Subaru XV – Go anywhere confidence in motion

As many of you know, or don’t know, many of the modern SUV’s are not really suitable for off-road use. Some maybe suited for a well maintained gravel road leading to your favorite resort. The Subaru XV changes the game completely. The XV is fitted with Subaru’s renowned all-wheel drive system which makes the XV effective in harsher off-road conditions. As the market trends are moving towards lifestyle vehicles it is also no wonder that the XV is one of Subaru’s top selling models in the world.

The XV is built on the new Impreza’s platform which buy the way is also Subaru’s new Global platform. The new platform provides more comfort, better driving dynamics and better safety than the old outgoing platform. (Not that the old platform was bad at all)

Does it have “the look” ?

On the visual side not too much has changed compared to the outgoing model, but maybe just enough to make you look twice. The new XV is slightly larger than the outgoing model and also looks a bit more rugged to me. Ground clearance remains unchanged at 220mm.

Subaru XV 2.0S-ES – Front Quarter
Subaru XV 2.0S-ES – Side View
Subaru XV 2.0S-ES – rear Quarter

What is the interior like ?

The interior looks and feels a bit more premium for me and is really a nice place to spend some time in whilst going along your travels. So while Subaru has put in great effort to upgrade the cabin to a more premium space to be in, it still falls a bit short short of the perceived quality offered by its German and some Japanese rivals. It is easy to get comfortable in the XV, there are plenty of seating and steering wheel adjustments that can be made to assist you to get your seating position just right. The steering wheel is also covered in leather which is a bonus.

But wait…..there is more. You also get you also get a 8.0in (6.2in for the entry level model) touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth, a DAB radio and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring.

If I have to highlight one area where the XV excels then it is definitely safety. The Subaru EyeSight collision avoidance system is fitted as standard to the S (ES) model and as a result gets a 5 Star Euro NCAP safety rating.

Subaru XV 2.0S-ES – Interior Front
Subaru XV 2.0S-ES – Interior Back
Subaru XV 2.0S-ES – Boot

Model options:

At this stage the XV is only available in 2 options:
XV 2.0i CVT
XV 2.0i-S ES (EyeSight) CVT

Flagship Model Features:

The S (ES) model gets the following goodies additional to the normal XV 2.0i:
-LED Headlamps with day time running lamps auto leveliser
-Auto Headlights
-Side Turn Light & Electrical Folding Function Door Mirror
-Power sliding, tilt-adjustable Sunroof
-Automatic rain-sensing windshield wipers
-Leather Seats, Leather wrapped Steering Wheel and Leather wrapped Gear shifter
-Keyless entry and push-button start system (touch-sensor type)
-Alloy pedals & foot rest
-Steering wheel mounted audio, mobile phone & EyeSight adaptive cruise control switches
-8.0″ Touch Screen Infotainment System with 6 speaker CD system and bluetooth hands-free functionality
-GPS (Navigation)
-Dual auxiliary audio input and USB Ports
-Active torque vectoring
-Eyesight – Pre-collision braking, Adaptive cruise control, Lane departure warning, Lane sway warning, Lead vehicle start alert, Pre-collision throttle management
-Digital speedometer
-High beam assist
-Reverse Camera
-Blind spot monitoring with Lane change assist
-Rear cross traffic alert
-Reverse Automatic Braking
-Steering responsive headlights (SRH)
-18” alloys (225/55R18 tyres)

Considering that the S (ES) model costs around R55,000 more than the base model it is definitely worth upgrading to the S (ES) model. If you include the extra’s above in a German SUV you well most probably spend around R100,000.

Power plant:

Both these models are equipped with the same 2.0-litre Boxer engine pushing out 115 kW and 196 Nm as well as the same CVT gearbox that has an X-Mode gear mode to improve driving dynamics off-road as well as a Manual mode with 7 gears. Also don’t forget both models also get all-wheel drive.

How does it behave on the road?

On the road the XV behaves well, it feels competent in the corners and really grips the corners well. The steering is not overly assisted at all, the steering feels well-weighted and does not let you feel disconnected form the road at all. For a CVT the gear shifts are seamless and precise. Although, as with all CVT gearboxes, the engine revs unpleasantly high under harsh acceleration, but nothing that bad that you should not consider buying one.

The only negative for me is that the 2.0i litre engine is naturally aspirated, would have been nice to have a turbo option.


The XV is a premium option in the crossover segment. If you are looking for a crossover that drives and handles well, has a quality interior, is reliable and stands out in the crowd then the XV needs to be considered for your next purchase.

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Murray Kroucamp

Murray Kroucamp Has a passion for cars and the wonderful world of motoring journalism. Background includes: Regulatory liaison; Customer Experience Executive Complaints Management; Data analyst. Founded the Mazda 2 Owners page on Facebook in 2008. Founded Murray’s Car Reviews (South Africa) on Facebook in 2015 which has around 800 active members. Also started writing car reviews on Linkedin in 2017. Working on turning the hobby into a profession.

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