The Subaru XV blurs the lines between a hatchback and a compact SUV and with its solid foundation, impressive safety features, comfortable ride and off-road ability it’s a great all-rounder for anyone with an active, outdoor lifestyle and a love for adventure.
Thanks to Subaru SA, I recently got to spend a week driving the 2018 Subaru XV 2.0i-S ES CVT. Aptly nicknamed ‘The Traffic Cone’ by my kids for obvious reasons. The ‘Sunshine Orange’ actually grew on me and by the end of the week, I’d say its probably the best colour for the car.
The XV is powered by a 2.0-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder boxer engine and is coupled with Subaru’s Continuously Variable Automatic Transmission (CVT). The combination is smooth at lower speeds but putting your foot flat lacks any real punch and quick lane changes or overtaking require a bit of planning, that being said it’s not a deal breaker. Paddle shifters allow you to manually ‘shift’ but I found it better to just let the car deal with gear changes. The XV does, however, do an outstanding job of ironing out rough patches of road and not much noise or vibration is transferred into the cabin, delivering a really smooth ride quality.
Inside the XV has a sporty but rugged look thanks to the sloping lines on the dash, chromed accents and the orange accent stitching splashed throughout the interior (I’m a sucker for a bit of accent stitching).
Up front, you’ll find a Multifunction information display (MFD), an 8.0″ Touch Screen Infotainment System with CD player and Bluetooth hands-free functionality, two 12-volt accessory power outlets and dual-zone climate control (which is great considering my wife and I can never agree on a suitable temperature). The XV comes standard with Apple CarPlay™ and Android™ Auto integration. The system is easy to navigate, with big icons and a crisp display. Space is ample for both driver and passengers and rear seats come with ISO-FIX adapted child seat anchors. The boot does feel a little on the small side but if you need additional space the standard roof racks make it much easier to install a roof cargo carrier.
The XV comes with a multitude of features but my favourite is definitely EyeSight1. EyeSight is Subaru’s advanced driver assist technology which uses two stereo cameras to capture three-dimensional colour images to recognise vehicles (including motorbikes and bicycles), pedestrians and lane markings. In traffic it locks onto the vehicle in front of you and keeps a safe distance (which you can adjust), slowing down and speeding up smoothly and steadily when required, and when coupled with autonomous emergency braking and smart cruise control it works even when traffic comes to a full-stop – all you need to do is steer. Other features of the EyeSight system are ‘Lead Vehicle Start Alert’ which alerts you if the car in front has moved off and ‘Lane Sway and Departure Warning’ which will alert you if you leave your lane without indicating. Along with the previously mentioned tech, the Subaru XV also comes with Pre-Collision Braking and Pre-Collision Throttle Management both there to aid the driver to prevent a collision.
I really loved the rear-facing camera which when combined with ‘Reverse Automatic Braking’ and ‘Rear Cross Traffic Alert’ made navigating the parking lot during the school run a breeze. The ‘Rear Cross Traffic Alert‘ system lets you know if it detects traffic approaching or moving across your path as you reverse, which is great if your view is obstructed.
The XV comes alive off-road, but that’s to be expected as it’s a Subaru’s natural environment. I must admit I had a little too much fun testing out the off-road ability of the XV – but I did score a few points with my 8-year-old son who REALLY loved it. The XV is equipped with permanent Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive for use in most situations but is also equipped with X-Mode which provides added all-road capability and performance, especially on uneven surfaces and inclines.
Once activated, X-Mode is operational below 40km/h and takes control of engine output, gearbox, the ‘Vehicle Dynamics Control System’ as well as the all-wheel drive and braking systems to help you safely navigate the trickiest of conditions. You can also see what the system is doing on the multifunction information display (MFD). ‘Hill Descent Control‘ works at up to 20km/h with the speed set via the brake and once set the system will maintain a constant speed all the way down the hill.
Verdict: The 2018 Subaru XV is an affordable all-rounder packed full of great features. In my mind, it’ll make a great family car.
1 EyeSight available locally on the Subaru XV 2.0i-S ES (Eyesight) CVT model.
2 Prices valid as at 15 October 2018.
All photos taken using the Canon EOS M50 read my review of this camera.