High-riding hatch is a great all-round performer

Subaru has one of the most loyal followings in the car business, and its XV high-riding hatch shows just why buyers keep coming back for more.

Here is everything you need to know about the Subaru XV.


At more than $40,000 on the road, the XV 2.0i-S is a lot of money for a vehicle that is based on the humble Impreza hatch, but it does come well equipped. Standard perforated leather seats with orange stitching create a premium feel and the sunroof gives the cabin an airy feel. Other goodies include dual-zone climate control, satnav, digital radio, heated front seats and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. The dash layout is a little old-fashioned looking compared with the digital screens of some competitors and there is no head-up display. The cabin finishes and attention to detail are excellent, though. The 2.0-iS also has a clever side camera to stop you from scuffing your rims on the kerb when parking. Unlike other makers, your money also brings full-time all-wheel drive, decent ground clearance and off-road settings that make it capable of tackling some off-road driving. A five-year service plan is expensive at $2430 but that’s offset by strong residual values.


The XV’s driver seat has eight-way electric adjustment, making it easy for most body types to find a comfortable position. The seats themselves offer good side support and padding. The Impreza’s active cruise control will keep a safe distance between you and the car in front, making longer journeys less tiring. There are four USB ports and two 12-volt outlets for charging devices in the front but rear passengers are short changed, doing without both USB ports and airconditioning vents. Rear leg room is generous, but the sunroof eats into headroom a little. The boot is small for an SUV, but the temporary spare is a reasonable size. On the road, the Subaru is one of the most comfortable in the business, soaking up road imperfections better than some luxury cars.


Safety is a Subaru strong point and the XV has one of the more advanced driver assistance systems in the class. Aside from the inherent benefits of all-wheel drive in the wet, the XV has blind-spot monitoring, lane keeping assistance, auto high-beam dipping and rear cross traffic alert with automatic braking. If a crash happens, there are seven airbags and the XV scored five stars in independent crash testing.


The XV doesn’t deliver the driving thrills of a WRX, but it is competent through the corners. The higher ride height and above average weight mean it doesn’t feel particularly nimble when asked to changed direction in a hurry but it is stable and controlled, with impressive grip, especially in the wet. The 2.0-litre engine and CVT transmission aren’t the most exciting combination, but they’re adequate for family transport, if a little thirsty around town. The CVT can also be a little jerky in stop-start traffic on a light throttle. Cabin refinement is a strong point, though. Noise is well suppressed and the car has a solid feel to it.


The engine is a little underdone, but the attention to detail in the cabin and the comfortable ride make the XV a worthy contender in the small SUV class.


Mazda CX-3 Akari LE AWD, from $39,490 drive-away. Smaller inside, with tiny load area, but attractive cabin layout and extensive safety features make it a popular choice.

Honda HR-V VTi-LX, from about $39,900 drive-away. Clever cabin layout liberates plenty of space. Engine is a little underpowered, no all-wheel-drive and it lacks some safety tech.

Toyota C-HR Koba AWD, from $41,600 drive-away. Funky looks and modern well-executed cabin, but rear seats a little claustrophobic and 1.2-litre engine needs revs to perform.

Subaru XV 2.0i-S VITALS

Price: About $41,800 drive-away

Warranty/servicing: Five years, unl’td km, $ over five years

Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl, 115kW/196Nm

Safety: Five stars, seven airbags, auto emergency braking, blind-sport warning, lane-departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert with braking

Thirst: 7.0L/100km

Luggage: 310L

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