2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek. Click image to enlarge
Related Articles:
Long-Term Update: 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Touring
Long-Term Arrival: 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Touring
Test Drive: 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek
Day-by-Day Review: 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek

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Review by Mike Schlee, photos by Mike Schlee and Jonathan Yarkony

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2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek

Odometer: 4,932 km
Observed Fuel Consumption: 9.4 L/100 km
Costs: $485,60 (gas)

Now that we have two months seat time behind the wheel of the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek from Subaru Canada, its true colours are beginning to shine through.  The more time spent driving this little crossover, the more obvious its pros and cons become.  Luckily for us, it’s beginning to appear that the pros outweigh the cons.

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek. Click image to enlarge

This is our second update on the XV and it has been busy; during the past month, as the late Hank Snow would say, our XV “has been everywhere, man.”   Early in the month we packed up the Tangerine Orange Subaru and headed on a trip south of the border to Buffalo, NY. During this 250 km round trip the XV proved to be a comfortable highway cruiser that tracks straight and does not require constant steering inputs to keep within its lane.  Keeping up with the flow of traffic is no problem for the little 2.0L flat-four engine and we observed an average economy of 7.8 L/100 km during this highway trip.  Remember, it is winter so XV is hampered by high friction winter tires, winter fuel, and winter temperatures.

Overall we have put just over 4,200 km on the XV since receiving it and are still averaging 9.4 L/100 km even with the dropping temperatures.  Our average speed has risen from last month’s 39 km/h to a breathtaking 40 km/h.

Since our last update, we have really focused on the cargo carrying capacity of the XV Crosstrek.  Senior Editor Jonathan Yarkony spent a week behind the wheel of the vehicle and appreciated the ride height of the XV, which helped when securing his three-year-old daughter in her forward facing child seat as well as his newborn son in his rearward facing child seat.  Jonathan also appreciated the back doors that open very wide as well as the fact that a shorter passenger could sit in the front seat, ahead of the rear facing child seat, in relative comfort, though he wasn’t daring enough to try it himself.

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek. Click image to enlarge

While I had the XV, I was on doggie-sitting duty one day and used the affectionately nicknamed ‘Subaru Pumpkin’ to pick up my relatives’ Rottweiler.  With the rear seats folded down, she was able to stand up inside the XV and seemed to like the extra space of the hatchback (as she moved from window to window).  My wife and I also used the vehicle for our family Christmas at my parents’ house – a 76-km trek across the city to their house in Markham.  We were a little dismayed at the real-world cargo carrying ability of the XV as we could only put gifts in the hatch while other items like overnight bags, snow gear and computer bags had to occupy the rear seats.  This may be a reflection on us spoiling our niece with too many gifts as much as the limitations of the cargo hold itself.

Jonathan Yarkony also found the rear hatch space to be a bit cramped, but more than adequate enough to haul all the gear associated with a day trip to the relatives for his family of four.  He also appreciated that his daughter’s stroller can fit in width-wise and I found myself also thankful of the XV’s cargo width that was able to swallow up a 30-inch long chandelier purchased on Boxing Day, er, week.

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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