Review: 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

Wednesday May 28th, 2014 at 9:55 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

By David Colman

Hypes: THE Japanese Army knife
Gripes: Needs more suds in the HP department

Attention Nike lovers. There’s now a car to take over when your athletic shoes just won’t do it. Subaru claims the Crosstrek is “equipped for play and built for doing.” There’s more truth to that evaluation than you’ve come to expect from automotive advertising. With a static ride height of 8.7 inches, all wheel drive, and nubby Yokohama Geolander tires (225/55R17), the Crosstrek is a legitimate off road tool, eminently well suited to outback forays, winter endeavors, and expeditions to the supermarket. Crosstrek certainly looks feral enough, with a hunched feline silhouette that’s about to pounce on the next strip of unexplored terrain. Inside, the Abercrombie & Fitch outfitting furthers the Indiana Jones illusion, with rough hewn cloth seats, ribbed rubber matting in the storage area, standard roof rail system, heated front seats, and rear hatch wiper/washer. If you select the Hybrid Crosstrek, which is a new offering from Subaru this year, you also get model-specific five spoke 17 inch diameter alloys that mimic the Fuchs wheels Porsche used as their trademark for over 30 years. Their simple design complements the heavily sculpted contours of the Crosstrek. To emphasize the green allure of the new Hybrid, our test Crosstrek sported an eye watering finish called Plasma Green Pearl that wore well as our week with the car wore on.

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

Operation of the Hybrid drive train is for the most part so seamless that you hardly know it’s present. Subaru has combined their FB20 4 cylinder engine with a 3 phase synchronous electric motor to provide 150hp and 165 lb.-ft. of torque. The opposed H- configuration gas engine features twin overhead cams, 10.8:1 compression ratio, and an under square bore/stroke ratio of 84mm x 90mm. The permanent magnet electric unit is good for 10kW output and 48 lb.-ft. of torque. Working together, the gas and electric powered Hybrid posts EPA numbers of 31 MPG overall. You can expect 39 MPG on the freeway, which will yield a tad over 500 miles on the Crosstrek’s 13.7 gallon fuel tank. In city usage (29 MPG), this Subaru automatically turns itself off when you’re stopped in traffic for more than 30 seconds, and usually re-fires without hesitation, though a jolt and shudder sometimes mars the procedure.

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

The internal layout of the Hybrid’s cabin is so functional that you wonder why so many manufacturers can’t emulate Subaru’s prowess in this regard. For example, take the rear seats here. Instead of making you search out hidden latches and mechanisms to fold them flat, the Crosstrek requires but one simple gesture to transform your interior from passenger to cargo trim. Pull up on the stem of an outboard mounted, visually obvious latch as you thrust the seatback forward, and presto, a flat floor cargo space manifests itself. No manual needs to be thumbed through, no obscure fold and tumble sequence needs to be followed. Removing the privacy screen which shields the rear space from prying eyes is equally simple when you’ve got big loads to carry. Just depress one end of the light weight stick, and the spring inside holding it in place instantly collapses, allowing you to store the part elsewhere. I recently struggled to collapse a similar unit in a Dodge Durango with such an overpowering spring that it refused to budge. The beauty of Subaru engineering is that it makes it simple tasks effortless.

With that ample ride height, you might think the Crosstrek would be somewhat tipsy in normal motoring tests, but you’d be wrong. This crossover handles the curves with aplomb, and you’re almost never aware of your exalted height. The Yokohama Geolanders are surprisingly complicit in upholding their end of the cornering bargain, and on the whole, the Crosstrek handles with the precision of a Nike Cross Trainer. The combined 150hp output of the drive train, however, leaves a bit more to be desired than the handling does. In passing or merging situations, you pretty much have to wring the Hybrid by the neck to extract enough surge to be comfortable. The CVT transmission, which Subaru pioneered a quarter century ago, is definitely your friend during such maneuvers, because paddles on the steering wheel allow you instant access to more rpm and more passing power. Still, this 3,165 pound Crosstrek’s gentle acceleration would benefit from a slightly larger displacement gas motor.

