PDI: $1,695
A/C Tax: $100
Price as tested: $27,590

Crash test results
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

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