The Subaru XV is just one of many offerings in the small SUV under-$40k segment. However, it is often overlooked for the more fancied, at least per sales figures, Mitsubishi ASX, Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V and the absurdly named Nissan Qashqai. This is a mistake.
I’ve just ticked over 15,000kms in my 2016 Subaru XV 2.0I-S. For me, the primary selling point of the XV is Subaru’s iconic AWD system.
Few other offerings in the segment can offer an AWD system with the track-record of the Subaru, and certainly not as cheaply, if at all (base XV $33,500 drive-away).
In my eyes, the minimum requirement for an SUV is that it generates go-forward at all four wheels. If not, it is only a wannabe lifted hatch. Anyone that says otherwise is losing their grip. The XV delivers here in spades.
The excellent AWD system means that I have never lost grip on tarmac, no matter the condition of the road or weather. Although, admittedly this could partly be attributed to the XV’s biggest failing, which I’ll get to later.
In terms of styling, like most cars in the segment, the XV can be polarising. As a male buyer, the XV appealed to me as I found it more rugged and aggressive in terms of looks, rather than the rounded and sleek CX-3, Nissan Juke and co. With the addition of aftermarket spotlights and mudflaps, some of Subaru’s rally heritage is clearly visible.
The high ground clearance of 220mm is class leading, higher than a Toyota Fortuner and only half a centimetre shy of a LandCruiser. This allows for practical driving, jumping kerbs and parking in the city, without having to worry about hitting the bumper, as well ensuring the XV is a capable weekender for those secluded camping and fishing spots only accessible via fire trails.
From my perspective, relatively poor approach and departure angles are the only limit to the XV’s off-road ability and I would suggest that the XV is far-and-away the most capable ‘soft-roader’ in the segment. Throw in some decent all-terrain tyres and this thing would go (almost!) anywhere. The XV certainly looked and felt at home on the red dirt around Silverton and Broken Hill.
A towing limit of 1400kg braked (650kg un-braked) is higher than expected, and should be more than enough for a loaded tinny or small camping trailer, although I wouldn’t really want to get too close to the limit.
The boot space is not class leading, but has been more than enough for my needs. With the back row folded down (they fold flush with the boot) there’s 741L of space. More than enough for a young couple (sans kids) and camping or ski gear for a weekend away.
The AWD and the cars five star ANCAP rating mean you can head down the Alpine Way in July without fear or worry, and it’s great to cruise past CX-3s, HR-Vs, ASXs and Qashqais stopped in the miserable chain-bays.
The 2.0I-S comes with plenty of tech, including heated front seats, dusk sensing headlights, auto-windscreen wipers, hill-start assist, eight-way powered driver’s seat, electric sunroof, auto stop-start, self-levelling Xenon low beam headlights, dual zone climate control, two 12v USB inputs in the front, two 5v USB inputs in the back, push start, leather seats, one-touch remote central locking keys, 7-inch LCD touch screen & satellite navigation. There’s a heap of others as well, I only listed things that I have used/noticed.
I find the touch screen a little laggy, but intuitive to navigate. I haven’t used the navigation, as I stick with Google maps on my phone.
I thought the remote one-touch keys were a bit gimmicky when the Subaru salesperson showed me. However, they are incredibly useful.
I leave my car keys in my bag and can get in (the car unlocks upon touching the door-handle), start the car (push-start) and leave the car (door locks upon pressing a tactile button on the door-handle) without ever having to touch my keys.
This is especially useful when carrying shopping, bags, etc, as I do not need to dig my keys out of a bag or pocket to lock the car. Not ground-breaking technology, but nice to see in a Subaru.
Connectivity is seamless through Bluetooth. Once set up, my phone automatically pairs and will continue playing Spotify or podcasts as I start driving.
The most common complaint, which I share, about the XV is the lack of power. There, I said it. However, the XV is not a Levorg or a Forester XT and it certainly isn’t a WRX, and it shouldn’t be thought of or compared to such.
People who are looking for a real go-fast SUV shouldn’t be looking at the XV as that is not its purpose. However, with practice it becomes easy to draw upon all of the available 196Nm of torque by down-shifting on the well positioned flappy paddles to execute a surprisingly sharp overtake.
In saying that, the XV would be amazing with the 2.0 turbo from the existing Subaru range.
Another minor annoyance is the lag when shifting into reverse from drive and back. It’s not a huge issue, but sometimes can be annoying.
Around Sydney, where I do most of my driving (in peak hour), the CVT is smooth and does its job well. The engine’s stop-start system is unobtrusive. The clear display in the dashboard helpfully ticks up the minutes and amount of fuel saved.
I average about 20 minutes of ‘stopped engine’ per fill, which is not insubstantial. The 60L fuel tank allows for regular trips of 500km+ before ducking back in to a servo.
The manufacturer’s fuel consumption figure is 7.0L/100km. During city driving I average around 8.0L/100km and have achieved as low as 5.4L/100km on weekend cruise up to Forster.
Pushing the XV in the region of 110km/h+ for hours at a time on a trip west to Broken Hill, worked the engine a lot harder, and I averaged closer to 8L/100km.
On purchasing I was given the option of $500 of accessories or first two services for free. Forever practical, I chose the two services as they were valued at around $300-a-pop. Subaru’s six-month or 12,500km servicing isn’t ideal, but at least I got the first year free.
In my first 15,000kms I haven’t had any issues, problems, or even rattles and I expect that to continue for the next 15,000km+ as well. Apart from the six-month service, the XV doesn’t know what the inside of a mechanic looks like.
I’ve found the Subaru XV a great little car. With a bit more go, it would be phenomenal. It’s practical, safe, reliable, capable and it fits my needs perfectly. It may fit yours too.