Small wagon, big idea
Subaru’s tilt at the townie SUV genre was safe, highriding and good-looking
SUBARU’s XV was a new subcompact SUV designed to slot in between the Impreza hatch, on which it was based, and the Forester compact SUV.
Its purpose, townie SUV, was emphasised by the high-riding stance and sporty good looks.
There were three variants, starting with the 2.0i, then the mid-range 2.0i-L to rangetopping 2.0i-S.
All were well equipped, even the base model, which had Bluetooth, rear-view camera and sunroof. Move up to the 2.0i-L and you got satnav, while the 2.0i-L brought leather trim and heated seats.
The safety message was also impressive, with all models gaining five stars in crash testing thanks to seven airbags, including full-length curtain airbags and driver’s knee bag.
Inside, the cabin was light and airy with good vision thanks to the higher seating position and relatively thin pillars. The cargo space was a little cramped and the spare was a space-saver mounted under the cargo floor.
Power came from a new version of Subaru’s boxer four, this one a 2.0-litre producing 110kW/196Nm.
The flat-four turned all four wheels via a six-speed manual or constantly variable transmission with six presets and paddle-shifters.
The majority of XV owners we surveyed thought their cars were adequate rather than exciting. Most were happy with the quality and refinement but most condemned the driver’s seat as being uncomfortable with a hard ridge in the middle of their backs. They also cited the poor quality of the radio.
Most were content with the operation of the CVT, which was the option most people went for.
Even so it’s worth carrying out a thorough test-drive of the CVT before buying one secondhand. Carefully check for any shuddering on takeoff or acceleration, any hesitation, surging or other driveability issues.
Subaru engines are known to use some oil, so there is good reason to make regular checks on the oil level to avoid running out and risking serious damage to the engine.
One owner who reported back to us told us of an engine that had to be replaced, such was the internal damage when it ran low on oil.
There have been three recalls affecting the XV. The latest, earlier this year, related to the starter motor pinion gear failing, which could affect the starting and the restarting of the engine in the automatic stop-start mode, possibly leaving car and driver stranded.
Last year, a recall related to a wiring harness malfunction that could cause a short circuit and bring the car to a halt.
Another checked the routing of the engine wiring harness, which could interfere with other engine components. At best it could cause the engine to idle roughly, at worst it could cause the engine to stall and not restart.
Check that all the recall work has been carried out. Also check for a service record that confirms adherence to the maintenance schedule.
Kevin Bakhurst Buying an XV was a good choice. It’s easy to drive and handle, the CVT works well and it returns 6.6L/100km in combined city/ highway work. Despite initial scepticism, the stop-start function is very effective and I now take it for granted. There have been no mechanical issues, it’s very reliable and the quality inside is tops.
Andrew My wife has just traded the XV. It delivered just about all it was supposed to. The economy was OK, cabin noise respectable, power and CVT were adequate. But it took too long to shift from drive to reverse, the radio was poor and the driver’s seat was very uncomfortable. Apart from the seat, it’s probably not a bad vehicle.
Carol Gay My 2013 XV runs well, the only problems are to do with the electronics. Twice it locked as soon as the key was turned off which meant the doors would not open and neither would the windows. It was frightening the first time — I solved the problem by taking the key out and restarting the motor, when everything then worked. Subaru checked it, found no problem but it happened again a few months later. There’s no guarantee reversing vision will show on the screen, another thing I had checked and again I have been told all is well. Finally, Bluetooth may stay connected but often a message comes up that says otherwise. Basically it is a good car but has occasional hiccups.
Tim Tim Tim Somers Somers Somers The The The handling handling handling and and and braking braking braking are are are exceptional exceptional exceptional and and and it’s it’s it’s roomy. roomy. roomy. The The The radio radio radio is is is poor poor poor and and and the the the driver’s driver’s driver’s seat seat seat is is is uncomfortable. uncomfortable. uncomfortable.
Paul Paul Paul Evans Evans Evans My My My daughter’s daughter’s daughter’s 2013 2013 2013 XV XV XV has has has had had had oil oil oil consumption consumption consumption problems problems problems from from from the the the first first first service. service. service. The The The first first first engine engine engine had had had to to to be be be replaced replaced replaced because because because it it it was was was starved starved starved of of of oil, oil, oil, the the the second second second one one one now now now looks looks looks like like like it it it has has has the the the same same same problem. problem. problem. We’re We’re We’re not not not happy. happy. happy.
Attractive small wagon with all the pluses of a high-riding SUV.