By on March 18, 2013

Apparently I’m a stereotypical Subaru shopper. I’m in my 30s and live on 9-acres of redwood forest in Northern California where I run a small organic egg farm. My nearest neighbor is a mile away and the closest concrete or asphalt driving surface is a 3 mile trek through the woods. During the winter I value AWD and high ground clearance, not because I need it (my 2005 Jaguar XJ has never been stuck) but like most Americans, I feel safe and secure by having a larger margin for error. I also have a special place in my heart for station wagons. It was therefore no surprise to my neighbors when I drove home one day in the Outback’s little brother, the XV Crosstrek.


If the XV looks familiar, you’re not imagining things, you have seen this body before. This is an Impreza 5-door with off-road body cladding, black wheels and a lift kit. If that sounds like the old Outback Sport, you’re half right because this time Subaru went the extra mile when “offroadifying” (like my new word there?) the Impreza. Instead of confusing shoppers with an Outback and an Outback Sport that have little to do with one another, they renamed the Impreza crossover utility wagon (CUW) for 2013 to end the confusion. In addition to the name change it gets real dirt-road cred an SUV-like 8.5 inches of ground clearance. (The Outback Sport made do with a trifling 0.2-inch height increase vs 3 in the XV.) Subaru’s corporate design elements are all at play on the XV and while it may seem plain to some, it’s unlikely to offend, except for the shocking orange paint our tester wore. (You can get your XV in shades other than orange but regardless of the hue, the wheels are always black.) Instead of the sashless windows Subaru has long been known for, the XV gets standard doors with window frames making them feel more substantial than Subaru models of the past.

Think of the XV as the Impreza’s outdoorsy brother. You know, the one that moved to the country, wears flannel on the weekend but still commutes to a day job in the city. Early crossovers had a similar mission, but demand for a car-like ride has caused the current crop of CUVs to return to car-like ride heights while warehouse shopping excursions demand minivan-like cargo holds. That’s not to say CUWs are “true off roaders,” that much is obvious by the size of the front overhang, long wheelbase and on-road tires. Instead, the mission is to provide an efficient, civilized ride for that outdoorsy brother on the way to downtown and the ability to ford that low-water-crossing on the way to his organic farm.


The XV shares interiors with the $17,895 Impreza from the seats to the soft-touch dashboard. While plastics aren’t as nice as the Outback, they do represent a significant step up from the last generation Impreza and Outback Sport and aren’t out-of-place here. The XV is $1,700 more than a similar Impreza 5-door but when you factor in the standard 17-inch wheels, body cladding and lift kit the cost difference is minimal. Starting at a reasonable $21,995 and ending at $27,290, the XV is one of the best AWD values going. Oddly however, the 2014 Subaru Forester starts at exactly the same price.

The base XV is the “Premium” trim which sports durable fabric seats in black or ivory. Ivory lovers beware, interior color is dictated by exterior color and ivory is only available with black, red, blue and white paint. Limited models spruce up the cabin with leather seating surfaces, single-zone automatic climate control and heated seats.

I found the driver’s seat extremely comfortable on my long commute, but shoppers should spend time in the car before buying as the seat’s don’t offer adjustable lumbar support and the front passenger seat doesn’t offer the same range of motion as the driver’s. I heard a number of forum complaints about the leather seats feeling “mushy” in reference to the padding but my short stint in a dealer provided vehicle left the same impression as the cloth models in my mind. Perhaps there were some early production quality issues? All models feature a manual tilt/telescoping steering wheel with a good range of motion and CVT equipped XVs get attractive shift paddles attached to the wheel, not the column.

