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Motoring: Riding out the storm in the XV Crosstrek

Credit: Subaru

A look inside the Subaru XV Crosstrek.

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | January 21st, 2013

With wintery weather in full swing now, this is the right time to talk about all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles.

While the cleanup crew does its best to clear up our roads of snow and ice, one cannot overlook the advantages of AWD vehicles and the added traction benefits they provide.

A company that is well known for its AWD vehicles is Subaru. Apart from their new sports coupe (BRZ), their entire lineup either has AWD or has it available as an option.

However, today I am not talking about their entire lineup, but just one member in particular: the XV Crosstrek.

I have reviewed this vehicle — which is based on their Impreza platform — in these pages before, but it is worth talking about again. While my first impression of this vehicle was based on a drive event, now I have had it for a week — and what a week it was, since it was the week in late October when we got hit with Hurricane Sandy.

The day I picked it up was the day this storm was at its worst. The wind speed was enough to knock you down, and travel of any sort seemed impossible. I had no option but to travel, since I had to be in Mississauga for work (and changing press cars) and had to drive back to London the same day.

On my route, I encountered high winds, rain, wet snow and darkness. The weather conditions had forced many travelers to pull off the road and wait out the storm.

Not me, because the car I was driving — the XV Crosstrek — drove through this challenging weather as if everything was normal.

It is as if the XV Crosstrek has no respect for Mother Nature. No matter what the weather and road conditions were, the XV had traction to keep me moving. On top of it all, everything in it worked just fine. The heated seats kept me warm, and the stereo system kept me entertained.

Since the weather forced many people to stay home, traffic was lighter than usual, which allowed me to cover the distance faster than usual.

I have always had respect for Subaru and their AWD system, but after this drive, I was completely sold on it.

If the weather is misbehaving, the XV is an ideal vehicle to tackle it with. But what about on days when the weather is normal? Is the XV an ideal daily driver?

Well, being a hatchback, it can swallow all the shopping a normal person does, and consuming just 8.8 litres/100km in my week, it is economical to run.

However, it would be nice to have some more power. The only engine offered in the XV is a 2.0- litre, horizontally opposed (boxer) four-cylinder engine that produces 148 hp and 145 lb/ft of torque. That is not a lot of grunt, so this will not win favour with any enthusiasts.

Power is fed to the wheels via either a CVT-automatic or a fivespeed manual gearbox (as in my tester). Both gearboxes are fine, though there is room for improvement.

What this vehicle exceeds at is going off-road and pulling you out of conditions most cars cannot. While most companies build these butch-looking vehicles just for show, Subaru made sure the XV Crosstrek can actually do the things its looks suggests. Subaru, it seems, is a very honest company.

If you're looking for a vehicle that lives up to what its looks and specifications suggest, perhaps you need to take a closer look at the XV Crosstrek. Prices start at $24,495.
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