2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek review: Addition by Sub-traction

2013 Subaru CrossTrek

2013 Subaru XV CrossTrek

You needn’t have grown up at the knee of Crocodile Dundee to find the Subaru Outback almost intrinsically appealing. A reasonable footprint, ground clearance and drivetrains made – at the time of its launch – for a most-reasonable choice among the early SUV/CUV offerings. From its inception in 1994 to the last generation (discontinued in 2009), the Outback constituted one of our ‘fave’ offerings on Subaru showrooms or, for that matter, any showroom. And for those liking the tighter dimensions of earlier Outbacks to the current (since 2010) offering, Subaru is now offering this oh-so-reasonable addition: The 2013 XV Crosstrek. And it, ladies and gentlemen, is a delight…

If you’ve been paying attention, you know the original Outback recipe involved little more than taking Subaru’s Legacy wagon, adding a few inches of additional ground clearance and one rather randy Aussie accent (via actor Paul Hogan) to take America – or at least the most northeastern part of America – by storm. Given that the Legacy platform evolved into a more capable donor, so did the Outback emerge (over the next decade) as a more capable crossover. Whether powered by a normally aspirated four, turbocharged four or cooking with Subaru’s horizontally-opposed six, the Outback served as an appropriate halo for a car company eschewing both tradition and traditional forms of status. That recipe is followed – almost to the letter – by the new Subaru XV Crosstrek.

With efficiency working in lockstep with capability, Subaru’s new Impreza was tapped as the donor. While almost sadly nondescript when compared to others – think Kia Rio and/or Hyundai Elantra – in its segment, the newest Impreza has earned kudos for comfort, efficiency and all-wheel drive value. And (at least) in 5-door form the newish sub-Subaru could almost be described as spunky (if ever reduced to that descriptive, however, shoot me). To create the XV Crosstrek Subaru takes the donor 5-door, equips it with almost nine inches of ground clearance, and adds appropriate cladding enclosing equally appropriate 17-inch rubber. One look and you’ll want to go ‘Roo hunting at sunrise.

2013 Subaru XV CrossTrek

Subaru’s newest 5-door combines efficiency with utility.

The look is clean in a way (to our eyes) that the newest Outback will never be. At the time of its announcement – at the Shanghai Auto Show – we thought the Crosstrek, at least in profile, had more than a smattering of Pontiac’s Vibe. And while in the sheetmetal we can still see some of that, we’re struck more by its visual similarity to the earlier Outbacks. The slight flare of the wheel arches gives it an athletic stance, while the black wheel treatment effectively alleviates the small/skinny tire look that often prevails when you take a body and lift it. Roof rails are standard, and Subaru’s accessory department can sell you as much swag as you can add to your monthly payment.