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

With a buy-in of just $26,820, it’s hard to beat the Hybrid Crosstrek for value, mileage, practicality and comfort. For “Just Do It” folks, the XV Crosstrek Hybrid is like finding a pair of Air Jordans at Ross Dress For Less.

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

  • Engine: 2.0 liter DOHC Opposed 4
  • Electric Motor: Permanent Magnet 3-Phase Synchronous
  • Horsepower: 150hp
  • Torque: 165 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 29 MPG City/39 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $26,820
  • Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2014 Subaru Forester 2.5i Touring

Friday March 21st, 2014 at 1:33 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Great Sightlines in All Directions, EyeSight Is Useful Option
Gripes: Unreadable LCD Touch Screen

The all new 2014, 4th generation Forester looks enough like its immediate predecessor to confuse you into believing Subaru has simply revised the sheet metal a bit. But a quick look at the specification sheet reveals the new Forester, at 181 inches in length and 71 inches in height, stands 1.5 inches longer and 2.1 inches taller than the version it replaces. The additional height is most noticeable when you enter the airy new cabin without ducking your head. In fact, if you’re feeling all hat and no cattle, go ahead and wear that ten gallon Stetson. You still won’t graze the roof liner, even when your Forester comes equipped with the huge Panoramic Power Moonroof that is standard issue on the Touring model. The extra length translates into added rear seat legroom, enabling aft passengers to lounge without knocking knees. Even the cargo hold is more spacious than before, growing to 74.7 cubic feet from 68.3 cubic feet when the split back seats are folded flat.

Of course, the extra size comes at a slight penalty in added weight, as the new Forester, at 3,415 pounds, carries an extra 164 pounds when compared to the previous model. However, the performance disadvantage you might expect from the additional weight is offset by the new CVT transmission, which has finally made its way to the Forester model line. Having introduced the very first CVT transmission to the US market in its Justy model back in 1988, Subaru has more experience with continuously variable transmissions than any other manufacturer. The breeding shows in the Forester application, where the CVT operates seamlessly, always offering just the right rpm range for the 2.5 liter flat 4 to operate optimally. There’s invariably enough zip on tap to master any merge or pass you might undertake. If you really feel the need for more speed, you can upgrade your 170hp Forester to the optional 258hp 2 liter, turbocharged 4. Bear in mind that the turbo will use more gas than the base motor, which manages 27 MPG in overall driving. Regardless of engine choice, the Forester is tow rated at a commendable 2,400 pounds.

When equipped with the newly available “EyeSight” driver assistance package ($2,400), the Forester is one of the safest vehicles you can buy in terms of crash prevention. Subaru has perfected its lane keeping program by seamlessly integrating EyeSight’s information stream into your driving routine – without the annoying chirps and buzzers so many other manufacturers favor. If you start to wander from your intended direction of travel, EyeSight will simply flash an orange warning light on the info panel between the 8,000rpm tachometer and the 150mph speedometer. The package also provides pre- collision braking and throttle management. Keyless access is included as well as high intensity discharge (HID) headlights. If you are inclined to favor such driver aids as EyeSight, you’ll discover that Subaru’s system puts most others to shame. Just be forewarned that you cannot attach anything to your windshield without disrupting the view of the twin CCD (charge coupled device) cameras attached to either side of the rear view mirror. Also, scratched windshields must be replaced with genuine Subaru glass to maintain the integrity of the system.

The Touring Forester utilizes a grip enhancing rubber cargo mat in the trunk compartment that helps stabilize loose items. The rear hatch features automatic lift when you pull the up on the indented exterior handle, as well as automatic closure. The interior carpets are covered with loose weave sisal mats that were all the rage 40 years ago when they were known as cocoa mats. They still work well and look great, and I’m not sure why they ever disappeared. Subaru has seen fit to provide 3 nice chunky knobs for the heating and ventilation system. Would that they had done the same for the entertainment/navigation unit, which requires you to input commands to a 6.1 inch LCD touch screen that is virtually impossible to read in daylight. The good news, however, is that the navigation unit is standard equipment on the Touring model, and the Bluetooth enabled AM/FM/HD/SIRIUS radio thumps out a whopping base through its Harmon Kardon 440 Watt amp and speaker system.