Rear seats in the XV are firm and the seat bottom cushions are low to the floor which should be fine for children but can be tiresome for adults on long trips. Because of the XV’s mission as a mud-rut crawler and stream-forder, the door sills are high to prevent water intrusion meaning you have to lift your feet higher than you’d expect to gain entry. That combined with the sloping rear profile made me feel like I had to contort myself more to get in the XV than I had expected, and certainly more than vehicles like the RAV4 or CR-V.  Once inside, headroom proved excellent for my 6-foot frame and legroom was adequate even with a taller driver up front. If you have kids or regularly schlep folks in the rear, pony up for the Limited model, in addition to leather being easier to wipe-up than cloth, it’s the only way to get cup holders in the rear. If you don’t opt for the cow, you’ll be left with only the rear door “bottle holders” which should never be used for drive-thru style sodas.

The XV is only a few inches shorter than the Escape, CR-V or even its cousin the Forester, but the cargo area is considerably smaller thanks to the wagon profile. Our tester’s 22 cubic foot cargo area easily held a foursome’s weekend luggage as long as camping wasn’t on the agenda. While that’s a significant step up from most sedans that XV shoppers may be looking to trade out of, it’s two-thirds the cargo area provided by the Forseter or Escape. Why am I comparing these non-wagons to the XV? Because they are all a similar height and length. How is that possible you ask? Because the XV trades cargo space for ground clearance. Pick your poison.


Infotainment has long been an area where Subaru lags behind the competition and the XV is no different. Because the XV is positioned above the Impreza, things start with the optional audio system from the small Subie. The 6-speaker system features a single CD player, USB/iPod integration, Bluetooth phone integration with audio streaming and a 3.5mm AUX input jack. Limited trim XVs get Subaru’s display audio system with a 4.3-inch LCD touchscreen. The display upgrade also brings a backup camera, improved iPod/USB control, HD Radio and a greater suite of voice commands. For some reason this middle-ground head unit is not available at all on the base trim of the XV.

For $1,200 as a stand alone option on the XV Premium, and $2,000 as a bundle with the moonroof on the XV Limited model, Subaru offers an optional 6.1-inch touchscreen navigation unit. (The moonroof is a stand alone option on the Premium but only comes with the nav on the Limited.) Unless you’re buying the Premium model and want the sunroof, just save the $1,200 and spend it on an aftermarket system. While the unit isn’t as outdated as some systems on the market, the interface is strangely unintuitive, the on-screen buttons are small and the low-contrast color scheme makes it difficult to find what you’re after. On the bright side, perhaps because of Toyota’s minority investment in Subaru, the system uses the same voice command interface as Toyota and Lexus’ current product line including voice commands to control your media device.


Subaru’s fascination with boxer engines and AWD is nothing new, but the 2.0L DOHC engine under the hood is. The smaller mill replaces the old 2.5L SOHC four-cylinder found in the last generation Impreza and Outback Sport.Power drops with the displacement reduction from 170 HP to 148 at 6,200 RPM while torque takes a similar tumble from 170 lb-ft to 145 at 4,200 RPM. The smaller mill isn’t any quieter or more refined than the older engine, but it is 28% more fuel-efficient when equipped with the same manual transmission and a whopping 36% more efficient when you compare the new 2.0L/CVT combo with the old 2.5L/four-speed automatic. EPA numbers for the XV come out to 23/30/26 (City/Highway/Combined) for the 5-speed manual and 25/33/28 for the CVT. On my mixed commute I averaged 29.4MPG over 475 miles of mixed driving, 0-60 testing and soft-road shenanigans.

The three-pedal XV makes the power reduction seem more obvious while the CVT’s infinite ratios help mask the loss in power more than you might think. While AWD is standard, the AWD system is different on manual and automatic models. The 5-speed is mated to a mechanical viscus center coupling that can neither be fully coupled or uncoupled allowing a torque split range from 80/20 to 20/80 (front/rear) and normally apportions power 50/50. The CVT uses an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch pack to apportion power 60/40 under normal circumstances with the ability to completely lock when wheels slip, or when the car’s computer feels like it.


