Small wagon, big idea

Subaru’s tilt at the townie SUV genre was safe, high­rid­ing and good-look­ing

Herald Sun - Motoring - - USED CAR -


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.

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