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#17

in Affordable Compact SUVs

MSRP: $21,995 - $24,495
Invoice: $20,876 - $23,178
MPG: 23 City / 30 Hwy
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Subaru XV Crosstrek Performance

Reviewers say the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek’s four-cylinder engine lacks power and struggles at highway speeds and on hills. However, test drivers say that the Subaru XV Crosstrek has a composed ride. Steering is responsive, the brakes are strong and the all-wheel drive system is quite capable, they add. Still, a few critics point out that the steering lacks road feel, and that rival SUVs are more fun to drive. Test drivers say that the XV Crosstrek may not be a trailblazer when the pavement ends, but it still holds its own during modest off-roading thanks to its standard all-wheel drive and elevated ground clearance. This makes it a practical choice for drivers who want the best of both worlds, they add.

  • "Aside from the tough-looking visual elements and suspension changes, the Crosstrek is virtually identical to the Impreza. That means it features responsive handling that belies its SUV pretensions, along with a fuel-thrifty 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder.” -- Left Lane News
  • "The drive isn't without its negatives, though. As well as the aforementioned lack of oomph, there's a sense of detachment to the controls -- numb steering (though nicely weighted) and a numb accelerator pedal -- plus some road noise coming into the cabin.” -- AutoTrader
  • "The weak engine lets down a fairly athletic chassis. Like the Impreza, the XV turns in eagerly and is competent when hustled." -- Car and Driver (2013)
  • "But the XV is a solid, all-wheel-drive utility knife with a smooth, satisfying ride - just like most Subarus." -- Autoblog (2013)
  • "It is a machine that competently gets its job done on the road, but was it fun to drive? No. Although I am sure most of this is due to the powerless engine. Perhaps a bit of extra torque would have allowed the handling to present itself a little more prominently." -- Jalopnik (2013)

Acceleration and Power

The 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek comes with a 148-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. A five-speed manual transmission is standard and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) is available. Equipped with the CVT, the XV Crosstrek gets an EPA-estimated 25/33 mpg city/highway, which is excellent for the class, even trumping the gas mileage of several compact SUVs with front-wheel drive.

Test drivers say that the XV Crosstrek has an underpowered engine and that acceleration is leisurely, adding that it feels strained at highway speeds or when climbing hills. Reviewers agree that the standard manual transmission shifts easily and the optional CVT is smooth and responsive.

  • "Mention the letters CVT to a driving enthusiast and expect a tirade about slow responses and drivetrain drone. Put that same enthusiast in the business seat of an XV Crosstrek and watch those words being eaten." -- AutoTrader
  • "As in the new Impreza, the XV's flat-four is a letdown. With only 148 horses, acceleration is tepid." -- Car and Driver (2013)
  • "The manual transmission has an easy-to-use shifter and fine clutch action, but off-road and highway driving can require timely downshifts to keep the engine spinning fast enough to make sufficient power to climb even moderate grades. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) behaves just like an automatic transmission in everyday driving and is very smooth in operation." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "The car really is rather slow. When you attack the throttle the little engine feels like a woman reading 50 Shades of Grey; she ignores you while she finishes reading the page." -- Jalopnik (2013)

Handling and Braking 

Test driver’s say the 2014 XV Crosstrek’s standard all-wheel drive gives it a planted feel, and that it rounds corners with confidence. Handling is nimble and the ride is controlled and smooth, they add. Reviewers agree that the brakes are strong and the steering is precise, though a few wish the steering system offered more road feel.

  • "Since power goes to all four wheels all the time, there's a stability to the XV Crosstrek that rivals the Swiss currency. Admittedly, the engine never taxes it, but the chassis has a talent that can deal with canyon roads, dirt tracks and grumpy relatives. It's controlled, composed and still fairly comfortable." -- AutoTrader
  • “The brakes even took a steep mountain descent without showing signs of fade. Aside from the minimal feedback through the electrically assisted steering, the XV’s chassis is well tuned, and its ride quality falls on the firmer side." -- Car and Driver (2013)
  • "XV Crosstrek feels agile and handles confidently in corners. The steering is accurate and nicely weighted." -- Consumer Guide (2013)
  • "On the highway, the Crosstrek had a smooth feel, and when we hit broken road, the suspension absorbed the bumps nicely -- not too firm, not too soft." -- Motor Trend (2013)

Off-Roading

Reviewers say that while the XV Crosstrek isn’t built to be a trailblazer, its impressive all-wheel drive system and high ground clearance give it good off-road ability if you want to venture off the pavement.

  • "Ground clearance is 8.7 inches, which is pretty good and comes into its own when mud and ruts replace paved roads." -- AutoTrader
  • "The average person who stuffs the cargo area with one medium kennel, the contents of two shopping carts, or three golf bags would be startled by the Crosstrek's off-pavement capability." -- Automobile Magazine (2013)
  • "Subaru's renowned symmetrical all-wheel-drive worked so well, we can't recall a single instance of traction loss, that is, when we weren't deliberately trying to spin the wheels." -- Kelley Blue Book (2013)
  • "I did a lot of tough off-road in the Crosstrek and here (as mentioned in the Ride section) it performed extremely well. The additional ground clearance was welcome over some of the tougher, rockier sections, making the Crosstrek more than capable of handling some wild adventures." -- Jalopnik (2013)
  • "Since it is neither a hardcore SUV nor a completely on-road vehicle, Subaru had to balance on-road feel with off-road capabilities, a job it accomplished very well." -- Motor Trend (2013)
Review Last Updated: 5/19/14

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