Jack anything up three inches and handling will suffer, even an Impreza. Fortunately, the XV is unusually light at 3,164lbs. In a sea of overweight crossovers, this helps the XV feel more nimble than the usual suspects but it does taker a toll on ride quality with the XV feeling less “polished” than the Outback or the heavier small-CUV competition. On the downside, a light vehicle can sometimes feel cheap, and the XV’s noisy cabin doesn’t help. Being pragmatic, I would rather spend the money on a robust AWD system than sound insulation, but on long trips the noise can be tiresome. Despite the robust AWD system and boxer engine, the XV cuts a very tight rug with 34.8 foot turning radius, something important when you’re trekking off the beaten path.

In general journalists despise CVTs but this is a hatred I have never fully understood. On my daily commute I climb a 2,200ft mountain pass, a perfect demonstration of how CVTs make less powerful cars more drivable. Cars with a typical automatic suffer from the slow down, downshift, speed up, upshift, slow down, rinse, repeat problem on steep mountain passes while CVTs maintain a constant speed and vary the engine RPM as required. Yes, the 2.0L boxer engine is vibration free but unpleasant sounding and the CVT has an uncanny ability to keep the engine at the most annoying harmonic. Even so, if given the choice I would take the CVT over a 6-speed automatic on an engine this small. Bolt a turbo to the 2.0 and I’d want the 6-speed slushbox. Speaking of speeds, all CVT equipped models come with sexy shift paddles that attempt to mimic an automatic transmission but the shifts from one ratio to another feel mushy and slow.

Designed to carve unpaved corners on weekends and paved corners on weekdays you’ll find an inherent compromise in every corner. On true dirt roads, the street rubber (Yokohama Geolander H/T G95A) lacks lateral grip allowing the rear of the XV to feel a little light (in a fun sort of way) and on pavement the tall springs allow the body to roll more than a traditional wagon shopper might expect. Despite the lean, the XV never lost its composure even when pressed to 9/10ths, a place few owners will take their granola-hauler. The always-on nature of Subaru’s AWD system makes the XV feel more confidant off-road than the sip-and-grip systems found on the competition, but there is less of a difference on road. Back on the asphalt, most of the competitor’s systems allow partial lock-up from a standstill thanks to improved electronic systems and honestly the difference in snow performance for most driving conditions is going to be fairly small.

For some reason we expect SUVs and CUVs to deliver a less exciting driving dynamic but we expect wagons to handle like sedans with a tailgate. If that describes you, the XV will disappoint. If however you’re looking for the utility of a crossover with better road manners and a low center of gravity, the XV delivers in spades. There’s just one problem: Subaru’s new Forester is the same price and staring at you from across the Subaru dealer’s lot.

Hit it

  • Subaru AWD reputation.
  • Well priced and well equipped base model.
  • I’ve always been a fan of CVTs for hill climbing.

Quit it

  • Black wheels.
  • The lack of gadgets, gizmos and options is a bummer for my inner nerd.
  • The cabin is noisier than most small crossovers.
  • Not everyone loves CVTs as much as I do.


Subaru provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.3 Seconds

0-60: 8.7 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 16.8 Seconds @ 81.5 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 29.4 MPG over 475 miles

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62 Comments on “Review: 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek (Video)...”

  • avatar

    Interesting enough, I guess. If I was buying I would want Subaru to stuff in one of its turbo fours. OTOH, doesn’t think Hawaii exists. Punch in my zip code and the nearest dealer is in California.

  • avatar

    I´ve always found Subarus to be interesting cars, mainly because they clearly stick to the product paradigms which they´ve identified as vital to their brand.

    What´s the word on the street about Subaru reliability? Bullet-proof like most Japanese manufacturers?

    • 0 avatar

      Better than European but not better than most other Japanese brands sans maybe Nissan.

    • 0 avatar

      The ones older than ~05 tend to be money pits with joints/sensors/gaskets.

    • 0 avatar

    • 0 avatar

      As my Subie friends say “did you get a good one or bad one?”

    • 0 avatar

      They have a reputation for reliability because they are driven by old ladies and hippies, and old lady hippies. They are very expensive to maintain, diffs, tranny, and PITA located plugs at 70k, cabin air that requires dismantling the glove box, timing belt @100k or so.

