Subaru XV (2018) Review

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Subaru XV (2018) At A Glance

3/5

+Supreme all-weather and all-surface capability, comprehensive safety equipment including EyeSight technology, excellent build quality and a feeling that it’s built to last.

-More expensive than a regular crossover and with higher running costs, no manual gearbox or diesel engine, 1.6 engine has been rendered obsolete by the e-Boxer hybrid.

New prices start from £25,000
Insurance Groups are between 21–23
On average it achieves 86% of the official MPG figure

The Subaru XV isn’t your average compact crossover. It’s actually a highly capable all-wheel-drive small SUV that’s as good on the road as it is off it. In this respect, the XV shouldn’t be confused with the countless front-wheel-drive crossovers on sale in 2020. It can handle the rough stuff like a four-wheel-drive version of the Jeep Renegade, with the potential to steal sales from premium cars like the Volvo XC40. Yes, the XV is expensive, but when you factor in the long list of standard equipment, the excellent warranty and Subaru’s reputation for reliability, it more than justifies the relatively high price.

Looking for a Subaru XV (2018 on)?
Register your interest for later or request to be contacted by a dealer to talk through your options now.

Subaru is a niche player in the UK. Total registrations in 2019 amounted to around 1,500. Not per model – that’s the entire Subaru range. Which means the Subaru XV is unlikely to appear on many new car shortlists.

It deserves better, because in its current guise, the Subaru XV is one of the most underrated and underappreciated cars you can buy. It might lack the universal appeal of a traditional compact SUV, but look beyond the perceived weaknesses and you’ll find a car that makes more sense than you might think.

About those negatives. On paper it looks quite expensive, with prices ranging from £28,335 to £33,655. It can’t match the low running costs of its more conventional rivals, nor is it the most practical car in its class. Throw into the mix the absence of a diesel engine, a front-wheel-drive variant or a manual gearbox, and you’d be forgiven for clicking through to the next new car review.

But don’t be too hasty, because the Subaru XV impresses in other areas. It offers a comprehensive list of standard equipment, which more than justifies the relatively high prices. The standard-fit all-wheel-drive technology delivers excellent all-weather and all-surface capability. There’s even a new 2.0 e-Boxer hybrid, which makes the XV a little less costly to run.

In fact, the hybrid renders the 1.6-litre petrol obsolete by offering improved efficiency, stronger performance and more torque. It also makes better use of the CVT gearbox, with less of the frustrating whine you’ll experience in the 1.6 version. You even get a pair paddle shifters for a greater feeling of control.

Either way, the Subaru XV is a fine car to drive on or off-road. For everyday driving, the XV feels agile and surefooted, with hardly any body-roll. It’s also supremely capable when the going gets tough, tackling snowy tracks and grassy hills with ease. If you live in a rural area or at the end of a rutted track, the Subaru XV could be the difference between going out or staying at home.

Inside, the XV lacks the soft-touch plastics and plush materials you might find in a premium compact SUV. We doubt you’ll care, because the actual quality is very high, with Subaru focusing on delivering a robust and hard-wearing cabin that’s built to last. Your XV will feel the same in a decade as it did when it left the showroom.

Ultimately, the Subaru XV is hamstrung by a small dealer network, high running costs and finance packages that can’t rival the volume manufacturers. But look at the bigger picture and you’ll discover a car that is unlikely to go wrong, is backed by a five-year warranty, and will keep going in all weathers when other compact SUVs have been left stranded.

If you’ve made it this far into the review you’re probably seriously considering a Subaru XV. We salute you, because this is one of the undiscovered gems on the new car market. You’ll almost pray for bad weather.

Ask Honest John

What should I replace my Land Rover Freelander 2 with?
"I currently have a 9-year-old Freelander 2 which limits the downhill speed in bad winter weather to about 3 mph down a narrow private country hill road where I live. I am considering replacing the Freelander but I don't really want to spend £35,000 on its current replacement. Can you suggest any cars that have a downhill limiter suitable for a 6'1" driver? I'd prefer new or nearly new I would keep the vehicle for quite a while."
Take a look at the Subaru XV. It starts at around £25k and all models come with hill descent control as part of its X-Mode four-wheel-drive system. It's excellent in the snow and tough conditions, and will be a very reliable car that should last for a long time.
Answered by Andrew Brady

What does a Subaru XV (2018) cost?