2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, stretching into a familiar pose: Motoramic Drives
I sat in a private pavillion on an immaculate lawn, enjoying the temperate evening. There was wine, and a carving station, and hand-rolled sushi. A guy I've become friendly with on the car circuit approached our table. "Last time I saw you was in Austin," he said to me, and then went around the table, pointing, "I saw you in Montana, I saw you in Traverse City."
Here we all were again, hail and well met, enjoying, as another writer once said to me, another "luxury vacation with people you hate."
This time it's Oahu. Subaru was rolling out its new 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, a compact utility vehicle to serve as a replacement model for its Outback Sport. Competitive cars include the Nissan Juke, which looks and drives like a Timberland boot, and the Mini Cooper's exceedingly precious Countryman. Subaru is a smaller car company than its adversaries, but they've got the market for all-wheel-drive tall wagons cornered tighter than a Live Strong wristband.
In return, Subaru idealizes its customers as young, active, educated, and upwardly mobile, a segment the company calls "Youthful Explorer." Subaru imagines they like to hike, bike, snowboard, and often go beachside camping with their attractive girlfriends who are gainfully employed in the tech sector. This ideal seems alien to car writers, a notoriously pampered subsection of humanity, whose main life's activity is walking through the airport to catch a connecting flight.
Then again, they do know a lot about cars. That's how, over an Oahu sunset, I found myself in a spirited discussion about the efficacy of continuously variable transmissions (CVTs), a conversation I'd started. It's not how I'd always imagined my first-ever evening in Hawaii. But it was definitely good enough.
The next morning, we got into the cars. Many were an embarrassing bright orange, and with their high backs and their stubby front noses, these XV Crosstreks kind of looked like tangelos. They kind of drove like tangelos, too.
Driving on Oahu isn't much fun. There are few roads and eternal traffic; the island now has a million residents and seemingly as many cars. Though you see a lot of convertible Mustangs and Corvettes, those belong to tourists, who don't come to Hawaii for the speed. You're constantly going about 42 mph, even off-peak.