Take one Subaru Impreza wagon, add some off-road fender flares and a new front fascia, raise the suspension for added ground clearance and you have the XV Crosstrek compact crossover.
By TOM STRONGMAN
It’s important for Subaru to have a vehicle in this segment, and the Crosstrek fits nicely because its five-door hatchback functions like a compact station wagon, and that is a handy for hauling dogs, bikes, camping gear or baby playpens.
The Impreza-based Crosstrek comes in Premium and Limited models. Prices start at $21,995 for the Premium with a five-speed manual transmission and range to $24,495 for a Limited with the CVT automatic transmission. I drove a pre-production Limited.
All-wheel drive is Subaru’s signature feature, and it is one of the things that makes the Crosstrek appealing.
There are two different all-wheel drive systems. Manual transmission cars get continuous all-wheel drive with a 50/50 front-rear power split. Cars with the continuously variable transmission (CVT) use a system that manages the front-rear power split based on “acceleration, deceleration and available traction” according to Subaru.
CVTs are more efficient than a regular automatic transmission, but it takes time to get used to their stepless gear ratios. I am not a fan of the CVT in the Crosstrek because it seemed noisy and was hard to modulate at low speeds.
I would choose the manual gearbox because it would give a more linear throttle response and because the 50/50 front/rear power split would be better on snow.
The Crosstrek’s engine is the same horizontally opposed, flat 2.0-liter used in the Impreza. It has dual overhead camshafts, variable valve timing and a long stroke. This engine’s configuration is similar to that of a Porsche or an old air-cooled Volkswagen. The compact size delivers a low center of gravity that is beneficial for handling, but it feels a bit coarse.
Fuel economy is rated at 25 miles per gallon in the city and 33 on the highway when mated to the continuously variable transmission.
The Crosstrek’s interior is similar to that of the Impreza. Much of the interior trim and textures are unimpressive. The infotainment system’s small screen and tiny soft-touch buttons looked out of date and were difficult to use. There are several storage compartments throughout the car and bottle holders in the doors, all things active people will appreciate.
The test car’s suspension seemed to telegraph the slightest road irregularities into the cabin. That may be a function of the tires or the additional ground clearance. Whatever its cause, road noise was louder than in some of its competitors.
Standard safety items include front, side and side-curtain airbags. Traction control, anti-lock brakes and vehicle stability control are also standard.
The base price of the test car was $24,495. Options included a navigation system and sunroof. The sticker price was $27,290.
Three years or 36,000 miles with a five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain warranty.
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