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Subaru XV 2020 review

Answers to commonly asked Subaru XV questions to help you decide if this small SUV is for you.

Subaru’s XV is essentially the brand’s Impreza hatch with lifted suspension and some minor changes to styling and specifications. It’s a natural fit in the brand’s line-up alongside lifted wagons like the Forester and Outback, and lines up directly with competitors like the Mitsubishi ASX and Honda HR-V.

Subaru suits the SUV world well, with its signature all-wheel drive and safety focus resonating historically with Aussie buyers, but now some years after its introduction, does the XV still hold up?

We answer all your frequently asked questions so you can decide for yourself.

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✅ What do we love about the Subaru XV?

We like the XV’s hatchback looks, fantastic cabin quality, Subaru’s all-wheel drive tech across the range, and the high safety equipment present on most variants.

We like the XV’s hatchback looks and fantastic cabin quality. We like the XV’s hatchback looks and fantastic cabin quality.We like the XV’s hatchback looks and fantastic cabin quality. We like the XV’s hatchback looks and fantastic cabin quality.

✅ What do we dislike?

The only engine is a rather underpowered 2.0-litre petrol mated to a soggy CVT auto, so it’s hardly the most inspirational small SUV to drive. Due to its diminutive dimensions, the XV also has a small boot capacity compared to many rivals.

✅ How much does a Subaru XV cost?

The Subaru XV currently ranges in price from $29,240 MSRP ($33,546 RRP – drive away including on-roads according to Subraru) to $36,530 ($41,055 RRP).

The range kicks off with the base 2.0i which costs from $29,240. It is worth noting that this base car is the only one without Subaru’s 'EyeSight' active safety suite. Read more about that and the 2.0i’s specifications later in this review.

Next up is the 2.0i-L ($31,610) which adds EyeSight, heated and power folding side mirrors, dual-zone climate control, a larger 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen, and ‘premium cloth’ seats.

Then there is the 2.0i Premium ($33,420) which adds an electric sunroof, and satellite navigation.

Next is the newly added Hybrid e-Boxer ($35,580) which downgrades the screen to 6.5-inches, loses the sunroof, sat nav, and dual-zone climate control, but adds a bespoke seat trim and the full safety kit otherwise only available on the top-spec 2.0i-S.

The Hybrid e-Boxer is new to the range. The Hybrid e-Boxer is new to the range.

Finally, the top-spec car is the 2.0i-S ($36,530) which adds 18-inch alloy wheels (shod with with Bridgestone tyres), 'Vision Assist' (blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, high beam assist, and reverse auto braking), full LED steering-responsive and auto-leveling front lighting, as well s leather seats with eight-way power adjust and heating for the front seats.

Our sweet spot in the range would have to be the 2.0i-L as it includes all the necessary items at a great price. The top-spec 2.0i-S also comes in lower than many top-spec rivals and has an impressive list of specs, including the full safety suite.

The price second hand will vary greatly depending on the date of manufacture, given a five-year warranty has been introduced during the XV’s life-cycle. Early XV’s also had a known transmission fault and several recalls explored later in this review.

See below for the new 2020 Subaru XV price list

 2.0i CVT auto2.0i Hybrid CVT auto
2.0i$29,240--
2.0i-L$31,610--
2.0-i Premium$33,420--
Hybrid e-Boxer--$35,580
2.0i-S$36,530--

✅ Where is Subaru XV made?

Like all Subarus currently sold in Australia, the XV is built at Subaru’s plant in Ota, Gunma, Japan.

✅ What colours is the Subaru XV available in?

The XV is available in a total of 10 colours, one of which is exclusive to the hybrid grade. All available colours can be chosen at no extra cost regardless of variant.

The XV is available in a total of 10 colours. The XV is available in a total of 10 colours.

Naturally the standard colours of white, black, and silver are available, but the XV can also be chosen in two different shades of grey, two different shades of blue, a solid red, as well as the hero colour ‘Sunshine Orange’.

There is currently no green hue available in the XV range, and a third blue – ‘Lagoon Blue Pearl’ is exclusive to the Hybrid e-Boxer.

