A Victory & Reseda review of the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek
I believe you have been wondering when we will get a Subaru in for review.
This is it – the Subaru XV Crosstrek. Based off of the Impreza hatchback, the XV Crosstrek is designed as a successor to the Outback Sport with the outdoors enthusiast in mind. These lifestyle folks love the idea of taking a compact hatchback with all-wheel drive and higher ground clearance anywhere it wants to. If that means going into the woods, to REI to supply itself for the run into the woods, or to the grocery store.
Cool idea, but how is it to drive?
From the outside, the difference between the Impreza hatchback and the XV Crosstrek is the ride height – 8.7-inches from ground to floor on the latter model. Larger tires and wheels fill in the space – following the convention of its predecessor, the Outback Sport. The XV Crosstrek gets a specific grille, black lower grille protection, extended wheel arches and a black roof rack. Some of the good parts of the Impreza are retained – such as wide opening doors, and a good-sized liftgate.
On the Hybrid model – the first by Subaru to be sold in this country – there are also other differences that the trained eye should look out for. Special taillights using a more energy efficient design separate it from the standard XV Crosstrek models. The Hybrid badges are subtle, but you do get something exclusive over the regular XV Crosstreks – Plasma Green, as on our tester. There are specific seventeen-inch alloy wheels for the Hybrid, shod with Yokohama Geolandar all-season tires.
The XV Crosstrek has a spacious cabin and good cargo space. The Touring's standard leather front seating is comfortable and big, with the right manual adjustments needed to get comfortable. Rear seating will surprise you, as is offers good leg and headroom for folks up to six-foot-two-inches. The rear seatbacks fold down 60/40, providing expansive cargo space for a long weekend getaway or to haul some major shopping home. Keep the rear seatbacks up, and it is good enough for a family weekender.
Being a hybrid, the XV Crosstrek's instrumentation reminds you it is sustainable with blue accented lighting. A digital display has trip functions, along with the fuel gauge and transmission readout – settled in-between the speedometer and tachometer. A small screen mounted high and far on the center stack doubles as the rearview camera screen and multiple trip, vehicle function and hybrid system readouts. The reversing screen is really small to truly see what is behind you, but the other informational screens provide good information through readable displays. The system readouts are controlled from the steering wheel by a few switches, as are audio and cruise controls.
Infotainment is provided through a combination of HD Radio, SiriusXM satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity for music files and phone calls and satellite navigation. Via Bluetooth or the USB connection, you can also use the Aha app from your smart phone to stream content ranging from custom radio stations, select CBS Radio affiliates to podcasts. Sound quality is quite good through six speakers strategically positioned throughout the cabin. The navigation system is very accurate with good quality readouts.
The XV Crosstrek starts with a 2.0liter horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine – also known as a "boxer." While the standard engine works well by itself, the Hybrid adds an electric motor facilitating a low speed electric mode, regenerative braking and a stop-start system. Power comes from a "traction battery," feeding to the electric motor in concert with the boxer engine. Total power came to 160 horsepower with 163 pound-feet of torque. A continuously variable transmission facilitates power to the XV Crosstrek's standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system. If you chose a model without the electric motor, you will only get 148 horsepower from the standard boxer engine.
On the road, the XV Crosstrek Hybrid runs smoothly, though the ride is on the soft side. It also yielded some lean and roll in the corners, but the XV Crosstrek Hybrid had it all under control even with 8.7-inches of ground clearance. Steering feel is just right – not too loose or tight. Steering is sensitive, but on point with good response from the wheel. Stopping power is also fine in both normal and panic situations.
During its time with us, it went off-roading. Though the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive does not have any settings for high or low range or electric hill decent control, a steady right foot is all you need to compensate on the rougher spots. The 8.7-inches of ground clearance allows the XV Crosstrek to work through uneven surfaces and rougher trails.
It is expected for any hybrid to deliver superior fuel economy. For a 3,484-pound compact crossover hatchback, the XV Crosstrek Hybrid delivered an average of 27.3MPG. The sticker states that the XV Crosstrek Hybrid would average 31MPG.
A basic XV Crosstrek starts out at $22,700 with the 148-horsepower boxer engine and a manual gearbox. Our Hybrid Touring tester came to $30,120 – the highest price to pay for an XV Crosstrek.
Simply put, the XV Crosstrek is the car you want if you love the Outback and Forester – without needing all of that cargo space. It is really an all-weather runabout that can go further off track, as well as get groceries and new foliage for the home. The Hybrid system is a decent first effort by Subaru. Yet, it will need refinement if it is to enable better fuel economy and efficient operation.
Then again, we would buy any XV Crosstrek simply for what it could do for us – anything.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Subaru of America
All photos by Randy Stern