2018 Subaru XV Launch Review

2018 Subaru XV Road Test and Review

There’s another fresh new vehicle available to small SUV buyers with Subaru launching the (nearly) all-new XV into Australia.

Close to all-new, about 5% of the superseded Subaru XV carries over to the series two model.

And of that 5% most of it is the engine and CVT which for all intents and purposes remains the same.

Built on the same platform as the new-gen Subaru Impreza, the new XV welcomes a host of new additions, including:

  • X-Mode for additional off-road ability
  • Extra 20mm ground clearance
  • Lower prices (base and top-spec models)
  • Maximum power increase of 4.5%
  • Improved approach/departure angles
  • Apple CarPlay/Android Auto - standard
  • Additional rear foot space
  • Wider boot opening (+100mm)
  • EyeSight with Lane Keep Assist - (not in base-model)
  • Automatic reverse braking - (top-spec only)
  • Improved cabin heating/cooling
  • Upgraded seats

So, as you can see, there is a fair bit there to discuss, however perhaps the best place to start is off-road.

As the video below shows, I found the new XV to be a fairly competent performer on the dirt.

The aforementioned approach and departure angles and extra ground clearance (now boasting 220mm) help give the Subaru enough ability to tackle most light-duty off-road tasks.

While the hill descent control was easy to use and proved reliable…

In regards to the X-Mode all-wheel drive, essentially you just hit a button and the car does the rest.

This mode provides the Subaru XV with aids to assist grip, including sending an equal 50/50 split of power and torque to the front and rear wheels.

It also controls the function of the limited-slip differential and dials-back the power output to better help you on slippery surfaces.

Away from the dirt the 2018 Subaru XV provides a mostly pleasing drive experience.

The engine, a 2.0 litre naturally-aspirated boxer unit, produces 115kW and 196Nm and is adequate.

The minimal power and torque outputs are handicapped by the Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT).

As is often the case with these transmissions, the drive feels artificial and this is due to the CVT not being responsive enough to really get the most out of the engine.

It also tends to leave you with a whining type noise when you’re trying to hurry the XV along.

So, again, adequate is the word that comes to mind, but nothing more.

The suspension is fairly firm in the new Subaru and while that translates to impressive handling, it isn’t the most comfortable vehicle around.

I thought this rather firm set-up also translated to quite an unsettled feel on the dirt and gravel at speed, especially in the rear.

It has nice steering though and that helps lift things up.

While fuel economy on our test drive returned figures around 8.5L/100km and that is reasonable enough.

From the driver’s seat the new Subaru XV provides mostly good visibility, though the C-pillars are fairly chunky so be cautious when changing lanes.

Legroom is reasonable front and back, headroom is good all-round.

The highlight of the Subaru XV is the attention to detail throughout the cabin.

Nice materials, soft arm-rests, leather wrapped steering wheel and bright and clear driver info screens (x2) are just some of the best bits.

The new infotainment system is also pleasing, especially with the larger 8″ screen (everything but base-model) and I’m glad to see the volume and tuning buttons remain.

Simple climate controls, the standard fitment of an electric parking brake and ignition button are the icing on the cake.

The glove box is reasonably sized, same goes for the door pockets, but the centre console bin is better than adequate.

Complaints about the inside of the XV would run to the odd positioning of the USB/power outlets in the forward most area of the console - you can’t see the jacks and it’s really difficult to get your hand in there.

Luckily there are extra outputs/inputs in the centre bin.

The sunvisors are too short to properly shade your face when in the side window shade position.

While the cabin is generally well-insulated, however wind noise around the windscreen/wing-mirrors was observed.

A pat on the back for Subaru on the safety front - the new XV boasts knee-protecting airbags and that’s a safety feature most competitors in this segment don’t have.

Summing it up; the new Subaru XV is sure to be a good-seller for the Japanese car brand.

It isn’t perfect, but it will suit many buyers looking for a crossover/small SUV that can handle the dirt and is pleasant enough to get about in the city.

NUTS and BOLTS - 2018 Subaru XV

Engine: 2.0 litre ‘boxer’ four-cylinder producing 115kW/196Nm

Transmission: CVT auto (with seven-speed manual mode)

Safety: Five stars

Warranty: Three Years

Origin: Japan

Price: from $27,990 (2.0i), $30,340 (2.0i-L), $32,140 (2.0i Premium), $35,240 (2.0i-S)

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