2018 Subaru XV SE Premium Lineartronic Review

Driven: 2018 Subaru XV SE Premium Review

I got the chance to review the new Subaru XV. Here are my thoughts on this compact crossover:

What’s the 2018 Subaru XV SE Premium all About?

Welcome to the Subaru XV, a fresh compact crossover built for the modern age. It is based on Subaru’s new Global platform and as ever uses the brand’s Symmetrical All-Wheel drive system.

The new car is aimed at a younger audience who enjoy an active lifestyle and want the confidence of a steady car like the Subaru.

Taking a look at the vehicle, I was impressed with its styling. It is true to Subaru’s roots, but has a modern crossover look. You will notice around the edges of the car, it has an off-road ready plastic trim allowing it to soak up damage with no bother. The roof includes a shiny set of rails, enabling you to carry extra luggage or bikes when needed.

Take a look at the model above in SE Premium trim. You will notice a very tasty set of 18″ alloy wheels which make the new Subaru look very stylish. The back of the car has a boxy yet rugged look, which might not be to some people’s taste, but gives it an off-road feel.

Options are very limited for the UK market at the moment. We’re offered a turbocharged and direct injected 1.6-litre boxer-4 engine or a 2.0-litre boxer engine. Here we are testing the more powerful of the two. It does offer decent power, at 154bhp and 196 Nm of torque. Using Subaru’s latest know-how, it is lighter and more efficient, while also being more responsive.

The only gearbox you can choose is Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT. They say it provides realistic acceleration response and is the first CVT adopted for AWD. Of course, the XV drives on all four wheels, as per Subaru standard, with torque vectoring.

All of that means the Subaru XV accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 10.4 seconds, with a top speed of 121 mph. It achieves 40.9 combined mpg and emits 155 g/km of CO2.

How Does it Drive?

The Subaru XV isn’t the most powerful 2.0-litre engine out there for sure. But it does move well for the XV’s size and shape. It has a lot to give, considering it’s only a 2.0-litre. The car will pick up speed briskly if you poke it and the wide torque band makes overtaking effortless. The continually variable transmission (CVT) in the XV is one of the best available at the moment.

It is worth noting that when you want to control the gears manually, the car’s CVT can emulate physical gears by locking the ratios. This gives control back to the driver when needed and allows you to gain all the other advantages from the drivetrain whilst in full auto mode.

Now let’s talk dirty! The Subaru XV is a capable off-roader. It comes with X-Mode and Hill Descent as standard. I tested this technology first hand on a selection of off-road terrain. When matched with the symmetrical All-Wheel drive system, the vehicle proved to be very capable on most surfaces.

I was surprised by just how capable the model was on grassy and muddy surfaces. I didn’t need any specialist knowledge or training to drive over this terrain.

Once on the road, the Subaru XV negotiates corners well, despite being a taller model. The Symmetrical AWD provides plenty of grip. Please note that the AWD split in the XV favours the front wheels, with a 60:40 power distribution from front to rear. It is an agile car, which is quite surprising, considering how big it is.

If you have chosen the 2.0-litre engine option like us, you can make your own gear inputs via paddles behind the steering wheel. You might think this is a gimmick, but when overtaking, you want to make sure you are in the right gear so you can speed off.

The new Subaru XV includes many additional driving aids and safety features. The most notable is Subaru’s Eyesight System. This combines six different technologies: adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, pre-collision throttle management, lane sway and departure warning, lane keep assist and lead vehicle start alert. We won’t go into all of these, but each of them uses the latest technology to make your journey safer without any input from the driver.

What’s it Like Inside?

The interior of the Subaru XV includes premium trim and is in keeping with the design language of the Japanese manufacturer. It features leather seats which are more luxurious than the standard cloth used in the SE.

However, the inside is still hard-wearing and well suited to commercial use or ferrying your canine companions. The internal trim looks like it could take a good deal of wear and tear without any damage.

The driver’s instruments now include an HD screen. This offers a range of information and can be programmed to suit your needs. It features an MPG bar that sits permanently at the top of the display, giving you constant feedback on your driving.

Continuing in that vein, the new Subaru XV also offers an additional screen above the infotainment system in the centre. This displays more information regarding your driving performance and also incorporates the heating controls information.

The interior is very spacious. Passenger legroom is very generous and headroom is plentiful. Subaru has also provided storage cabins throughout the XV for passengers. The boot space is predictably big. It opens wide and is very flat, therefore making load up procedures a breeze. The rear seats fold too, giving even more space.

The Experience

I agree with Subaru that the car is suited to a lifetime of adventure. Having the sure-footed AWD system makes a world of difference to those heading out of the city. I like how rugged the car is and knowing that it is built to take a knock or two, makes me feel comfortable pushing it a bit further.


Should you buy the Subaru XV? It’s great value for the money, starting at £24,995.

If you enjoy getting off the beaten track, the XV is the type of vehicle that won’t let you down. And if it is built as well as the rest of the range, it will last you a long time.

If safety is a factor for you, then it is worth knowing that the car’s body strength is 40% stronger than before. The frame of the vehicle has been specifically designed to disperse the impact during a frontal collision. Let’s also remember that you will have the Eyesight safety system to aid you if a problem does occur on the road.

The all-new Subaru XV certainly has a lot of appeal as a compact crossover for those wanting AWD capability with a bit of style on top.


2018 Subaru XV Premium Specs
  • Price from: £24,995 
  • Engine: 2.0-litre Boxer turbo 4-cylinder petrol 
  • Power: 154 bhp
  • Torque: 196 Nm
  • Transmission: Lineartronic CVT
  • 0-62mph: 10.4 Seconds
  • Top speed: 120 mph (est)
  • Weight: 1,439 kg
  • Economy combined: 40.9 mpg
  • CO2: 155 g/km