2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek review: Addition by Sub-traction

Inside, you won’t confuse the design, layout or plastics with anything – over the last decade – offered by Audi, but neither does it look like it came from an under-$20K donor. Our test vehicle, the 2.0i Limited, was equipped with the optional CVT, leather, automatic climate control, navigation and moonroof, for an MSRP (with transportation) of just over $27K. The dashboard layout is attractively functional, the 3-spoke steering wheel  appropriately ergonomic, and interior room for four is more than adequate. However, those wanting maximum storage volume for a mid-$20s price point will be better served by Subaru’s Forester.

That Forester, while offering more displacement and a conventional automatic, won’t provide the sheer connectivity afforded by the Crosstrek. On asphalt, despite the higher ride height, the Crosstrek comports itself like a sport wagon, with what seemed a more entertaining platform than either Subaru’s Forester or Audi’s allroad. And in the gravel of a ranch road the Crosstrek is genuinely engaging, with a flickability the boxier Forester lacks. Its symmetrical all-wheel drive is sure-footed, and the electric power steering supplies a more direct connection than ‘electric power’ would typically suggest.

Subaru XV Crosstrek Boxer 4

The Crosstrek’s 2.0 liter Boxer 4

You won’t, however, be bowled over by the Crosstrek’s powertrain, especially when connected to the available CVT. It is, to be sure, efficient, but the CVT effectively mutes any and all excitement you might derive from the Subie’s 2.0 liter, 148 horsepower boxer four. Given the same displacement as Subaru’s BRZ, a small industry could be established in bumping the Crosstrek to the same 200 horsepower as proffered by Subaru’s sporty 2+2. With the standard 5-speed manual immediacy is improved, but with neither trans should you go racing for pink slips.

A well-equipped XV Crosstrek Premium starts at just north of $22K, while our Limited enjoyed a base price of $24,495 plus destination. With an EPA rating of 23/30 manual and 25/33 CVT, this is one efficient piece of all-season motoring. And given Subaru’s historically high resale value, this may – from an affordability standpoint – be the least expensive thing out there, short of walking.

Technical specifications follow…