2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, upstate New York, Dec 2012Enlarge Photo
The Crosstrek, on the other hand, uses the same interior as the basic Impreza compact hatchback.
It uses some soft-touch materials, but there are a number of nicer interiors in competing compacts--the Ford Focus, for instance (which, admittedly, doesn't offer all-wheel drive).
On the road, Subaru has definitely improved the refinement of the latest Forester. Road noise is reduced and in particular, Subaru's weak spot--noise from the large, pratical door mirrors--has been notably cut.
The Crosstrek we tested, on the other hand, was remarkably noisy on certain types of road surfaces. Combined with its tendency to wander and susceptibility to cross-winds, we found it not that pleasant for long-distance highway use.
This is one that the new Forester wins hands down.
Comparable base prices
The 2014 Subaru Forester range, now on sale, starts at $21,995 before delivery.
That gets you a base 2.5i model with a five-speed manual transmission and silver-painted steel wheels.
The 2014 Forester XT turbo we drove, however, is considerably pricier, starting at $27,995 for the Premium trim level.
2014 Subaru Forester 4-door Auto 2.5i Premium PZEV DashboardEnlarge Photo
And the more luxurious Touring model adds another $5,000 on top of that--meaning you can get Foresters from $22,000 to as much as $35,000 with every box ticked.
The 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek in 2.0i Premium trim starts at the same $21,995 as the base Forester. Moving up to the Limited model adds only $2,500, meaning even a Crosstrek should top out comfortably below $30,000 (if there's no dealer markup).
Basic vs high-end
The most basic Forester is missing some features--among them Bluetooth hands-free connectivity--offered on every Crosstrek.
But a fully decked-out Forester offers some features in turn--like a power rear tailgate--that aren't available on the Crosstrek at all, albeit for considerably more money.
Here, you get what you pay for, and it's your choice which mix of features you want to pay for.
The base Forester is a sturdy, no-frills compact crossover that, with its standard all-wheel drive, may be one of the better bargains in the segment.
2013 Subaru XV CrosstrekEnlarge Photo
But the Forester is slightly pricier--and more spacious--when fitted with roughly the same mix of features and options as a comparable Crosstrek.
Late this year, the 2014 Subaru XT Crosstrek Hybrid will launch, the company's first-ever hybrid. Thus far, Subaru has not said anything about offering a hybrid Forester.
Which one to pick?
In the end, choosing between the Forester and the Crosstrek will be a matter of priorities.
If you need a smaller car that still offers all-wheel drive and more ground clearance than a regular compact to handle rough roads, the XV Crosstrek is for you.
The Forester, on the other hand, is larger but offers more interior space and a nicer interior--and we found it smoother, quieter, and more pleasant at highway speeds.
We preferred the Forester, but given that the Crosstrek is selling at roughly twice the rate Subaru had projected, both models seem to be well-received by buyers.
Subaru provided airfare, lodging, and meals to enable High Gear Media to bring you this first-person report