Review: Subaru XV Crosstrek – A good car for cyclists?

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The tradeoff to the uninspired 0-60 acceleration is that once you are there it delivers 33 mpg, which Subaru says is best in class for all-wheel-drive crossovers, even if the XV Crosstrek barely qualifies as one. Unlike many cars today that come up short on real world fuel economy, we saw as much as 35 mpg on a couple of 30-mile flat highway trips.

One of them took me to a snow-covered dirt road where, even on all-season tires, the XV Crosstrek kept us out of the woods. The Vehicle Dynamics Control is not subtle about saving your sorry self, the system loudly rat-tat-tatting individual brakes to keep the car going straight whenever you start getting out of line. Treat it like the buzzer in a game of Operation and it can be a very good lesson in vehicle dynamics. Slippery surfaces or not, the XV Crosstrek’s suspension does a great job in the rough stuff, soaking up the deepest ruts with nary a shock to the spine, but is a little bouncier than ideal on paved roads.

As with many “gearless” CVT transmissions, the XV Crosstrek has a manual mode and paddles behind the steering wheel that allow you to use it like a virtual six-speed. Normally very silly, this feature actually comes in handy off-road by giving you more direct control over the power delivery and some engine braking when heading downhill.

Bike Hauling
Roof rails are included so installing a bike rack on top is a cinch with the Thule cross bar system. It works well with up to three bikes up on the roof. But the vehicle sits high and there is no obvious place to place your feet as you climb up to reach the roof. A step-ladder may be a necessary tool here.

And the obvious bike transport location is the rear cargo area. The seats fold flat so it’s easy to slide a bike in. We were able to put in a road bike with front wheel on but mountain bikes will need their front wheel off. The roof is not high like an SUV so forget about visions of fork mounting the bikes and standing them upright on the rear cargo area.

And the best option of all is a hitch rack. Subaru does offer a hitch mount option and they even have bike hitch racks available! Check here for available Subaru accesories. A third-party mount is easily available from places like Etrailer.com for about $150. Install that yourself, then buy a rack like the 1upusa.com and you will be a happy camper for the next decade. Mileage is unaffected and you will have easy access to your bike and your rear cargo door.

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek

  • Base Price: $22,805
  • Type: 5-door, 5-passenger hatchback
  • Engine: 2.0-liter flat-4-cylinder
  • Power: 148 hp, 145 lb-ft torque
  • Transmission: 5-speed manual or CVT automatic
  • MPG: 25 city/33 hwy
  • 0-60 mph: 8.7 seconds

Check the Subaru XV Forum for more details. Mtbr Subaru XV Discussion

About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a lugged commuter, ultralight carbon road steed, singlespeed or trail bike. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. This obsessive personality has also turned him into a bit of an addict when it comes to high quality coffee and IPAs.



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  • Brian says:

    This is nothing special for cyclists. You have to put your bikes on the back or on top like every other car. The cargo space variable is the difference between a sedan and a wagon. So, this one’s a wagon. And it’s a Subaru. So it’s expensive. I think bikes should be able to go on top, inside, or outside, and the car should be able to tow easily in case one needs to tow. Decent mileage is also good. That leaves us with “not trucks”, “not small cars”, and anything that bikes can optionally fit in without removing wheels. That would be: some mini vans, and the Honda Element. If “looking good” is also a requirement, then we’re not very focused on biking, are we.

  • Albert says:

    Look at the Honda Fit: cargo space: 57 cu.ft – Subie XV 52 cu.ft.
    Gas mileage: 33 mph – everywhere! 35-6 on the highway!
    Cheaper overall purchase price.
    Handles like a go kart! The better biker’s car!!!!

  • Sean says:

    I like the Fit too, but the interior noise level is unacceptable. My wife’s best friend has one and besides the noise issue, it just feels flimsy. Fun to drive though, that’s for sure.

  • John Ward says:

    Love my GTI with the Stage I APR tune. My Moots Vamoots fits in the back with the front wheel off. This may be the most fun-to-drive car I’ve ever owned. Affordable, goes like a rocket, handles like a go-kart. Sweet!

  • Tahoe Steve says:

    148hp for an AWD car means it’s putting down probably only around 100hp to the wheels which is absolute crap if you live in the mountains or have to drive there to ride. Especially if you put gear + 2 bikes and friend in there.

    And MPG ratings are one thing, but drive that bad boy up a hill with the underpowered motor way up in the rev range and it’s not gonna get anything like 25 mpg. Now, stick the turbo WRX motor in there and a low rated low hitch for a rack and you’re in business. I’d buy one tomorrow.

  • Burl says:

    I’ll stay with my Jeep Wrangler and 1upusa bike rack. I can go pretty much anywhere and don’t have to worry so much about getting dirty.

  • Russ R says:

    Agreed on the interior noise of the Honda Fit Sport- it’s truly awful. We’ve had ours for 3 years now and I miss my Subaru very much.
    I do not get the advertised mileage, although it’s definitely better than my old Subie’s. The quality of the interior was far superior in the Subie as well.
    And no, the Fit does not handle remotely like a “go-kart”, even the Fit Sport. That is simply preposterous.
    The Fit is an excellent cyclist’s car- although there is no factory option for a roof rack whatsoever.
    I bought the Fit because it was $7000 cheaper and gets better mileage. I regret that decision.

  • Jeff Jenkins says:

    Love my 5 door Subaru Impreza WRX. And my bike fits in the back without taking the front wheel off.

  • joe d says:

    I’d consider Impreza if disabling AWD was an option (FWD is just fine with me). AWD is overrated – sure it matter on the snowy parking lot but I don’t feel like paying for it whole year round (gas, higher initial price, more expensive upkeep). Every snowy commute makes it clear that all those fancy vehicles do no better and possibly worse – drivers are just too afraid to scratch their expensive toys and prefer crawling than driving.
    Few people really need off-road capable vehicle, ever fewer will ever drive off-road, the rush for bigger/more AWD vehicles is purely marketing ploy (maybe gas prices will bring some sanity, though memory seems very short for Americans).
    Agree on Fit – amazing cargo capacity and the way it can be arranged/used.

  • Dennis says:

    roadbikereview just has to kiss up to advertisers. His favorite car! Great for cyclists! What a load of bs.

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