New Car Review: 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek

Desert Khaki 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek parked in a suburban driveway
The 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek.

I have only one complaint about the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek.

The one they sent me was painted the same shade as Walter White's Pontiac Aztek.

I really figured that color was something the studio made up to telegraph just how dull and drab ol' Walt's life was before he, you know, started cooking meth and killing people.

But, no. Subaru will sell you an XV Crosstrek in pretty much that same color. They call it "Desert Khaki". There are 7 other colors and you're free to make your own choice. I wouldn't pick "Desert Khaki", but if I were in the market, a Subaru XV Crosstrek would definitely be on my list.

As we've noted before, Subaru excels at the basics. Solid, reliable vehicles endowed with full-time four-wheel drive for not much money.

The XV we tested was the Premium model, which in this case, is the base model (the Limited is the step up). It starts at $21,995 with a 5-speed manual. Switch to a Continuously Variable Transmission like our tester and it jumps by a grand to $22.995.

For that, you get a nifty little crossover that has a raised suspension, 8.7 inches of ground clearance, 17-inch alloy wheels, larger fuel tank and brakes (compared to the Impreza wagon on which it's based), and...with the CVT, one that gets an estimated 25 miles per gallon city, 33 highway (which our week of mixed driving suggests is entirely realistic).

2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek interior
The 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek interior.
Subaru keeps the interior choices simple. You're looking at it...black cloth. Comfortable and easy to clean. Probably long-wearing too. Included in the standard features, dark tint privacy glass, heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer.

While we're on winter stuff, there's been a remarkable cold snap at TireKicker World Headquarters in Arizona....and the Subaru's heater was a godsend. 2 minutes tops and hot air was ours (this is not a given...two Lexuses we've had recently have needed 10 minutes before any discernable heat was generated).

You also get two 12 volt power outlets, an outside temperature gauge with road surface freeze indicator, and an audio system with Bluetooth, iPod control capability, USB and auxilary jacks and six speakers. The only other niggle: Whoever wrote the warning that appears on-screen when Bluetooth and your cell phone fail to connect doesn't speak English as a first language. I meant to write it down or snap a picture of it and neglected to. But you'll get the idea, and it will remind you where Subaru comes from.

The only option on the tester was the Moonroof and Navigation package for $2,000...so with$795 for destination and delivery charges, the bottom line wound up $25,790. That's not a bad price at all. Skip the Moonroof and Nav and you're at $23,790....for a spacious yet small crossover SUV with both bad weather and light off-road capabilities that gets 33 miles per gallon on the highway. In our book, that pegs the value meter.