2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek: First Drive Page 3

July 16, 2012
If you’re okay—perhaps even happier—with a vehicle that’s more spartan and utilitarian than lavish, the feel of the Crosstrek’s interior will fit you well. The down side, however, is that the cabin appointments never really feel greater than the Crosstrek’s price tag. With the Crosstrek’s LCD trip meter and base audio readouts, and its generally pleasant but very basic-feeling interior trims and surfaces, the Crosstrek cabin simply feels done on a budget, and the materials themselves aren’t all that much different than those that Subaru was using a decade or more ago. Its dash is topped with soft-touch surfaces, however, which helps bring better first impressions.

As a nod to the Crosstrek’s taller stance, Subaru added rollover sensors for the side-curtain bags (a feature the Impreza doesn’t get). Outward visibility is far better than in most other crossover vehicles, thanks to a reasonably low beltline, relatively thin front pillars, and enough rear glass to give you a good wrap-around view.

Priced to move—on road or off

Subaru hasn’t yet announced pricing details for the Crosstrek, which goes on sale in September, but it has pegged the base 2013 XV Crosstrek Premium at just $21,995. And that includes keyless entry, air conditioning, power accessories, cruise control, and the removable rear cargo tray. The base audio system in the Premium comes with Bluetooth hands-free and audio streaming, as well as a USB port and iPod connectivity, but its limited-character display makes scrolling through media-player contents a crapshoot.

Step up to the Limited model and you get leather upholstery, leather shift-knob and steering-wheel trim, automatic climate control, a fold-down rear-seat armrest with cupholders. Limited models also get a step-up display audio system with 4.3-inch screen, rear camera and HD Radio. On either the Premium or Limited you can option up to a navigation system with 6.1-inch screen, voice control, text-messaging capability, satellite radio, and XM NavTraffic.

The system includes an SD slot prominently on the face, so we tried inputting a 16-GB SD card with music and it simply failed to read. A Subaru representative said that the slot is for map data only, and using an external USB/SD adapter we were able to access all the music.

From our first brief drive, we can’t help but have quite a bit of admiration for the Crosstrek, which feels deft in many ways that some alternatives don’t. And its smooth, refined ride is a step above rival models like the Nissan Juke, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, and Mini Countryman. Like that multi-purpose tool, or a good cross-training shoe, the Crosstrek sacrifices just a little bit of leanness in favor of a wide, one-fits-all attitude toward pretty much anything you might encounter on the commute or on the weekend. If you don’t have the space for a garage full of specialized vehicles, the Crosstrek is a solid, economical, and very capable way to get wherever you want to be.

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Subaru provided accommodation, meals, and some travel expenses to facilitate this review.

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