      • 0 avatar

        I guess I need to tell my wife that she married an old lady hippy, or maybe she is the hippy? Any other tired old cliches your would like to dig up about Subaru owners? Maybe our proclivity to liking members of the same sex, or love of dogs and/or hiking boots and flannel? *yawn*

        Subaru’s are no more expensive to maintain than any other AWD vehicle and much less than anything European. I did the cabin filter, front and rear diffs myself without any issues. I had the dealer flush the transmission fluid with their BG machine for about $100. Not what I would call expensive. The problems I have had have mostly been with dash rattles and a fuel leak fixed under warranty, other than that it has been solid. Head gaskets remain the one real sore point and I’m not sure if it is resolved yet in the current versions of the 2.5L and 2.0L engines.

    • 0 avatar

      NA cars tend to be on the decent side. Turbo cars can be iffy and are relatively sensitive to maintenance/abuse.

  • avatar

    To tell you how bad the old 4EAT is, my 2006 Legacy with the 2.5L is almost a full 2 seconds slower to 60 than this 2.0L is, and it only weighs 250lbs more. The CVT is surely a big upgrade. I don’t know how to tell you how big of a drag the 4EAT is. The 4EAT is Reliable but clunky and archaic.

  • avatar

    TTAC, you’ve read my mind. I was just searching for a XV review last week, and was disappointed to not find one on this site.

    This car checks all the right boxes for me: decent on-road manners, good mpg, plenty of interior space, the ability to get down a muddy road when camping or hunting, and a bit of unique styling. Honestly, I see this being the replacement for my Cherokee. I’m sure I’ll be giving up some off-road abilities, but no more than what I need.

    • 0 avatar

      Alex, you missed the best parts of the XV for me.

      1. Manual Transmission.
      2. Heated Seats standard.
      3. Leather can be added as well as the moonroof as a dealer package.
      4. Thule luggage rack adds that extra cargo for camping. Ground clearance gets me there.
      5. To the dyslexic, I drive a U-R-A-Bus

  • avatar

    I’ll take a 3 year old RX, and not have a Fisher-Price interior and a buzzy engine. And ridiculous black toy wheels.

    Bleh. This car is just not appealing over the Forester.

  • avatar

    I just test drove an Impreza a couple weeks ago. The only thing that impressed me about the car was the all wheel drive system. I took it around a couple tight corners and could feel it working. Everything else was a disappointment. The interior felt like it was 5 years behind the competition. It was priced 3,000 higher than I could get a Focus SE for and this car didn’t even include cruise control. The engine was very noisy and the stick shift was notchy. The exterior was about as bland a Corolla.

    I was prepared for the fuel economy penalty, but not the low rent interior. I wish they could find a way match Ford or even Hyundai’s interior quality without too much additional cost.

    Over the past 10 years I’ve tried to buy a subaru 3 times, but every time I take a test drive I leave disappointed.

    • 0 avatar
      Mr Butterfly

      Pretty much exactly my impressions when I test drove 2012 Impreza last summer. I really wanted to like the car, but its shortcomings were just too much to justify the price tag. If Subaru wasn’t an almost last surviving choice for “Manual+AWD” combination, there really wouldn’t be any feasible reasons left to even think about owning one. Shame..

      P.S. I found interior cheap and chintzy while at that time my everyday ride was.. guess what? – a Wrangler! I actually preferred complete lack of headliner in a Wrangler than the poor man’s worn-out undergarments spread thin across Subie’s cabin. Yikes.

