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5-Door Manual 2.0i PremiumRegular Unleaded H-4, 2.0 L
All Wheel Drive
|$ 20,876||$ 21,995|
5-Door Automatic 2.0i PremiumRegular Unleaded H-4, 2.0 L
All Wheel Drive
|$ 21,793||$ 22,995|
5-Door Automatic 2.0i LimitedRegular Unleaded H-4, 2.0 L
All Wheel Drive
|$ 23,178||$ 24,495|
In its second year on the market, the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek appears to have succeeded in defining a new category of all-wheel-drive vehicles to the market. You might call it the compact hatchback crossover. With higher ground clearance, bigger tires, and a few mechanical upgrades joining the added body cladding and other styling changes that turned a base Impreza five-door hatchback into a remarkably different-looking vehicle, the Crosstrek enters 2014 with a new powertrain option: Subaru's first-ever hybrid.
The standard 2014 XV Crosstrek comes with a 148-horsepower, 2.0-liter flat-four engine paired either with a five-speed manual gearbox or Subaru's Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT). The new hybrid powertrain inserts a 15-kilowatt (22-hp) electric motor between the engine and CVT, though it's there largely to assist the engine rather than propel the vehicle on electricity alone. Subaru says the Crosstrek Hybrid can move away from a stop electrically, "under certain circumstances" and up to as much as 25 mph, but we expect the system to operate much like Honda's mild-hybrid system--meaning it's there to restart the engine, capture braking energy to recharge the nickel-metal-hydride battery pack, and otherwise add supplementary torque so the gasoline engine doesn't have to work as hard.
Otherwise, both Crosstreks can be viewed like good cross-trainer shoes: tough enough for a variety of situations, but not sharply honed for any one particular task. The XV Crosstrek has a brawny appearance that's surprisingly different in stance from its Impreza hatchback base. But with the exception of some extra noise and somewhat more vague on-road behavior, it still handles like a passenger car--and it offers versatile and impressive cargo capacity for ski gear, camping supplies, or just groceries and boxes. Subaru also notes that the hybrid version's battery pack is stowed under the deck, meaning that its cargo volume is unchanged from the conventional version.
Specifically, the Crosstrek's ground clearance is raised to 8.7 inches, and it has more engine cooling, a larger gas tank, some suspension and structural reinforcements, and good approach and departure angles (18 degrees and nearly 28 degrees, respectively). With Subaru's standard all-wheel drive distributing power among all four wheels, the Impreza-based crossover might be one of the best small vehicles for snowy driveways and dirt, gravel, and rutted roads. Adding on to its appeal is a smooth, refined ride that's a step above rival models like the Nissan Juke, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, and MINI Countryman.
Below freeway speeds, handling is surprisingly nimble, and the Crosstrek rides well and soaks up harshness from trails and gravel roads with great competence. It's not particularly quick, with less than 150 hp moving more than 3,200 pounds for a fully-loaded Crosstrek Limited. The five-speed manual feels more agile, against an occasional lag in power delivery with the CVT. But gas mileage is excellent for a crossover (the best in the class, really), at up to 28 mpg combined (25 mpg city, 33 mpg highway) with the CVT (falling to 26 mpg combined, or 23 mpg city/30 mpg highway, with the manual). The hybrid improves on that a bit, at a combined 31 mpg (28 mpg city, 34 mpg highway)--though not as much as some hybrid buyers might expect.
The cabin of the XV Crosstrek is largely the same as the Impreza, with some changes to fabrics, meaning adults can get in and out of all four doors and four of them will fit fine front and rear. All models include a rubberized cargo tray that's easily removed and hosed off, and the roof rack on all models is standard and can carry up to 150 pounds. Crosstrek models come rated to tow up to 1,500 pounds, too. Materials and trims are only average for this price range, though, perhaps fitting Subaru's utilitarian image. Some interfaces for audio and trip-computer displays also feel clunky and outdated.
With a starting price around $22,000, the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Premium (the lowest trim level) is a strong value. Adding options and the mandatory delivery fee can push that up toward $28,000, however, which brings the Crosstrek into competition with more traditional compact crossovers. Then there's the Limited model, the more upscale trim level. That adds leather upholstery, leather shift-knob and steering-wheel trim, automatic climate control, and a fold-down rear-seat armrest with cupholders. All Crosstreks come with keyless entry, air conditioning, power accessories, and cruise control, as well--of course--as all-wheel drive. They also get a step-up display audio system with 4.3-inch screen, rear camera and HD Radio, and a navigation system with XM NavTraffic, voice control, and text-messaging ability is optional.
- Mountain-goat all-wheel-drive agility
- Comfortable ride
- Compact maneuverability
- Good space for adults and cargo
- Excellent gas mileage
Next: Interior / Exterior »
- Mundane interior materials
- Below-average acceleration
- Tire and road noise at speed