Parkers overall rating: 3.9 out of 5 3.9

The Parkers VerdictShould you buy a Subaru XV?

We like the Subaru XV. And it appears Subaru buyers do, too. With 86% of Subarus sold in 2018 being SUVs, the XV is the second best-selling model, accounting for 40% of sales in Europe.

It might not be for everyone, and on rational grounds, it’s a tough car to justify – especially against the Jeep Renegade, Volvo XC40 and Toyota RAV4.  It’s a niche offering that appeals to those looking for genuine off-road capability, toughness and a car they can rely on for many years to come.

But it’s superbly well-engineered, and we can’t help but admire the fact that Subaru has stuck with its flat-four engine and symmetrical four-wheel drive system on the grounds of technical purity. The buyer might not readily feel the benefits of both, but they help with the long-term ownership experience.

It’s also worth noting that the Subaru XV is well-equipped and very safe, thanks to its active driving assistance systems, and the excellent Eyesight set-up. We can’t gloss over the fact that’s it’s expensive for what it is, and not particularly cheap to finance. The dealer network is thin, too, which – allied with its costliness, automatically discounts it for many. 

In most cases, we’d steer clear of the 1.6-litre engine and its lacklustre performance. It’s smooth and refined enough, but the main issue is that in real world driving, it’s effectively no more economical than its larger-engined sister car.

Our pick of the bunch would be a 2.0-litre E-Boxer in SE trim. That’s not only because it’s faster and more enjoyable to drive, but because it’s reasonably well equipped and the mild-hybrid system will be more beneficial in fuel costs than the lower-powered 1.6-litre version – if you spend more time crawling through heavy traffic.

In terms of equipment, you don’t get the leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, sunroof or sat-nav, you’ll find in a Premium model. But you can redress that final omission with your smartphone and everything else is nice to have rather than essential. 

Historically Subaru hasn’t been able to offer much in the way of deals, and in particular was forced to charge higher APR on its cars due to the size of its UK operation, which automatically cuts out a large swathe of new car buyers.

It’s working hard to address this now, liaising with pricing organisations to improve the residual values of its cars so it can offer lower rates.

Another question is whether the local Subaru dealer is local enough for you. There aren’t huge amounts around and they’re usually in rural locations, so if you’re a city buyer then check first.

Since there are many optional extras on offer, spec is less of a consideration and so you may get a good deal from a broker or car supermarket. 

Subaru XV e-Boxer 2019, rear

Read the best SUVs to buy in the UK

Read how the Subaru XVs rivals stack up against each other