2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek

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Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
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Key Specs

of the 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • Higher driving position
  • Front and rear occupant space
  • Power from a stop
  • Simple dashboard design and climate control layout
  • Forward and rear visibility

The Bad

  • Steep hybrid price premium
  • Passing power
  • Road and engine noise on the highway
  • Rough idle on startup

Notable Features of the 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek

  • Based on the Subaru Impreza hatchback
  • Hybrid model available
  • Ground clearance of 8.7 inches
  • Standard all-wheel drive
  • Continuously variable automatic transmission

2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek Road Test

Aaron Bragman

Quirky, slow and difficult to classify, the 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek adds a splash of dirt-road utility to an otherwise unremarkable compact hatchback experience.

Subaru excels at making off-road-style cars that aren't really off-road cars. At one point, anything with an "Outback" name was golden: There was a Legacy-based Outback sedan to accompany the hugely popular Outback wagon, and an Impreza Outback wagon that was something of a junior version of the Legacy-based midsize Outback wagon.

The XV Crosstrek is what the Impreza Outback has become: a compact, high-riding hatchback with standard all-wheel drive and chunky off-road looks. (There are no changes from 2014 to 2015, but you can compare the two here). But that's basically the extent of the Crosstrek's capabilities — it's not meant to be a hardcore trail buster, but merely a more capable compact hatchback. Has Subaru crafted something different enough to warrant attention, or has it simply made a weirder version of the decent Impreza?

Exterior & Styling
The Crosstrek isn't as aggressively butch as the Outback, but it still has some features that functionally improve its off-road chops. It has 8.7 inches of ground clearance, which is nothing to sneeze at; it should get you down some two-track roads and the odd field, and will certainly take you through deeper snow than most cars can tackle, but it's not going to get you over the Rubicon Trail. The idea here is to combine the looks ...

Quirky, slow and difficult to classify, the 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek adds a splash of dirt-road utility to an otherwise unremarkable compact hatchback experience.

Subaru excels at making off-road-style cars that aren't really off-road cars. At one point, anything with an "Outback" name was golden: There was a Legacy-based Outback sedan to accompany the hugely popular Outback wagon, and an Impreza Outback wagon that was something of a junior version of the Legacy-based midsize Outback wagon.

The XV Crosstrek is what the Impreza Outback has become: a compact, high-riding hatchback with standard all-wheel drive and chunky off-road looks. (There are no changes from 2014 to 2015, but you can compare the two here). But that's basically the extent of the Crosstrek's capabilities — it's not meant to be a hardcore trail buster, but merely a more capable compact hatchback. Has Subaru crafted something different enough to warrant attention, or has it simply made a weirder version of the decent Impreza?

Exterior & Styling
The Crosstrek isn't as aggressively butch as the Outback, but it still has some features that functionally improve its off-road chops. It has 8.7 inches of ground clearance, which is nothing to sneeze at; it should get you down some two-track roads and the odd field, and will certainly take you through deeper snow than most cars can tackle, but it's not going to get you over the Rubicon Trail. The idea here is to combine the looks of the off-road set with the functionality and frugality of a compact hatchback. In this the Outback succeeds.

The styling is pure Subaru corporate blandness, livened up a bit with some wild colors, like Tangerine Orange Pearl and Quartz Blue Pearl, as well as Plasma Green Pearl for the hybrid model. An available roof rack adds to the functionality, while the unpainted plastic cladding on the bumpers, wheel wells and side sills is more cosmetic than functional trail protection. It's a little more aggressive than the Impreza on which it's based, or the competing Hyundai Elantra GT, and it's a little less "cute-ute" than competitors like the Honda HR-V and Kia Sportage.

How It Drives
Powered by a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder boxer engine that makes a paltry 148 horsepower, the XV Crosstrek isn't going to win any stoplight drag races, but its power is on the high side among the growing crop of subcompact SUVs. Tuning of the optional continuously variable automatic transmission (an old five-speed manual is standard on lesser trim levels) and the standard all-wheel drive produces strangely jumpy off-the-line launches that quickly run out of steam if you keep your foot on the gas. This makes for challenging highway entry and higher-speed passing maneuvers. And heaven forbid you turn on the air conditioning. Trying to get any speed out of the flat-four engine while cooling the cabin is all but impossible; it feels like someone's dropped an anchor out the hatchback. There's lots of noise, but not a whole lot of forward motion.

