Ride Review: Subaru XV Crosstrek

Subaru XV Crosstrek
2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid Touring

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid Touring

We know you have been waiting for this review for a very long time.

How do we know? Some time ago, we conducted a survey about the kind of automobiles you like and own. By a huge margin, you said that you either own a Subaru or love them to pieces. That got us wondering when we will ever get a Subaru to review and put on these pages for you to read…

Finally, a Subaru was sent our way. We probably wanted to get an Outback or a Forester, the brand’s two most popular vehicles in the lineup. We also know those two models are very popular amongst GLBT automobile owners. Yet, we did not get either of them. We apologize for this.

Actually, we sort of expected what we got. The compact hatchback you are seeing is what is called the XV Crosstrek. It looks like the current Impreza hatchback, but with plenty of differences. In fact, the XV Crosstrek is the third-best-selling Subaru in the USA behind the Outback and Forester. You might just be one of its owners.

Now that we have a Subaru to review, we’d better tell you what the XV Crosstrek is like.

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 17-inch alloy wheels for the Hybrid, shod with Yokohama Geolandar all-season tires.

Subaru XV Crosstrek 4

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 it 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 that 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 as well as 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 smartphone 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.

Subaru XV Crosstrek 2

The XV Crosstrek starts with a 2.0-liter 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.

Subaru XV Crosstrek 3

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.

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