Another car that isn't going to excite many people, but ranks high on the value meter is the Subaru XV Crosstrek. This car was introduced at last year's show, but it took a year of reviews and comparisons to cars in its class to grow on me. Why? Well. I wanted to give the Hyundai Elantra GT (i30) a fair shake. It has nice features, a good transmission and a very good engine. But the cost cutting in the rear of the car is obvious. Hyundai didn't send the wagon version of the car to the US (as they did in 2009 with the Elantra Touring), and the rear suspension has been downgraded to torsion beam. Most drivers won't notice or care. But I prefer independent rear suspension. Car makers took away the fun of rear wheel drive from us, but at least let us car buyers choose a superior suspension setup. Fortunately there are plenty of other cars out there.
The Crosstrek XV is the better value compared to the Elantra GT. The increased ride height is not for everyone. Nor is the CVT transmission. But the utility features, the slightly larger cargo space, the better stock wheels, and sportier cockpit should win both singles and young families alike. More important, it has a longer list of standard features, especially the heated seats, a feature that I believe Subaru offers standard in al of its cars sold in the US.
Car aficionados lament how Honda got rid of its tradition of using double wishbone suspension on all four wheels. That was and still is a premium, superior suspension design. Subaru has retained double wishbone rear suspension in all of its current US lineup. That's an engineering advantage over cars with torsion beam rear suspension.
Subaru unveiled a hybrid version of the XV Crosstrek at this year's New York International Auto Show. It has a driveshaft, so the rear wheels are not electrified as they are in Subaru's Viziv concept, which they unveiled this past February. The verdict on this more conventional hybrid is that the additional fuel savings probably won't justify the higher price tag. In fact, if anything, it will highlight just what a good value the gasoline-only XV Crosstrek is. Zac Estrada over at Jalopnik points out that the XV Crosstrek hybrid only get 10% better fuel economy over the slightly more fun, and lower priced gasoline model.
Like the Outback Sport before it, the XV Crosstrek is a lot of car for the money, and is Subaru’s best value. It comes well equipped at $20,000.
Subaru's global head of sales and marketing, Tomohiko Ikeda, revealed that Subaru's next two milestones are to electrify the rear wheels in future hybrid models (using independent electric motors, one for each wheel), and then full electrification for all non “performance” models (the BRZ and WRX). But until then, we have Subarus like this. While not nearly as fun to drive as the models that used five speed tradtional transmissions, these will do until the electectric vehicles arrive. At least the Crosstrek brings back some of the quirkyness that made Subaru such a lovable brand.