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December 1, 2012

Subaru XV Crosstrek breaks new ground

You can think of the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek as a Lance Armstrong of the automotive world. Armstrong is a great cyclist who, well, got a little boost. The Crosstrek is a Subaru Impreza that gets a boost.

The Crosstrek is raised about 4 inches higher than a standard Impreza, giving it greater clearance over road hazards (think snow), and over minor off-road obstacles like ruts and rocks and sloppy puddles. The new model rides on some meatier support to handle rougher driving than the Impreza, including a stouter suspension, and larger wheels, tires and brakes. It wears some distinguishing body armor, especially at its nose and tail. Features like a gaping intake below the front bumper, and big, blocky rear corners, give the Crosstrek a rough, tough attitude you don’t see in the more finely chiseled Impreza.

“It’s an Impreza on steroids,” quipped Aaron Singer, owner of Singer Subaru in Plaistow, N.H.

Of course, the steroids line is only an expression. The boosts Subaru provides to the Crosstrek all are legitimate additions and enlargements that raise Impreza into a different vehicle category altogether.

At the same time, the Crosstrek keeps all the impressive fundamentals of the Impreza. Those include the basic body shape of the Impreza wagon, with its cargo hold under the hatch in back (Subaru also sells a sedan variation of Impreza). They include the same, capable and economical four-cylinder engine, the comfortable, smart and sensible interior, and the high-traction, all-wheel-drive system that makes Impreza a favorite around here in winter.

But the extra height and stouter under-carriage components elevate the Crosstrek officially into the sport-utility-vehicle class. Sport-utilities are trucks, officially, according to U.S. government classifications. Accordingly, the U.S. government counts them differently when it figures a company’s fuel-economy performance.

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