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The automotive equivalent of Levi 501s

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Thu, Apr 11, 2013

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek

By Zoran Segina According to the most recent marketing studies, the average American buyer has seventeen thousand dollars to buy an average vehicle that costs, on average, thirty thousand dollars. Subaru addresses this problem with the XV Crosstrek that carries a sticker price of around twenty two grand. Those who equate Subaru with the legendary Impreza WRX STi, with more than three hundred horses under the hood, need not get excited here. The Crosstrek comes with 148 horsepower and with manual five-speed transmission. The name indicates that this vehicle has been designed with the crossover utility users in mind. The Crosstrek is pretty basic but generally not lacking—it has everything the user needs but nothing more. The inside surfaces are plastic with metal brush accents. The insulation is minimal. Closing the doors with built-in oversized speakers, and knocking on the cabin panels produces hollow metal sounds. The sun visors are thin but adequate. The rear view mirror dimming feature comes in the form of a manual flip switch. While the windows are electric, only the driver’s side has one touch operation. The adjustment of the steering wheel is mechanical but has telescopic and rake control. The fit and finish is precise, tolerances are tight, and the surfaces are nicely done. The Crosstrek clearly telegraphs Subaru’s objective—to make the car affordable and well.


The driver looks at a simple dashboard with the tachometer, speedometer, distance marker and the fuel gauge. The center console houses a radio, a clock and an electronic multi-display for outside temperature. In front of the shifter is a generous space for small items and a phone charger. An armrest can be pulled forward for added comfort. The space underneath is occupied by two cup holders—others can be found in the doors which also have side pockets. Despite leafing through a several hundred pages thick manual, I was unable to adjust the gauge for fuel consumption. The plastic steering wheel contains buttons for cruise control, radio volume and station selector, and a cell phone. There are support handles above each door. The adjustment of the driver’s seat is mechanical, but provides a very good support for the head and neck. The cost-saving measures are most visible in the passenger’s seat which can be moved only back and forth and up and down. The Tall Girl was rather vocal about the lack of tilt for the back. The ride in the Crosstrek is too hard for such an omission, especially with a very opinionated co-pilot. The rear bench is reasonably comfortable. The armrest cover on the center console hides an added 12-Volt charger, auxiliary plugs for the headphones and a USB port. The standard four-cylinder boxer engine with 148 horsepower and 145 pound feet of torque has to be tortured quite a bit to provide meaningful performance and acceleration. A common freeway speed of seventy miles per hour will bring the revs to over 3000 rpm. I kept searching for the sixth gear to make the trip more comfortable. The high revving kept average combined consumption at about 22 miles per gallon. The higher stance would lead one to believe, incorrectly, that the Crosstrek is unstable. When pushed to the limit the little guy not only holds the road, but—owing to its manual transmission and Yokohama Geolandar 225/55 R 17tires—can be a lively performer. On a Southern California freeway, the drivers in a sporty Mitsubishi coupe and the Mercedes AMG 6.3 E-class were visibly annoyed as the “lowly” Crosstrek kept filling their rear view mirrors while zipping in and out of the lanes.


The overall visibility is good owing to its raised suspension. The Crosstrek is not as tall as an SUV, but even this slight elevation helps in assessing the traffic conditions. Just behind the A pillar there a little window for better visibility. The cabin is roomy with plenty of headroom which gives one a feeling of sitting in a much larger vehicle, yet the low beltline does not make passengers feel claustrophobic. The firm suspension can be jarring on the rough road. The firm seats are more fitting for an SUV than a car. Another redesign has to focus on the horn. It sounds so wheezy that a cyclist in front of us refused to acknowledge our presence. A vehicle that signals its seriousness with the black accents on the bottom and around the wheel rims, as well as black trim around the windows, under the rear view mirrors and on the door handles, needs to be heard. The roof has black rail holders for cargo, except that the antenna in the center may be in the way. When loading the Crosstrek, the crew will be grateful that the doors can be opened quite wide. A simple push on the button lowers rear seats, but the available cargo space is limited by the overall size of the vehicle. An exploratory trip in the back reveals tinted rear windows, an opening for the towing hook, and a big rubber liner. There are hooks for the cargo netting. A spare tire is covered by a sturdy wooden cover that could find a number of uses in an emergency. At the first glance, the Subaru XV Crosstrek leaves its users underwhelmed, but then it cleverly begins to reel them in with a pleasing desert Khaki and black color design, a reasonably peppy engine, decent handling, PZEV designation, symmetrical all-wheel drive, respectable fuel consumption for a crossover, and most importantly, a very reasonable price. For more information about Subaru products, go to


SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek 2.0i Premium Price: $21,995.00 (base) $22,790.00 (as tested) EPA mileage estimates (city/highway): 23/30 miles per gallon (LA Car observed: 22.8 mpg) Engine type: FB 20 2.0 DOHC non-turbo horizontally opposed liquid cooled four-cylinder engine. Horsepower: 148 @ 6200 rpm Torque: 145 pound-feet @ 4200 rpm Transmission type: Manual 5 speed Drive configuration: All-wheel drive Steering: Electric power assisted steering Suspension Front: MacPherson strut raised front suspension, anti-dive geometry Rear: Double wishbone raised rear suspension, anti-lift geometry Front and rear stabilizer bars Wheels and tires : 17-inch aluminum alloy, with 225/55 R17 Yokohama Geolander tires. Brakes Power assisted, with 11.6-inch front discs, 10.8-inch rear discs and ABS Curb weight: 3087 pounds

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