2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Touring
2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Touring
2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Touring. Click image to enlarge
Related articles
Long-Term Arrival: 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Touring
Test Drive: 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek
Day-by-Day Review: 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek
Long-Term Test Update 1: 2013 Volkswagen Golf Wagon TDI Diesel
Long-Term Test Wrap-up: 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T

Manufacturer’s Website
Subaru Canada

Review and photos by Mike Schlee

Photo Gallery:
2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Touring

Odometer: 2,712 km
Observed Fuel Consumption: 9.4 L/100 km
Costs: $217 (gas)

It has been three and a half weeks since we picked up the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek for a long-term test drive.  During that time my wife and I have put on just over 1,900 trouble-free kilometres.  The vehicle has been used for all manner of daily chores including a few endeavours that have put the rear cargo hold to the test.  It held four winter tires without issue, repeatedly fit a week’s worth of groceries, and has handled several garbage bags full of charity donation items.  So far, the XV is passing the utility part of our long-term test; next up, a shopping trip south of the border.

For those unfamiliar with the Subaru XV Crosstrek, it is a new crossover vehicle that is slotted below the Forester in Subaru’s hierarchy of utility vehicles.  Many have written it off as an Impreza on stilts due to the bodies looking basically the same.  Although I can see why the assumption is made, it isn’t exactly accurate.

Compared to the Impreza, the XV Crosstrek receives increased cooling capacity and has additional stiffeners as well as reinforcement patches that allow for towing (681 kg).  Additional reinforcement on major suspension and body components combined with the increased stabilizer bars improve stability, predictability and handling.  These enhancements are noticeable even with the blocky Blizzak tires installed; however, the handling of the XV is still better than the average compact CUV.  On the highway the vehicle tracks straight and is devoid of any wandering tendencies.  There is a downside to this handling prowess, though, as the ride is choppier than I would expect in a crossover utility vehicle.

The suspension is raised 76 mm and the body 102 mm compared to the 2012 Subaru Impreza 5-Door.

This bump in ride height has been welcome as we are yet to find a parking curb tall enough to scuff the front or rear of the XV.  On the outside, the most noticeable differences between the XV and the Impreza have to do with plastic protective body cladding that wraps the lower portion of the XV.  I like its subtle diamond-plated design.  It looks more upscale and not tacky like some lower body cladding found on other vehicles. It really punctuates the looks (and purpose) of the vehicle; especially on a brighter colour like our XV.  In fact, my wife and I both prefer the look of the XV over the Impreza hatchback the more we look at it.  It is funny how revised bumpers, some aggressive cladding, and those black wheels work to make the XV Crosstrek look ‘mean’.

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Touring. Click image to enlarge

Besides the ‘what makes it different than the Impreza’ question, I have also been asked quite a few times if the vehicle is worth its price point over a 5-door Impreza.  Starting at $24,495 for the base Touring model, the XV starts at $3,600 more than an Impreza 5-Door.  However, to get the same level of equipment in an Impreza 5-Door as the standard XV Crosstrek, like 17-inch alloy wheels, a front armrest/storage bin, fog lights, infotainment screen and upgraded gauge cluster, you need to purchase the $24,895 Sport model.  The Impreza Sport 5-Door does include features not found in the XV, like leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, sunroof, and the sport appearance package.  But, the XV also has equipment that the Impreza Sport 5-Door doesn’t have, like roof rails, tinted windows, its own ground effects package, and of course the ability to tow.  So basically it is a wash between the two content-wise as well as price-wise and it is up to the consumer to decide which one better fits their wants and needs.

On the road the XV Crosstrek is not that quiet inside.  It is a strange mix of NVH as it is not great in a noise or harshness sense, but is great when it comes to vibrations—none find their way up through the chassis to the passengers.  The engine is a bit noisy, but makes a more pleasant sound, to my ears at least, than the average four-cylinder thanks to the boxer design.  The continuously variable transmission is near silent in its operation and can only be heard during sub-zero-temperature cold starts in the morning.

