published Saturday, February 9th, 2013

Test Drive: New XV Crosstrek solid choice for young, active drivers

The new Subaru Crosstrek Premium has 8.7 inches of ground clearance for snowy or rutty roads.
Staff photo by Mark Kennedy
The new Subaru Crosstrek Premium has 8.7 inches of ground clearance for snowy or rutty roads. Staff photo by Mark Kennedy

FAST FACTS

Model: Subaru XV Crosstrek

Exterior color: Tangerine Orange Pearl

Interior color: Black

Engine: 2.0 liters, four-cylinder

Horsepower: 148

Transmission: Continuously variable

Fuel economy: 33 mpg highway, 25 mpg city

Dealer: Kelly Subaru

Price (as tested): $25,052

Subaru clearly has younger drivers in its sights with the introduction of the all-new Crosstrek hatchback.

If your idea of a good time is strapping a kayak to the roof of your car and heading up to the Ocoee River, this might be the ride for you.

For a few thousand dollars more than a basic compact car, buyers get all-wheel-drive, a generous 8.7-inches of ground clearance, refined handling and Subaru's solid reputation for reliability and safety.

Our test vehicle -- a Tangerine Orange Pearl Crosstrek in premium trim -- signaled its athleticism by bounding over a six-inch curb on its path from the showroom to the street.

Kelly Subaru managers report that Crosstrek inventory is beginning to build, and indeed there were three on the ground at the Riverfront Parkway dealership when we visited last week.

STYLING AND COMFORT

While Subaru has a reputation for unorthodox styling, the new Crosstrek has no cliche features. It looks like a normal, modern hatchback, albeit with enormous wheel-wells and an elevated suspension.

The roof-line is sporty. From a side angle the Crosstrek looks like a bob-tailed Outback. Roof rails, body-colored door handles and mat-black, five-spoke wheels complete the masculine appearance.

Inside, the Crosstrek is utilitarian and functional. Controls on many upscale cars these days mimic tablet computers, but the Crosstrek has intuitive analog dials and switches. It's refreshing not to have to study the owner's manual just to operate the radio.

Our test car also came with a moonroof, a $1,000 option. Black fabric seat coverings are of high quality, and seem durable. One of the car's best features is an expansive windshield that allows a wide field of vision.

Our test car also included such premium features as a driver's knee airbag, daytime running lights and a tire pressure monitoring system.

With the rear seat up storage is 22 cubic feet, which stretches to a voluminous 52 cubic feet with the seat down.

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

All Crosstreks come equipped with Subaru's 2.0 liter, four-cylinder horizontally-opposed engine. No race car, the Crosstrek is nonetheless competent and handling benefits from its flat-motor's low center of gravity.

Power is channeled through a continuously-variable transmission, which helps boost gas mileage to 33 mpg highway, 25 mpg city. In premium trim the CVT is a $1,000 option, a manual transmission is standard. Move up to limited trim, and the CVT is a standard feature.

On a Highway 27 test drive last week, the XV Crosstrek was rock solid on a windy day. Steering is well-balanced and secure.

BOTTOM LINE

Our test car stickers for $25,052 including a $795 destination charge. You can step up to a Limited-trim version for about $1,000 more, which adds a bit of luxury and makes it the best value in the line.

about Mark Kennedy...

Mark Kennedy is the editor of the Times Free Press opinion pages and writes the Sunday “Life Stories” column. He also writes a Saturday automotive column, “Test Drive,” for the Business section. For 13 years, Kennedy was features editor of the newspaper, and before that he was the newspaper’s first Sunday editor. The Times Free Press Life section won the state press award for Best Community Lifestyles four times during his tenure. Before Chattanooga’s newspapers ...

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