Winter special: 2013 Audi Allroad and 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek

You’re a young, upstart professional with a toddler and a yellow lab — precisely the demographic for Denver’s upscale Washington Park neighborhood.  CUVs and SUVs are too large for your bungalow’s parking pad, and besides, Denver is an eco-conscious mecca, so you want to minimize your footprint.


No, the 2013 Audi Allroad and the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek won’t run on organic flour and patchouli, but they do fit the bill for a pair of versatile and efficient kid/dog-mobiles that will lend you a certain degree of exclusivity.


2013 Audi Allroad

If you think the Allroad mildly resembles the Audi A5, you’re right — the 1.0-inch wider track front and rear (compared with the A4 Avant) were lifted straight from Audi’s sexy coupe.


Mission accomplished, then, also by way of Audi’s singleframe grille, LED taillights, raised roof rails and tasteful cladding.  It’s a looker, and its muscular profile turns quite a few heads.


Inside, the cabin is typical A4 — stark but functional.  In Audi speak, stark and functional means ergonomic perfection, and all controls are straightforward and easy to use. 


None of this would matter without a comfortable and versatile interior, and on this note, the new Allroad delivers in spades.


The increased dimensions (namely a 1.4-inch-longer wheelbase) contribute to a smoother ride, says Audi, and I believe it.  The old model’s Delphi adjustable suspension has been eschewed in favor of a simple and compliant steel spring independent setup, both front and rear. 


Outdoor types need not fear, as the new Allroad’s ride height still maintains a 1.5-inch advantage over its A4 Avant cousin (7.1 inches total) and come standard with a variety of skid plates for underbody protection.


Ascending to your campsite in the hills is effortless thanks to Audi’s direct-injected, turbocharged four-cylinder TFSI engine.  Good for 211 HP and 258 lb-ft. of torque, the chain-driven mill sends power to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.


During my week of mixed mountain, city, and highway testing, the Allroad averaged a respectable 22.9 MPG, which is not far off the EPA’s 23-MPG rating.  Worth noting, longer highway stints regularly saw closer to 30 MPG.


Competition for the Allroad is really limited to the dated Volvo XC70. But consumers will likely cross-shop the Allroad with CUVs such as the Volvo XC60, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLK and even the Audi Q5.


That being said, there’s something about having an economical, versatile “anti-CUV” with a certain degree of exclusivity.  With an as-tested price of $47,395, which included navigation, a panoramic sunroof, xenon headlamps and keyless access, the 2013 Audi Allroad does also provide excellent value within its class.


2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek

Walking up to my Tangerine Orange Pearl 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Premium for the first time, the intro to Led Zeppelin’s own “Tangerine” played over and over in my head.  This car looks menacing with its black-painted 17-inch wheels, pronounced fender flares and raised ride height.


That ride height adds up to 8.7 total inches of ground clearance — 1.6 inches more than the Allroad.  And while the XV Crosstrek’s styling is “love it” or “hate it,” the overall appearance leaves no doubt as to the wagon’s rugged versatility.


Inside, my XV Crosstrek Premium was clad in black cloth with a black dash, black doors and black carpet.  It’s a sea of black, but the materials feel premium and are nicely textured.  And, the upholstery and carpeting feel substantial enough to withstand several years’ worth of abuse (and pet hair).


Once you get up to speed, the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek is magnificent to drive.  The four-wheel-independent suspension’s damping and rebound motions are perfectly controlled and the body structure is as solid as a railroad trestle. 


The electronic power steering system is among the best I have ever tested, not far off the Subaru BRZ in response and on-center feel. 


Getting up to an entertaining speed is the XV Crosstrek’s Achilles’ heel.  The Impreza line’s familiar 148-HP 2.0-L FB-series boxer four-cylinder struggles to motivate the XV’s 3,087 pounds with any sort of alacrity. 


No, that sort of weight doesn’t bestow a “porky” classification upon the XV, but when paired to the standard five-speed manual’s economical gearing, it simply wasn’t enough.  Perhaps the optional CVT, keeping the FB in its narrow power band, would be more appropriate.


On the bright side, the economy-oriented FB and five-speed combo returned a very respectable 29.8-MPG average over 500 miles of mixed driving.  On the highway, the car regularly averaged upwards of 37 MPG on regular unleaded fuel.


So long as speed isn’t of the utmost importance, there are few better ways to spend $22,790 on a vehicle. 


Like the Allroad, why not have some exclusivity with your all-weather family wagon?  The XV is cheap, rugged, economical, versatile, and fun to drive.


Either way, both wagons provide a unique way to go about your active lifestyle.  If you have the coin, pony up for the 2013 Audi Allroad.  If not, the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek will suit most active buyers’ needs just fine.

Parts & People

Parts & People is published monthly by Automotive Counseling and Publishing Company, Inc., a Colorado corporation, P.O. Box 18731 Denver, CO 80203, 303-765-4664. President-Lance Buchner. Founded by Lance Buchner and Dave Lucia.

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