Luckily, the people at the Auto Show actually GAVE me a cool car to drive for a few days. It's one of the brand-new rides you can check out at this year's Seattle Auto Show
, which runs from Wednesday through Sunday of this week (November 14-18) at the CenturyLink Field Event Center. It's the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek. I think the best way to describe it is a roomy, useful crossover that's sporty and a blast to drive.
As you can see, its exterior has a little bit of an attitude -- plenty of ground clearance, some tasteful cladding on the lower body, 17-inch alloy wheels, very handy roof rails for whatever you feel like strapping on top.
Basically it's a smallish car on the outside, with plenty of room on the inside, and it's decked out to take you up into the mountains for bking in the summer or skiing in the winter. Obviously, Subaru's legendary all-wheel-drive helps with the winter part, and there's a fifth door in the back that allows you to stow all kinds of stuff behind the rear seat while keeping everything accessible.
You can tell they mean business with this thing -- just take a look at those wheels!
And for me, the best part is the stick shift. Sure, you can get a very efficient and responsive continuously variable transmission -- an automatic that gives you great gas mileage while it powers all four wheels. But a car like this just screams "fun to drive," so I'd opt for the 5-speed manual -- it's a blast to zip through the gears and besides, you've got to give your left foot something to do, right?
If you've been a little intimidated by manuals in the past, especially in hilly Seattle, you're going to love Subaru's Incline Start Assist. When you're stopped at a light facing upward on a steep hill, it momentarily prevents the XV Crosstrek from rolling backwards as you depress the clutch. Where once upon a time you created a cloud of smoke and a bad smell as you mashed the gas pedal on a hill, you now look like the smoothest, most capable driver around as you get moving without a hitch. Nice.
Of course, you have to stay connected these days, so you've got Bluetooth for hands-free phone and audio streaming. Hey, you only have two hands -- you don't need to be dealing with a phone; you've already got one hand on the wheel and the other on the stick shift, right? And if you want to upgrade to a nav system with a touchscreen in the dash and a rear vision camera, that's an option for you.
I think this Subaru XV Crosstrek is a genius solution to a very common dilemma in the Northwest: How do you get around all year long, though rain and snow, with room for you and your friends and your stuff, while still having more than the usual amount of fun behind the wheel? This is it. Unfortunately, they made me give it back . . . . .
You can check out the XV Crosstrek in person this week at the Seattle Auto Show
, along with the Bugatti Veyron supercar, the sporty new Subaru BRZ, the awesome Audi R8, the exotic McLaren MP4-12C Coupe, and a ton more new cars. I'll see you there!