2012 Subaru XV Review

Joel Helmes reviews the Subaru XV.

2012 Subaru XV review

The Subaru XV offers a little more personality and fun than some of its competitors.

There’s no doubt some car companies just can’t seem to get the message across successfully that their vehicles won’t break the bank.

Three names come to mind, three car companies that produce quality vehicles which aren’t anywhere near as expensive as you might think.

They are Honda, Peugeot and Subaru.

I’ve been getting about in Subaru’s new light SUV the XV this week and for under $31,000 I don’t know why more aren’t finding homes.

As you may know I’m no fan of the Holden Captiva and for basically exactly the same amount of money if you buy a Captiva without first checking out this Subaru you’re nuts!

The Subaru XV isn’t perfect but it certainly has plenty going for it including the extremely impressive 2.0 litre boxer engine.

Delivering a capable 110kW and 235Nm the engine, as with all boxer engines, feels a touch sluggish down low but above 3000rpm the power and acceleration is quite impressive.

The best part however is that the fuel economy is a terrific, almost diesel like 7.0 litres combined!

I easily managed a sensational 7.8 litres in the city – amazing given the claimed urban consumption is 8.9.

I was also pleased with the “non-intrusive” engine start-stop feature which I thought was as user friendly as any other I have experienced.

The CVT transmission provides smooth gear changes, interestingly you can’t manipulate the gears manually from the selector so if you want to take full control you have to use the steering wheel paddles.

One major complaint I had with the transmission in the Subaru XV is that it takes an eternity to find drive when shifted from reverse.

As you would expect from Subaru the engineers have done a fine job with the suspension, the steering is nice and light at low speed but firmer and more direct at higher speeds.

The brakes are well and truly up to the job.

Coming standard with 17” alloys Subaru has very sensibly provided 55 series tires and this helps the XV improve the overall comfortable ride.

Inside the cabin of the Subaru XV you will find adequate leg room front and back while the boot space is also reasonable without being great.

The leather seats look and feel quite nice, the driver’s seat gets electronic adjustment and both front seats are heated.

I did feel however that the seat bases were a touch on the short side and that means there’s not quite as much under leg/knee support as perhaps there could be.

On a more positive note there’s very generous cabin storage areas, generally nice materials utilised throughout and an overall nice feeling inside the XV.

I would however have preferred slightly softer arm rests and steering wheel (a hobby horse of mine).

The Subaru XV comes standard with a rear reversing camera and the satellite navigation/stereo system is a good one – easy to use and nicely laid out.

The only criticism I would have on the stereo controls is that some of the on-screen buttons are a touch on the small side and often you end up hitting the wrong button.

I was impressed by the elevated position of the easy to use climate control knobs and buttons and like that the settings display screen is at eye level.

Just next to that screen is the trip computer display screen which is packed with handy info and is very easy to navigate around thanks to dedicated switches which are located on the steering wheel, overall a good system.

I also like that the wing mirrors are mounted on the door and back from the A pillars, this really does improve front and side visibility.

In that area of the car however there is a fair degree of wind noise, it’s so noticeable that I actually checked to make sure that the driver’s window was fully closed.

Overall the Subaru XV gets a five star ANCAP rating and that’s no surprise because the list of standard safety features is quite impressive.

So summing it up the Subaru XV is an SUV that will deliver extremely economical motoring but not at the expense of excitement.

There are many more positives than negatives and once again let me stress that you should not hand over any money for a family SUV without giving it a go.

I think you will be just as impressed as I was particularly when taking the very reasonable price tag into account.


Engine: 2.0 litre petrol producing 110kW and 235Nm

Transmission: 6 speed CVT auto

Safety: Five stars

Warranty: 3 years

Origin: Japan

Price: From $28,490

About the author

Joel Helmes

Joel is the founder, editor and managing director of Behind the Wheel. Joel has a background as a radio broadcaster with on-air roles at 4BC, 4KQ, 2KY, 2LT and 2UE amongst others, as well as a news editor and program director. Joel’s relationship with cars stems back to his early childhood learning to change oil and brakes with his father and uncle. This continued on into his driving years owning an assorted collection of cars.