2019 Subaru XV sweet spot review
Subaru’s high-riding XV was its best-selling car in 2018.
Based on the compact Impreza, the all-wheel-drive crossover adds tougher looks and improved off-road ability thanks to a raised ride height and torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive.
What is it?
It’s no secret the majority of high-riding baby SUVs might struggle to deliver on the promise of adventure. Many are two-wheel-drive, with road-biased tyres and suspension which won’t take you far away from paved roads. But that isn’t the case for the Subaru XV, which brings full-time all-wheel-drive traction across the range to lend useful off-road ability in addition to a five-star safety rating and a good amount of standard kit.
How many models can I choose from?
There are four key models in the XV range.
The basic XV 2.0i brings three digital displays including a 6.5-inch infotainment unit loaded up with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, along with a CD player and digital radio. Riding on 17-inch wheels, the cheapest model also features fog lights, a tyre pressure monitoring system, active torque vectoring and more for $28,290.
Buyers with another $2360 in the budget can get hold of a 2.0i-L which adds a larger 8-inch touchscreen, dual-zone climate control, premium cloth trim accompanying leather-trimmed driver controls and Subaru’s outstanding EyeSight safety suite including autonomous emergency braking and active cruise control.
Satellite navigation and an electric sunroof will set you back a further $1800 in the 2.0i-Premium, while the top-of-the-line 2.0i-S adds leather trim, heated seats, adaptive LED headlights, 18-inch wheels and a broader set of driver aids with blind spot monitoring, lane change assistance, rear cross traffic alert and reverse automatic braking systems for $35,540 plus on-road costs.
All four models feature the same 2.0-litre engine which sends 115kW and 196Nm to all four wheels through a CVT automatic transmission.
What do they cost?
2.0i - $28,280
2.0i-L - $30,640
2.0i-Premium - $32,440
2.0i-S - $35,540
(Plus on-road and dealer costs)
Any options that I need to know about?
Metallic paint is free for XV owners, who can choose from a wide range of accessories to customise their vehicle. An explorer pack with a cargo tray, floormats, tow bar, weather shields and cargo step panel costs $1614. Front and rear parking sensors cost around $920 at each end, 18-inch Enkei alloy wheels are a little over $3500 and a Garmin dash cam will set you back $250.
Any issues I need to know about?
Subaru doesn’t have the strongest track record for powertrain longevity. The brand has issued recalls for engine trouble (relating to defective valve springs) for a large number of Impreza, XV, Forester and BRZ models in Australia, and has battled issues with head gaskets and oil use for older models around the world.
We’ve also experienced more than a few drivability issues with modern CVT-equipped models which can shudder and surge in stop-start conditions, particularly on hills.
Happily, Subaru recently made a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty standard for all new cars, so you shouldnt worry about anything serious in the short term.
Which is the most economical model?
Every XV model returns a combined 7L/100km in combined running during official fuel tests. That’s ok for a car of this size, but a little more than rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai and Honda HR-V.
Which is the safest model?
Safety-conscious customers might lean toward the Subaru XV 2.0i-S, which is loaded up with blind spot monitoring, lane changing assistance and other features in addition to the active cruise control and autonomous emergency braking found on cheaper models.
It’s important to note that the basic XV 2.0i misses out on EyeSight, which includes gear such as autonomous emergency braking. But beyond that, every other XV plays it safe with strong standard equipment, all-wheel-drive traction and impressive occupant protection.
Which the best model to drive?
The XV feels planted and secure on the road, with unflappable traction and a weighty response to steering and braking inputs. It’s reasonably well-sorted on the road, but feels a touch heavy compared to smaller rivals. We’re also less than enamoured by its hard-working naturally aspirated engine that lacks the hushed response of boosted brethren.
As to which one is the driver’s pick, all four XVs feature the same engine and running gear - the only real choice is whether you want 17-inch or 18-inch wheels, with the latter trading a touch of ride comfort for crisper steering response.
Should I buy one now?
The current-generation XV first arrived in 2017, which means it will receive a mid-life update in the next year or two. Today’s buyers get the latest Subaru Global Platform (which also underpins the Impreza and Forester) which won’t be replaced any time soon - though the facelifted model will no doubt bring minor styling changes, more gear and the possibility of turbocharged or hybrid powerplants.
Wheres the sweet spot?
The XV 2.0i-L makes the most sense. Competitively priced, the model brings all of the XV’s key elements, including EyeSight safety tech and the full-sized infotainment screen, without adding unnecessary (but nice to have) features such as a sunroof or leather seats. It’s our pick of the litter.
2018 Subaru XV pricing and specifications:
Price: From $28,280 plus on-road costs
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol
Power: 115kW at 6000rpm
Torque: 196Nm at 4000rpm
Transmission: CVT automatic, all-wheel-drive
Fuel use: 7L/100km