Subaru XV

The Essentials

  • Price from £21,295
  • What Car? says: 2 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 50.4mpg
  • What is it? A compact 4x4 that puts safety first but isn't as comfortable or affordable as the best crossovers.


  • Child crash protection is superb
  • Diesel engine has plenty of welly
  • Those in the back get masses of legroom


  • Neither quiet nor comfortable enough for a family car
  • Basic models do without Bluetooth or MP3
  • Prices are on a par with premium rivals from Audi or BMW
  • Drive

    Diesel is the pick of the engines but both ride and refinement are disappointing

  • Inside

    Plenty of seat adjustment but some confusing controls

  • Safety

    A brilliant score for child protection and plenty to keep the whole family safe

  • Reliability

    Subaru's reputation is good

  • Space

    Passenger space is fine but the boot is on the small side

  • Standard and extras

    Air-con and electric windows are standard but for anything more useful you'll need to upgrade

  • What's it like to drive?

    There's plenty of get up and go in the diesel engine at all speeds, which makes it our pick. Four-wheel drive is standard and there's enough grip to keep you on course through the corners. Unfortunately at the same time you can feel every dimple in the Tarmac thanks to an unforgiving ride that will rattle your composure. Too much road noise can be heard at high speeds, too.

  • What's it like inside?

    Although the interior quality doesn't feel consistently high, it's easy to get comfortable behind the wheel. The controls are easy to reach but some are confusing to navigate. Rear visibility isn't great thanks to the chunky rear window pillars, however.
    Nobody will complain about the legroom available in the back and it helps to compensate for the rather limited headroom. The boot is small though  380 litres compared with a Nissan Qashqai's 410 litres. It has a nifty folding floor which folds up to make a ramp to help unload heavy items, but frankly it's so awkward to use it would be quicker to find a porter.
    Air-con, electric windows and alloy wheels are standard but we'd upgrade to SE for Bluetooth, an MP3 socket and comfy leather steering wheel.

  • How reliable is it?

    The XV scored an outstanding 90% for child protection in Euro NCAP crash tests. Its 86% score for adult protection is good too, if not quite up to the Audi Q3 (94%). Seven airbags and stability control are fitted on all XVs.
    Subaru came fifth (out of 36) in What Car?'s 2012 reliability survey, so we don't expect many problems.

  • Should I buy one?

    Probably not. Prices are on a par with the likes of the far superior BMW X1 . A Nissan Qashqai is much cheaper to buy, and in two-wheel-drive form, much cheaper to run as well.