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Subaru XV 2.0i-S 2016 review: Top five reasons to buy

Subaru was one of the forerunners in the current small SUV boom when it launched the XV in 2012, and it's just been treated to a refresh to help it keep pace with the many alternatives that now populate its segment.

This update brings new styling, features and technology. Prices for the upgraded model start at $26,490 for the entry level 2.0i and all continue to be powered by a 110kW/196Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a full time all-wheel drive system.

At the top of the range is 2.0i-S for $34,990 – and here are the Top 5 reasons to buy it.

#1 Unique looks

Subaru is known for producing vehicles that look a little different from the rest of the pack. So in the small SUV segment which is busting at the seams with vehicles that share similar styling, the XV's look is still unique.

Because of its Impreza roots, the XV has a sedan ‘face' with its long sloping bonnet and heavily raked windscreen, but tough features like the hard wearing plastic trim on the wheel arches and bumpers. Another signature trait of the XV is its distinctive alloy wheels.

#2 Real all-wheel drive

All-wheel drive is Subaru's ‘thing'. The Japanese brand has embraced all-wheel drive, not in a hard-core off-roader sense, but ensuring its vehicle has more consistent grip on all surfaces. Its Symmetrical all-wheel drive is used in most of its vehicles including the XV.

The XV's all-wheel drive system is a full-time one that monitors each wheel and adjusts the drive going to them to makes each gets the best possible traction. It's great for dirt and gravel, but where Subaru's all-wheel drive will be of most use is as an active safety system by adding another layer of protection on wet and slippery roads. The grip and balance the system brings to driving is excellent.

#3 Ground clearance

A popular reason for buying an SUV is for the higher ground clearance they have compared to a car. The roads you're heading down may not be challenging or require a vehicle that hugely capable off road, but may be covered by rocks or logs, decent sized bumps and shallow water and a bit of extra clearance is handy.

The XV has a ground clearance of 220mm. This is not only one of the highest ground clearances in the small SUV class but it comes very close to that a lot of hardcore four-wheel drives such as Toyota's Fortuner which has a clearance of 225mm.

#4 Stylish and functional cabin

Some small SUVs are based on city hatchbacks and come with cabins that reflect those cheap and cheerful origins. The XV has refined and stylish cabin and this top of the range specification takes things into even more premium territory.

There's a flush-mounted touchscreen, cleanly designed dash with an elegant instrument cluster. Seating is excellent front and rear. The cabin has also been built with function firmly in mind – there are storage bins and pockets galore and the ergonomics of the seating and controls is spot on.

#5 Value for money

The small SUV segment is fierce – rivals are armed with a high level of standard features and are priced to win over buyers. And among all this SUV warfare the XV is still able to offer great value for money.

Standard features on the 2.0i-S include: a 7-inch touchscreen, satnav, reversing camera, proximity keys, leather seats – heated in the front and with a power driver's seat, auto wipers, climate control and sunroof.

The XV comes with a 3 year/unlimited kilometre warranty, with 3 year/75,000 capped price servicing program and 12 months road side assistance should you need it.


The Subaru XV 2.0i-S has so much going for it, but there’s always room to improve, particularly if you’re talking about the room in the boot – the spare wheel takes up a lot of the cargo area’s space. Also, the engine can feel a tad underpowered – more grunt would be great.

You'll find anything XV-related at our Subaru XV hub.

Related: Check out our buying guide for small SUVs here.

Plus: Find all SUVs under $30k here.

How do you think the XV stacks up against its small SUV rivals? Tell us in the comments below.

Click here to see more 2016 Subaru XV pricing and spec info.

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