You won’t win any road races with the Forester because its handling suffers from its high center of gravity, and the Yokohama G91 Geolander tires (225/60R17) confer modest grip. But no one buys this Subaru to win races. Its appeal lies in its consummate practicality, standard all wheel drive traction, spunky pancake 4 engine, new CVT drive train, and above all, its unsurpassed interior spaciousness. If all that isn’t worth a relatively modest investment of $33,220, good luck bettering this combo elsewhere.

2014 Subaru Forester 2.5i Touring

  • Engine: 2.5 Liter Opposed 4, Electronic Fuel Injection
  • Horsepower: 170hp
  • Torque: 177 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 24 MPG City/32 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $33,220
  • Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

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2012 Subaru Outback 3.6R Review

Friday May 4th, 2012 at 8:55 AM
Posted by: AKramer

By Alex Kramer

Pros:

  • Potent 3.6 L 6-cylinder engine
  • Off-road capability of an SUV
  • Luxurious interior
  • Plenty of cargo room
  • Excellent value

Cons:

  • On-road handling is disappointingly soft
  • Exterior design is a step backwards
  • Mediocre premium audio system

YouTube Preview Image2011 Subaru Outback Review. This video is brought to you by TheDriversSeat.tv

For years Subaru has marketed its Legacy Outback as the SUV alternative for the outdoor crowd, with all the practicality and off-road capability of an SUV, but minus the bad SUV on-road handling. Which makes the fully redesigned 2010 Outback (the Legacy name has been dropped entirely) a bit of a head-scratcher, since it is bigger and more SUV-like in every way, from the increased height, width, and length, to the more SUV style appearance and ride. The increasing popularity of car-based crossovers must have convinced the engineers at Subaru that being an SUV isn’t that bad after all.

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2012 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Limited Review

Tuesday January 31st, 2012 at 2:11 PM
Posted by: berrichondanny

By Danny Chang

Pros:

  • Awesome handling
  • Great power once turbo kicks in
  • Extremely rev-happy engine with a close-ratio 6-speed

Cons:

  • Cheap interior materials
  • Wish the 6-speed shifter could be quicker shifting
  • Can’t miss it styling

 

Having recently test driven a Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart (I know, not quite the Evo), I have been looking forward to driving the WRX STI for a long time. And I was not disappointed when my editor showed up with the STI Limited sedan with the giant functioning air scoop on the hood and the even more gigantic rear wing on the trunk. Unfortunately it’s in bright red.

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Toyota FT-86 II Concept Moves Closer to Production

Wednesday March 9th, 2011 at 8:33 AM
Posted by: aquadog

Toyota FT-86 II ConceptA new concept  of the Toyota FT-86 debuted at the Geneva Motor. The Toyota FT-86 II concept sports coupe, after making its original debut at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show with the FT-86 concept, seems to be moving closer to an actual production model.

Little information and specs have been released about the redesigned FT-86 II concept. However, we do know that it will use a 2.0-liter, four cylinder boxer engine with power driving the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission.

A few major differences between the original FT-86 concept version and the latest FT-86 II concept are the larger rear window and front grille, a new front bumper with a string of LED daytime running lights, and a different rear bumper with larger dual tail pipes.

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2011 Subaru Forester 2.5X Review

Monday March 7th, 2011 at 3:33 PM
Posted by: mash

By Mary Ellen Ash

Yays:

  • Excellent interior space – leg-room and storage
  • Standard All-Wheel Drive
  • Good MPG – 21 city, 27 hwy (25.5 mpg observed)
  • Integrated GPS, stereo, and Bluetooth
  • Extra large moonroof

Nays:

  • Minimalist center console
  • Cheap plastic interior and poor panel alignment
  • Uninspired vehicle design
  • Uncomfortable rear seating

Verdict: Not fancy or overly stylish, but it is rugged, reliable and versatile for many occasions

The Subaru Forester is one of Subaru’s best selling vehicles — a five-passenger mid-sized SUV that offers impressive interior and cargo space, good fuel economy,  and standard AWD  — making it a strong contender for active SUV shoppers and outdoor enthusiasts who are on a budget. Subaru is well known for building very practical cars, minimizing all the frills to give you an economical car that gets the job done. Period. As with its previous iterations, the current Subaru Forester is still a strong entry in the constantly growing mid-sized SUV segment and is comparable to its best-selling competitors from Honda and Toyota.

