We recently spent a week with Subaru’s top of the range is the XV 2.0i-S AWD SUV and found that the second generation based on the new Subaru Global Platform, transforms the XV from Boring to Bold.
Looking at the XV, it is obvious the external changes have dramatically freshened the styling. It is one of those cars whose appeal grows the longer you have it. It looks good from almost any angle, which is difficult for most cars.
Key external features are the sleek roof rails, rear roof spoiler, revised tail lights and the LED headlights. These LED headlights in XV 2.0i-S include advanced functions such as Steering Responsive Head lights (SRH) and LED daytime running lights (DRL).
The MY18 XV is a little bit bolder, a little bit longer, a bit sharper and a little bit sleeker. This sums up the new XV exactly, little changes almost everywhere with some big changes that all add up to a complete redesign.
The major difference with the new generation XV is the new SGP which transforms the vehicle. Body and chassis rigidity are increased significantly between 1.7 and 2-times that of the superseded model and huge improvements are made to the suspension and associated systems.
Subaru was previously always at the cutting edge with design and features for its segment. They lost their way for a while but recently have surged ahead again. This is obviously displayed in its interior. It has a quality ambiance to it with soft touch fascia, leather accentuated trim, highlight stitching and a redesigned layout that focuses on the driver with a subtle sophistication beyond most others in the segment.
It’s surprising how comfortable the driver’s position feels. The front heated leather seats are very supportive, despite the lack of an adjustable lumbar support. The driver’s seat is electronically adjusted and with the height and reach adjustable, relatively thick, rimmed steering – wheel I found a really comfortable position.
The steering wheel has redesigned spoke controls, thick stalks that sit away from the steering wheel spokes for greater visibility and the clear instinctive dual dial dash that has a centre MFD. It all feels integrated and is clear and easy to read and use.
The centre console stack houses the really cool widescreen 6.5 inch MFD that provides a host of variable information including X Mode, which can be selected by the driver.
Below that is a large 8 inch screen that allows smartphone connectivity based on Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ services and is used to boost mobile connection functionality.
Visibility for the driver is excellent. The electro chromatic rear view mirror, along with the reasonably sized heated external mirrors, afford a clear view all around. The reversing camera is great and the large blind spot indicators are perfect.
Inside there is a feeling of more space and that is a direct result of the new global platform. The XV wheelbase has increased 30mm and the car is 20mm wider. Inside, cabin width is up 29mm at the front and 34mm rear with distance between seat centres up 20mm. Rear leg room also gains 26mm.
I am 190cm tall and considerably larger than the average bear and I felt comfortable in the front seats. I am not the typical rear seat passenger, especially behind myself, but for a normal sized couple there is adequate room for daytrip adventures etc. and is a comfortable four seater. For the front occupants there is plenty of head, shoulder and leg room.
I can even put my arm down the side of the driver’s seat, which is not common on vehicles in this size segment. The boot is relatively large however it is shallow and I’m not sure why, considering the spare is a space saver. The rear seats fold flat easily to allow for a fairly long rear storage area.
The Subaru XV 2.0i-S is packed with features that you would normally associate with larger, more expensive vehicles. The list of additional standard features includes new generation touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay™ and Google Android Auto™ connectivity, front fog lights with steering responsive LED head lights with integrated DRLs, tyre pressure monitoring system,
18-inch alloy wheels and electric sunroof. The 8-inch touchscreen has a factory fitted SatNav powered by TomTom and there’s also dual zone fully automatic air conditioning, electric folding mirrors with integrated indicators, leather accented trim steering wheel and gear shift, automatic head lights with High Beam Assist and automatic front wipers.
Overall, inside there are some big ticks for the new XV: plenty of room, sophisticated styling, packed with features and it’s comfortable for taller drivers.
The XV is powered by the 2.0-litre direct-injection normally aspirated four cylinder boxer engine, producing power of 115Kw @ 6000rpm and torque of 196Nm @ 4000rpm. This is mated to a seven speed CVT. I’m not normally a fan of a CVT and the previous model absolutely wasn’t a favourite.
