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2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 4/5/2017

Con: Lackluster acceleration; CVT produces tiresome engine noise; substandard sound systems; hybrid model doesn't justify added cost.

Interior: The Subaru XV Crosstrek follows a template similar to its Impreza counterpart, with a simple interior design that features logically arranged controls. The dashboard and door panels are wrapped in soft-touch trim, and in general the Crosstrek's cabin materials are nicer than Subaru's historical norm. With a standard 6.2-inch touchscreen interface and an available 7.0-inch touchscreen that includes enhanced multimedia features, the XV Crosstrek has one of the better-equipped interiors in this segment from a technological standpoint. Standard audio quality is pretty awful, though, and there's no premium brand-name upgrade like you'll find in some rivals.

For drivers and passengers alike, the XV Crosstrek has plenty of room -- even with 6-footers in the mix. With the rear seatbacks in place, the Crosstrek offers 22.3 cubic feet of storage space, expanding to 51.9 cubes with those seatbacks lowered. That's considerably more than the Juke, but it trails crossovers like the Escape and Forester by a healthy margin. At least the flat load floor means you're able to maximize the space provided. The hybrid rates only slightly less in this regard, as the battery pack located beneath the cargo floor reduces cargo capacity by just 1.7 cubic feet with the rear seatbacks folded and 0.8 cubic feet with the seatbacks in place.

Body: The 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek is a small crossover available in five trim levels: 2.0i, 2.0i Premium, 2.0i Limited, Hybrid and Hybrid Touring.

Standard equipment on the base 2.0i includes 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, rear privacy glass, air-conditioning, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera and a four-speaker audio system with a 6.2-inch touchscreen display, smartphone integration (Aha, Pandora and iHeartRadio), a CD player, a USB port and an auxiliary input jack.

The 2.0i Premium adds heated mirrors, heated front seats, an adjustable center armrest, a cargo cover, a removable cargo tray and a six-speaker audio system.

The 2.0i Limited adds automatic headlights, ambient interior lighting, upgraded instrumentation, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a rear seat fold-down armrest and an upgraded infotainment system with satellite radio, dual USB ports, hands-free text messaging and a 7.0-inch touchscreen display.

The Hybrid includes the 2.0i Limited's features (minus the leather upholstery and upgraded infotainment system) and adds unique 17-inch wheels, keyless entry and ignition, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an LCD display in the gauge cluster, a hybrid-specific energy display atop the center stack and a pedestrian alert system that emits a sound while the vehicle is only using the electric motor to notify pedestrians of its presence.

The Hybrid Touring adds a sunroof, leather upholstery, the 2.0i Limited's infotainment system and a navigation system.

The sunroof is optional on 2.0i Premium (CVT only) and Limited models, while the Premium can be outfitted with the Limited's 7.0-inch touchscreen system. The Limited can upgrade to the Hybrid Touring's navigation system. Both the Premium and Limited can also be equipped with Subaru's EyeSight safety package, which adds steering-responsive foglights, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking. On the Limited, EyeSight comes bundled with keyless entry and ignition, but this feature can also be added to the Limited without EyeSight. Note that EyeSight is not available on hybrid models, nor are any other options.

Driving: Although there's an available five-speed manual on the non-hybrid base and Premium models, most XV Crosstreks will come with the CVT. And whether you're driving around town or on the highway, there's no hiding the fact that the CVT's top priority is to minimize fuel consumption. The downside is that acceleration is adequate at best, and you'll need to plan ahead for passing and merging. We've also found that the CVT's hair-trigger responses to gas pedal inputs can increase engine speed unnecessarily and exacerbate noise from under the hood.

Dynamically, the XV Crosstrek is every bit a traditional Subaru. It feels confident and composed on slippery roads, where its standard all-wheel drive and stability control systems make its reactions very predictable. The Crosstrek's extra ground clearance also helps it glide along snowy streets and dirt trails. While we wouldn't call it sporty, the XV Crosstrek can be pretty fun on dry pavement, too, thanks to a nicely tuned suspension. The cabin remains surprisingly well isolated from wind and tire noise on the highway.

The Crosstrek Hybrid is just as capable off-road as the standard model and broadly similar on pavement, but the awkward regenerative brakes are intrusive. The extra low-end torque provided by the hybrid's electric motor improves drivability slightly by giving the car a little bit more punch off the line. The Crosstrek Hybrid is a little less entertaining, though, as its extra weight hurts handling in quick corners.

