First Ride: 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek

2013 Subaru XV CrosstrekBy Barbara Schaffer

Oahu, Hawaii ? My husband, Bill, and I have one of the greatest jobs in the world.? The pay?s not great, but we get to drive the newest, the best and the most fun cars being manufactured today.? In addition to getting two new vehicles each week to test drive, we get invited to introduction of new models that can be held anywhere in the country.

So when our friend Dominick Infante, the National Manager of Product Communications for Subaru sent an invitation for one of us to fly to Oahu, Hawaii and test drive the all-new Subaru XV Crosstrek we both wanted to go.? We decided to solve it in agrownup manor and flip a coin. ?I won but it took my special coin.? Yes, I felt a little guilty and suspected that I would somehow pay for it.

2013 Subaru XV CrosstrekAs karma would have it, ?I injured my knee, two days before I was to board my plane to Oahu.? It was too late for Bill to go in my place, and I just couldn?t cancel. ?So with my knee wrapped and in a brace I made it to Hawaii with more pain than I expected.? However, after I reached my destination and came off the plane in a wheel chair Subaru took over and took great care of me and I missed none of?the event including? the presentation from the designers and engineers and the walk around the vehicle listening to all the new and exciting features that make the new Subaru XV Crosstrek special.

Remember in 90?s when Subaru took the Legacy wagon, raised it up, made it look more rugged, added some cool features and called it the Outback?? The Crosstrek is the same sort of concept, only starting with the new Impreza.2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek - Back

I?ve been impressed with new Impreza, which debuted last year.? With its strong styling, excellent drivetrain and well-designed interior it?s been a big step up for the Subaru entry-level model. ?The XV Crosstrek builds on those elements with an even more muscular look, added clearance and lots more attitude.? I?d say it?s cute, but that might take away from its rugged persona.

The Crosstrek ?look? includes a unique 17-inch wheel design and black cladding on the lower side panels? and wheel flares.? Then there?s aggressive looking front and rear bumpers and a special grille. The ride height is raised the Crosstrek 8.7 inches of clearance, which is more than most other crossovers, ?plus it is a nice height for easy entry ? no climbing up or dropping down to a seat.? That turned out to be even more important with my bum knee.? ?It?s also equipped with high-strength suspension components for better off-road agility, which my driving partner and I tried out while off-roading on Oahu?s north shore.

I was disappointed that I didn?t actually get to drive the Crosstrek.? My knee didn?t bend well, in fact,? it could barely support me, so I teamed up with my husband?s normal driving partner, Arv, and he did all the driving.? Nevertheless I got a good experience of what the Crosstrek can do as we forded streams, climbed hills, drove through muck and mud in addition to sampling some of the Hawaiian 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek - Fronthighways and back roads. ?In other words, we got it dirty.

A 148-hp, 2.0-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine powers the XV Crosstrek.? The engine is often called a Boxer because the cylinders are horizontal in a flat plane and the pistons go in and out much like the movements of a boxer’s blows rather than up and down like most engines.? These engines are unique to the Subaru, Porsche and the old Volkswagen Beetle cars, and they tend to be extremely dependable and quite powerful.

Like all Subaru?s, with the exception of the new BRZ Subaru sports car, which is rear-wheel drive, the Crosstrek has the brand?s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive as standard equipment.? The Crosstrek uses either a five-speed manual transmission or ?the optional Lineartronic? Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).? For shifty driver?s like myself, the CVT also has steering wheel mounted shift paddles which simulate a six-speed transmission, but without having to use a clutch.? The shifts are quick and positive, and work great for engine braking on hills or slowing for corners.

The CVT is exceptionally fuel efficient earning EPA ratings of 25 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined,? Those numbers make it one of the most fuel-efficient crossovers available.

Both transmissions also include the Subaru Incline Start Assist system.? The value of this feature becomes very evident when you get to the top of a hill, on- or off-road, and have to stop — then start again.? Rather than rolling back and causing panic for the driver, the system holds the vehicle for a couple of seconds while the driver?s foot is moving from the brake pedal to the throttle.? Whew!2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek - Action

XV Crosstrek is a nice size.? At 175 inches long it?s about the same length as a Subaru Impreza five-door or a Honda Civic, which means it fits comfortably in nearly any garage.? The small size makes it an agile performer in parking lots, too.? However, it will still carry five adults, although go for the outside seats in the rear, the center will be tight.? Cargo area is 22.3 cubic feet, and with the 60/40 split rear seat backs down that capacity expands to 51.9 cubic feet.? That?s a lot of room for adventure gear, or a massive shopping trip.

2013 Subaru_XV_Crosstrek -DashboardThere is no base model, rather the Subaru XV Crosstrek comes in two well-equipped versions, the Premium and the Limited.? Distinctive Premium features include all the important stuff like cruise control, air conditioning, power windows, keyless entry and the other ?must have? features.? There?s also an extensive list of safety gear including Vehicle Dynamics Control (stability control), traction control and a rollover sensor.? It also has a good audio system, Bluetooth for hands free phone use and streaming audio, and connections for all kinds of other inputs ? USB, iPod control and auxiliary jack.? Premium model pricing is only $22,790, including the destination charge.? Available extras include a CVT transmission, power moonroof, and touch-screen navigation with rear vision camera.2013 Subaru XV_Crosstrek - Seats

Currently the Limited model is ?priceless?, which means the price hasn?t been announced as I finish this.? The Limited adds a standard CVT, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, and a few other nice little features.? The sunroof and navigation is also optional.

Watching Subarus on the roads in the Northwest, where I live, I get the feeling that most Subaru owners are adventurers.? In general, they seem to be active people who like to go off the beaten path.? I get that impression by the number of muddy Subaru?s I see, often with bike or ski carriers on top.? Perhaps Subaru should consider offering a free car wash instead of 24-hour roadside assistance for new-car limited warranty period.

The Subaru XV Crosstrek is perfect for the adventurer, whether they are headed to the hills, golf course or outlet center.? The car is fun to drive, an excellent value and it?s very economical, especially if you drive conservatively like I do — when I get to drive.

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