2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Premium HD Video Review

The only thing more uncertain than wilderness terrain is the cost of gas, right? Maybe that’s why small fuel-efficient crossovers are a big deal these days.  Cue Subaru’s new model, the 2013 XV Crosstrek.  It’s affordable, the base Premium model I’m driving goes for $22,790 bucks including destination.  That, of course, includes Symmetrical all-wheel drive.  It is a Subaru after all.


Wondering where that name comes from?  In most of the world it’s simply known as the XV, only North America get the additional Crosstrek moniker.  XV is not the Roman numeral for 15, it stands for “crossover vehicle”.  I make fun of the Subaru folks at the end of the video for their lack of imagination but all chiding aside, they are pretty fun at a party.

You Look Awfully Familiar…

Look at the chunky Crosstrek shape and you may experience some déjà vu.  That’s because it’s essentially the Impreza five-door with the “Outback “ treatment.  The suspension is beefed up, plastic cladding is added all along the bottom of the car, the wheel arches get protection with a faux carbon fiber look and the roof rack is standard.  Most importantly, Crosstrek has an impressive 8.7 inches of ground clearance, three inches more than Impreza.  It’s better than most crossovers, even more than some full-on SUVs.


The engine remains the same- a 2.0-liter Boxer four-cylinder punching out 148 horsepower at 6,200 rpm and 145 lb.-ft. of peak torque at 4,200 rpm.  Boxer engines have pistons that fire horizontally so they are flat and sit deep in the bay for a low center of gravity.  Subaru places the fuel injectors directly on the cylinder head- though not injected directly into the cylinder- to limit the amount of vaporized fuel that adheres to cylinder head walls.  That improves both fuel efficiency and emissions.

There’s a five-speed manual in a world where six gears are common.  The CVT automatic is a $1,000 option.  Oh, and don’t avoid the manual transmission because you live in a hilly area.  Crosstrek has a hill holder feature.  Take your foot off the brake and the car won’t roll backwards.  It makes driving the steep inclines of Seattle much easier.

Easy Does It

When you get to accelerating, XV Crosstrek won’t snap your neck.  Standstill to 60 MPH takes about 10 seconds which is Prius territory.  The ride quality is good though, not too firm, not too mushy.  This is no Buick, road noise is about average for a small inexpensive hatchback.


Impreza is pretty fun to drive but remember, Crosstrek rides three inches higher.  Chuck it hard into a corner and it gives up a little bit of handling prowess.  Still, it’s pretty fun, one of the best handling CUVs out there.

I didn’t do much off roading with Crosstrek, just some dirt roads and rainy conditions.  My experience with Subies lead me to believe it’s pretty capable though.  I had the Impreza during a rare Seattle snowstorm back in January 2012 and it was a champ, even without the extra ground clearance.  I’ve driven Forester on the severe off-road course at Mudfest while the CR-V, CX-5, Tiguan and other CUVs kept to the light route.  Subie owners actually point their vehicles onto forest service roads and such, I’m pretty confident Crosstrek will handle most buyers needs.

Some things you’ll notice when you test drive- the Boxer engine has a unique aural quality to it.  It is very mechanical sounding with a slight ticking (due to the unique fuel injectors I have to believe).  Also, for better fuel economy, the five-speed gearbox has wider ratios to it, something you’ll notice on hills.  I find myself downshifting often when heading up steep grades.


The EPA fuel economy numbers are 23 city, 30 highway for the manual transmission, and 25/33 for the automatic (that’s not a typo, most auto boxes get better fuel economy these days).  So I tested it, driving round trip from Seattle to Portland, Oregon to grab a dozen donuts from the famous Voodoo Donuts and meet up with a pod of mermaids for a cup of coffee.  Let’s just say my day job gets unusual at times…

My final MPG number, which is heavy on highway miles is 28.2.  That’s driving like a normal person at around 75 mph most of the way.  FYI, I made the 340 mile trip without gassing up, and even ran a few more errands in Seattle before refueling.


What I Looked at During My Trip

The interior materials are good quality, overall there’s a basic no-nonsense ambience about the cabin.  No surprise, it looks pretty much the same as Impreza.  There are two strips of silver trim and some brushed aluminum-like material on the center stack.  More of it might help to liven up the dark space some.  The chairs that are covered in durable fabric were pretty comfortable on my road trip.  The driver gets a knee airbag.  Considering people in harsher climates are buying Crosstrek , I’d like to see heated side view mirrors.

Nicely done controls on the plastic wheel are helpful. Premium models have no sunroof option but Bluetooth and iPod integration are standard.  Useful storage cubbies are scattered all around the cabin though there’s no sunglass holder up near the rearview mirror.  The Premium model’s sound system sounds okay but hardly audiophile quality.  Same goes for the feel of the HVAC knobs that have a slightly lumpy feel.


Move on up to the $25,290 Limited model for heated leather seats, upgraded audio, auto climate and a standard CVT transmission.  It also allows a buyer to order the sunroof and navigation package for $2,000. But now you’re up past 27K…

Useful Space

Crosstrek is smaller than Forester but your camping buddies should be pretty happy in the back seat.  There’s a surprising amount of room for two, it gets a bit snug for three.  I would like to know where the second seat pocket is and at this price there’s no folding armrest or power port to charge electronics.  The only place to stash drinks in the rear is in the door panels.

XV Crosstrek comes with a standard cargo liner and a spare tire, something not all cars get these days.  Details like a light, tie downs and an inside grab handle on the hatch help to keep the space usable (and your hands clean).  With the seats down there’s a large useful place that will swallow a bike or outdoor gear.  Me?  I’m partial to my usual trunk measuring metric, bundles of Kirkland brand bath tissue.  Just like Impreza, it swallows six packs of the two-ply.


Because of Crosstrek’s camping clothes, added ride height, and really cool wheels, the design works better than Impreza (at least to my eye).  Worldwide, the Pacific Northwest is one of Subaru’s most important markets, and Seattleites seem to be smitten with the chunky useful shape. So if you’re looking for a practical, capable, fuel-efficient vehicle that doesn’t cost too much, the Subaru XV Crosstrek is worth a look.



  1. bob4116 says:

    Nice review on this vehicle. Nice to get your take on it. I looked at it during a local car show here in Midland, MI. The interior is a bit spartan compared to others in the Subie line, but if one remembers where the car gets its roots, you’ll be okay. This one will get a look when my current ride, a Rav4 Base 4WD, comes off lease, as will the Forester. Though, I am leaning in this direction. I wasn’t that impressed with the Forester, but it has been refreshed a bit since then, so I’ll give it a look anyway. Glad to hear about the decent mileage. I would be interested to get your thoughts in comparison to the new Rav4 when you get a chance to drive it.

    Have fun!

  2. Facepalm says:

    Saw one of these on the streets for the first time recently, and honestly I never would’ve noticed it or would’ve been able to differentiate it from other Subies at a glance were it not for that Tangerine Orange paint. I’m surprised it took this long to finally see one driving around, although I could have seen one with a different color and didn’t even notice it at the time. I’m guessing they’re selling better in the north and other places with rougher climates anyway, just like other Subarus.

  3. mx5er says:

    The windshield wiper de-icer located on the base of the windshield is standard if I recall correctly. You should have pointed that out in the video. As someone who lives in the North East part of the country, the de-icer is one of the best invention mankind has ever thought of.