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

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Is this a review for a car on roadbikereview? Unlike the Netherlands, most of us still own a car so we might as well get one that fits our cycling lifestyle. And we have unique auto needs as we need a vehicle that will haul bikes first and foremost. We need a car that will transport us and our bikes to all those races, events and cycling destinations. Or maybe just one that can get the bike to our workplace so we can sneak out for a lunch ride.

And yes, make it affordable and make it economical on the fossil fuels we reluctantly consume.

Enter the Subaru XV Crosstrek. It is new for 2013 and it in a nutshell is an Impreza that has been raised several inches. The surprising part is it works. It works well enough for us to say that it is our favorite car in the whole Subaru line-up.

Subaru XV Crosstrek Video Review

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The Impreza hatchback is the latest to get this treatment, and while it’s a little more involved, that really is basically the gist of its transformation into the $22,805 XV Crosstrek. While the design of the Impreza is a little bit on the awkward side, it looks just right as a high rider. And the XV Crosstrek is definitely that. The little 5-door has 8.7-inches of ground clearance, more even than a Jeep Grand Cherokee, although it sits lower and is easier to get into than a conventional compact crossover. Chunky wheels with a blocky spoke design combined with unique front and rear bumpers help give it the appearance of a space buggy, especially when finished in its signature Tangerine Orange Pearl paint.

The Subaru XV is not a long car but the seats fold down flat and one can slide a road bike in the back without having to take the front wheel off. This is key as one can slide a bike in the back along with a gear bag and the bike is safe from thieves and low garage roofs. A passenger can still sit in the front as the seat doesn’t have to be pushed up all the way forward. With the seats folded down flat, all kinds of cycling, ski, camping gear can be stuffed in the back. It’s not SUV roomy but the size of this vehicle seems just right for a couple buddies packed for a weekend adventure.

The interior is identical to the Impreza’s, which means plain, but appointed with excellent visibility and lots of room for the compact class. The main difference is a standard rubber cargo tray for hauling mucky gear in the back.

The great news is the vehicle weighs in at about 3100 pounds which is up to 500 pounds lighter than its SUV and CUV peers. The 2.0-liter flat-four-cylinder engine only has 148 hp. All-wheel-drive and a five-speed manual transmission are standard, but with the CVT automatic the vast majority of buyers will choose, the XV Crosstrek is a little slow getting up to speed on the highway. And as we mentioned in the video, the XV Crosstrek feels light on its feet. The CVT transmission seems to squeeze out all the useable torque out of the engine efficiently and gets the car moving pretty quickly. The other bonus is the car coasts like a champ. Coasting is underrated and it seems to be how many manufacturers are squeezing good mileage out of modern cars. Eliminate drivetrain drag and manufacturers are rewarded with an extra 3-5 mpg.

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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