    • 0 avatar

      Yep- cheap interior and loud inside- but if you live in SNOW and want a car (not a truck) then Subaru is the only AFFORDABLE choice. You can buy a Matrix, but the fuel mileage is horrible (I averaged 22 mpg mixed city/ highway driving with the Matix I drove). Both Audi and BMW cost twice as much as the Impreza, with INSANELY high maintenance costs (I speak from personal experience- don’t listen to the fanboys- they lie, most likely because they’re embarrassed about how much they spend keeping those lawn ornaments rolling). It should be noted that I have NEVER had any of the “typical” head gasket or other problems noted by some critics, nor have any of my Subaru owning friends had any of those problems. As long as you do regular maintenance (especially the timing belt replacement at 105K miles) then the Subie is no more expensive than the Toyotas or Hondas we’ve owned. And since the new motor has a timing chain, even THAT maintenance hassle has been eliminated.

      • 0 avatar

        Please share your German car story, sounds like a good one.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        You may not have had the typical head gasket failures, but the two Subaru drivers I know have. One was on an ’05 with only 50K on the clock. The head gasket reputation exists for a reason, and it does drive the maintenance cost well above Toyota/Honda.

  • avatar

    I like the black wheels.

    I recommended one of these to my aunt who insists on driving 4wd vehicles, she loves it. I think its a great value and a great around all-around car.

    Oh, and if you want a turbo you can get a WRX and add a lift kit.

  • avatar

    Is there a reason that every single Subaru review starts off with generalizations about their owners?

    It’s almost as obligatory as “OMG, HARD TOUCH PLASTICS, WAIL, WAIL, OMG, HARD TOUCH PLASTICS!!!”

    I think most auto reviewers are completely insane, but then again, I could be generalizing.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex L. Dykes

      I usually avoid this, except I somehow fit the stereotype so well that it had to be mentioned.

      • 0 avatar

        I noticed that you mentioned the soft touch dash of the XV. This is always something that perplexes me about car reviewers as a whole, as I jokingly mentioned above.

        I’ve owned and have driven plenty of cars in my lifetime, but never once have I got in a car and started feeling up the dashboard as if I were a teenager awkwardly fumbling around with a girl for the first time. What is the obsession with hard or soft touch surfaces to reviewers? Is this a beneficial piece of information to the consumer?

        I’m not being critical if you in particular, but car reviewers in buff books, and on the internet. The whole subject is baffling to me.

        • 0 avatar

          To some people, myself included, thin flat plastic looks unfinished and cheap. In a truck, or a municipal car, this is fine, but I’d like a nicer environment if I can get one, and I usually don’t have to stroke the dashboard to notice the difference.

          If it helps, read “soft-touch” as “nice looking and less painful if you stuff a knee.”

          • 0 avatar

            I agree with you grzydj. Soft touch upper dash surface is over-rated.

            Wouldn’t it make more sense to have a soft-touch lower dash and a hard upper dash than vice-versa?

          • 0 avatar

            I like using the general “niceness” of the interior as a gauge of how much effort was put into the car. I’d rather have a nicer/quieter interior than not.

            A lot of soft touch stuff is slush molded. It just seems to have a nicer sheen (and takes to dash protectant better) than hard touch, injection molded trim.

        • 0 avatar

          It’s not whether it is hard or soft, it is whether it looks cheap or not. Most of the soft touch plastics simply look nicer, it doesn’t matter if you actually touch them or not. For example, the hard plastic dash surface of my ’08 Saab looked OK, even if it did not feel great to touch. The soft rubbery dash of my BMW looks AND feels about 1000X better though. The hard plastic door trims of my FIAT 500 look incredibly cheap and nasty. Which is OK on that car, because it IS (at least based) a very cheap car. Cheap plastic on expensive cars is not acceptable.

          My Boss bought the Outback Sport previous version of this car two years ago. Loves it, and has had no issues.

          • 0 avatar
            Mr Butterfly

            Ditto on Fiat 500. I actually bought one last week and I couldn’t care less about how hard the plastic is. The 500 was cleverly designed to make do with cheap trim materials, and it does that really well. I can’t imagine looking at its interior and saying “boy, I wish it was all squishy” (yes, even the door panels).

            Cheap materials can be Okay, but cheap design can not and should not be acceptable.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            “It’s not whether it is hard or soft, it is whether it looks cheap or not”

            Bingo. Nice graining and surface texture can make a rock-hard dash look just fine.

