The Subaru Outback has followed a formula of taking a wagon and making it somewhat capable off the beaten path. This formula has proved to be a massive success for the brand with the Outback being one the top sellers year after year. So what happens when this formula is applied to a smaller vehicle? Let’s find out as a 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek came in for a weeklong review.
Starting with the Impreza Hatchback as a base, Subaru makes a few key changes to make the XV Crosstrek more rugged. The most noticeable change is in the ride height, where Subaru added 8.7 inches to make the XV Crosstrek more maneuverable when off the beaten path. Along with the increase in ride height, a set of chunky 17-inch wheels, body cladding, roof rails, and distinctive color choices help the XV Crosstrek stand out from its Impreza brethren.
Subaru’s interiors have been criticized for being stuck in the 90’s in terms of appointments and interior quality. Thankfully, Subaru has been addressing this with the introduction of recent Subaru models including the XV Crosstrek. The interior design is quite basic, with simple shapes and all of the controls within easy reach of driver and passenger. Paired with a mix of soft-touch plastics and faux metal trim, this is Subaru’s best effort for building a quality interior.
In my XV Crosstrek tester, seats came wrapped in black cloth and provided good support for passengers on long trips. Back seat passengers won’t have much to complain as head and legroom is excellent. Cargo space is is somewhat small when compared to other competitors in the compact crossover class with 22.3 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 51.9 cubic feet with the rear seats down.
Power comes from a 2.0L four-cylinder engine with 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired to either a five-speed manual or CVT. No matter which transmission you pick, Subaru’s Symmetrical all-wheel drive system comes standard. This engine is a poor match to the XV as power comes on slow. In my notes, I described the engine feeling like a wind-up toy car to get moving. Not helping matters is the CVT which appears to be tuned for fuel economy than trying to get power to the road. The CVT also exacerbates engine noise, making the XV Crosstrek a very unpleasant vehicle to drive around in. I wished Subaru would swap the 2.5L four-cylinder from the Legacy as this would solve the power problem. The only upside to the 2.0L is fuel economy. The EPA rates the XV Crosstrek at 26 City/34 Highway/29 Combined. My week saw an average of 30 MPG.
In terms of ride and handling, the XV Crosstrek shines. Thanks to the increase in ride height and meaty tires, the XV Crosstrek will be able to tackle dirt trails or unplowed roads with no problems. For day to day driving, the suspension keeps bumps and road imperfections from entering the interior. Road and wind noise are kept to acceptable levels.
One option I was glad to see equipped on my tester was Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist system. This system employs stereo cameras mounted at the top of the windshield to feed data to three key systems: Adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation with automatic braking, and lane-departure warning. I have praised this system before and will do so again as I believe it delivers one of the best adaptive cruise-control systems yet. The system was able to keep the speed and distance I set with no problem, along with smoothly slowing down the vehicle if someone comes into your lane. Also, the forward collision mitigation system deserves some praise as alerted me to a vehicle that had suddenly stopped and allowed to me take evasive action with seconds to spare.
The 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek is a mixed bag. On one hand, this little crossover is quite capable and deliveries impressive fuel economy. However, the XV Crossover loses big time with an underwhelming powertrain. If you’re considering an XV Crosstrek, be sure to check out other models as they offer most of the capability of the XV, but with a punchier engine.
Disclaimer: Subaru Provided the XV Crosstrek, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Model: XV Crosstrek
Engine: 2.0L Boxer DOHC Four-Cylinder
Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 148 @ 6,200
Torque @ RPM: 145 @ 4,200
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 26/34/29
Curb Weight: 3,186 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Gunma, Japan
Base Price: $22,295
As Tested Price: $25,440 (Includes $850.00 Destination Charge)
Option Package 14: $1,295.00
Lineartonic Continuously Variable Transmission: $1,000.00