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
[youtube width="600" height="361"]httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99aRbNAjPGc
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.
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.
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