What’s New: The 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek gets a new base trim level, and all trims come standard with a rearview camera and a 6.2-inch touchscreen with smartphone-app integration. A 7-inch touchscreen is available, as is Subaru's EyeSight safety package with adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking. Keyless entry and ignition is newly available on the Limited trim.

The standard (non-hybrid) 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek features a 2.0-liter horizontally opposed "boxer" four-cylinder engine that produces 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on 2.0i and 2.0i Premium; it's coupled to an all-wheel-drive system with a 50/50 front/rear power distribution. Optional on Premium and standard on Limited is a CVT coupled to a different all-wheel-drive system that typically apportions more power to the front wheels but directs power rearward when front traction is compromised.

The hybrid has the same engine running through the CVT and AWD system, and it adds an electric motor that raises output to 160 hp and 163 lb-ft of torque.

In Edmunds testing, a regular XV Crosstrek with the CVT accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 9.9 seconds, while the hybrid went from zero to 60 in 10.0 seconds. The hybrid's time is about average for hybrid wagons, but nearly every compact crossover on the market is quicker. Both cars feel pretty sluggish off the line.

Official EPA estimates for the XV Crosstrek stand at 29 mpg combined (26 city/34 highway) for the CVT, while the manual transmission reduces those numbers to 26 mpg combined (23/31). The XV Crosstrek Hybrid is the best of the bunch at 31 mpg combined (30/34).

Safety: The 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek comes standard with stability and traction control, antilock disc brakes, front side airbags and side curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag, a rearview camera and active front head restraints. Hybrid models also come with an audible pedestrian alert system that plays a warning sound through a speaker behind the right headlight when only the electric motor is in use. Optional on the non-hybrid Premium and Limited trims is Subaru's EyeSight safety suite, which includes steering-responsive foglights, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking.

In government crash testing, both the XV Crosstrek and the Crosstrek Hybrid received five out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for total frontal-impact safety and five stars for total side-impact safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the XV Crosstrek the highest possible rating of "Good" in its small-overlap and moderate-overlap frontal-offset impact tests. It also earned a "Good" score in the side-impact, roof strength and whiplash protection (seats and head restraints) tests. The optional frontal collision mitigation system earned a "Superior" rating from the IIHS as well.

In Edmunds brake testing, the XV Crosstrek stopped from 60 mph in 126 feet, which is a few feet longer than average. The Crosstrek Hybrid stopped from 60 mph in 119 feet despite its extra weight.

Pro: Standard all-wheel drive; relatively strong off-road capabilities; spacious seating; good fuel economy; generous standard features.

Edmunds Say: The off-road-ready 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek is worth a look if you're seeking versatility in a small package, but rivals offer more in the way of refinement and on-road performance.

Introduction: In the compact crossover class, it takes a lot to attract attention, but the 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek pulls it off. For one thing, it's the only vehicle of this type that's available as a gas-electric hybrid in addition to the standard gas-powered model. For another, it feels more carlike than most rivals. That's because it really is a car -- a Subaru Impreza wagon, to be precise, but with some beefed-up suspension components, a higher ride height and tougher-looking styling.

Those suspension upgrades help the all-wheel-drive XV be remarkably capable when the pavement ends, but the Edmunds "B" rated non-hybrid XV Crosstrek isn't the first vehicle we'd recommend for daily travel. The problems start with the standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Power is underwhelming, and the continuously variable transmission (CVT) makes matters worse by having hair-trigger responses and a propensity to keep the engine droning loudly during acceleration. In Edmunds testing, we found the Crosstrek to be one of the slowest vehicles in its class. With a full load of camping gear and companions, it's bound to be even less inspiring.

As for the XV Crosstrek Hybrid, it gets more horsepower and a bump in fuel economy, so you might expect it to be our favorite. Unfortunately, despite its 12 extra horses, the Edmunds "C"-rated hybrid weighs almost 300 pounds more, which effectively negates the power injection. You won't benefit much at the pump, either, as the significantly pricier Crosstrek Hybrid provides a mere 2-mpg advantage over the regular Crosstrek with the CVT.

From a practical standpoint, it's hard for us to fully recommend the XV Crosstrek. Subaru's own Forester is a little more expensive, for example, but it offers more power, solid off-road ability and added interior space without sacrificing much fuel economy. Other small crossovers like the 2015 Ford Escape aren't as capable in the dirt, but they compensate with superior on-road handling and roomy, well-equipped cabins. If you prefer a more compact body like the Crosstrek's, the 2015 Nissan Juke and 2015 Mini Countryman are worth a look. But if you mainly want a versatile and inexpensive runabout that can get you off the beaten path, the Subaru XV Crosstrek will likely satisfy.

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