By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
Washougal, Wash. — In the Northwest the Subaru is the brand we see most on our streets and highways. There are old Outbacks, stylish new Legacys, racy WRXs, dirty Foresters, and even an occasional SVX coupe or Baja truck.
The common factor and a prime reason for buying a Subaru in this area is not that Vancouver, Wash., right across the Columbia River from Portland, is the port many of these cars come into, rather it?s the fact that all these cars are all-wheel drive ? perfect for the Northwest driving conditions. Of course there are a few non-all-wheel drive exceptions like the rear-drive BRZ sports car or one of the few front-drive models sold in the U.S. before 2007.
Another common trait is most of the Subarus we see are of a somewhat non-descript color, you know, the typical silver, blue, white or burgundy?nothing flashy. At least that was the trend until Subaru started pumping out the new XV Crosstrek a couple years ago in colors like Tangerine Orange, Plasma Green or Sunrise Yellow.
Our 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek 2.0i test car was that special edition Sunrise Yellow color. This not a color we?d normally choose, but it did seem to attract a lot of attention. Barbara called it school bus yellow and it seemed to match some of the traffic signs. A part of our testing is to watch how others respond to the car we are driving, and with this car we were amazed by the number of people who passed us on the road and turned to look at the Crosstrek and then smiled.
Barbara was convinced they were laughing at us. Bill thought they were just looking at the car. We even came out of Costco on day and found an older, than us, woman peeking through the Crosstrek windows. She then showed us her purchase of the Consumer Report New Car Buying Guide 2015 she?d just bought and said she was looking for a replacement for her aging Acura coupe. She had all kinds of questions about the Crosstrek, and as a side asked, ?what about the color?? Barbara told her it would not be her personal choice but we never lost it in a crowded parking lot either.
The Subaru XV Crosstrek is a nice convenient size configured as a five-door hatchback. It will still carry five adults, although go for the outside seats in the rear, the center will be tight. Cargo area is 22.3 cubic feet, and with the 60/40 split rear seat backs down that capacity expands to 51.9 cubic feet. That?s a lot of room for adventure gear, or a massive shopping trip.
Our Premium trim level test vehicle was well equipped with features like cruise control, air conditioning, power windows, keyless entry and the other ?must have? features. There?s also an extensive list of safety gear including Vehicle Dynamics Control (stability control), traction control and a rollover sensor. It also has a good audio system, Bluetooth for hands free phone use and streaming audio, and connections for all kinds of other inputs ? USB, iPod control and auxiliary jack. This year the RearVision backup camera is standard equipment on all the Crosstreks.
Another newly available feature is Subaru?s outstanding Eyesight? driver assist system on the Premium and Limited models. Our test vehicle didn?t have Eyesight, but we?ve driven other Subaru?s with it and we consider it a ?must have?. The $1,295 option adds adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure and sway warning functions, premium audio, a voice-activated seven-inch screen, HD Radio and Subaru?s Starlink communications in addition to all the connectivity features. It even includes a new Steering-Responsive Fog Light system that activates either fog light independently depending on the vehicle speed and steering angle to provide extra illumination for turning.
A 148-hp, 2.0-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine powers the 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek. The engine is often called a Boxer because the cylinders are horizontal and the pistons go in and out much like the movements of a boxer’s blows rather than up and down like most engines. This engine design has mostly been used by Subaru, Porsche sports cars and the old Volkswagen Beetles and it?s the primary configuration of most small propeller driven airplanes. The engines tend to be extremely dependable and quite powerful. Buff magazines list a 0 to 60 mph test time of 8.1 seconds.
A five-speed manual transmission is standard with an optional ($1,000) Continuously Variable (Automatic) Transmission (CVT) with six-speed manual mode and steering wheel mounted shift paddles. We?re not normally fans of CVTs, but this is one of the best we?ve driven. It has a very positive feel that?s much more like a regular automatic transmission.
Both transmissions have the Subaru Incline Start Assist system. The value of this feature becomes very evident when you get to the top of a hill, on- or off-road, and have to stop — then start again. Rather than rolling back and causing anxiety for the driver, the system holds the vehicle for a couple of seconds while the driver?s foot is moving from the brake pedal to the throttle. Whew!
Watching Subarus on the roads in the Northwest seems as if most Subaru owners are adventurers. In general, they seem to be active people who like to go off the beaten path. We get that impression by the number of muddy Subaru?s we see, often with bike or ski carriers on top. Perhaps Subaru should consider offering a free car wash instead of 24-hour roadside assistance for new-car limited warranty period. However, a muddy Subaru is like a badge saying the occupants have been having a good time.
For 2015 the XV Crosstrek comes in three trims — 2.0i (new for 2015), 2.0i Premium and 2.0i Limited with base prices ranging from $22,445 to $25,645, including the destination charge. The Limited model with the available option packages has a sticker price of $28,440. Subaru offers a large selection of accessories to customize the car. It?s also available in two hybrid versions ? Hybrid and Hybrid Touring which are priced at $26,845 and $30,145 respectively. You can read our review of the 2014 Hybrid at https://ourautoexpert.com/2014-subaru-xv-crosstrek-hybrid-test-drive/ .