That noise is apparent in cruising, too, where the Crosstrek exhibits a surprising amount of road and wind noise at highway speed. Ride quality is certainly a high point, however. A smooth and well-damped voyage is a certainty, even over rough pavement. Steering effort is heavy, requiring some unusual effort when negotiating parking lots or low-speed environments, but lightening up sufficiently as speed increases.

The Crosstrek's higher ride height isn't an issue for the handling abilities of the car, as it still has a low center of gravity thanks to the flat-four engine. It never feels tippy or unstable, it just doesn't feel sporty or entertaining at all; it's more sluggish and predictable.

The point of the powertrain is to emphasize fuel economy over speed, and here the Crosstrek does quite well. With its standard manual transmission, the base model is rated 23/31/26 mpg city/highway/combined, climbing to 26/34/29 mpg for the CVT model. If you want to really boost fuel economy, go for the hybrid, which earns a 30/34/31 mpg rating.

The Honda HR-V is a little smaller than the Crosstrek, being based on the Honda Fit subcompact car, and its 25/34/28 mpg rating with front-wheel drive and a manual transmission beats out the Crosstrek. That number jumps to 28/35/31 mpg in the front-wheel-drive, CVT-equipped HR-V and drops to 27/32/29 mpg in the all-wheel-drive CVT model.

The Hyundai Elantra GT is dimensionally very close to the XV Crosstrek but doesn't have its higher ride height or all-wheel drive. Still, it offers more power, similar room and comparable fuel economy: 24/33/27 mpg for the automatic and 24/34/28 for the six-speed-manual version.

Finally, the Kia Sportage is more utility than wagon, but it also sits high and has optional all-wheel drive. It features a more powerful 2.4-liter engine that's rated 21/28/24 mpg with front-wheel drive and 19/26/22 mpg with all-wheel drive — not as good as the Subaru. But it's available with an even more powerful, turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that turns the Sportage into a rocket ship. The downside is it's rated 20/26/23 mpg for the turbo front-wheel-drive model, 19/24/21 mpg with all-wheel drive.

Interior
Based on the Impreza, the Crosstrek has plenty of room inside. It's a tall-roof hatchback, meaning headroom is plentiful for front and rear occupants, and the tall windows combine with a low belt line for excellent outward visibility. There's room for four people to sit comfortably, but like in all compacts three is a squeeze in the backseat. Legroom isn't a problem, though, with plenty of it front and back.

While you'll be comfortable in the Crosstrek, you might not be impressed with your surroundings. Materials quality is only fair, with hard plastics and unremarkable shapes making for a generic, older look. Despite being a relatively recent redesign, the Crosstrek feels in need of another one. Most of the Crosstrek's competitors have more upscale interiors with better materials and more modern-looking controls. If you're more interested in comfort than style, the Crosstrek's interior should work just fine. If you're looking for something more trendy, go for a Honda HR-V or Hyundai Elantra GT.

Ergonomics & Electronics
Like in most Subarus, the switches and buttons feel old. Subaru has unfortunately joined the trend toward touch-panels, but the controls for the rest of the car feel familiar and a bit cheap. For instance, when activated, the rear window wiper comes with a loud clicking relay in the dash. The gauges are clear and easy to read and feature a multifunction display between the speedometer and tachometer. The touch-screen multimedia system works well, but like the rest of this car's electronics, it feels out of date visually. Again, for more modern systems, look to Subaru's competitors.

Cargo & Storage
The Crosstrek is difficult to classify among "soft-road" capable vehicles, as it's bigger than "cute ute" subcompacts like the Jeep Renegade or Mazda CX-3, but smaller than many compact SUVs, like the Ford Escape or Toyota RAV4. It has generous cargo room, with 22.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the backseat, expandable to 51.9 cubic feet with the seats folded.

More surprising is that the shorter Honda HR-V has comparable room: 23.2 cubic feet behind the backseat, 57.6 cubic feet total. The Hyundai Elantra GT's hatchback gives it 23.0 cubic feet of cargo room, opening up to 51.0 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. The Kia Sportage is a bit bigger still, with 26.1 cubic feet of cargo room, 54.6 cubic feet total.