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Touring
2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Touring
2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Touring
2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Touring. Click image to enlarge

Many reviewers have complained that the XV Crosstrek is underpowered and I am not going to pretend here that it is not.  But, the throttle is very jumpy off the line and around town power is more than adequate.  On the highway this Subaru begins to run out of steam but is not the horribly weak engine many are making it out to be.  That said, a dose of direct injection and an output of 170-180 hp would do wonders for this vehicle.

The reason for the small engine with low power is, of course, efficiency.  So, is it efficient?  Well, during our first two weeks with the XV, we were averaging 9.8 L/100 km in what is horrible, stop-n’-go Toronto commuting.  But once we eclipsed the 1,500-km mark on the odometer, there has been a noticeable reduction in fuel consumption and our overall average has now dropped down to 9.4 L/100 km.   For reference on how horribly inefficient our daily drive is, the average speed achieved during the first 1,900 km with the XV is a mere 39 km/h.  To obtain a more realistic indication of what owners who do not live in a commuting nightmare should expect, we took the XV on a two-hour drive last weekend that did not involve rush-hour traffic.  We were able to achieve a more realistic 8.2 L/100 km average.

As a pseudo-owner, I have begun to notice some finer details about the XV Crosstrek.  The car’s computer lets you program a birthday and an anniversary.   I am not sure what the vehicle will do on these days, but my wife’s birthday is on December 11th, so I will let everyone know on the next update.  The angle of the headrest is multi-adjustable as is its height, which is nice feature in a non-luxury vehicle like this.  The Bluetooth allows for multiple phones to be stored, as well as one audio Bluetooth device.  At first I kept trying to pair a phone though the audio setup menu located within the radio and couldn’t figure out why my phone kept disconnecting.  I then realized my mistake and paired my (and my wife’s) phone through the proper voice-command procedure using the steering wheel buttons and have not had an issue since.

The front seats so far have proven to be great for medium distance trips of an hour or so.  We haven’t put them to the real test as of yet but will in the coming weeks.  One thing we have tested is the XV in the rain.  It looks like someone forgot to tell the XV that when it rains, the road is wet and traction is reduced.  It is beyond composed in these conditions and makes me excited to test it out once the white stuff starts to fall.

From Her Perspective

As I mentioned during the XV Crosstrek’s Long-Term Arrival post, I would be having my wife drive the vehicle regularly and get her opinions on the vehicle as well.  Not only is she a different height and gender than I am, but her priorities usually differ on what she likes and dislikes with a vehicle as well.  So, from her perspective:

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Touring
2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Touring. Click image to enlarge

At first I found the seat to be a little uncomfortable with not much support around my neck and shoulders.  But after a month of driving it, I find it very comfortable now and I like how the head restraints tilt forward.  I find resting my head against it while stopped in traffic helps with my posture and in avoiding any neck or upper back pain.  I also love having the height adjustable seat.  The cloth seats are a really good material and overall the interior is nice. I love the auto lights and the wipers work really well in heavy rainstorms.  The car still felt solid and planted on the road even when driving in the high-wind storms the week of hurricane Sandy.  The windshield and back window defrost really quickly, which is great when you’re running late in the morning.   The backseat headrests seem tall and get in my way a bit when reversing.  I found parking the car a bit difficult for the first couple of weeks, even with the raised seat; I find it hard to gauge how wide the car is.

The heated seats get really warm on the high setting and then cool off and I can’t feel any heat anymore, but then kick in again.  I would recommend the rubber cargo mat for the trunk—without it I always hear our grocery bins in the trunk smashing around.

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Touring
2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Touring. Click image to enlarge

I love the car around the city—it responds so well, has ‘pep’ and is a smooth ride.  The all-wheel drive has been amazing on the cold rainy days.  I find it does chug and jerk when driving in stop-and-go traffic below 50 km/h.  The first couple of weeks I found the car to be lacking power on the highway, I was expecting a bit more moxie when getting up to highway speeds.  I think it may be broken in now because I find the power fine on the highway and fuel consumption is decreasing.

The first week I drove the XV Crosstrek I didn’t think it was a contender for my next car.  After nearly a month, I could see myself driving it every day for a long time.  It’s comfortable and nice.  I would go for the Limited version to get the backup camera (but that’s just because of my driving abilities).  Although I’m getting used to the rims that at first I absolutely hated, I still hope Subaru gives it the Impreza rims in the future.

Connect with Autos.ca