A cursory glance of the Australian vehicle sales charts for small SUVs on any given month will result in a strong showing for the Subaru XV. According to July 2019 VFACTS, Subaru shifted 867 XVs for 9.3% share of the segment. It’s hard to go on a trip anywhere now without spotting one.
If you want a very telling snapshot of the (admittedly softening) market, consider the following. The XV’s lower-to-the-ground sibling, Impreza sold 549 over the same period and its sales are down 55 per cent year-to-date. These cars are very closely related, bar the XV’s status as an SUV.
As one of the first Subaru models to benefit from the new platform, known as Subaru Global Architecture (SGA), the XV remains as fresh as it did when it debuted in 2017.
Although the range opens at $28,490, we borrowed the $32,670 Premium version with leather seats and sunroof to evaluate its effectiveness in handling the daily grind.
2019 Subaru XV 2.0i Premium Review: Cabin Space and Comfort
Known as the Subaru Crosstrek in the US, the XV measures 4465mm long, 1800mm wide and is 1615mm tall, with 2665mm of that length devoted to its wheelbase. It is on the substantial side of small car proportionally, meaning adults can fit in the outboard seats with no issues whatsoever. Even the middle rear seat is not so squeezy, but there are no rear vents, unfortunately. Boot space is 310 litres with the seats up or 765L when they are folded flat. There is a rugged floor protector in the boot for wet items.
if you want electric seats you’ll have to stump for the 2.0i-S, which is $35,780 before on-road costs.
2019 Subaru XV 2.0i Premium Review: Infotainment and Ergonomics
The XV features a 8.0-inch touch screen, crisp layered graphics, Apple CarPlay Android Auto, six speakers and an additional 6.5-inch multi-function display for all-wheel drive, EyeSight and trip computer graphics.
These features are easy to operate and distraction-free, with volume and tuning knobs as well as rotary dials for the climate control system. Fit and finish is superb, but while the XV was near the best in class for interior presentation when new, the game has moved forward since then. Still a decidedly premium ambience though, espcially with the sunroof and leather seats fitted.
2019 Subaru XV 2.0i Premium Review: Design
Although it is based heavily on the Impreza hatch, Subaru has given the XV a model line of its own. Cladding, unique wheels, roof racks and an impressive 220mm of ground clearance distinguish it from its pedestrian sibling. The machined alloys feature a disincentive pattern and the overall character of the car is tough but friendly.
2019 Subaru XV 2.0i Premium Review: Engine and Performance
With 115kW@ 6000rpm and196Nm @4000rpm, the XV is no rocketship, with 1444kg to haul around, but it never feels slow or doughy, responds to whatever you demand of it. An official 0-100km/h time of 10.4 seconds seems consistent with what we averaged. We would not object if Subaru decided to include the 1.6-litre turbo engine from the Levorg.
Towing capacity is 650kg unbraked or 1400kg braked, so it can lug small boats and trailers with ease.
2019 Subaru XV 2.0i Premium Review: Transmission
You can have any transmission you want as long as its Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT. Before you groan, it’s well-suited to this vehicle and keeps the 2.0-litre flat-four in its power band. There are no sport or sport# modes like the WRX, but this is aimed at a different buyer entirely. We did toy with the idea of combining those two cars in a feature, however.
A “seven-speed” manual mode -which can be selected with paddle shifters-is on hand, but we’ve previously commented this is somewhat of a gimmick to those who downshift for engine braking.
Symmetrical all-wheel drive means this is a great car to take to the snow, and Subaru capitalises on this with marketing initiatives in the New South Wales Alpine region.
2019 Subaru XV 2.0i Premium Review: Handling and Steering
A truly solid chassis combines with outstanding mechanical grip to make the XV a very reassuring drive around corners and in a variety of conditions. Subaru’s reputation for all-weather suitability is hard earned and continues to ring true with this car.
Extra features such as X-mode with hill descent control (HDC) intuitively help you negotiate tougher terrain. While this is no LandCruiser, a trip to the dunes or a muddy track starts to highlight why this car is so popular –it gives you more weekend activity options.
2019 Subaru XV 2.0i Premium Review: Ride and NVH
The extra ground clearance compared with the Impreza means more pliancy over bumps and the ability to waft over potholes with insouciance. The platform has not been with us for long, younger than even Toyota’s modular architecture, and this is reflected with the highly accomplished level of noise and vibration suppression.
2019 Subaru XV 2.0i Premium Review: Fuel economy and running costs
At 7L/100km, the fuel economy is aided by the small capacity boxer engine, continuously variable transmission and stop-start functionality (which can be switched off).
As you can read here, capped-price servicing costs can be as low as $350.25 or as high as $763.97, depending on your visit. Services are scheduled every 12,500km or every 12 months. A five year/unlimited km warranty and 1 year free roadside assistance are also there as part of the after care package.
2019 Subaru XV 2.0i Premium Review: Safety
Subaru’s EyeSight system has received tons of praise, and is generally regarded as one of the most effective collision avoidance systems there is. It uses a special pair of cameras mounted at the top of the windscreen and includes the following features: adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, lead vehicle start alert (for phone junkies), pre-collision braking, brake light recognition and more.
In addition, the lower centre-of-gravity afforded by Subaru’s boxer engine means superior obstacle avoidance in emergency manoeuvres. To see a detailed report of the XV’s crash test, click here.
2019 Subaru XV 2.0i Premium Review: Value for Money
At $32,670, the XV is about par for the course for this car. There are some competitors which have more standard equipment for the money, but the comprehensive safety package, well-crafted interior and modern platform go a long way to justifying the price.
Remember to check Subaru’s website for driveaway pricing before visiting the dealership.
2019 Subaru XV 2.0i Premium Review: Conclusion
The XV stands in a field of its own, combining the compact external dimensions of a small/medium hatchback, with enough rugged adventurousness to qualify as a small SUV. It straddles the line between two of Australia’s most popular segments to combine the best attributes of two types of vehicles. The safety, maturity of engineering and great driving dynamics in all conditions make the XV a fun and sensible car in equal measures.
Now how about that STI version, Subaru?