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2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek: Adventure on the Go

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Training starts at 6 a.m. six days a week for the next three months. The intensity streams from the fact that I’ll be competing in two separate races both held in October: Men’s Health’s Urbanathlon and the MS150. One of the competitions is a nine-mile, seven-obstacle course through the streets of Chicago including 700 plus stadium stairs at Soldier Field, while the other is a 150-mile bike ride around the San Diego area to help raise awareness for those diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Mornings will be occupied with long distance runs, sprints, weight training, biking, and swimming, and afternoons with shopping at health food stores to keep my body energized with the right foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and plant based proteins. And like a great majority of tri-athletes, mountain bikers, snowboarders, kayakers, and runners, I will toss my gear in the back of or on top of a Subaru and trek through mud, snow, water or hills to make the enlightening journey home. Welcome to “Confidence In Motion!”

Active owners whose passions are driven by excitement and adventure define Subaru and its cadre of AWD wagons, crossovers, and rally cars. They take their kids to soccer practices, camping trips and compete in an array of extreme races. They are four times more likely to hike and three and a half times more likely to bike than the average car buyer. They race their WRX STI rally cars in tier-1 events such as Rally America National Championship, and they win! They are simple individuals with high expectations from life. They don’t worry about the opinions of others based on the car they drive. Save that for German luxury car buyers. Subaru owners have even helped the brand achieve five years of growth and triple their market share. Four of those five included record-breaking sales years. And we’re not talking about repeat buyers. In fact, in 2011 60% of the Japanese automaker’s consumer portfolio was new to the brand, all of which are seeking adventure, safety, versatility and longevity. And with 5 Star safety ratings and standard roof rails, Subaru is already guaranteeing 50% of buyer’s needs before they even experience a vehicle.

With all of the aforementioned in mind, Subaru decided they wanted to expand the cavalry with another CUV to add dimension to their offerings. It comes in the form of the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek. It was predominately built for three core reasons:

  • Subaru needed a vehicle to support growth in global markets with Gen Y
  • To compete in the new category of stylish compact CUVs
  • To enhance Subaru’s brand image

To evaluate this testament for ourselves, Automotive Rhythms headed to the fabled North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii for a day of road driving, off-roading, and of course to enjoy the lifestyle of a XV Crosstrek owner while basking away in various watersports like swimming of course, kayaking, water boarding, snorkeling and sea turtle watching at the entertaining Turtle Bay Resort. This part of town is very laid back and attracts surfers and nomads from all walks of life. It makes you want to start anew and open up a Subaru sponsored surfing school. I can see the writing on the wall: “King Kimatni’s Epic Surf’s Up!” No? It was just a whimsical thought.

Since the second half of our drive would include off-roading, I awoke at 5 a.m. and put in a 45-minute cross-fit and 45-minute ocean swim with workout partner Ron Doron. Of course we were pompous enough to take the self-proclaimed title of fittest Crosstrek drivers on the course. The catchy CUV — which will compete with the Nissan Juke and Rogue and MINI Countryman — is proclaimed by Subaru to be the most fuel-efficient AWD crossover in the States. It gets 33-mpg highway and 25 city (CVT) and has a cruising range of 524 miles, numbers you typically see in a diesel-powered vehicle. Not a bad claim to fame with today’s high fuel prices. Slight innovation comes from mudguards shaped to navigate air around the tires for 1-mpg better mileage.

The Crosstrek’s styling is not revolutionary but sporty and funky. Beginning at $21,995, two models dubbed Premium and Limited will be offered in eight colors. Tough body cladding, blacked starfish rims, large dynamic headlights and the standard roof rails (150 pound limit with available cross bars) certainly make this vehicle attractive for anyone looking to test their physical limits with Mother Nature. The interior is typical Subaru and mirrors the Impreza (except for seats). Split folding 60/40 second row seats lay flat and open up 22.3 cubic feet of cargo area, which is enough for two road bikes with their front wheels removed. You can also put them on the roof or connect a bike rack to the hitch since the vehicle can tow up to 1,500 pounds. Also available are three audio units with the foremost offering touchscreen, Bluetooth navigation and music from a CD, SD card, XM, or your iPod. I did find the inputs rather small and challenging at times to operate when driving. There is also the option of a backup camera. The seats were comfortable, the rear seating was roomy, and the sunroof was a needed touch for that beautiful sunshine and cool Hawaiian breeze. Heated seats and mirrors are nice as well.

The reasoning for the good fuel economy is the Crosstrek’s 4-cylinder, 2-liter “Boxer” engine with 148-horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. It’s meant for linear acceleration so at times you need to be patient, especially when passing. The engine is mated to either a standard 5-speed manual (mechanical system with 50/50 torque split) or the optional 6-speed CVT (standard on the Limited model) with steering wheel shift paddles. This was perfect for controlling torque when off-roading. Though the manual seems to have long throws when shifting. A 6-speed manual should be in Subaru’s immediate future for the new compact CUV. The positive is Subaru’s amazing Symmetrical AWD system that provides full-time traction to all four wheels. It’s not gimmicky like part-time AWDs that provide torque to the wheel with traction when needed. With 8.7” of ground clearance; a stiffer chassis and larger front rotors than the base Impreza; a wider track; and 225-55/17 Yokohama all-season tires, the driving through water, up hills, and over dirt trails felt great. We were all highly impressed with its level of accomplishment in the great outback at the Kualoa Ranch where they filmed Jurassic Park, Lost and a ton of other heroic films. Keep in mind there is a spare, but not full-size, so watch out for sharp rocks during your escapades.

Safety comes in the form of a highly reinforced roof to resist crushing, low center of gravity thanks to the placement of the Boxer engine, brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution, seven airbags, brake override, and vehicle stability control system with a roll-over sensor. Looks like Subaru has every angle covered with their new XV Crosstrek.

So what are you waiting for? Live life on the go! Expect vehicles in dealerships September 2012.


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