The 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek continues Subaru’s tradition of offering a go-anywhere small SUV. But an anemic four-cylinder engine leaves a bad impression on a very capable vehicle.
Trying to make yourself stand out in a crowded class is a difficult task. Just ask any auto manufacturer competing in the hotly contested compact SUV segment. But Subaru seems to have found a way with the 2015 XV Crosstrek. With a rugged look, an increase in ride height, and the company’s tried-and-true all-wheel drive system, the 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek makes a statement in the class.
The XV Crosstrek is based on Subaru’s compact Impreza hatchback. But you wouldn’t know this at a glance as Subaru made a fair number of changes to the vehicle.
Using the Impreza hatchback as a base, Subaru increased ground clearance to 8.7 inches. The wheels have been pushed out far to give the vehicle a rugged stance and come fitted with a set of chunky 17-inch wheels. Finishing off the outside is lower body cladding and a set of roof rails.
A number of people have complained that Subaru interiors haven’t left the 1990s in terms of appointments and quality. That has been changing with the introduction of recent Subaru models including the XV Crosstrek. While the design won’t win any awards in terms of looks it is a step in the right direction, with much of interior wrapped in black soft-touch plastic and faux-metal accents. Subaru should also be given credit for placing most controls within easy reach of driver and passenger.
Seats in my 2015 XV Crosstrek tester came wrapped in cloth and provided good support for the driver and front passenger.
Back-seat passengers will find a good amount of head- and legroom. Cargo space is slightly small when compared to other compact crossovers, with 22.3 cubic feet of space with the rear seats up and 51.9 cubic feet with the seats down.
The XV Crosstrek uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. This can be paired with either a five-speed manual transmission or Subaru’s Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT). No matter which transmission you choose, Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system comes as standard. There is also an XV Crosstrek Hybrid, which pairs the 2.0-liter engine with an electric motor to produce a total output of 160 horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque.
The XV Crosstrek’s engine is very lethargic when accelerating from a stop or trying to merge onto a freeway, often feeling like it has to wind up like a toy car to get you moving.
You must plan ahead when passing or trying to merge in the XV Crosstrek. Not helping matters is a CVT that is tuned more for fuel economy than trying to get power to the road. The CVT also exacerbates engine noise, making it a quite unpleasant vehicle to drive around in. Fuel economy was the only bright spot for the 2.0-liter engine. The EPA rates the XV Crosstrek with the CVT at 26/34 mpg city/highway, or 29 mpg combined. I got 30 mpg as my average for the week.
At least the XV Crosstrek begins to claw back some points with its smooth, comfortable ride. With the increase of ground clearance and Subaru’s all-wheel drive-system, you can also drive through unplowed roads or dirt trails with no problem. Wind and road noise are kept to very acceptable levels.
Subaru has come a long way in terms of technology. The XV Crosstrek comes with a 6.2-inch touch screen as standard, while my tester boasted a larger 7-inch touch screen. No matter which size you go with, you’ll get Subaru’s Starlink infotainment system. This system gives you hands-free text messaging, two USB ports and smartphone app integration with Aha, Pandora, and iHeartRadio. The screen is quite vibrant and quick to respond. The only downside is that the piano-black finish around the screen gets littered with fingerprints.
Subaru outfits the 2015 XV Crosstrek with fair amount of standard safety equipment such as a full suite of air bags (including one for the driver’s knee), anti-lock brakes with brake assist, stability and traction control and a backup camera.
Optional is Subaru’s EyeSight system which uses two cameras mounted at the top of the windshield and feed data to adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning systems, as well as a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking. This system is one of the best as it was able to keep the distance and speed I had set when using the cruise control system. It also warned me of a car that stopped suddenly with enough time to take evasive action.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the 2015 XV Crosstrek with a top, 5-star overall safety rating. The XV Crosstrek earned 4 stars in NHTSA’s frontal and rollover tests, and 5 stars in the side-impact test.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the XV Crosstrek its highest Top Safety Pick+ award for earning top scores of Good in all crash tests, as well as a Superior rating for front crash prevention when equipped with the optional EyeSight system.
The 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek starts at $21,595 for the base trim and climbs to $24,795 for the Limited trim. Add options and a fully loaded XV Crosstrek will top out at $28,440. But only for a few hundred dollars more, you can get into a Subaru Forester which not only offers more space, but also comes with a larger four-cylinder engine that delivers 30 extra horsepower.
The 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek is a versatile crossover that can get you through whatever Mother Nature decides throw at you. It also offers great fuel economy and a strong list of standard features. However, its underpowered engine and limited cargo space would make us consider other compact SUVs before going with the XV Crosstrek.