✅ How much storage space does the Subaru XV have?

The Subaru XV isn’t ‘large’ as far as small SUVs go, but cabin storage is decent.

Front passengers get two large cupholders in the centre console, large bottle holders in the doors, and various other binnacles suitable for phones and wallets on the centre console.

There’s an armrest storage bin with decent space, and a shallow but useful glove box.

The rear seat offers decent, but not excellent room for adults, plus there are two cupholders in the centre armrest, and small bottle holders in the doors.

  • The rear seat offers decent, but not excellent room for adults. The rear seat offers decent, but not excellent room for adults.
  • The XV’s boot space dimensions are limited. The XV’s boot space dimensions are limited.
  • Luggage capacity comes in at 345 litres (to the cargo cover), regardless of variant. Luggage capacity comes in at 345 litres (to the cargo cover), regardless of variant.

The XV’s boot space dimensions are limited. Luggage capacity comes in at 345 litres (to the cargo cover), regardless of variant (the hybrid loses the spare wheel instead to make room for the batteries).

This is hatchback-sized, but small compared to the Honda HR-V and Kia Seltos.

Storage room can be expanded by opting for the roof rack attachments ($428.07) and Subaru even offers a variety of Thule-branded cargo boxes to match ($811 - $951)

The brand does not offer a factory cargo barrier for the XV, although there are several third party options.

✅ Are there any must have accessories?

Subaru offers a long list of accessories for the XV with items that range from dash cams to roof-mounted awnings.

Thankfully, the brand has also thought to package together popular items to make it easy. The 'Protection Pack' ($682) includes a cargo scuff plate, boot tray, floor mats, and weather shields. Meanwhile the 'Explorer Pack' ($1628) includes all of the above plus the tow bar kit.

Subaru offers a long list of accessories for the XV. Subaru offers a long list of accessories for the XV.

For those just interested in towing, the tow bar kit on its own is $1093.36.

Other accessories include various designs of 17- or 18-inch alloy wheel by Enkei, STI-branded spoilers and interior items, exterior mouldings for protecting doors, front and rear parking sensors, various interior protecting items, and roof racks with a long list of branded attachments for everything from bikes to skis. There is also a Subaru-branded first aid kit ($46.95) and an awning kit ($515.06). Some accessory items may vary by trim level.

✅ What are the key stats & specs of the Subaru XV engine?

The Subaru XV is only available with a single non-turbo horizontally opposed (‘boxer’) four-cylinder engine, although there is now also a hybrid ‘e-Boxer’ variant.

Engine specs for the sole 2.0-litre powertrain are 110kW of power at 6000rpm and 196Nm of torque at 4000rpm.

The hybrid e-Boxer version mates the 2.0-litre engine with a 12.3kW/66Nm electric motor, and is said to lower the fuel consumption rating by up to 14 per cent.

The XV is only available with a single non-turbo horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine. The XV is only available with a single non-turbo horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine.

No matter which variant is chosen, the XV is only available with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).

Subaru no longer offers turbo-diesel variants of any of its cars in Australia, with its diesel boxer engine discontinued along with the previous-generation Forester. Subaru has never added a supercharger or offered a turbocharged XV.

The XV’s American counterpart (known as the Crosstrek) is set to get a larger engine size, likely the 2.5-litre 136kW/239Nm from the current-generation Forester, however Subaru Australia says this option is not on the cards for our market, at least for the time being.

✅ What is the Subaru XV towing capacity?

All Subaru XV variants are rated to tow 1400kg braked, or 650kg unbraked. The Maximum towbar ball download is 140kg.

✅ How does the Subaru XV interior look & feel?

The Subaru XV has a modern and chunky interior feel that’s at least up to spec, if not better than most competitors in terms of its trim and finish.

While the quality and touch points are of a relatively high standard, the XV is also pack full of screens, which can be a little overwhelming.

The top-spec 2.0i-S scores leather seat trim, while the e-Boxer hybrid gets its own leather/cloth blend. The chunky steering wheel is lovely under hand but can be criticized for perhaps having one too many buttons.