Safety
The 2015 XV Crosstrek scored a five-star overall crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and also aced the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's tests, scoring a Top Safety Pick Plus award. See the Crosstrek's safety ratings here.

What puts the XV over the edge is the availability of something rather unique — Subaru's EyeSight system, a very reasonably priced suite of cameras and sensors that act as a crash-prevention tool. Constantly scanning the way forward and to the sides, it not only warns of imminent collisions but also autonomously brakes the car. The odd thing is that while it can detect obstacles in front of the car, there's no blind spot monitor or rear cross-traffic alert, only a standard backup camera.

The problem with the EyeSight system is that the lane departure warning system is very intrusive. I kept switching it off, as it's overly aggressive in detecting edge lines for the lane you're in. Constantly beeping and adjusting on its own when you're not actually crossing over the line gets old fast. See all the Crosstrek's standard safety features here.

Value in Its Class
The 2015 XV Crosstrek starts at $22,445 for a base 2.0i model (including destination fee). That includes a standard five-speed manual transmission. In order to be able to add the optional CVT, step up to a 2.0i Premium model for $23,145, which includes a better audio system and the all-weather package that brings heated seats, heated mirrors and a windshield de-icer. Top of the line is the 2.0i Limited, which includes the automatic transmission standard and a leather interior. Option up a Crosstrek to the max, and you're looking at just less than $29,000, fully loaded.

This puts it within reach for most people looking for something affordable and reliable, with good crash tests and slightly better off-road and poor-weather abilities than your average compact hatchback. The Hyundai Elantra GT beats the Crosstrek on price and comes close in overall size, but doesn't offer all-wheel drive or the ground clearance the Crosstrek does. It does, however, offer adjustable power steering assist and a much sportier experience.

The Honda HR-V might come closest in mission to the Crosstrek, offering the higher seating position and all-wheel drive that SUV owners want, but in a package sized for budget- and space-conscious shoppers. It, too, is comparably priced, and while its external footprint is smaller than the Crosstrek's, its internal space beats it thanks to Honda's clever packaging skills.

Finally, the Kia Sportage rivals the HR-V as much as the Crosstrek, being a car-based crossover SUV. The Sportage can be optioned up to just under $33,000, but comes with a far more powerful turbocharged engine than anything else in the class. Compare all four competitors here.

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2015 XV Crosstrek Video

For our Subcompact SUV Challenge, we brought 7 vehicles to the mountains of Colorado for a week of intensive testing. Each SUV had to endure a fuel-economy drive and head-to-head comparisons of ride quality, handling, comfort and acceleration.

Latest 2015 XV Crosstrek Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.8)
Performance
(4.3)
Interior Design
(4.4)
Comfort
(4.5)
Reliability
(4.8)
Value For The Money
(4.5)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Get one

by Rustynail from Azusa,Ca on October 13, 2018

I have had my cross track for three years now I have a total of 14,000 miles on it at this time works very well in the snow we take it to Idlewild for Thanksgiving and for two years it has snowed ... Read full review

(1.0)

Do not buy this car

by Subaru Nightmare from Aurora, Colorado on September 28, 2018

This vehicle is not up to par. I trusted the idealership to find the perfect match. I definitely should have researched both the Subaru and Larry H Miller Chrysler Jeep in Aurora, Colorado. What I ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek currently has 1 recall

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek 2.0i

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Hip/thigh
good
Lower leg/foot
good
Overall evaluation
good
Retraints and dummy kinematics
good
Structure and safety cage
good

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
acceptable
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Small Overlap Front - Driver Side

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Hip/Thigh
good
Lower Leg/Foot
good
Overall Evaluation
good
Restraints and Dummy Kinematics
good
Structure and Safety Cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranties

Backed by Subaru
New Car Program Benefits
  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    36 months / 36,000 miles

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits
  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    5 years/80,000 miles

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    Coverage available for purchase

  • Powertrain warranty

    7 years/100,000

  • Dealer Certification Required

    152-point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All Program Details

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All Model Years for the Subaru XV Crosstrek

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The XV Crosstrek received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*

Third-row access

N/A

Infant seat

B

Booster

(second row)

A

Booster

(third row)

N/A

Latch or Latch system

A

Forward-facing convertible

(third row)

N/A

Forward-facing convertible

(second row)

A

Rear-facing convertible

A
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.
For complete details,

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker