Linus' enduring faith in the Great Pumpkin has finally paid off. When my children first saw the all-new 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, one of them exclaimed, "A pumpkin car!" Perhaps we've been reading too many Richard Scarry books in which all manner of produce is motorized, but with its curves and bright orange color, their exclamation about the Crosstrek wasn't off-base.
The 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek is a small, capable hatchback that's fun to drive with a manual transmission, is at a great price point and gets good gas mileage.
Within hours of receiving my test Crosstrek, a Subaru enthusiast spotted it in my daughter's preschool's parking lot. Like Linus of the Peanuts comic strip, it was as if he'd been waiting for this arrival his entire life. He took pictures of the car and then hit me with a barrage of questions. Since it was an ambush, my words didn't flow out, but now I would tell him that his enduring faith in and enthusiasm for the Great Pumpkin Subaru have been rewarded with the Crosstrek.
This isn't a car for large families or people who want luxury, but for active, budget-conscious people who don't need much space and like standard all-wheel drive and some off-roading ability.
The all-new Crosstrek is simply an Impreza with a three-inch higher suspension that can handle a bit more off-roading. It comes in two trim levels trims with a standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. A five-speed manual transmission is standard; there's also an available continuously variable automatic transmission. Though the CVT gets better fuel economy, my advice is to stick with the manual because it made the Crosstrek so much fun to drive.
The 2013 XV Crosstrek starts at $22,790, including a $795 destination fee. My test car, a base 2.0i Premium, cost the same.
With its rounded rump and other curves, neighborhood children gleefully pointed as I drove this bright orange orb down the street — the Great Pumpkin indeed. The Tangerine Orange Pearl paint color is so befitting to this car's shape and personality that I have a hard time picturing the Crosstrek in any other color. For those of you who can, it is offered in seven others.
The Crosstrek's exterior is also accessorized with lots of black — on the roof rails, the 17-inch wheels, the spoiler and the grille. The black trim creates a sporty edge that is completed by the car's raised suspension, which is on par with the sporty Outback's suspension. Perhaps it's fair to say that the overall look is more Great Pumpkin Ready to Pounce than simple Great Pumpkin.
Though the extra ground clearance makes this small car unexpectedly tougher for small children to climb into, it remains doable for all but the tiniest. The doors and liftgate are on the light side, as most Subaru doors are, and therefore also manageable for most kids to open and shut.
There's an impressive 22.3 cubic feet of cargo room. The 60/40-split rear seats fold to produce an even better 51.9 cubic feet of cargo room. A removable cargo tray, retractable cargo cover and cargo tie-down hooks are all standard and great for hauling all kinds of gear around.
The 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek features a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 148 horsepower and uses regular gas. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, but there's an available CVT, too. With the manual, the Crosstrek gets an EPA-estimated 23/30 mpg city/highway while the CVT gets 25/33 mpg city/highway.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times
Subaru has never made its reputation on beautiful, high-tech interiors and the interior of the Crosstrek stays the course. Things are minimalistic on the inside: basic, black-colored plastic and a combination of rectangular- and circular-shaped controls and vents. The center console and front row's cupholders are embarrassingly small.
The steering wheel has audio controls, and there's Bluetooth connectivity and audio streaming as well as a USB port. In short, this little car is ready to play your tunes on its mediocre six-speaker audio system, which makes sense since the target demographic is likely young, active and hip.
Where the Crosstrek's Tangerine Orange Pearl exterior is just as exciting as it sounds, the black cloth seats are like a boringly chintzy dream come true. The fabric does clean up nicely should anyone spill vanilla soymilk or something like that on it — not that that happened while the car was in my possession (children!). Despite the lackluster black cloth, the front seats are quite comfortable with plenty of support for long or bumpy rides.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
The 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It received the top score of Good in front, side, rear and roof-strength crash tests. It hasn't yet been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
For a car that isn't necessarily geared toward families, the Crosstrek has great Latch anchors. The two sets are found in the outboard seats and covered by large fabric flaps that are Velcroed in place; the lower anchors sit in small square openings. A breeze to find and access, you can use and love them and hope that other automakers take note. The top tether anchors are on the second row's seatbacks. Find out how the Crosstrek performed in Cars.com's Car Seat Check.
The Crosstrek comes standard with all-wheel drive, four-wheel-disc antilock brakes, active front head restraints, an electronic stability system with traction control and seven airbags, including one for the driver's knees. Optional features are rear parking sensors and a backup camera.
Get more safety information about the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek here.
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