            Believe it or not, the mid-2000s Corollas were a perfect example of this. Fantastic hard plastics in that car. Then the redesign went all POS on us.

        • 0 avatar

          The previous generation Impreza had a hard plastic dash. At first it looks fine, no big deal. Didn’t bother me at first in my WRX.

          Turns out a hard plastic dash doesn’t block sound as well as a padded one. Also the trim that fits on it, and the interface between windshield and dash is very susceptible to creaking and squeaking and rattling. Those things are typically solved by covering soft materials.

          So the soft dash may have more to it, in addition to being a sort of up front indication of the quality of the remaining portion of an automobile. It certainly was with my WRX, a good but very cheaply built car.

          Not sure this is you, but many of the “who cares what the dash is made of” folks are out of touch with the typical car buyer. Most of us only need the most basic transportation with minimal accommodations but that is not what consumers buy.

          • 0 avatar

            My ’04 WRX rattled, my ’06 Forester rattled, my current ’06 2.5i Impreza rattles, but my old ’96 Legacy wagon didn’t, and my even older ’87 GL wagon didn’t rattle either.

            All were made from similarly cheap, hard plastic, yet all had different levels of rattliness, which isn’t a word.

            I’m not really convinced that it’s the materials that produce the rattles, but how they’re connected to each other.

          • 0 avatar

            You haven’t owned a 08-11 Impreza…the plastic on plastic interface between the dash and a-pillar trim is a creaking nightmare in the winter. Subarus rattle for sure, but I don’t think you appreciate the level to which the plastic dash cars raised (or rather lowered) that bar…

  • avatar

    As long as you’re stereotyping Subie owners, don’t forget the two Labs (preferably black or yellow) in the back, and the “Free Tibet” sticker on the tailgate.

  • avatar

    This is about the only new car on the market that has captured my attention. I’m going to wait for ownership info and for rumor mill info about the possibility of a turbo model (specifically an FB16 turbo), but the preliminary signs are encouraging. Simple, rugged, and functional. Manual transmission. Reasonable price.

    Cars like this are rare nowadays. Most all-wheel drive CUV’s will set you back nearly $30,000. By putting the Impreza on stilts, a nice nod to the rally culture, Subaru can give buyers an AWD CUV for well under $25,000.

    • 0 avatar

      I think you should consider that “CUVs” come better equipped than this starts, and thus cost more. I feel this car is also too small, with too little passenger and cargo room to qualify as a CUV. Look at how much larger a CRV is.

      This is a tall cheap hatchback. CUVs are tall wagons.

  • avatar

    Good job picking up the slack that Mike left.

  • avatar

    Limited or Premium, do they sell a “confused” trim level too?

    I think I’ll just get an older “Saabaru” wagon, lift it an inch, paint it something obnoxious, and call it a day. Well once I add an extra pound of pointless black cladding or so.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I sort of like how the factory audio/nav system looks like an aftermarket unit, a la Scion. That ugly screen between the gauges in the instrument cluster, however, remains a sore point.

  • avatar

    Subaru wins!

    They have won the prize for over ultimate vehicle name. They got “cross” in there. Everything with cross is just better – cross trainers, motocross, crossovers etc. Just in case someone might out “cross” them, they started with an “x”. Yes, they double crossed. Images of spies and mercenaries go with every instance of the double cross. Too cool.

    But wait, there’s more!

    This is an outdoor vehicle, and being outdoors means trekking. They have “trek” in there. Trek is both outdoorsy and outer spacey and means going places. This car is ready for travel across Mars. And, to round things out, there is “v”. The V is for Vulcan and neatly separates the two crosses. Text book, gentlemen. Give those guys an honorary doctorate in marketing. This may never be topped. Ever.

  • avatar

    Around here, Subaru vehicle sales have taken off, leaving me muttering under my breath at the gormless selection available, and who the urban hip types are that buy these things. When I bring my 08 Legacy GT in for service, it looks like a sleek shark amongst a galumphing pile of manatees.

