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Car review: Subaru XV

A quiet, safe and easy-to-drive SUV: the Subaru XV is a good choice for your family car, writes Tim Barnes-Clay.

Subaru XV white exterior

Subaru has been known for its use of the all-wheel-drive arrangement since 1972.

The engineering, grip and power its cars had was so good the marque eventually went on to become a legend in rallying.

In turn, motorsport popularised Subaru’s all-wheel-drive system and that led to a boost in sales, especially its Impreza model. 

All-wheel-drive comes as standard

That star has now waned because in 2008, it was announced that Subaru would no longer be competing in the World Rally Championships.

The decision was taken partly as a result of the economic downturn, but also because it was felt Subaru had achieved its sporting and marketing objectives.

However, the Japanese motor manufacturer continues to pull its weight in other areas – particularly in the sport utility vehicle (SUV) and crossover segments.

Take the earthy Subaru XV, for example. On sale since 2012, the car stands out by benefiting from permanent all-wheel drive as standard.

Kit list rivals premium manufacturers

It also boasts the highest ground clearance and is among the lightest vehicles in its class, aiding its genuine off-road ability, while a low centre of gravity enhances on-road handling.

Recently the XV has received some upgrades that bring further improvements to refinement, ride, handling, safety and interior quality.

Inside, the cabin has received changes to improve the look and texture, with higher-quality silver surrounds housing the steering wheel buttons and heater controls, and new gloss-black switches to control the car’s air-conditioning system.

Indeed, the XV comes loaded up with a kit list to rival some premium motor manufacturers.

A quiet car to drive

Subaru XV cabin

You can expect to find traction control, front, side, curtain and knee airbags, 17-inch alloy wheels, daytime LED running lights and automatic air conditioning.

The most significant improvements are found in the petrol models.

The 2.0 litre version, on test here in high-end SE Premium Lineartronic form, received suspension modifications and innovative under-the-bonnet components that reduce engine clatter.

Additional sound-proofing has also been added in the bulkhead to further shield the cabin from noise. As you would expect then, the XV is a quiet car to drive - and a lively one at that.

Car changes pace seamlessly

The revised electronic power steering system helps the drive by giving good stability and feel.

There’s a nice weight about the steering too, giving you the confidence to manoeuvre swiftly and precisely.

My petrol powered press car came with Subaru’s Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT).

This means the car changes pace seamlessly because there are no fixed gears in this sort of set up (first, second, third, and so on).

The transmission simply invents the right gear at the right time. This makes all journeys easy and stress-free.

Keep your family safe

What’s more, safety has been improved with reinforcements around the base of the pillars that hold either side of the Subaru’s windscreen in place.

This yields further improvements in the XV’s Euro NCAP five-star crash safety performance.

In fact, the model has another ace up its sleeve: with a score of 90%, it has one of the highest marks in the industry for child protection.

So, if crossovers do it for you, this could be one to contemplate.

Some cheap-looking cabin plastics let the Subaru XV down, but it’s a level-headed choice if you’re keen to keep your family safe.

Pros & cons

  • Traction √
  • Kit √
  • Transmission√
  • Safety √
  • Cabin plastics X

Fast facts

  • Max speed: 116 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 10.7 secs
  • Combined mpg: 42.8
  • Engine: 1995 cc, 4 cylinder, 16 valve, petrol
  • Max. power (bhp): 148 at 6200 rpm
  • Max. torque (Ib/ft): 144 at 4200 rpm
  • CO2: 153 g/km
  • Price: £25,495

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Tim Barnes-Clay

Leon Poultney

Tim is an experienced motoring writer with a background in radio and TV journalism. He puts his pedal to the metal each week with his must-read car reviews.

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