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Subaru XV: Off-Road Credibility On The High Street

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The DriveWrite Archives Topics:  Subaru XV

Subaru XV: Off-Road Credibility On The High Street

Geoff Maxted
October 9, 2013

Subaru XV Subaru XV Subaru XV
Having just reluctantly handed back the excellent Subaru Forester (see elswhere on Drivewrite) we were not sure about the XV (pictured) when it arrived. What, we wondered, is it for? We know of course that it has the tried, tested and reinforced Impreza underpinnings inspiring four-wheel drive confidence but do potential buyers for what is effectively a ‘crossover’ want to be doing with anything of a seriously mud-plugging nature?

As far as Subaru’s are concerned the drivers who want true off-road ability will go for the Forester or the Outback. If they want an estate car that can handle mud or snow they’ll go for the Legacy; thus it is hard to pigeonhole the XV.

The model shown is the 2.0L SE that sits around the middle of the range. The performance from the boxer petrol engine was fine, although perhaps a little lacking, and we achieved a creditable 35mpg from some very mixed driving. There’s a standard six speed manual ‘box and the XV will take 10.5 seconds to reach 60mph if you’re interested. On balance, I think I’d prefer the extra torque that a diesel offers but that’s a personal choice. With this engine the XV is priced at just shy of £22,000. Top of the range on diesel power is £28k.

Inside, it is pretty much identical to the Forester which means it is comfortable, very roomy and suitably versatile with a hatchback-like driving position. The dash is neatly laid out and we liked the idea of hiding the 12v/Aux/USB combo in the capacious central cubby. Subaru have even thought of leaving channels for wires to exit. Neat.

We do have take issue with the general on/off road dynamics in that - and this is our problem - if the XV is purchased for primarily on-road use it doesn’t match up to the popular ‘crossover’ brands for ride. Off-road of course, it would be more than a match for any of them - it is a Subaru after all. Fans of the brand won’t worry one jot about that but if the idea is to draw in new customers, well, we’re not so sure. Parents who need to ferry kids around will, however, be pleased to know that this car tops the EuroNCAP chart for child safety.

It won’t be the looks that put them off though. This is a ruggedly handsome car that looks fine from any angle in our opinion. The version tested looks good in the blue but the XV’s chunky appeal is really enhanced by the bold orange paint choice - not conservative but you can’t miss it.

So; this is the dilemma. We like the XV but for us the undoubted off-road ability compromises the on-road dynamics. To be fair, you can’t have it both ways unless you are prepared to spend very, very much more money on a different class of vehicle. There’s a lot going for the XV given its heritage but frankly it doesn’t compete with some of the on-road crossovers for ride and economy. Off the beaten track it is a different story. For the country dwelling family it would be a worthwhile and reliable friend.

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