    “Take a drive in an Impreza,” said my old pal Steve, now sales manager. Plod, plod, plod is the result. Either of the two new style Focuses I’ve driven is superior and not by a little bit. “Not your style? Here, try this Crosstrek!” Uh, don’t really want to. But, what the hell. Plod, plod, plod, but with a LOT of extra exhaust boom and wobblies. Ugh. Yup, Subaru have managed to lift the Impreza to the exact height to make the exhaust noisy. And the gerbils moan in pain down in the CVT room.

    I feel betrayed. My old Impreza GC8 was at least fun to drive, rumors of papier-mache construction did not prevent it costing next to nothing for 10 years and 155,000 km. And now, six years since my acquisition of the Legacy, the old Impreza is still buzzing around the city in the hands of a guy with a cheery grin on his face.

    I’ll have to take a ride at my next service in a new Forester turbo, where I understand the gerbils have been given thorough Ironman training in an attempt to master 258 lbft of torque. Very Subaru. Maybe.

  • avatar

    Will this be built at SIA in Indiana? Anyone have any knowledge of SIA’s production capacity and utilization that would be able to share?

  • avatar

    I like the exterior styling a lot.

    I thought this could be the first Subaru I could consider buying someday, but…

    Then I sat in one at the auto show. The interior was exceptionally uncomfortable to me – particularly that handbrake which jabbed into my leg. I couldn’t even consider such a car. It’s one of the few cars I’ve actually fled from while just test-sitting.

    And when I came to my senses I remembered that the myth of Subaru durability remains a myth – do not keep past 100k miles.

  • avatar

    really appreciate subaru’s recent move to more efficient direct injection engines and transmissions. that always seemed to be a weak link especially for their core audience (outdoorsy nature loving types, of which i’m one). to have stuck with 4 speed transmissions for so long was ridiculous but you put up with it for affordable awd.

    have to say, though, while styling was never a subaru strength, i much prefer our 2005 legacy wagon to the newer gens since. they’ve gotten bloated with lumps and bumps that look like cars that had too many donuts. also the interior of my 05 limited, while no frills in terms of tech, was a huge jump for subaru in terms of elegance and quality. leather wasn’t all that soft but it’s held up nicely. compare that to the forester i was in recently and the interior layout looks cluttered, plastics look and feel cheap.

    subaru’s are reliable (nothing but oil changes and poly control arm bushings on the 2005 and have decent handling stock.

    but mazdas are cheaper, lighter, better mileage, and sportier to drive. it’s a tough niche to be for subaru because they’re chasing toyota/honda and nipped on by koreans and mazda. they need to hang on to their core with awd and improved economy but improve their styling and interiors to keep up with competition. perhaps fill some of the niche saab and volvo are leaving in the mid range.

    right now the only one i’d buy is a brz (look forward to the turbo) and its not even awd and styling is by toyota

  • avatar

    I’ve always loved how Subaru offered frameless doors for the masses. Sure, the doors didn’t feel as substantial, and window repairs were more of a headache but considering you’ll only find them in convertibles or hardtop Mercedes, it was a nice quirk, and I’m sad it’s gone from the Impreza and XV. I’m not saying Subarus MUST have frameless doors, just that I think they SHOULD (SVX excepted, as its upper windows were fixed). Now one more thing that made Subarus unique has been lost.

    • 0 avatar

      The frameless windows actually disappeared with the previous redesign, in ’08. If you really want a new Subie with frameless windows, buy a BRZ!

    • 0 avatar

      I have owned a 2006 and a 2007 Legacy spec.B sedan and still own a 2007 Outback LLBean wagon, all of which have frameless windows and far too much wind noise. My SVX was so quiet. On the other hand, my 2012 Acura TL has little wind noise and too much road noise.

  • avatar

    “There’s just one problem: Subaru’s new Forester is the same price and staring at you from across the Subaru dealer’s lot.”