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2011 Subaru Impreza WRX First Impressions Review

Wednesday January 19th, 2011 at 3:11 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

By contributing editor David Colman

Pros

  • Super performance value for modest outlay
  • Spacious enough to haul 4 adults or camping gear for the weekend
  • Handsome interior accoutrement
  • First class sport seats
  • Wider track, wider wheels mean greater stability

Cons

  • Thirsty 4-cylinder engine
  • Would be so much better with a dual-clutch automatic transmission
  • Styling heavy handed
  • Hood scoop needs to disappear
  • Buy this one and you’ll have STI (305hp) envy

The latest incarnation of the Impreza WRX makes so much sense on so many levels that it’s hard to believe you only need to shell out $28,995 to buy the leather-shod Limited model. For skiers and outdoor adventurers, the new wide-body 5-door hatchback provides enough room to haul four adults anywhere in comfort. If you find yourself mired in snow, the Impreza’s continuous all-wheel-drive will outsmart drifts by apportioning up to 100 percent of available traction either fore or aft thanks to a viscous coupling, locking center differential.

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Video Review: 2011 Subaru WRX STI Sedan vs 2007 Subaru WRX STI

Wednesday January 12th, 2011 at 4:11 PM
Posted by: Derek

2011_subaru_sti_shootoutFor 2011 Subaru brings back the STI as a 4-door and a long list of improvements. How does this new model compare against the now “classic” 2007 design?

Owners claim that the 2007 STI was the “best” ever and the changes made to the model in subsequent model years softened the car and ruined its driving performance. Does the new 2011 STI model live up to its expectations?

Apologies in advance from Driving Sports TV for borrowing a certain format from another popular automotive show.

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2011 Subaru Impreza WRX Review – Just like Christmas morning – you can't wait to open it up!

Wednesday November 24th, 2010 at 10:1111 AM
Posted by: hollyrrr

By Holly Roberts

Pros:

  • Accelerates crazy fast
  • Very comfortable seats
  • Excellent handling ability
  • Back seats accommodate passengers easily (not cramped seating)
  • Really, really, really FUN to drive

Cons:

  • Bumpy ride could require a dose of Dramamine for passengers before riding on winding, bumpy roads
  • Release handle for gas door quirky and frustrating
  • Plastic interior dash and door panels feel like they came from a 1992 Corolla

I’ve driven a few Subarus, and have always liked them, but the WRX moniker has always escaped me.  I found that any time I mentioned that I’d be reviewing a WRX, guys faces lit up like a Christmas tree.  Is this something the female population misses out on? Is it not in our DNA to recognize the hot little sports car in hiding? Well, five seconds behind the wheel of this car made me understand the excitement that all of my male friends exhibited.  Wow. Wow. Wow. Did I say “wow”? A very impressive driving machine. Subaru actually seemed to make it bluer than the bluest blue you’ve ever seen (not really my style), but it sure was a blast to drive!

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Video: 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI First Drive

Friday July 23rd, 2010 at 12:77 PM
Posted by: Derek

2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI
The 2011 Subaru WRX STI, with its iconic rear wing, receives a new body style this year. Under the hood is a 305 horsepower Subaru Boxer powerplant. Suspension tuning techniques, such as lowering the ride height to 5.9 inches, using stiffer front stabilizer bar and rear springs (the latter by 18 percent), and stiffer subframe bushings, were aimed at improving steering precision to further minimize mid-corner corrections.

Also new are standard 18-inch Enkei aluminum wheels that are 17 lbs. lighter than before, or silver BBS® forged alloy wheels for drivers who like to stand out from the crowd.

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