Subaru XV SUV (2012-2017) - Engines, drive & performance

The Subaru XV handles well for an SUV, but the CVT automatic gearbox dulls its response

Carbuyer Rating

3.3 out of 5

Engines, drive & performance Rating

2.8 out of 5

Subaru is renowned for building cars that handle well and the XV is no exception. While the steering is light, it feels sharp and body control is good for such a tall car. The CVT automatic gearbox maximises efficiency, but it’s also noisy and hampers throttle response. The manual shifts smoothly and is more satisfying to use, so it would be our recommendation.

The XV’s four-wheel-drive system is typically Subaru – incredibly tough and rugged. In fact, the XV is probably one of the few SUVs of this size that’s significantly capable both on and off-road, as opposed to only on tarmac. Rivals like the Nissan Qashqai and Mazda CX-5 don’t do that well off-road, despite having the option of four-wheel drive.

The suspension system and steering received an update in the summer of 2015 to further improve ride quality and handling. The suspension was tweaked to keep body roll to a minimum and Subaru claims to have made the steering sharper, so it requires fewer turns lock to lock.

In fact, the XV is one of the few SUVs that only comes with four-wheel drive. The XV’s system intelligently diverts power between the front and rear wheels, so you should always have the most possible grip whatever the conditions.

Subaru XV petrol engine

There's only one petrol engine offered in the XV: a 2.0-litre that produces 148bhp and is capable of a 10.5-second 0-62mph time. The CVT Lineartronic automatic gearbox adds two tenths to that time. With this engine, the XV feels reasonably quick on the road, which goes well with its impressively accomplished handling. This engine is quite noisy, though – and gets even noisier with the CVT automatic fitted.

Diesel engine

We think the 145bhp diesel engine is the one to go for, as it's strong, responsive and more economical than the petrol. Just bear in mind that the way this engine produces its power means you have to change gear quite often. Thankfully, the six-speed manual gearbox is very slick, so that isn’t much of a chore. Power is available low down in the rev range (just like most other diesels), so this engine works better with the four-wheel-drive system.

Recommended

Subaru XV SUV review
Subaru XV e-Boxer
Subaru XV
27 Jan 2022

Subaru XV SUV review

Most Popular

Engine management light: top 5 causes of amber engine warning light
Engine management light: top 5 causes of amber engine warning light
Car technology
22 Jun 2022

Engine management light: top 5 causes of amber engine warning light

Top 10 cheapest electric cars 2022
2021 Citroen Ami
Best cars
16 Jun 2022

Top 10 cheapest electric cars 2022

Top 10 best electric SUVs 2022
Skoda Enyaq charging
Best cars
24 Jun 2022

Top 10 best electric SUVs 2022

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
23 Mar 2022

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
5 Nov 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Car buying
17 May 2022

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
20 Jun 2022

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors 2022
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022
Ioniq 5
Best cars
25 Apr 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022
Nissan Leaf front
Best cars
3 May 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022
Audi RS 3 driving - front view
Hot hatches
24 Jun 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022