SUBARU’S MEDIUM SUV LOOKS GREAT BUT HOW DOES IT PERFORM?
The Subaru XV has established itself as one of the company’s most refreshing new models, offering a solid, medium-sized SUV with decent off-road capability, even in its baseline model.
While it looks good, particularly in its current guise, with slightly flared wheel arches and 17-inch alloy wheels, reservations intrude when driving on the road.
The 2-litre Boxer engine has to be worked hard to gain significant traction, and it takes time behind the wheel to learn how to harness effectively what power it provides.
The XV presents itself as one of the most attractive of the medium SUVs on the market.
Mind you, Subaru does give the driver tools to cope with the situation, especially in the mid-range XV L model we tested. The “flappy paddle” gear levers on the multi-function steering wheel come into their own when trying to speed up quickly and safely on passing lanes.
The engine, which puts out 110Kw at 6200rpm, labours somewhat in the lower revs and finally delivers oomph only when pushed really hard.
But even the base model XV comes well-equipped, with a reversing camera, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, USB and auxiliary device connectivity, climate-control air conditioning, foglights and roof-rails coming as standard equipment.
The range starts at $37,990, but the mid-range L model has a recommended retail price of $40,990. This adds a sunroof and satellite navigation touchscreen media unit, and leather steering wheel. There is also privacy glass on the rear and side back windows.
The top of the range XV S model comes with electrically adjustable leather seats, and costs $44,990.
The mid-range L model is proving the most popular of the three with New Zealand buyers.
The three models share crucial features, which make the XV a viable proposition, especially for those wanting a medium-sized crossover vehicle suitable for some off-road excursions. They all sit on 17-inch wheels, and have 220mm of ground clearance.
The Subaru delivers the usual benefits of an SUV, including great visibility from behind the steering wheel, ease of entry and exit from all seats and plenty of useable storage capacity.
There is a cockpit-like dashboard, with a central screen housing the GPS and audio system, with large, easy-to-use circles controlling the climate air conditioning. The central screen includes audio, telephone functions along with the mapping, and of course is where the reversing camera appears.
The only reservation here was during night driving, when the mapping is so bright it reflects on the windscreen. Though he reversing camera provides an excellent rear view when backing the XV, there are no audible proximity alarms on the L model.
Setting the XV apart from its competitors is a second small screen, above the main dashboard. This small screen offers a digital or analogue clock, fuel consumption details, plus various other details.
Initially, the second read-out screen was a distraction, until I adjusted it to deliver basic detail, such as how much fuel remained aboard, fuel usage and the time. It can also illustrate the Subaru Symmetrical all-wheel-drive system operating beneath the vehicle. The two screens are in addition to the two large central circles in front of the driver, which house the speedo, rev counter, fuel gauge and warning lights.
Overall, the dashboard works well, especially with so many functions available on the steering wheel. There is a central arm rest, which adjusts forward so it can be used effectively. There are lots of storage compartments, and plenty of coffee cup/water bottle holders both between the two front seats and in the front doors.
The seats in the test vehicle were comfortable, even during two three-hour journeys, over different road surfaces and in weather conditions ranging from hot, humid and muggy through to a tropical spring downpour.
The sun roof operates quickly and easily at the push of a button near the rear vision mirror, and it opens smoothly and efficiently, and closes with a firm clamp.
The XV rides reasonably well but lacks the assurance of many other Subaru models such as the Legacy. The steering also lacks the feel of other models in Subaru’s range.
During a range of weather and road conditions, the XV achieved a creditable average fuel consumption figure of 7.2 litres/100km, with the smooth and efficient automatic stop-start system operating. The figure was surprising, given how hard the engine had to work at times.
With Subaru’s long experience and expertise in delivering competent all-wheel-drive systems, the XV is a well-equipped and practical five-door SUV. It would be a complete package if only the Boxer engine could deliver more power.
PROS & CONS 2016 SUBARU XV-L
|ENGINE:||2-litre, horizontally-opposed Boxer|
|PROS:||Practical and competent all-wheel-drive SUV|
|CONS:||Lacks on-demand grunt on the road|