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The Subaru XV Crosstrek’s added height enables the vehicle to move easily over packed snow and makes the suspension travel longer, too.

Based on the compact Impreza wagon, the Subaru XV Crosstrek rides 75 mm higher (220 mm total) from the ground – the added height enabling the vehicle to move easily over packed snow and making the suspension travel longer, too. The features were welcomed as the Crosstrek soaked up the deep potholes on the neglected roads of La Belle Province.

As with the Impreza, the XV has full-time all-wheel drive. For those more daring adventurers, the off-road chops of the XV Crosstrek can really only be topped by more dedicated four-wheel-drive off-roaders. Snowed-in roads or icy hills – even a dedicated snow-cross track, as experienced in Montebello – are dismissed almost as if it were summer again.

This car is the Limited version with a well-mannered CVT and the technology package, which includes the company's Eyesight driver assistance feature – it stops the car if it senses an impending collision, and it's one of the more heralded systems out there. In fact, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety gives any Subaru with the system its highest rating of Top Safety Pick +, something to welcome the next time you're taking the brood out for hot chocolate and a skate.

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Combine all of that with a fuel-efficient and peppy engine, decent room inside and an aggressive look, and you get an XV Crosstrek that is adept for any adventure.

You'll like this car if ... Your off-road adventures always have to end back at your small parking spot in the city.

TECH SPECS

  • Base price: $24,995; as tested: $31,795
  • Engine: 2.0-litre boxer four-cylinder
  • Transmission: CVT
  • Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 9.1 city/7.0 highway, regular gas
  • Alternatives: Subaru Forester, Nissan Rogue, Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Nissan Juke

RATINGS

  • Looks: It took a few tweaks to make the XV Crosstrek looks much more rugged and versatile than the Impreza that it’s based on, with higher ground clearance for a taller stance and black plastic around the wheel wells and along the door sills.
  • Interior: The interior isn’t quite up to par with the competition in both materials and design. Short seat cushions, lackluster design and prolfic use of plastic mitigate the looks of the snappy exterior. There are bottle holders in the doors and a few other places for phones and detritus for the passengers.
  • Technology: The full-time AWD system is one of the best in the business. And Subarus with the optional Eyesight safety system – again, one of the best in the business – are rated as a Top Safety Pick+ by the IIHS. Even without Eyesight, the XV is still rated a Top Safety Pick because of its structure and other safety features built into the car.
  • Performance: Its 148-horsepower isn’t stellar, but the car still feels spritely, both on a straight and in corners. The steering is sharp, the raised suspension soaks up harsh potholes and the all-wheel drive will take you almost anywhere, though it would be nice to have the off-road biased X-Mode system that the Forester and Outback share.
  • Cargo: Oddly, the XV Crosstrek has slightly less cargo room than the Impreza, a bit of a hit to its versatility. Still, it’s enough for most adventure gear or baby strollers. The integrated roof rack will carry your bikes or kayaks.

THE VERDICT

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8.5

With safety, performance, durability and residual value in mind, it's hard not to recommend a Subaru anytime. The XV Crosstrek offers a different level of features than normally found in the compact hatchback segment that would appeal to more than just those looking to venture off the beaten path. A larger SUV may not fit everybody's lifestyle or budget. And that's where Subaru has very nicely nestled into its niche.

The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.

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