Owner Review: 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Limited

I have had the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek for 17 days (1200+ miles on odometer!) now and thought I would write a review since the ones I read prior to buying were all over the place. Yes, the Crosstrek is a variation on the proven Impreza platform. Which is part of the reason I bought it. You usually want to avoid a new car model the first year it is out so they can work out the bugs. Being that it is technically not a new model I overlooked this.

Subaru Crosstrek outside of abandoned mine in Mojave Desert

The main concern I had prior to test driving the Crosstrek was the numerous reviews complaining about the lack of power and complaints on the CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). I find the power to be suitable for the type of vehicle it is. You are not going to win any races in it but that is not the purpose of it. The CVT takes some getting use to since the usual act of punching the accelerator to the floor is not as effective as a 20% throttle then ease to the floor approach. With this method I can pass anyone on the highway and overtake with ease. For the record I drive 35 miles each way to work from north of downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica every day. So I know about traffic and the need to pass people on occasion. The joy of the Crosstrek to me is that it fills all my needs with equal doses of each. I wanted a car to fit this tall order:

  • Drive daily to work with good MPGs
  • Take on weekend road trips around SoCal and enjoy the twisty roads in route
  • Be able to drive off-road to get to points of interest
  • Seat 4 normal sized adults and carry gear/groceries/etc.
  • Look cool doing it

So for those basic needs the Crosstrek has filled them. The main issue with most reviews I have read is the reviewer is always focused on each car as if it should perform like a Porsche or other sports car even if it is not built to be such a thing. This is tantamount to comparing a .22 caliber rifle to a Howitzer. You just can’t compare the two. Also let me note that for the last 6 years I have driven as a daily drive a Porsche 996 (manual). So I could easily compare but would not be fair to the Subaru. Any complaint I have is very minor in terms of my HTC Evo LTE connecting to the Bluetooth (more an HTC issue than Subaru) or my wish that the driver’s seat would tilt up at the front of the seat since I am 6’4″ tall and need more support under my thighs on long drives. Other than that I love my new Crosstrek and think it does exactly what it is intended to do…BE a Crossover!

Outside abandoned gas station in Mojave Desert

 

Off-road the Crosstrek has proven very well on rough rutted roads on the Mojave Desert and the ride quality both off and on tarmac are great (at least compared to my 996). Handling is better than expected with the AWD (All Wheel Drive) working very well. Turn in is very good for the height of the car with very little body roll. The car tends to understeer when pushed hard into a corner but a bit of throttle with correct it and slowly becomes mild oversteer which can make it quite fun to throw around on mountain roads. Overall it handles very flat (shockingly even) and requires horrible driving technique to break the rear-end loose. You have to make an asserted effort to break it loose since it is so well planted.

So far MPGs are as advertised with some improvement as the engine is broken in. Of all the reviews I combed over prior to buying the car the most I agree with is the tried and true Motorweek review:

Overall I am very happy with my purchase and understand that in order to get more power into the Crosstrek it would have to sacrifice the best in class MPG rating which I would not trade. Will keep everyone updated with future posts.

My Flickr Feed of Crosstrek Pics:

11 comments

  1. Jascha,

    I also own a Cresstrek, on the East Coast, and have driven it the same distance in the same time as you have. And I have exactly the same impression: checks all the boxes and most negative reviews apply silly criteria and are flat-out wrong on the performance points. I had a turbo Subaru to which you cannot compare the Crosstrek, but it has plenty of power if you know how to use it. Thanks!

    Michael

  2. Thanks for the review. My partner and I just ordered the limited in black with spoiler and moonroof, yours looks like its sister. Can’t wait to get it. The Mojave looks like the perfect place to get the most out of this unique little vessel. Good luck.
    Joe

  3. Thanks for the review. Been very on the fence about purchasing on of these and the reviews out there are almost all from people who have barely driven one. Most not even off road at all or out of a test facility. This was super helpful! MY desert khaki with dark gray interior and CVT will be showing up Friday!

    Thank you!

  4. Thanks for the review, there is limited quantity of them out there. Would you be willing to do another little update about your crosstrek (or maybe just a personal email)? I have been looking seriously at purchasing one and would love some first hand knowledge, as I am still on the fence and certainly unsure on whether to go the manual or CVT route.

  5. @Tony Sorry took so long to reply. I have not had the chance to drive a manual Crosstrek to compare to my CVT one. If possible I would say test drive both if you can. I use it to commute so the CVT gives me better MPGs and less left leg pain than a manual for sure. I now have around 7200 miles on it and still love it. Only wish at times for 30-50 more HP. 😉

  6. I purchased my XV Crosstrek Limited in Dark Grey Metallic a week ago. I went from an 8 cyl Ford Explorer to the 2.0 CVT and was seriously worried about the power loss from one to the other. This little boxer engine is very impressive, as the author stated earlier, mashing the gas to the floor wil leave you wondering where the power is. Apply just half of the throttle and this little guy moves. You won’t be beating anyone in the quarter mile but there is enough power t pass or merge with any traffic. I live this car and the fact that I am averaging 30+ mpg on my commute to work. The best thing about buying a new Subie however is that you just unknowingly joined a club, in less than one week I have been beeped at, waved at, and even thumbed up by half a dozen other Subie owners. It’s like their way of saying, “yeah buddy, now you get it”. One week and I am already wondering why I didn’t upgrade a longtime ago.

  7. I purchased my XV Crosstrek Limited in Dark Grey Metallic a week ago. I went from an 8 cyl Ford Explorer to the 2.0 CVT and was seriously worried about the power loss from one to the other. This little boxer engine is very impressive, as the author stated earlier, mashing the gas to the floor wil leave you wondering where the power is. Apply just half of the throttle and this little guy moves. You won’t be beating anyone in the quarter mile but there is enough power t pass or merge with any traffic. I live this car and the fact that I am averaging 30+ mpg on my commute to work. The best thing about buying a new Subie however is that you just unknowingly joined a club, in less than one week I have been beeped at, waved at, and even thumbed up by half a dozen other Subie owners. It’s like their way of saying, “yeah buddy, now you get it”. One week and I am already wondering why I didn’t upgrade a longtime ago.

  8. Great review. I just recently purchased an XV Limited in IceSilverMetallic. I was wondering, where exactly did you go in these pictures? I’m local in the Los Angeles area and would love to take my dog out to that location for some adventuring! :]

    Looking forward to your response!

    1. Thanks for the comment. Most of the pictures are from Rosamond CA near the Mojave Desert. We go there to visit the Exotic Feline Breeding Compound. If you stay on the road you get off of to go there you pass a bunch of old abandoned mines. Be careful though there are a lot of nails and debris to catch you off guard. Be sure to check out the musical road on way back in Lancaster on road to Fox Airport. 😉

  9. I bought the silver 5 speed manual Crosstrek limited, in mid January. I now have 3000 miles and love my car. My sons moved to Vermont and many roads are not paved so the AWD makes it easy to get around. The clutch is very easy to use and I find the car very responsive. I have only seen 3 other Crosstreks on the road, hope to see more.

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