New Subaru XV Review

Compact SUV is comfortable and capable off road

This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
  • Off-road credentials
  • Good fuel economy
  • High safety rating
  • Steep price
  • Below par cabin materials
  • Not the most refined in its class

£19,335 - £28,675 Price range

5 Seats

40 - 52 MPG


The Subaru XV does not net overwhelmingly positive reviews as it takes a completely different approach to the crossover SUV market. Combining a car-sized body with off roader underpinnings, it’s far more of a go-anywhere hatchback than it is a proper crossover.

There’s aspects to admire, particularly the off-road credentials, the torquey diesel engine and the simplicity of it all, but there are rivals that are better on the road and, crucially, they’re cheaper too. It’s a highly competitive sector and the XV does not feature high on anyone’s recommended list.

The build quality is as you’d expect from a Subaru, so it all feels tough enough to withstand the toils of family life. Despite some smart looking soft touch plastics, the cabin does look and feel a bit cheap in places and some testers weren’t fond of the layout on the centre console.

Space is decent all round, with good head and leg room, but the tall transmission tunnel makes the middle seat in the back almost redundant, especially for adults. The boot may not be the largest in its class, but it is a useful size and there’s a fairly generous storage cubby underneath the boot floor.

Subaru made a name for itself in off-road conditions, so it’s no surprise that the XV is quite talented for the class standard in the mucky stuff. Thanks to its all-wheel-drive system and the extraordinary ride-height advantages it holds over rivals, the critics reckon it’s well suited to such exploits, even on the standard tyres!

However, most buyers will rarely go off-road and the XV only manages to be no better than reasonable on the tarmac. Four wheel drive means there’s always loads of grip and there’s little body roll at low speeds, but the trade-off for keeping it from flopping about is a firm and fidgety ride. Wind and tyre noise is also quite high for the class standard and the visibility out back isn’t that good, thanks to the steeply raked rear pillars.

There are just two engines on offer now, both 2.0-litres and both in Subaru’s famed Boxer configuration. There’s one diesel and one petrol.

If you need an automatic you’re limited to the petrol unit. This is available with either a manual or the Lineartronic CVT automatic (which works a bit like a scooter’s gearbox), but it doesn’t attract anywhere near the same level of positivity as the diesel, with critics remarking that it needs really revving to gain any impetus.

The diesel is faster (9.3 seconds to 60mph as opposed to 10.5 seconds) and more frugal (50mpg to 40mpg), alongside being far more favoured. It doesn’t offer the last word in low emission, low cost running, but it suits the XV well.

The XV was tested in 2012 as part of Euro NCAP’s testing regime and performed admirably. Rating at well over 80% in arguably the three most important categories, it’s one you should take seriously if safety is aforethought. 90% in the child occupant safety is one of the best scores ever recorded.

There’s all the standard equipment you’d expect, with a 2014 update including a tyre pressure monitoring system and a gear-shift indicator.

Starting at £22,000 the Subaru XV is, at face value, quite pricey, despite an early-life price cut. For the same amount of money, you can get a whole range of rivals which are better rated, better specified and better to drive. The efficiency, though impressive, also isn’t class leading and it’s not expected to hold its value as well as some of its premium competitors.

That being said, it should still be a dependable car to own, with reasonable running costs and reliability and few rivals in this price range are as capable off-road. There’s also a very enticing ‘ETC’ package that comes with it, which in some circumstances, provides up to £7,000 worth of aftersales cover.


Overall, the Subaru XV appears to be a decent car with some noteworthy talents and a few disappointing flaws. It’s good to drive, efficient and practical, but it’s a bit too expensive for what it is – it’s possible to get more luxurious and less compromised four-wheel-drive crossovers for similar amounts of money, such as the Skoda Yeti. It’s by no means the worst car in its class, and its rugged and charming simplicity may appeal to those who don’t want or need a flashy 4×4.

In the face of such talented opposition, the Subaru XV falls short of the mark somewhat, and isn’t that comes recommended if you’re in the market for a crossover.