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Driving Impressions:
California Dreamin’

 

 

 
Travel Numbers
 
Although the majority of my time in the XV Crosstrek was in stop-and-go freeway and urban traffic as well as climbing up and down mountains, it still delivered satisfactory mileage figures. In addition, bear in mind that the vehicle had only 14 miles on the odometer when I started, so it wasn’t fully broken in.
 
Odometer at start: 14 miles (fuel tank full)
Odometer at finish: 628 miles
 
Fuel fill-ups:

8/1/12

315 miles/
315.6 on tank of fuel
11.3 gallons 27.9 mpg
8/2/12 608 miles/
293.1 on tank of fuel
10.4 gallons 28.2 mpg
Total 608.7 miles 21.7 gallons 28.1 mpg

Pick-Up Point – Adaptability

 

The XV Crosstrek Premium with Lineartronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) and Navigation System that I was picking up to drive was only a few miles from the Los Angeles International Airport – a quick cab ride. After grabbing the vehicle’s key, I got ready to go.

 

Preparing to drive a vehicle that’s new to you takes longer today than ever. Settings go beyond adjusting the mirrors and driver seat. I hooked up my phone to the audio system via Bluetooth®1, entered the location of my hotel on the intuitive navigation system, adjusted the steering wheel and seat height to suit me, and found a classic rock station on XM®2 satellite radio. Then I changed my mind about the music and connected my iPhone®3 for the music stored in it.

 

Off I went – just not very quickly, because rush hour was under way. Once I entered the freeway system, I had plenty of time to test the audio system. The sounds from its speakers were incredibly clear and gave new life to music that I’ve listened to for years.

 

This was all preliminary, though. The journeys planned for the next two days would show me far more of the character of the XV Crosstrek.

 

Urban Journeys

 

My hotel was in Seal Beach, California. Urban/suburban in nature, it leads to some intense driving, no matter which route you take out of town. During my stay, I used two of them.

 

One was the freeway system – not very fast during the hours I chose to drive. The second one was the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), which was just down the street – a beautiful drive that demonstrated how amenable the XV Crosstrek is in tight quarters.

 

On the first day, the stop-and-go traffic on the freeway averaged less than 30 miles per hour. It showed how well the XV Crosstrek accelerates with its 2.0-liter Subaru BOXER engine and CVT. I became accustomed to the transmission’s paddle shifters, downshifting to slow down and help reduce wear on the brake pads. Although the CVT is seamless in its transfer of power to the wheels, the electronically controlled shifts (both up and down) when using the paddles cause the transmission to find “gears” in a familiar manner.

 

Freeway cracks and holes also gave a good sense of how quiet the vehicle’s body can be. Both front and rear subframes help isolate the cabin from unnecessary road noise. That quiet was readily noticed by passengers Pat and Parin who traveled along the PCH with me that afternoon.

 

Both passengers also had good things to say about various aspects of the interior. First, the seats: The front seats are comfortable for all-day drives, and the rear seat received high marks for comfort as well. Second, leg room: The rear-seat passenger was surprised at the amount of leg room even though the front passenger had his seat pushed back most of the way. Third, head room: At more than six feet in height, the front-seat occupant commented that the XV Crosstrek’s head room beat that in his large luxury automobile.

 

Driving south along the Pacific coast, we entered a number of towns, most of which had homes crowded together for access to the beach. The streets were narrow, even the major highways. The PCH was intended for less-crowded times – not for parking and two travel lanes in each direction.

 

The XV Crosstrek shines on roads like the PCH. The vehicle is small enough to squeeze through, and you sit high enough to have an excellent view, especially with the windshield glass extended forward and side windows where mirrors are typically mounted. (They’re mounted on the doors instead.) Watching behind is easy, too, with the large exterior rearview mirrors.

 

Following the PCH up and down some of the bluffs did not daunt the XV Crosstrek, even with three good-sized people and some equipment on board.

 

There was far more of that kind of travel the second full day with the vehicle!

 

Mountain Journey

 

Besides the obvious hiking and climbing adventures offered by the mountain areas, the national forests near Los Angeles also have been the sites for rally races. So, armed with stage route maps from a rally that was held a few years ago, I headed for Angeles National Forest.

 

The XV Crosstrek easily plied the hills and valleys as I tracked down several of the rally roads – most of which were closed or only open to ATVs. So my journey was in the climbing and the descents.

 

I drove up to well above 7,000 feet, and the XV Crosstrek never faltered or whimpered. Plus, pulling off onto rock-strewn entrances to trails caused no concern because of the vehicle’s 8.7 inches of ride height.

 

Like the PCH, the mountain roads were narrow, but not due to housing. Nor were they as crowded as the PCH. I can see where the XV Crosstrek would be the perfect vehicle to take equipment and a friend to go climbing, camping, kayaking, etc.

 

It was on one of the mountain slopes that I met two climbers – both of retirement age. They approached to see if the XV Crosstrek was a Subaru. (They had a bet.) Finding that it was, they guessed by its appearance that it was a new Outback. They were interested in its space with the seatbacks folded down and its estimated mileage (EPA estimated 33 mpg highway).

 

A number of Subaru owners had checked out the XV Crosstrek on the freeways, too, trying to see just what this Subaru was. It does draw attention, even in Satin White Pearl.

 

 

Not Ready to Return It

 

I handed back the key with reluctance after only 628 miles. I felt as if I were only just starting to get to know this vehicle.

 

Personal highlights of the XV Crosstrek:

  • The cockpit-like feel of the driver’s seat, with a balanced instrument panel straight ahead and the navigation screen with the computer readouts stacked within easy reach to the right
  • Handiness of the paddle shifters
  • Steering ease, especially in urban areas
  • Mileage – I’d like to see how much improvement there is cruising without traffic and once the engine is broken in
  • The sound produced by the audio system
  • The intuitive navigation system
  • Ride quietness
  • Added suspension height – good for rocky side roads, so I’d like to see how it would handle the snow in Wisconsin, where I live

 

1 Bluetooth is a registered trademark of Bluetooth SIG, Inc.
2 XM is a registered trademark of XM Satellite Radio, Inc.
3 iPhone is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.

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