On or off-road – Subaru XV takes everything in its stride

Second-generation Subaru XV crossover takes the rough with the smooth. Picture: Subaru

Second-generation Subaru XV crossover takes the rough with the smooth. Picture: Subaru


Subaru claims its new XV compact crossover’s all-wheel-drive system makes it as good on the road as it performs off-road. Will Rimell puts it to the test.

Subaru XV is very capable when the going gets tough. Picture: SubaruSubaru XV is very capable when the going gets tough. Picture: Subaru

Subaru’s new XV all-wheel-drive crossover is aimed at younger drivers and families who may need to traverse steep hills and boggy countryside to enjoy active, outdoor lifestyles.

The new car is more striking with the front end refined with sharper edges, a lower nose and sleek headlights. The rear has had similar treatment. Subaru has also squared up the body, moving away from the previous more rounded look.

What’s new?

User-friendly fascia has two display screens. Picture: SubaruUser-friendly fascia has two display screens. Picture: Subaru

This XV is built on Subaru’s new global platform, which the Japanese car-maker says improves safety as well as performance, offering superior driving capabilities.

A host of safety technology includes driver assistance system EyeSight which uses two cameras that capture 3D images to map out the road ahead so the car, depending on speed, can avoid or reduce the severity of accidents.

The XV also boasts an upgraded interior and reworked exterior for a sportier, more aggressive look.

Subaru XV's 385-litre boot. Picture: SubaruSubaru XV's 385-litre boot. Picture: Subaru

Under the bonnet

Two Boxer petrol engines – 1.6 and 2.0-litre – are paired to its Lineartronic CVT automatic gearbox, built specifically for use with them which Subaru says improves fuel economy via a stepless gear ratio and optimal power band.

The Boxer engine is quick to respond to throttle inputs and offers decent acceleration but it’s thirsty compared to the original model’s diesel engine.

Off-road-friendly X-Mode for tackling tricky conditions is now standard on Subaru XV. Picture: SubaruOff-road-friendly X-Mode for tackling tricky conditions is now standard on Subaru XV. Picture: Subaru

How it drives

The XV is still a lovely car to drive. The handling impressed on country lanes, all-wheel-drive meant it took corners without hassle or losing much traction. Compared with its previous model, the XV is far sharper and more refined.

The now standard off-road-friendly X-Mode and hill-descent control make tackling tricky conditions as easy as driving on the road. X-Mode controls the engine, transmission, AWD, brakes and other components, allowing the driver to focus on steering. Hill-descent control maintains a constant speed down slopes. These new features improve safety and make the XV feel more like a serious 4×4.

Space and comfort

The XV continues the car’s family appeal, with loads of storage space, more than ample rear legroom for the tallest passengers, a 385-litre boot and an easy infotainment system.

An additional screen displays satellite navigation directions if the main eight-inch touchscreen is being used for another of its many functions – including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and DAB radio. This 4.3in display gets even more use when you venture off-road, also displaying wheel alignment – valuable when the going gets tough – as well as showing fuel economy, temperature and driving conditions.

Final say

The XV has the capabilities to tackle pretty much anything that can be thrown at it, but it doesn’t shout about it.


Price: Subaru XV 2.0i SE Premium Lineartronic £28,495 (range from £24,995)

Engine: 1,995cc, 156PS, four-cylinder Boxer petrol with CVT automatic gearbox

Performance: 0-62mph 10.4 seconds; top speed 120mph

MPG: 40.9 combined

CO2 emissions: 155g/km

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