Boasting outstanding off-road capabilities that will help to protect a family in all driving conditions, the all-new Subaru XV is packed with all the latest infotainment systems and also delivers compact SUV practicality. The Eyesight safety system helped the car achieve excellent safety reviews.

The good

Great safety features and excellent off-road capabilities

The bad

Against more dynamic rivals

Tech Specs

Price from
Combined Fuel up to
0-62 from
10.4 seconds
max speed up to
co2 from

Test Drive

Subaru XV – first drive (2018)

It seems like nine out of ten new cars arriving in showrooms these days are compact SUVs so manufacturers have to come up with something a little bit special to grab the attention of buyers who are truly spoilt for choice.

And Subaru may just have the essential unique selling points with the launch of its latest XV model. Like most other crossover cars, it looks stylish, sporty and modern in its design and just like its closest competitors the XV is packed with all the latest infotainment and connectivity capabilities, but there are two areas where the Subaru would seem to have the edge.

Firstly, are its off-road capabilities. Yes, there are lots of smaller SUVs that boast good AWD technology and they would be more than happy scampering across some slippery grass or a gravel track to reach the perfect picnic location. But the Subaru XV literally has the X factor because the car comes fitted with a system called X-Mode which works alongside the Hill Descent Control to offer ‘proper’ off-roading ability.

The feature is standard across the XV line-up (it was previously only seen on the Subaru Forester and Outback models) and it gives the car an advantage over its rivals. When faced with more challenging or extreme conditions, the X-Mode button can be pressed and it takes control of the engine, transmission, symmetrical AWD and brakes, along with other components to enable the car to traverse tricky terrain.

We put the X-Mode system to the test in boggy, wet conditions and it was most accomplished as it navigated slippery surfaces, climbed muddy banks and gently eased itself down steeply angled drops with the Hill Decent Control in charge of the speed and braking.

It’s also worth mentioning that the test car completed all the tasks while fitted with standard road tyres.

The second attribute that could help the XV attract attention is its outstanding range of safety systems. When Euro NCAP tested the car, they awarded it the maximum five stars and it boasts some excellent technology – once again standard across the range.

As well as more traditional and easily recognized safety features, the Subaru XV is fitted with a raft of driver assist technologies called Eyesight, which basically act as a second pair of eyes for the driver. Cameras are mounted either side of the rearview mirror and they monitor the road ahead up to 110 metres for any potential hazards.

Eyesight is formed of six different technologies. They are Adaptive Cruise Control which helps the car keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front; Pre-Collision Braking whereby the driver is alerted to a potential collision via a visual and audible warning. if the driver ignores the warning then the car will automatically take evasive action by applying the brakes. Next up is the Pre-Collision Throttle Management – this is a clever feature that may come into play in a car park. If the car is parked facing an obstacle and the driver accidentally selects ‘drive’ instead of ‘reverse’, the XV offers a visual and audible warning and will even cut out the engine if necessary. There is Lane Sway and Departure Warning whereby alerts are given if the car sways or leaves its lane without indicating. A Lane Keep Assist function will offer gentle steering correction to keep the car within the white lines at speeds of 40mph or above. And finally, the Eyesight adds Lead Vehicle Start Alert which prompts the driver if the car ahead has started moving – this would be practical in traffic jams with lots of stop start driving.

It is thanks to this Eyesight technology that many accidents can either be avoided completely or the severity significantly reduced and that’s a vital factor when weighing up all the options for a new family car.

The five-door Subaru XV carries a price-tag that ranges from £24,995 to £28,495 and comes in a choice of two trim generously-equipped levels called SE and SE Premium. There are two petrol engines – a 1.6-litre 114PS or 2.0-litre 156PS – both with CVT automatic gearboxes.

We tested the XV in range-topping SE Premium trim powered by the 2.0-litre engine and it was most accomplished. It could complete the 0-62mph dash in 10.4 seconds, topped out at 120mph and could deliver combined fuel economy of 40.9mpg with carbon emissions of 155g/km.

It was comfortable, spacious and the road-holding was confident and assured. Subaru has worked hard to improve the cars stability, ride and handling and that was apparent when we drove both the old and new XV models on an airfield testing the car’s dynamics as they weaved at pace through a slalom course laid out with traffic cones.

The newer version was certainly more grounded with next to no body sway and the road-holding was excellent.

On the road, comfort levels for all occupants is good with ample space for adults to travel in the back. The latest XV also has improved materials throughout and looks more upmarket in its styling.

The wealth of on-board technology is easy to access and all modern connectivity options are available via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The boot capacity has also been increased slightly to 385 litres. Drop the split-folding rear seats and that limit can be increased to 1,290 or 1,310 litres depending on whether or not the vehicle is fitted with a sunroof.

If I were to be ultra-picky then I would have liked a little more punch and dynamism from the 2.0-litre engine, but that was my only slight gripe with an otherwise impressive and stylish car.

Hopefully, with the arrival of the latest XV Subaru can shrug off its ‘oh they make rally cars don’t they?’ image and become a real contender for sales in the fastest growing sector in the UK.

Test drive

Subaru XV 2.0 diesel SE

Mention the name Subaru and it immediately conjures up images of fast, fiery performance cars, but the company has certainly branched out over the years and the XV is an excellent crossover vehicle in a very competitive marketplace.

Boasting elegant styling with eye-catching features such as the flared wheel arches, roof rails, a roof spoiler, privacy glass, colour-coded folding door mirrors and 17-inch alloys there is a certain presence to the XV.

And the quality is just as apparent once you take your seat – heated and leather, of course – behind the multi-function steering wheel. There is an array of top notch on-board technology and features at your disposal, including a dual-zone air con system, Bluetooth connectivity, a CD player with six speakers and USB and iPod compatibility, a rear view safety camera, a colour display system and plenty more besides.

Light floods into the spacious interior and al occupants are treated to plenty of space – even back seat passengers can stretch out.

The generously-sized boot can be increased further thanks to 60:40 split-folding rear seats and there is a number of smaller storage options scattered throughout the cabin.

The XV is powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine which proved itself very capable both in and around town and out on the faster roads.

In busy traffic, the high seated driving position was a real bonus when spotting pedestrians and cars darting from all angles.

Then on the motorways, the XV eased its way smoothly through the six-speed manual transmission.

The cruise control proved very effective and simple to operate which is another plus factor with the ever-increasing number of average speed check areas that are cropping up these days.

And when you take into consideration the XV’s 4×4 capabilities too it really is the complete package with a price tag of £26,295 that impresses too.

Subaru is targeting the family market with the four-door XV and the car boasts a whole host of impressive safety features that helped it achieve the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP safety ratings.

These include anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, emergency brake assist, whiplash-reducing front seats, a safety pedal system, child-proof rear door locks, brake override, hill start assist and numerous airbags.

In fact, the XV recorded a score of 90% for child occupancy in the safety tests – the highest for a car on sale in the UK.

All in all, the XV is a great all-rounder and is perfect for the family who enjoys a little adventure in their lives.

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