My personal preference is that the XV had more power or at least a diesel engine option as well. The CVT is quiet and smooth in normal driving conditions and is definitely an improvement. It is a little noisy under stress and to maximise power delivery and economy it could be better matched to the engine. The Subaru XV is by no means a powerhouse, but when kept in its rev range, it is tractable enough for most situations. There is no manual option.
As mentioned, the new XV sits on Subaru’s new global platform. Without going into too much detail, the new platform is a game changer for the segment. See what Alan Zurvas has to say about the SGP in the Subaru Impreza. It is leaps and bounds ahead of most of the competition. It allows dynamic handling, a smooth and complaint ride and is combined with revised suspension geometry. The steering feels solid, though a little vague, but with enough feedback. The XV feels planted to the road.
Road noise is minimised, especially on course chip bitumen and dirt roads. We’ve driven across a good mix of surfaces with many sections of dirt, corrugations and potholes. The XV only lost composure a few times and it was being pushed, more than most drivers would. The redesign has also reduced the NVH levels to a cut below others in the segment. The XV will surprise many with its genuine light off-road capabilities.
The XV is great for dirt roads and forest trails, heading down that track to get to your favourite mountain bike trail or on the beach for some fishing and surfing. It is ideally suited to the adventurous couple that wants more than a normal wagon can provide. However, the front approach and rear departure angles will limit how far off the road you can venture.
The features that provide the enhanced off road capability and handling are 220mm of ground clearance, Subaru Symmetrical AWD and X-Mode. The Subaru Symmetrical AWD system has been around for ages now and is brilliant. The extra ground clearance allows the XV to go many places others won’t and X-Mode brings technology to the fore.
When X-Mode is engaged, at 40 km/h or less, status information is displayed on the MFD and instrument cluster, including Hill Descent Control and Vehicle Dynamics Control. X-Mode centralizes control of the engine, All-Wheel Drive, brakes and other critical components to help ensure safe driving even on poor surfaces. Hill Descent Control helps maintain a constant speed when the vehicle is travelling downhill. Having tested this on a number of occasions on dirt tracks I can attest to the effectiveness. It is as good as some of the heavy 4WD wagons I have tested.
The MY18 Subaru XV has a 5 star ANCAP safety rating with dual front, side, curtain and a driver’s knee airbags. Every XV features Vehicle Dynamics Control and Active Torque Vectoring (ATV). ATV helps the car turn better and improves response with steering and control. When the car is turning, VDC applies brakes to the inner wheels, which routes more drive power to the outer wheels.
The 2.0i-S also features a suite of safety-enhancing Vision Assist features that include: blind spot detection (BSD), high beam assist, lane change assist (LCA), rear cross traffic alert (RCTA), reverse automatic braking (RAB), steering responsive headlights (SRH), rear view reversing camera and the latest third generation EyeSight driver assist system, pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control (ACC) and emergency stop signal (ESS).
You could be forgiven for simply glossing over these safety features, however a lot of these don’t even feature on way more expensive cars. Their availability sets the Subaru XV apart from the pack.
The MY18 Subaru XV 2.0i-S AWD SUV is bloody good, but like most things, not perfect. It is a dramatic improvement on the previous generation model and is class-leading. Overall, I would say that Subaru has almost got it spot on for the young or older adventurous couple that don’t need a full on 4WD wagon, but want to venture further afield than the main roads.
- Stylish looks
- Safety features
- Surprisingly fun to drive
What’s Not So Good?
- Engine slightly underpowered
- Better matching of engine to CVT needed
- No diesel option
Model: 2017 Subaru XV 2.0L S
Model Price: $39,423 RDAP
Engine: 2.0L 4 Cyl Boxer
Drivetrain: Symmetrical AWD CVT
Power: 115 kW @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 196 Nm @ 4,000 rpm
Safety: 5 Star ANCAP
CO2 Emissions: 159 g/km
Economy: 7 L/100km (ADR comb)
Tow Capacity: Max 1400 kg
Tow Ball Rating: 140 kg
Servicing: 3Yrs capped price
Warranty: 3yr/ unlimited km with 1yr roadside assist
Overall OzRoamer Rating 81/100
Behind the Wheel 9
Ride & Handling 9
Fit for Purpose 8
Towing Ability 6
Off Road Ability 6
Value for Money 8