2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Review – New Model is Built for Adventure

By Steve & Tamami Laser

This is a test. For the next seven days, we’re going to see how the new Subaru XV Crosstrek fits into our family. But instead of just hopping around town, we’re heading to Carlsbad in North San Diego County.


All new for 2013, Subaru bills the XV Crosstrek as the “Most fuel-efficient AWD Crossover in America.” It fills the spot that was occupied by the discontinued Impreza Outback Sport. (photo: Subaru)

With its compact dimensions, full-time all-wheel-drive and 8.7-inches of ground clearance, the Crosstrek can go places that regular passenger cars fear to tread. Unlike a typical tall crossover, it offers a car-like driving experience with less bulk and weight to haul around. It’s also very reasonably priced, starting at just $21,995 for the base model with a 5-speed manual transmission.


Our test car, dressed in the flashy retro shade of Tangerine Orange Pearl, is the top-line Crosstrek Limited. With a base price of $24,495, it includes Subaru’s Lineartronic continuously variable transmission plus a bunch of upscale features like automatic climate control and leather-trimmed seats.

Subaru has the uncanny ability to create new market niches for its customers. Thus, the Crosstrek has no direct competition. One could consider alternatives like the Audi A3 or Mini Countryman. But when equipped with AWD, they cost considerably more.


The Crosstrek is fitted with a 148-horsepower 2.0-liter Boxer 4-cylinder engine. In keeping with its value mission, Subaru doesn’t offer a turbocharger for this model.

We spent a few days getting to know the Crosstrek prior to our weekend adventure. There’s adequate power for stop-and-go commutes, running errands and such. We also drove on local dirt roads and gravel trails. The Crosstrek felt more confident venturing off-road than some taller SUVs that we’ve driven, which can sometimes feel tippy in similar situations.


With our hotel booked and the car ready for the trip, we loaded our gear and two dogs and headed for the San Diego Freeway. All was fine until we reached Dana Point in south Orange County. The dogs woke up and wanted to do, well, what dogs need to do. So we exited the freeway at Pacific Coast Highway, went for a walk and stopped at the cozy JC Beans Coffee House to feed ourselves and our canine companions.

Ready to roll again, we decided to drive on PCH and admire the ocean view. A MetroLink commuter train, something we never see in our neck of the woods, blasted past us while the fog started rolling in. Back on the freeway, we reached Carlsbad about an hour later. With attractions like Legoland, the beach and fine dining, there’s plenty to do in this seaside resort.


We arrived at the West Inn, a dog-friendly boutique hotel. The staff was cheerful and greeted our dogs and ourselves by name. Our room included a doggie bed, water bowl and snacks.

We don’t know if a Subaru convention was being held in Carlsbad or if it was just a coincidence but we saw lots of them. A couple visiting from Houston, Texas asked how we liked our Crosstrek. They’re thinking of trading in their ‘97 Outback for another.


Rested, relaxed and refreshed following our weekend getaway in Carlsbad, we headed home. This time the dogs slept the entire way, a 100-mile journey door-to-door. We drove the Crosstrek 279 miles and scored 27.6 mpg. That’s about midway between its EPA ratings of 25 city and 33 highway.

The XV Crosstrek fit our lifestyle just fine for a week. And it might fit yours too. Those looking for a little more cargo space or optional turbo power might consider Subaru’s Forester.


And for those who like the idea of an all-wheel-drive wagon, but don’t plan to venture far off-road, we suggest the Impreza wagon, which looks like the Crosstrek minus the aggressive styling cues. It starts at $18,395, including AWD and is fitted with the same 2.0-liter Boxer engine.

Subaru XV Crosstrek press fleet vehicle provided by Subaru of America. Prices and vehicle information applies to models sold in the U.S. at the time of publication. Prices, features, and specifications are subject to change without notice.

Story and photos (except as noted) © 2013 CarNichiWa.com