Review: Subaru XV (2012 – 2018)


Subaru crossover similar to the Nissan Qashqai. Powered by new generation Boxer diesel engine.

Expensive for what it is.

Subaru XV (2012 – 2018): At A Glance

Subaru's ageing line-up has become expensive and off the pace compared to many rivals and in the past couple of years new cars have been very thin on the ground. Instead of expanding, the range has contracted, with the loss of cars like the Tribeca and Justy.

It's aiming to restore some of the buzz that people used to associate with the Subaru name. Part of that will come from cars like the BRZ, co-developed with Toyota, but of more significance are models like this, the Subaru XV, a crossover designed to have strong family appeal.

Although you'd expect the XV to be more of a rival to the like of the Kia Sportage and Skoda Yeti, it is actually priced more in-line with its premium competitors like the Audi Q3. That's principally because of the yen/sterling exchange rate: the XV is expensive to import. Prices start at £21,295 for the entry-level 1.6S, which compares to £18,520 for the entry-level four-wheel drive Yeti and £19,050 for the entry-level 4x4 Qashqai.

But there is one very important caveat to these prices and that's Subaru's recently-introduced ETCo (Everything Taken Care of) package. It's a masterstroke that transforms the XV from an also-ran to a possible contender - depending on how you value the benefits that are on offer.

This outstanding package offers buyers minor dent and scratch repairs, alloy wheel repairs, monthly wash, annual full valet, lost keys replacement, service collection and delivery, annual wheel alignment check, first MoT cover (and contribution to repairs), accident management service, insurance excess cover contribution and winter wheel and tyre storage. And all for three years.

It’s an impressive package of features that’s unrivalled by any other manufacturer and said to be worth in the region of £7000. It's also transferable to a new owner, giving the XV an added USP if you're selling to a private buyer.

The XV has niche appeal, which is confirmed by the small numbers that will be brought over the UK. The high price and firm ride means that it won't appeal to everyone. But those looking for a car with more than a token all-wheel drive system, rugged build quality, and a worry-free ownership package and  may find that the XV is just the job.

Subaru XV 2012 Road Test

Subaru XV 2018 Road Test (entirely new car)

What does a Subaru XV (2012 – 2018) cost?

List Price from £26,525
Buy new from £24,857
Contract hire from £416.64 per month
Get a finance quote with CarMoney

Subaru XV (2012 – 2018): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4450 mm
Width 1780 mm
Height 1570–1615 mm
Wheelbase 2635 mm

Full specifications

Inside, the cabin is roomy and bright, with room for five adults. But with a mere 380 litres of bootspace on offer, the load area is noticeably small and doesn’t compare well with similar-size cars. The seats do fold to free up 1270 litres of room and there’s a useful false floor providing extra storage where there would otherwise be a spare wheel.

The quality of the interior is a huge step forward for Subaru, but it still doesn’t match what’s on offer from rival manufacturers. The SV is a utilitarian car and can get away with the use of harder plastics here and there, but the cabin lacks the finesse of the Skoda Yeti and Ford Kuga (let alone the BMW X1 and Audi Q3, which it competes on price), though it looks well screwed together and is, for the large part, easy to use on the move.

Child seats that fit a Subaru XV (2012 – 2018)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Subaru XV (2012 – 2018) like to drive?

From the first twist of the key, the Subaru DNA in the XV is clear with the thrum that you only get from a 'boxer' horizontally-opposed engine. There's a choice of three engines, with 1.6 and 2.0-litre petrols, though it's the 2.0-litre diesel (starting at £24,295) that will take the lion's share of sales.

Just as well it's the pick of the bunch. It may not be the quickest turbodiesel on the market, but it does a good, steady job of powering the XV to 62mph in 9.3 seconds and onto a top speed of 123mph. It revs impressively freely for a diesel, has plenty of pull in the low and mid-ranges and feels very flexible. The combined fuel economy figure is 50.4mpg and CO2 emissions are 146g/km. 

As you’d expect from a car with all-wheel drive, traction is excellent and it can really do the business off-road, even without a low-ratio gearbox. That’s not something that can be said of all of its rivals. Muddy tracks are dispatched with ease and it makes light work of inclines too. There’s more ground clearance than a Forester and it benefits from good angles of ascent and descent.

Back on the road, the XV is badly let down by the way it rides. It's set up to be sporty, rather than comfortable. That means it crashes through even the smallest potholes and offers little comfort at lower speeds. It does redeem itself when it comes to cornering; with MacPherson struts at the front ant wishbones at the rear and a low centre of gravity, there's little bodyroll through bends.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.6 44 mpg 13.1 s 151 g/km
1.6 Lineartronic 45 mpg 13.8 s 146 g/km
2.0 41 mpg 10.5 s 160 g/km
2.0 D 50 mpg 9.3 s 146 g/km
2.0 Lineartronic 43 mpg 10.7 s 153 g/km

Real MPG average for a Subaru XV (2012 – 2018)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

32–57 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Subaru XV (2012 – 2018)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Should I swap my petrol car for a plug-in hybrid?

I am very pleased with my three-year-old Subaru XV auto. I have no reason to change it, except that I am considering swapping to a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV for sake of good ecological practice. Perhaps a straight swap for either 2015 or 2016 used Outlander. Do the same principals apply regarding timing belt changes (perhaps chain driven)? What are things to look out for with the Outlander?
If you're happy with your XV, I wouldn't be too quick to swap it for an Outlander PHEV unless you wanted more space. The Outlander's not a bad car, but it's thirsty unless you can charge the PHEV battery regularly. You'll be looking at a real-life electric range of around 20=miles and, once the battery's empty, it's essentially a very heavy petrol SUV. If most of your journeys are less than 20-miles and you can charge it at home, it might work for you. To answer your questions, it has a timing chain rather than a belt. Like your Subaru, the Outlander is a fairly reliable SUV, although ask the seller if you can get a battery condition report from a Mitsubishi dealer. If it's never been charged (or has been charged regularly using faster chargers), it might be hiding issues.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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