What's good? Excellent four wheel drive. Lots of space and practicability.
If you're on the market for a crossover, you likely haven't considered the Subaru XV. After all, Subaru haven't even televised it yet. But make no mistake - this is a real contender for your money. Why? Read on.
The Subaru XV is a very good looking car, in my opinion of course. At first glance this looks like any 5-door family hatchback but larger, which is essentially what the XV is - it is a crossover, but it's less obvious in its intent than, say, a Kia Sportage. It sits higher than the average car and it's quite box-like, with a high roof and large windows.
My children loved the XV - I spent a week with a bright orange version complete with privacy glass and it looked great on my drive way.
Subaru has a knack for creating cars that drive extremely well, and the XV is no exception. The only diesel engine available is a 2.0-litre diesel unit that pulls well. It sounds quiet on cold mornings and there's little vibration sent through to the cabin, a trait that affects many diesel powered cars.
On the move, the XV pulls very well - the statistics say this car has 144 bhp and 258 lb /ft of torque, which in the real world, means that the XV is relaxing to drive and there's plenty of power underfoot if you need it to overtake on the motorway. On the motorway is where things start to go a little downhill, though...
...at speed, the XV suffers from road noise. Wind noise is okay - there's a little bit of noise sent into the cabin from the wing mirrors, but it's hushed in general. I don't know whether it's the tyres that produce excessive road noise but it is rather annoying, and I found myself keeping a speed of around 60mph on the motorway just so I could listen to the radio without it deafening me.
Around town, the XV is good though. It feels very compact and I had the chance to test the XV's four wheel drive system a little at my dad's farm after some heavy rain - basically, I took it out onto a field and it didn't get stuck on the slippery grass and it ploughed through muddy tracks easily.
I have to say that I really like the interior of the XV - it's by no means the last word in luxury, but everything has been put together extremely well and every material feels like it has been made to a high quality. This robustness is evident throughout the cabin - the controls and switchgear are chunky and make a satisfying click when used, the seats are deep and comfortable, the steering wheel is leather wrapped with great feel, the dashboard is soft touch, and the door cards don't have a hollow knock.
From the driver's seat, there is good visibility, thanks to the wide windows. In the rear, there is lots of leg room, and the ISOFIX seatbelts are ideal for securing a baby seat. In a lot of ways the interior is like a VW - it feels very well made, it looks good, but it's all a little bit dull. This isn't a bad thing in my opinion though.
Whilst the 2.0-litre diesel engine pulls well in the XV, it lags far behind the competition in terms of its CO2 output. With a CO2 output of 149g/km, the Subaru XV 2.0d costs £140 a year in road tax, and it will return a combined fuel economy of just 50.4 mpg. That's not good when you consider than most 2.0-litre diesel cars are now achieving in excess of 60 mpg on a combined cycle, and some are even dipping below the magical 99g/km CO2 output. Also, there is no option for Start Stop technology in the XV, which means there's no hope for this car having free road tax, until Subaru looks into the technology.
In terms of insurance, the Subaru XV 2.0d sits slap bang in the middle in group 25 (insurance groups are 1 - 50). The average annual insurance premium for the XV is £700, which is hardly fantastic for a car that's designed for families.
Trim and equipment
At £21,995, the Subaru XV 2.0d S sits almost at the bottom of the XV range. Standard equipment includes air conditioning, electric and heated mirrors, Bluetooth, split/fold seats, MP3/iPod connectivity and lots of security features, including an alarm, immobiliser and central locking. This level of equipment is pretty good for a car that sits so low on the totem pole.
For the version you really want, complete with cruise control, climate control and leather seats, Subaru asks for £27,695 for the 2.0D SE Lux Premium. Now that's a lot of money for a compact family off-roader.
The Subaru XV is a very interesting car. This brand is undoubtedly dominated by the Impreza's of old and the wonderful Legacy, but the XV offers something very unique. It competes against the Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-4, Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Yeti, and it's a worthy alternative to any of them - but, the trouble with the XV is price. For a version that has good equipment you're going to need to fork out over £25,000. That's a lot of money for a Subaru that doesn't hold a WRX badge.
Ultimately, if you're after a car that's going to be extremely reliable and practical for your family, the Subaru XV will serve you well. But, if you're after a car with lots of refinement and a comfortable ride, I'm sorry to say that it's best left alone. If you're buying, I would say that it's a fairly girly car in its styling and road presence, so I'd recommend this more for mums than dads.