The XV is packed full of screens, which can be a little overwhelming. The XV is packed full of screens, which can be a little overwhelming.

Thankfully, Subaru offers dials for all the important controls, like climate, volume, and tuning.

See our interior photos for more.

✅ What features come standard with the Subaru XV?

Standard features on even the base Subaru XV include Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel drive, 17-inch alloy wheels with tyre pressure monitoring system, auto vehicle hold (hill start assist), 'X-Mode' (comprising features like hill descent control, off-road settings for traction, etc), smart key with keyless entry and push-start ignition, multi-function wheel (some would argue too multi-function) with electric power steering, reversing camera (although parking sensors are optional), a 6.5-inch screen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, digital radio and Bluetooth connectivity, air conditioning, cruise control, halogen headlights, and a temporary space-saver spare (in every variant apart from the hybrid which gets a repair kit).

Unfortunately, the XV is not available with a full-size spare tyre, even optionally.

By the time you get to the top-spec 2.0i-S the XV is available with a larger 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen with built-in sat nav (GPS), powered and heated leather seats, a non-panoramic sunroof, full LED self-leveling front lighting, the EyeSight safety suite including auto emergency braking and active cruise control, 18-inch alloy wheels, and rain-sensing wipers.

✅ What features can you upgrade?

While the XV appears to be adventure ready, Subaru only offer a limited spread of accessories for such purposes, including a camp awning. STi-branded sport accessories can also be applied for a sort of make your own ‘sport edition’ complete with a rear spoiler and Enkei alloy wheels. Naturally, third party bodykits exist, even WRX-look ones…

The XV appears to have significant aftermarket support to allow you to upgrade it further outside of Subaru’s official accessories and options. Keep in mind, applying any upgrades may void your warranty, and CarsGuide has not tested any third-party accessories so cannot vouch for their abilities or quality.

Lift kits seem to be a popular upgrade, with some XV’s getting the full lifted look with all-terrain tyres courtesy of third-party vendors.

Common easy-to-fit upgrades like light-bars or Xenon/HID/projector replacements for the stock halogen headlights (the top-spec 2.0i-S has LED headlights and daytime running lights) are also popular and we’ve seen several sites offering various bullbars or nudge bars, too.

Some local third parties will also supply extra underbody protection for the XV, and we’ve even seen American market shops do winch kits.

Rarer is a snorkel upgrade, which would require significant alterations to the stock bonnet, and is questionably useful given how low the XV’s engine sits as is.

✅ What is the difference between Subaru XV models?

The main difference between varaiants in the XV range is increasing levels of specification and safety features as you walk up the range. The XV’s engine and drivetrain characteristics remain largely the same across variants.

However, you can now also choose the hybrid option at a mid-to-high price-point for the segment to add complexity to your model comparison.

We’d recommend factoring in the Subaru’s permanent all-wheel drive when shopping across makes in a model vs model comparison.

✅ Is the Subaru XV 4WD and can you use it off-road?

All XV models have Subaru’s signature symmetrical all-wheel drive (AWD) system.

Where this system varies from many competitors is the fact that it is always on, and also that it is able to send an even amount of power to either axle.

Naturally, this gives the XV a competitive capability advantage over other transmission-based and part-time all-wheel drive rivals.

Where it still differs from ‘proper’ 4 wheel drives is the lack of low-range capability, which will ultimately limit the amount of hardcore off-roading the XV is capable of. The XV is also not able to be put into a two-wheel drive (4x2) mode.

That said, the XV still impresses with decent ground clearance (220mm minimum) and wading depth (500mm). Subaru enthusiasts are a special kind, and as such many third-party lift kits are available which can raise the car from 1.5-inches up. Expect to pay at least $1200 for the extra capability.

✅ What are the dimensions of the Subaru XV?

The Subaru XV has common dimensions across all variants of 4465mm length, 1800mm width, and 1615mm height.

The XV’s weight sits between 1422kg (2.0i) and 1536kg (Hybrid).

Size-wise the XV is not large, even for the small-SUV segment, and could be considered to be merely a raised hatchback in terms of its overall dimensions.

