REVIEW: 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek

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2015 Subaru Crosstrek

Greg’s Take:

This week, we’re behind the wheel of the 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek, one of the newer all-wheel-drive (AWD) vehicles that have helped make Subaru a household name.

Introduced in 2013 and built to compete with the overabundance of small crossover utility vehicles that are popping up everywhere, XV Crosstrek is actually an alteration of the popular Impreza hatchback.  Built on the same platform, XV Crosstrek features a distinct body style, higher ground clearance and pricing that won’t scare away anyone who is shopping for a small crossover or SUV.

With retail pricing that starts at just $21,595 and then graduates upward to a top line $29,295 for a fully loaded Hybrid, buyers can expect the usual refined four wheel drive technology and Subaru quality built in every Crosstrek that comes of the assembly line. At dealerships nationwide, Crosstreks have enjoyed strong sales thanks to its ability to attract interest from all consumer age groups, which is something every manufacturer strives for in this day of over-crowded markets.

Thanks to Crosstrek’s versatility as a family mover, weekend camping partner or snow covered road negotiator, drivers can expect roomy surroundings, the proven four-cylinder “Boxer engine” technology and the heralded Symmetrical 4×4 underpinnings.

Under the hood sits Subaru’s proven 2.0-liter horizontally opposed engine that sits low in the engine cradle allowing for better handling and outstanding traction dynamics. At just 148 horsepower and 145 lb. ft. of torque, the little Boxer four will sometimes have its work cut out for it when fully loaded or hauling cargo. However, thanks to a $1,000 optional Lineartronic Continuously Variable six-speed automatic transmission, the seemingly low horsepower output is distributed across the RPM power band very well, resulting in acceptable performance and outstanding fuel mileage. Consumers can expect 34 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg in the city with an average of 26.

For 2015, three distinct Crosstrek trims are available: Base, Limited and Premium. All feature the exact same mechanicals with a five-speed manual standard on the Base and Premium. The Limited comes standard with the CVT while the Crosstrek Hybrid comes standard with the CVT. (We hope to test drive one later this year).

Inside, you’ll recognize some Impreza core values, but Subaru then complements the Crosstrek Crossover/SUV needs with some nice off-road type amenities. We especially like that a 6.2-inch touch screen system with rear vision safety camera comes standard across the line. Our tester included a $1,295 Starlink 7.0 touchscreen Multimedia system that not only beefs up the stereo system substantially, it also adds an eye-sight driver assist safety system, pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane sway warning and even pre-collision throttle management. This option is highly recommended as years ago it would probably have cost an additional $4,000 for all these features. (Well done Subaru!)

Crosstrek does have a few negatives. On the highway you’ll notice a somewhat noisy interior and also some engine noise under full throttle. However, the advantages of the Crosstrek far outweigh any concerns, especially when comparing prices, past owner reliability ratings, economy and several consumer magazine recommendations. Overall, Crosstrek delivers in aces.

Notable, too, is cargo room. Thanks to the rear 60/40 seats folding down, owners won’t shy away from any visit to the home center. With the second row seats up, Crosstrek’s wide body design allows room for three passengers (with hopes the center passenger is a small build individual). Interior room receives high grades with good leg and head room.

Standard XV Crosstrek fare includes all the powers, the latest in air bag safety, four-wheel ABS discs, air, cruise, remote keyless entry, 17-inch tires on aluminum-alloy wheels and nearly nine inches of ground clearance to assist when you go off-road. Your dealer will explain all of the standard features when you visit a Subaru store.

Important numbers include a wheelbase of 103.7 inches, 3,109 lb. curb weight, from 22.3 to 51.9 cu. ft. of cargo space, 1,500 lb. tow capacity, 8.7-inches of ground clearance and a 13.7 gallon regular grade fuel tank.

We’ve bestowed many a Subaru Test Drive recommendation since we first started reviewing cars back in 1994, and things are no different with the XV Crosstrek. Thus, we’re giving the 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek a top Test Drive recommendation and Best Buy in category from the “father side” of these reviews.

Tim’s Take:

Instead of writing about what Subaru XV Crosstrek is capable of, it may be easier to discuss what this wagon can’t do, because the list is short. For its price, Crosstrek undoubtedly reigns supreme in terms of versatility. We were shocked to see the sticker was below $30,000, and seeing an entry price below $22,000 could be considered icing on the cake. Let’s take a look at how versatile the Crosstrek package is.

For the eco-minded drivers, all models of Crosstrek are Partial Zero Emissions Vehicles. In other words, Crosstrek does not produce any evaporative emissions from its fuel system, and it carries an extended warranty on its emissions components.

For the adventurous driver, the wagon comes equipped with a standard symmetrical all-wheel drive system and nearly nine inches of ground clearance. It’s ready to be taken off road. Although Crosstrek is not designed to be pushed into the extremes of mountainous terrain, it will do just fine getting to a suitable camping location via rocky trails. Additionally, winter conditions will be a breeze, so forget about needing a winter vehicle.

For drivers on a budget or who aren’t looking to break the bank, XV likely offers the most benefits for you. Not only is the upfront investment minimal, with even the top of the line Hybrid Touring edition falling below $30,000, but all models feature extremely impressive fuel economy numbers. It all hit home for us after a 330 mile trip used only slightly more than half of XV’s fuel tank – and we weren’t babying it. Expect to achieve combined fuel economy numbers of over 30 MPG consistently.

The only glaring negative we see, and honestly it’s easy to overlook, is a lack of power. Undoubtedly the low output engine and continuously variable transmission combo is a recipe for great fuel economy, but we just don’t enjoy it. XV struggles with hills, and it requires the 2.0L 4-cylinder to be wound up pretty high to get the wagon moving. It may not be music to the ears, but it’s an understandable tradeoff.

A few weeks ago, I gave a similarly underpowered vehicle a somewhat negative review based on the lack of power, but honestly, XV does too much right to focus on one negative. It doesn’t hurt that we loved the looks of the wagon, which features sporty curves and love-it-or-hate-it black wheels with aluminum trim (we loved them). Our tester’s Desert Khaki color paired well with the wheel design to present a true off-road image, paying homage to Subaru’s roots.

It’s important to note Crosstrek XV offers adaptive cruise control through its “Eyesight” system on every model in the XV line except the base. This means the XV Limited edition, which carries an entry price of $22,295, comes standard with adaptive cruise control. We feel this is seriously impressive; as the feature is known for being available on cars priced way above XV’s price range.

For those in the Subaru market attempting to decide between the Forester and XV, we say – it depends. Do you need more cargo space and more interior features? Go with Forester.

But if you’re looking for a versatile vehicle with sporty looks that can still take care of business anywhere Forester can – we say talk to your dealer about XV Crosstrek.

Entry Price: $21,595

Price as tested: $25,440


Great design

Excellent fuel mileage

Off road capabilities


Engine loud under full throttle

Interior a bit noisy

Not much else

Greg Zyla

Greg Zyla