21 February 2012 Last Updated: 29 October 2013

Full Subaru XV (12-17) Model Review

by Parkers

  • Subaru XV is a class performer off-road
  • Just £100 a month for 20% tax payers
  • 2.0-litre diesel is strong but can get noisy
Subaru XV (12-17) 2.0D SE 5d - Road Test
If you are looking for off-roading ability to go with car-like handling abilities, the new Subaru XV might have appeared on your radar. 

If you are looking for off-roading ability to go with car-like handling abilities, the new Subaru XV might have appeared on your radar. 

The XV is Subaru’s attempt at tackling the so-called ‘crossover’ segment – an area dominated by the Nissan Qashqai – but this all-new model has permanent all-wheel-drive so it might be considered a direct rival to more premium off-roading rivals such as the Land Rover Freelander, BMW X1 and Audi’s Q3

Under the bonnet is a 146bhp 2.0-litre diesel mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. There is a petrol version but the diesel is most suited to company car drivers. Performance-wise it’s pretty adept, completing the 0-62mph sprint in 9.3 seconds with a top speed of 120mph. 

The stats tell a bald story, but in reality this engine is unflustered, unrushed and great around town, but it can get noisy when revved hard. On the motorway, once it has settled down, it’s much less vocal. 

In terms of handling it’s reasonable, but not exactly engaging. The steering isn’t particularly quick or responsive and you do get quite a bit of body lean when entering corners quickly. The Qashqai, Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mitsubishi ASX are all better at coping with the twisty bits.

Off-road, however, the XV is in a different league and it is more than good enough for the rough stuff. We tested the car on extreme ruts, bumps, lumpy tracks and all types of mud-laden surfaces and it coped extremely well. Of its main rivals, only the Land Rover Freelander is better.  

The downside is that the Subaru XV rides quite badly. It’s unsettled on uneven roads and on lumpier roads it does get very bouncy. The seats are comfortable but we think a little more side support is needed especially when you are being shaken about on bumpy, rutted terrain. 

Compared with other 4x4s the XV isn’t that practical. The boot isn’t very big (380 litres) although that’s enough to take three holiday suitcases and when you fold the rear seats down you don’t get completely flat loadbay.

Inside it's functional: the plastics inside are pretty low-rent but they still look fairly robust, and there aren't many cubbies to store things in.

The SE includes 17-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, front fog lamps, a CD stereo with six speakers, a windscreen wiper de-icer, cruise control, dual-zone air conditioning, leather steering wheel and gear knob, steering-wheel-mounted controls, rear-view safety camera, Bluetooth with USB and iPod connectivity, privacy glass and roof rails. 

Its major boast is that it got top marks in Euro NCAP crash tests, beating the likes of the Audi Q3 and the BMW X1. It also achieved 90% in the ‘child occupant’ category – the best of any car on sale in the UK. It received maximum points for its protection of 18-month-old infants, with the XV’s side impact protection singled out for specific praise. Standard safety equipment includes anti-lock brakes, traction control, vehicle dynamic control, six airbags (front, side and curtain) and ISOFIX child seat mountings. 

It's reasonably efficient too. It’ll do 50.4mpg on average – which is the best in class for medium 4x4s - and it emits 146g/km of CO2 which puts it in the 23% Benefit-in-Kind tax band. P11d value is £26,110 and if you are a 20% tax payer it’ll cost you £100 a month and £200 a month if you are on a 40% tax rate. 

The XV is not particularly fantastic on the road – its main problem is the unsettled ride – but if you do need to get out on the rough stuff regularly as well as take long jaunts on the motorway, it will serve you pretty well. 

To see the full review of the Subaru XV click here.

Also consider:

Nissan Qashqai

The leader of the crossover pack – solid and reliable with economical engines.


The best on-road, but not particularly capable off it. Quality interior with strong performance.

Audi Q3

Probably the most car-like of them all but don’t bother if you are off-roading regularly.