✅ What is the Subaru XV's fuel consumption?

Non-hybrid XV variants all share the same petrol consumption rating of 7.0-litres per 100km and 159g/km of CO2 emissions.

Mileage on that number will vary with the XV’s ‘urban’ (usually a more accurate reflection) coming in at 8.8L/100km.

Non-hybrid XV variants all share the same petrol consumption rating of 7.0-litres per 100km. Non-hybrid XV variants all share the same petrol consumption rating of 7.0-litres per 100km.

The Hybrid XV will cut your km/l down a bit, with its rated fuel consumption down to 6.5L/100km. We’d argue the extra cost of the XV means this slight drop in fuel consumption is disappointing.

✅ Does the Subaru XV have any common problems, issues or faults?

The Subaru XV doesn’t have any major red flags you should be aware of, but there are a few recalls which the current-generation vehicle is affected by, as well as a few potential issues you should be aware of.

The XV’s recalls include a brake light failure (for vehicles made between 2012 and 2015), a power steering fault (for vehicles manufactured between December 2018 and January 2019), and a potential seat belt issue for MY19 vehicles.

There are a few recalls which the current-generation vehicle is affected by. There are a few recalls which the current-generation vehicle is affected by.

For the full breakdown, see our Subaru XV problems page, but for now here are some issues and common complaints we have identified based on feedback from our readers:

The XV has been reported to consume excess oil, however this is a problem common to many horizontally opposed engines.

A frequently reported issue for vehicles seemingly manufactured up to 2015 are transmission problems, namely, a failure of the continuously variable transmission (CVT). Those who have experienced this fault share mixed stories about gearbox repairs, with some claiming it cost thousands in repairs.

It’s worth noting that newly manufactured vehicles may not have the same issue (we’d hope not, given Subaru is well and truly aware of the issue) and are now covered by a five year warranty (up from three) for extra peace of mind.

As there are no diesel or manual models, there is no need to be concerned about particulate filters or clutch failures.

✅ Does the XV have a manual or automatic transmission?

The XV is automatic only and uses a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

✅ How much does the XV cost to service?

All new XVs are covered by Subaru’s capped price servicing program. The XV needs to be serviced once every 12 months or 12,500km whichever occurs first.

The capped price servicing covers you for the life of the five-year warranty. Service prices vary from between $350.25 and $784.77 with a yearly average over the five years of $486.60 regardless of variant chosen.

These service costs are relatively high compared to Japanese and Korean rivals, but Subaru is at pains to highlight that its capped prices are all-inclusive.

Some competitors like Hyundai, Kia, and SsangYong offer fixed maintenance costs much longer than five years.

Subaru also offers the option to bundle service costs in on finance at the time of purchase in three- or five-year packages (much like VW).

✅ Is the Subaru XV a reliable car?

Subaru’s XV anecdotally seems to be a reliable vehicle, despite earlier versions being marred by some transmission issues. See our problems page for more, and while Australia doesn’t have any commonly relied on metrics for reliability ratings, the XV is rated 3.6/5 according to owners on productreview.com.au.

We recommend doing your research before buying a used XV and check all common issues and recalls have been attended to. New XVs are covered by Subaru’s five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty.

✅ Does the Subaru XV come in diesel?

The Subaru XV is only available in petrol and as a hybrid. There is no diesel variant, and Subaru has discontinued its diesel engine family. There has never been an LPG version of the XV.

The hybrid variant of the XV uses lithium-ion batteries, which are charged by an onboard converter. Unlike the US, there is no plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variant on the Australian market, although Subaru’s latest product plan shown at the launch of the XV hybrid would suggest further electrification of its range globally is set to occur in the near future.

Subaru wants every one of its nameplates including the XV to have an electrified (full EV) version by 2030.

✅ Does the Subaru XV have Apple Carplay & Andriod Auto?

All Subaru XV variants offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity via a 6.5- or 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen. Connectivity for iPhones or Andro id devices is offered via USB 2.0 outlets. There is no USB-C or wireless CarPlay technology.

✅ How good is the XV's sound system & Infotainment set-up?

