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Sunday, Feb 07, 2016

Subaru’s tough new XV Crosstrek

Who doesn’t love that old Billy Crystal movie “City Slickers?” Billy plays a New Yorker who gets to go have fun pretending to be a round-’em-up cowboy for a few days.

Subaru’s funky new XV crossover is a lot like the Billy Crystal character. It’s really a city slicker dressed-up to look like it can go play in the dirt.

The formula is pretty cool. Take the regular, rather vanilla-looking Subaru Impreza hatchback, raise the body three inches, then jazz it up with lots of rugged-looking gray body-cladding, plastic wheel arch covers, and cool black and silver 17-inch alloys.

Yep, that’s a lot of style. But remember, this being a Subaru, there’s no shortage of substance either.

So, all-wheel drive comes standard, and with that 3-inch lift, ground clearance rises to a tree-stump-clearing 8.7 inches. That’s more than a Jeep Grand Cherokee offers.

See this slick Subie out on the street, especially in the retina-searing Tangerine Orange Pearl color our tester came in, and there’s no mistaking the Crosstrek for a capable, go-anywhere sport-ute.

And as SUVs aren’t really intended to break speed records, the XV does just fine with its 148-horse 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Performance is leisurely at best — 0-to-60 mph takes around nine seconds. But the big plus is the 33 highway miles per gallon economy.

A five-speed stick shift comes standard, but I’m reckoning most buyers will opt for the $1,000-extra CVT automatic with its steering column paddle shifters. I would.

What comes as a really pleasant surprise is the price. The entry, and very nicely equipped, Premium version stickers at just $22,790, with leather-lined Limited starting at $25,290.

Me, I’d opt for the Premium, add the CVT and the $1,000 moon roof, and for $24,790 you have one slick-looking city slicker.

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