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In-depth reviews

Subaru XV SUV (2012-2017)

"The Subaru XV is a safe and capable crossover that's good fun to drive."

Carbuyer Rating

3.3 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.3 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Spacious and practical boot
  • Rugged-looking design
  • Sharp handling

Cons

  • Noisy engines
  • Overly firm ride
  • Cheap materials used inside

The Subaru XV is a compact crossover – a fairly new concept for Subaru. Almost all carmakers are making crossovers nowadays and the XV is Subaru's way of throwing its hat in the ring.

Aimed squarely at cars like the Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar and Mazda CX-5, the XV also has to deflect competition from the Mitsubishi ASX, Volkswagen Tiguan and Honda HR-V. High-spec versions even encroach into Audi Q3 territory. That's a lot of competition, so the XV really has to stand out to be noticed.

It does have some strong points. First and foremost is its design: sometimes SUVs have slightly clunky or awkward looks, but the XV looks tough, rugged and fit for purpose.

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Those looks are reflected in the car's driving dynamics, too. Subaru has a knack for creating cars that perform well off-road and that's exactly the case with the XV. The permanent four-wheel drive fitted to every model means the XV is a capable car for driving over rougher terrain. The firm suspension can be rough in urban situations, though.

There’s a choice of two engines – a 2.0-litre petrol and 2.0-litre diesel. They're both available with a six-speed manual gearbox or a 'Lineartronic' CVT automatic. The diesel is capable of around 52mpg, which isn't exactly stellar compared to what the competition can manage, but should be enough for most people. This engine is a better option if you're a high-mileage driver or need extra power for crossing muddy fields.

The XV's interior is spacious, but some cheap-feeling plastics let it down, especially given how much the car costs. With prices starting at around £22,000 for a 2.0-litre petrol model, the XV looks expensive compared to the Nissan Qashqai or Mitsubishi ASX. In fact, for the price of the diesel model (around £24,000) you could have an entry-level Audi Q3 2.0-litre TDI – a more desirable car with a better-quality interior and a more comfortable ride that comes loaded with equipment.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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