December arrived on a Saturday this year, bringing with it an all-day nuisance snowfall. The early snow was enough to make main roads sloppy and untreated side roads slippery for much of the day.
It was perfect weather for today’s test car, a 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek SUV. The XV Crosstrek is an all-new Subaru model based on the platform of the redesigned Impreza and replaces the Outback Sport in the Impreza lineup.
Subaru raised the vehicle three inches over the Impreza’s height, refined the suspension, added 17- inch tires, and—voila!— came up with an impressive entry in the competitive compact SUV market.
However, before we took the XV Crosstrek out on the roads, there was one priority errand awaiting, one that showed how much automotive technology has improved in the last 35 years.
My 1978 El Camino (actually a GMC Caballero) had a suspect alternator, and I had an appointment to have the charging system checked.
The results of that 15-mile trip were: 1) It needs to have alternator rebuilt and 2) the Caballero likes the snow as much as a lady in high heels likes walking across a skating rink.
On the other hand, the XV Crosstrek, with its standard allwheel- drive, reveled in the day’s conditions; in fact, it seemed to be singing “Let It Snow” so it could show off its 8.7-inch ground clearance, standard cold-weather package of heated seats, heated mirrors, and windshield wiper de-icer.
The XC Crosstrek is what you’d expect from Subaru, a reassuring and comfortable ride for all seasons with all the safety and comfort features.
We asked Deb Brewster, internet sales manager at Planet Subaru in Hanover, about the Crosstrek.
“So far, I’m quite happy with it. I’ve always liked the look of the Outback Sport, and it has long been my favorite Impreza, although I longed for more ground clearance. I think the Crosstrek will be perfect, and I’m pretty sure I see one in my future,” she emailed.
Besides the added ground clearance, there’s a rim of black exterior cladding over the wheel arches and along what we used to call the rocker panels on the side. It plays off the black tones in the alloy wheels and also announces that the XV Crosstrek is capable of fending off scratches on mild off-road excursions.
The XV Crosstrek comes in two trim levels, premium and limited. Our test vehicle was the premium (base) edition with an MSRP (including destination) of $24,778. Options were a moonroof ($1,000) and navigation system ($1,200). Moving up to the Limited adds automatic climate control, auto on/off headlights, leather-trim (seats, steering wheel, gearshift knob), upgraded instrumentation, and a rear seat armrest with cupholders.
We thought our test car was equipped just right, although it would have been nice to have the rearview camera/monitor standard instead of tied to the navigation system (it is standard on the Limited).
The 2.0-liter four-cylinder boxer engine with CVT (continuously variable transmission) was a nice match for the vehicle, and fuel economy was excellent for an SUV. The EPA ratings are 25 mpg in city driving, 33 on the highway, and 28 combined. We averaged 30.2 mpg in a week of driving.
AMPG/Eco gauge reflects current fuel consumption. Monitoring it becomes addictive if you try and drive conservatively as possible. I confess to being caught up in that endeavor at times.There was no temperature gauge, just a blue light that indicated the engine was cold.
On the road, the XV Crosstrek had predictable steering and adequate power. It seemed quick off the line, tended to flatten out in midrange, and cruised comfortably at highway speeds.
The CVT/engine combination does have a noticeable drone if you’re looking for it. However, Mrs. G usually had the expanded sound system cranking enough to override that noise. The audio system included Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming, meaning she could play iPhone music and Pandora stations through the system. Thanks to steering-wheel controls, I could turn the volume down when necessary.
Mrs. G was pleased by the heated seats’ performance. However, even though the driver’s seat had standard manual controls, including height adjustment, I never found my “perfect” driving position, perhaps because the seats were a bit short in the thigh support department.
The interior is minimalist—it’s fair to call it utilitarian—with intuitive controls and plenty of spots for storage.
In back, the rear seats offer satisfactory legroom and the rear seats fold flat (not an easy engineering accomplishment with that AWD differential below) for added storage. There’s an all-weather tray in the cargo area with tie-downs and hooks for a cargo net or grocery bags.
The XV Crosstrek is a worthy competitor in the compact SUV grouping, given Subaru’s track record, the standard AWD, and excellent fuel economy.Bill Griffith can be reached at WGriffith@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrAutoWriter.