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2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Road Test Review by Martha Hindes : Road & Travel Magazine's 2013 CUV Buyer's Guide

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Road Test Review

by Martha Hindes

CUV Buyer's Guide - RTM's Top 10 Picks for 2013

Acura RDX

Honda CR-V


Hyundai Santa Fe

Ford Escape

Think Subaru. Does the idea of slogging through heavy snow come to mind? How about being trail ready on an adventurous trip home from work in fog laden fall after dark. Subaru's native all-wheel-drive character has earned it that kind of confidence among its traditional buyers – health care workers, school teachers, professors and other professionals, perhaps a few grizzled movie actors – who for years have bypassed any other vehicle that didn't wear the six star emblem on its snout. So is a gussied up 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek something you would consider? We mean, does “tangerine orange pearl” sound like a color that fits a Subaru enabler image?

We caught our first glimpse of the brand new Crosstrek at the New York International Auto Show last March, then when viewing it in the above mentioned splashy dress found it ignited a “gotta have” itch. That seemed a little out of character for those of us more accustomed to the underlying mechanics of getting around no matter what's happening underneath weather wise. I mean, we've not really had an instance in the past where one of Subaru's offerings engaged the drool factor. This one did.

Our history with driving Subaru cars at Road & Travel Magazine has been harder edged, one of slamming a WRX rally version into the correct gear to plow through enough sand to qualify as a mini dune. An adrenalin rush response, yes. Eye candy? Not exactly. So what changed?

It's not that Subaru doesn't have a sport utility in its lineup. There's the slightly larger, slightly beefier Forester, a longstanding more traditional model, which gets refurbished next year.  The Outback satisfies the wagon crowd. The Tribeca offers a pricier, stretched version with leg room for seven. What was missing was a smaller, agile, trendier crossover with a continental flare. Look at the competition from other auto makers with their flashy, streamlined CUVs designed to hit that perfect chord of looks and five-door utility in the fastest growing compact CUV segment. Why not room for one more.

The Crosstrek retains Subaru's signature “go anywhere” all-wheel-drive foundation that's standard on all its utility vehicles, then adds a 148-horsepower, 2.0-liter Boxer engine, generating 145 lb.-ft. of torque, that is rated at as much as 33 miles per gallon during highway driving (25-mpg city side). Subaru claims it as the “most fuel-efficient all-wheel-drive crossover utility in America.” The powerplant mates with a standard five-speed manual transmission or continuously variable automatic CVT available on the Premium or standard on Limited edition with steering wheel paddle shifters that put it into ersatz six-speed manual mode. In Subaru fashion, the Crosstrek is designed to explore pathways beyond pavement, and offers 8.7 inches of ground clearance to accomplish that along with four-wheel independent suspension. One criticism that has surfaced, the need for a little more grunt. A like: the tilt adjustable head restraints.

Subaru expects to earn top safety ratings for the Crosstrek, thanks to its structural design including super strong roof, advanced airbags including knee airbags among interior safety features, advanced braking and stability systems and a hill holding feature to eliminate downhill drift when putting the stick shift version into gear on a slope.

Who is Subaru luring with the Crosstrek? Maybe its latest announcement will answer that question. It's Subaru's new Dynamic Brochure iPad app meant to let the enamored get into the real feel mood, interactively changing colors, interior trims, and accessing demos and videos. Sounds like it could be anyone with an iPad who's on the list. Or someone who intends to spend from $22K to $24.5K for the thrill.

For more information on Subaru vehicles, click here.