review 2018 subaru XV

Next-generation models are usually exciting. As they are built from the ground up, they are normally given an entirely new look that kicks their predecessors out of trend.

However, this is hardly the case with the all-new Subaru XV. We really don’t know what to feel about it at first since its design isn’t far from the outgoing model. Well, except for the new Sunshine Orange and Cool Gray Khaki paint jobs.

Yes, we know it’s a bit bigger than the old one and sits on the more rigid all-new Subaru Global Platform – the template of all next-gen Subarus. But aside from those, is there really any improvement with the 2nd generation XV that we should be excited about?

We get our hands on its range-topping 2.0i-S variant to find out.

4.0 / 5
Review: 2018 Subaru XV 2.0i-S CVT
Engine Output (HP), Acceleration, Transmission, Handling
Exterior & Interior Design, Quality, Fit and Finish, Ergonomics
Ride Comfort
Cabin Comfort, Suspension, NVH Insulation
Safety and Technology
Convenience Technologies, Active and Passive Safety Features
Value for Money
Amount of the vehicle you get for the price, Fuel Efficiency
What You Will Like
  • Notable fuel consumption.
  • Plush and seamless interior.
  • Ample cabin space.
What You Won't Like
  • Suspension's a little too soft.
  • Design's not far from the outgoing model.
  • No speed-sensing door locks.
How We Do Our Reviews

As mentioned, the design changes in the all-new XV are pretty subtle. You can’t really see them at first glance but you know they are there, you just have to examine closely.

Up front, the slightly-redesigned grille is de-chromed, which I actually dig because chrome doesn’t always mean premium. The combination of less chrome face and new paint jobs is like puberty in a good way — with this you know the XV has matured without losing its sense of fun. The sharper automatic LED hawkeye headlamps are also steering-responsive, allowing the compact crossover to illuminate winding roads better.

In addition to the relatively high 220mm ground clearance, one of the primary selling points of the XV—the eccentrically-designed rims—is still present. This time, they’re restyled to a shuriken (aka ninja star)-looking design. We take this as a careful reminder of this car’s Japanese heritage.

The rear-end is almost the same with its predecessor, except for bigger LED taillamps and the bee-sting antenna that’s replaced by shark’s fin. Again, another sign of maturity without completely losing its youthful side.

The cabin of the all-new Subaru XV looks upmarket and premium, smothered with leather and a few soft plastics. The added orange stitchings throughout the whole interior is also a nice touch to its overall look. However, we’re on the limbo with its gear-shifter – the leather knob is replaced with a glossy black and silver plastic material. Not a good news, if you ask me.

However, you still get a good-looking and ergonomic cockpit with its seamless and clutter-free dashboard layout. The graphics on the display screens are also better and less distracting than before. It now effectively uses different font weights and color schemes that are easy on the eyes.

If you’re the type who always connect their smartphones to the car’s stereo, you’ll be happy with the all-new XV. Its 8-inch touchscreen head unit has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Plus, the clarity of the sound from the speakers are heaven-sent. This, along with other vehicle settings, can be controlled via buttons on the steering wheel.

Sadly, there is no speed-sensing door locks for this model. This might be just nitpicking but I think this feature is essential these days and should be present considering its price point. Nevertheless, it’s easy to find a suitable driving position with the XV due to the power-adjustable seats with lumbar support and tiltable/telescopic steering wheel.

As for space, the XV has lots of it in the front and at the back. Both has enough wiggle room to comfortably accommodate 5 medium-built persons (including me) at 5’8” and below. Plus, the backrests can be folded 60:40 for a maximum 1,220L cargo space, but could have been better if the trunk cover can be removed entirely. Even without rear air vents, the air conditioning is okay and the noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) levels are also notably minimal – thanks largely to the all-new platform.

I wish I could write of the same comfort with its suspension. It’s a little too soft to my liking, making runs through uneven roads a bit bouncy. Although, it effectively absorbs road imperfections at high speeds and body roll isn’t too bothersome at all.

Inside the all-new XV’s bonnet is the 12-kg lighter naturally-aspirated 2.0L Boxer engine. As with all Subarus, it’s still horizontally-opposed and positioned low inside the hood for a lower center of gravity. This gasoline millI can produce 154 hp and 196 Nm of torque – numbers that weren’t far from the previous model’s output.

What Subaru fixed, however, was the gear mismatch issue of the 1st-gen XV. The all-new model’s Lineartronic CVT matched the gears well with every accelerator input, which gave me the right amount of torque and power without compromising fuel efficiency. Kudos to Subaru for that.

New to the XV was the X-Mode – a feature only available in bigger Subarus before. When engaged, it controlled the engine output, transmission, and all-wheel-drive system. This enabled me to safely go through challenging roads without having to worry about getting stuck. Of course it didn’t transform the crossover into a dirt-loving machine, but it’s close.

The steering feel was also dynamic. It’s light enough for me to tackle tight city streets with ease. It also has blind spot monitor and wide forward driving visibility.

On the highway, the XV was composed and planted, while the steering felt heavier for confidence in running at high legal speeds. Its cruise control is also easy to use, perfect for long drives.

Fuel-efficiency figures for the all-new XV were outstanding. Snail-paced city drives at an average speed of 15 km/h registered 6.1 km/l, while faster ones at 60 km/h gave out 12 km/l. Highway stints running at 90 km/h read a noteworthy 18.5 km/l.

The good news is, the all-new Subaru XV 2.0i-S retains the P1,538,000 sticker price of its predecessor. With the all-new Subaru Global Platform underpinning this model, I can say that the overall upgrade was pretty solid even with just subtle exterior changes. Maybe because Subaru knows that this model doesn’t really need to improve a lot in that aspect.

After all, the XV’s improved driving performance, better-looking interior, and added off-road-ish capability should be more than enough to excite its fans – making it a solid competitor in the subcompact crossover market and a great upgrade for previous XV owners.

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