The XV is available with either a 6.5- or 8.0-inch multimedia touchscreen display, which is backed by at least Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. All variants have six speakers, DAB+ digital radio, and a single CD player. There is no DVD player or separately-watted subwoofer across the XV range.

The 2.0i Premium and 2.0i-S score built-in satellite navigation to go with their 8.0-inch displays.

✅ Is the Subaru XV a safe car?

All Subaru XVs have maximum five-star ANCAP safety ratings as of 2017. This includes the base model 2.0i which misses out on now-essential active safety tech.

Subaru’s active safety suite is called EyeSight, and its features include auto emergency braking (works from 0-65km/h) with brake light recognition, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, active cruise control, and torque vectoring.

Subaru’s active safety suite EyeSight features auto emergency braking. Subaru’s active safety suite EyeSight features auto emergency braking.

Only the top-spec 2.0i-S gets the additional ‘Vision Assist suite’ which includes blind spot monitoring, high beam assist, and reverse automatic braking.

Expected safety features include seven airbags, electronic stability and brake controls, as well as dual ISOFIX child seat mounting points on the outer two rear seats, and three top-tether child seat mounting points across the rear row.

✅ Does the Subaru XV have a timing belt or chain?

The only available 2.0-litre engine in the Subaru XV range has a longer-lasting timing chain rather than a belt.

✅ What is the XV's fuel tank size?

Every XV has a fuel capacity of 63 litres except for the hybrid, which has a smaller 48 litre tank.

✅ How many seats does the Subaru XV have?

Every Subaru XV has five seats. The base 2.0i, mid-grade 2.0i-L and hybrid have cloth trims, while the higher-spec 2.0i-S has leather seats.

The 2.0i-S also scores heated and power adjustable front seating.

✅ How many years and km does the warranty last?

Subaru’s warranty is now on-par with major Japanese competitors, with five-year/unlimited kilometre coverage. The Kia Seltos and SsangYong Tivoli are the leaders in the small SUV category, with seven-years and unlimited kilometres of warranty.

✅ How fast is the Subaru XV?

Not very. The XV with its 2.0-litre engine is claimed to accelerate from 0-100km/h in 10.4 seconds. It seems the brand has opted for all-wheel drive capability and the extra heft of safety and multimedia features rather than horsepower and speed.

✅ How does the Subaru XV feel to drive?

One of the XV’s best characteristics over rivals is its solid road feel provided by its all-wheel drive system, more rugged suspension set-up, and subsequent weight (1422kg).

This is also helped along by the chunky interior which is higher quality, cushier, and of a more modern design than, say, Mitsubishi’s ASX.

The steering feel is weighted just right. The steering feel is weighted just right.The steering feel is weighted just right. The steering feel is weighted just right.

The XV feels balanced over bumps and corrugations, and rides generally very comfortably, better than many small SUVs in this segment. While at lower speeds the XV is relatively quiet, like many Subarus, road noise becomes a notable issue above 80km/h.

The steering feel is weighted just right, not on the sporty side, but easy to feel the weight of the car while being friendly for parking in tight city centre spots. You would expect a slightly compromised turning circle due to all-wheel drive, but the XV’s 10.8 metres is far from outrageous.

It’s true, the XV’s performance is a bit of a let-down. The 2.0-litre engine with just 115kW/196Nm is wheezy when pushed, especially with the rubbery CVT transmission removing any semblance of a performance-oriented drive. While this is frustrating at freeway speed (especially when overtaking), the XV gets by safely and predictably around town, which is what many buyers will be searching for anyway.


The Wrap

Is the Subaru XV a good car?

The XV is an interesting small SUV alternative presented by Subaru with many of the brand’s lovable characteristics present.

The performance is a let-down, sure, but the XV makes up for it with a smidge of genuine rough-and-tumble ability, lovely ride, and an otherwise tech and safety laden offering.

Likes

High spec from 2.0-L up
Relative value
Nice road feel

Dislikes

Needs more grunt
Hybrid doesn't save much fuel
Small boot

Scores

Tom:

The Kids:

$29,240

Based on new car retail price

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