    Comparing CVT to CVT, the new Forester only loses 1 mpg (city and hwy) to the Crosstrek, though it still makes 170hp (same as previous gen Forester and Impreza).

    And if you step up to the new 2.0L turbo, it’s still more fuel efficient than the previous gen’s non-turbo (though CVT is mandatory on the XT).

  • avatar

    I’ve seen several of these in Southern Maine. Almost every one I see is the crazy orange colour. I like the looks of them and think the orange is a pretty ballsy offering for a “family car”. Unfortunately they only offer a khaki brown and not the preferred doodoo brown. Oh well!

  • avatar

    I just purchased a 2013 XV and love it. This is my 7th Subie and ranks ‘up there’ as one of my all time favorites. I traded an 09 Impreza base 5 speed with 250k on the clock. Timing belt as per protocol and other than brakes every 70k, no issues whatsoever. Head gaskets were fine. Prior to this was my 01 Legacy GT sedan with over 400k and still going with presently over 600k. 2 clutches’ 3 timing belts and head gaskets under warranty at 150k. Great cars. Add a 99 Legacy wagon that is still driven daily with over 700k, 2 Foresters’ 01,04 and a 98 Legacy wagon. I think I can safely speak on the reliability of these cars. I almost bought a Honda once but the Subie AWD is better. The XV is great. First night I had it in 8″ of spring thaw red mud. Turned traction control off, pedal to the floor and drove in my 1 km driveway no problem. It is now 9 days old with 2600kms on it and is working great. By the way, my subie has pulled a Stuck Kubota tractor out. Subaru. It does every thing I need it to do.

  • avatar

    I’ve read the review and comments with interest. I’m looking to replace my 1999 Forester (70K miles). Yes, I’m an old lady, but instead of driving to church on Sunday I do dog shows. Have loved the Forester for hauling all the stuff — especially when going out to the boonies for Earth Dog trials. I’ve been looking at the CrossTrek because the Forester and Outback of today are too big for my 1939 garage. I am concerned about the reduction in cargo space. Do comments refer to cargo space with the back seats down? Any insight would be most appreciative.

    • 0 avatar

      The 1999 Forester is 175.2″ long. The 2013 Forester is 179.5″ long. So if you remove a single row of 3 average-sized boxes (or even a bicycle) out of your garage, you’ll have room for a new Forester.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m brand new to logging about car stuff. I traded my 2009 Honda Fit for a Crosstrek. We’ve only put 1200 miles on it, but so far love it. I show dogs too. When I brought all 5 dogs to the vet, I had 3 dogs in the back behind the upright back seat (2 weigh 50lbs, the other is a Corgi), 1 dog on the floor behind driver seat, the Pom in a kennel on the seat.

      I could fit a 42″ long, 30 ” high wire crate in my Honda Fit. The Crosstrek has 10″ LESS cargo height than the Fit. Also when the rear seats are down, I believe there’s less usable length space than the Fit, but you gain a couple inches in width.

      It’s not the perfect dog vehicle, but I still like it more than the Fit. Love the cargo tray, which is nice when transporting dogs.

      My bicycle was a bugger to load into the Crosstrek, more difficult than loading in the Honda Fit.

      I’m in Minnesota, so looking forward to not getting stuck come winter.

  • avatar

    “this particular vehicle”

  • avatar

    If you want to ‘FEEL’ expensive, go elsewhere. If you want utility, fuel efficiency, and downright good looks with reliability, go CrossTrek XV. The honda CRV is like all other Hondas, BOOOORRRRING. Then we have the RAV4 : what is it? And the others? Give me a break. I find that my own past Subarus(Legacy and Outback), in VT were phenomenal cars, but they dissolved in the salt, lol. Here in sunny/rainy(and lots of both)FL, my CrossTrek is A+. Standing flooding Florida rain, check, fun quotient, check, great fuel efficiency even with AWD, check. Cheaper plastics don’t bother me. Fun and reliability and good looks are what I want. And black wheels? Best looking wheels out there for a small, AWD crossover.

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