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

First Drive: 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek
Test Drive: 2012 Subaru Impreza Touring sedan
Quick Spin: 2012 Subaru Impreza Sport hatchback
Quick Spin: 2012 Subaru Impreza manual

Manufacturer’s web site
Subaru Canada

Review and photos by Chris Chase

Photo Gallery:
2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek

Every time I look at the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, I get this feeling of deja-vu. You might, too, if you recall the Outback Sport, a car sold here for about 10 years, until the mid-aughts. The XV Crosstrek’s dull name is a new label for a familiar concept: take an Impreza hatchback, add some gutsier bodywork and a lifted suspension, and Voila! Instant compact crossover.

It’s not a stretch to count the Impreza as a crossover in its own right, depending on your definition of the word. Is the addition of all-wheel drive enough, or must a crossover combine an available AWD system with added ground clearance?

If ground clearance is the answer, the Crosstrek has an additional three inches (75 mm) on the Impreza. That’s the only functional difference between the two cars, which share a 2.0L, horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine (148 hp/145 lb-ft of torque), as well as a base five-speed manual and optional automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT). (Subaru politely reminded me that the Crosstrek is rated to tow up to 680 kg, where such activities are not recommended with the Impreza. Subaru cites a strong chassis and suspension components, which the company says also enhances its off-road abilities. Still, we think the Crosstrek’s ground clearance is the only functional difference that will matter to most buyers.)

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

At first glance, the base Crosstrek Touring’s $24,495 asking price looks like a raw deal compared to an Impreza Touring hatch at $22,595. The Crosstrek Touring’s equipment list more closely mirrors that of the five-door Impreza Sport, with automatic air conditioning and a fore-and-aft adjustable centre console armrest, neither of which is included in the Impreza Touring. Other items standard in the Crosstrek are heated front seats, Bluetooth, and a six-speaker stereo with USB integration.

This engine’s smaller displacement – down from the previous Impreza’s 2.5L engine – was a nod to reducing fuel consumption. Natural Resources Canada estimates for a Crosstrek with the CVT are 8.2/6.0 L/100km (city/highway), and the U.S. EPA’s more realistic test methods yielded 9.4/7.2 L/100 km. My tester averaged 9.0 L/100 km, impressive considering the car had just 1,100 km on its odometer when I picked it up. I liked that result better than the 11.4 L/100 km average I saw in an Impreza I drove in the dead of last winter.

This car feels less substantial than the previous-generation Impreza. One of Subaru’s fuel-saving measures was to make the car lighter: the old Impreza had a Germanic feeling of solidity that set it apart from other Asian cars, but that’s gone. The hardest evidence of this is the amount of noise that gets into the cabin. The engine is commendably quiet once warmed up and the CVT lets it loaf at low revs while cruising, but enthusiastic acceleration transmits the worst of the engine’s thrashing straight through the firewall.

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