Review by Jacob Black, photos by Jacob Black and Courtesy Subaru
Maybe it’s because I’m from Australia and snow is novel to me. Maybe it’s because I’m a masochist, or maybe it’s because I think traction is overrated and slip angle is the only way to truly enjoy a car – either way, when a winter trip comes up on our radar my eyes light up and my little hand goes shooting up into the air – “pick me, pick me!”
Such was the case when this one came across the desk. Jonathan: “Hey Jacob, there’s an event in Quebec in Janu–”
“Yep, mine. I’ll take that”.
“But it’s SUVs.”
“Hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t hog all the winter launches?”
“Done. Mine. I’ll take that, thanks”.
I’m employing a small amount of creative license of course, but that’s the sort of thought process that demonstrates my opinion of Subarus in the snow. They’re fun. Even the SUVs. Ever since Subaru brought its brand of flat-four engines and AWD together for Canadian markets the marque has prided itself on winter capability and its ties to the adventurous outdoor lifestyle.
The relatively new X-Mode capabilities of its higher end fleet, including hill-descent control and upgraded hill climbing capabilities only further that cause. Add to that the EyeSight road safety system, which uses twin cameras and radar to monitor lane markings, provide adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring as well as collision avoidance and you’ve got a car perfect for the weekend cottage set.
We’d be treated to a “day in the life” of the affluent and outdoorsy on this event. Subaru provided us with a trio of SUVs. The brand-anchoring 2015 Subaru Forester, the more rounded 2015 Subaru Outback and the flashy youngster, the 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek.
Our tour would take us around a far-eastern town in Quebec called Montebello. It’s just about half-way between Ottawa and Montreal, with snow covered-fields, beautiful long, narrow and winding country roads plus one of the most beautiful hotel/lodges in the country – the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello.
But why SUVs? Impreza and Legacy are both off-road capable winter warriors. Subaru wanted us to experience their most popular nameplates in their spiritual home. Together, Crosstrek (16 percent), Outback (21) and Forester (29) represented 66 percent of Subaru’s sales in 2014. Forester led the bunch – as always – with over 12,000 units around eight percent growth. Outback’s recent refresh saw it improve from just over 6,000 to over 8,000 units while the XV Crosstrek sold just under 7,000 units in its second full year on the market. This is the trio anchoring Subaru’s 14.3 percent growth over the past 12 months.
But why are we doing maths? There are snow, winding roads, wildlife-rich forests and pristine frozen lakes to explore!
Starting early, my co-driver and I set sail in a 2015 Subaru Forester equipped with X-Mode and the 2.0T with the CVT gearbox. We whined about the CVT (because we’re auto journalists and if we don’t the other auto journalists get suspicious and ask if we float like a duck then burn us for witchcraft). Its 250 hp/258 lb-ft output proved more than adequate as we ate up the miles, the Forester settling into a rhythm as we picked our way through the picturesque forest.