Review: Subaru XV, a very likeable CKD Japanese crossover

As GC handed me the key to the Subaru XV, the first thing that came to mind was, how would this fare? After all, I was driving the turbocharged  Subaru Forester 2.0 XT prior to the XV. Can the XV live up to the expectations? Will it be a worthy purchase? Well guys, read on to find out more.

Review: Subaru XV -


NameSubaru XV
Engine1998cc Boxer engine (150hp)


Under the hood of this rather handsome compact SUV is the tried and tested 2.0-liter Boxer engine from Subaru. No fancy turbocharging or direct injection turbo (DIT) like its bigger brother, the Forester. That however helps to keep the price competitive. But will that compromise be worthy of the price cut?

Review: Subaru XV -

I am very fond of the looks of the XV. It has a very modern look, which carries some hints of the Impreza it’s based on. But unlike some of its nearest competitors (Honda CRV), the XV does offer a roof rack for you to carry extra luggage, should the need arise.

Review: Subaru XV -


The other part I like about the XV are these rims. They really stand out and gives the XV a certain character that’s rather missing from some of its rivals. The 17″ rims gets the same glossy black treatment that the Forester gets, but with a different design. But unlike the Forester, the XV makes do with regular halogen bulbs, instead of pricier HIDs and fancy DRLs. That blank spot where the foglight was supposed to be did irked me somewhat

Moving onto the interior, you’ll be greeted with a relatively bland interior. The only saving grace is the premium Kenwood head unit that Subaru bundles with the XV. It is a GPS system powered by Garmin, which means navigation and map routing are top notch, if not the best. Navigating through the menus are a painless affair, with no major issues encountered.

The screen can remain very readable under bright sunlight, something that the Forester’s unit was lacking at. Music quality is decent, despite not having the Harman Kardon speakers like its bigger brother. Bluetooth connectivity is standard, and you can actually pair it with your phone for a handsfree experience. There’s not much to be said about the build quality as it’s assembled by Tan Chong Industries, so fit and finish are pretty good.

Review: Subaru XV -


As for other toys, the XV also provides. You also get a reverse camera when the need arises. And surprisingly enough, it also has a pair of reverse sensors that the Forester is missing. The smaller size of the XV makes reverse parking a breeze, and coupled with the reverse camera, tight parking spots are no longer an issue.

Another point also worth mentioning is that the reverse camera works pretty well in dark places as well. You do get foglights as a standard equipment , as well as self leveling headlights. Other options like sunroof, cargo tray, engine start stop button, dual zone climate control, idle stop system and auto rain sensors sadly isn’t available on our local unit.

Review: Subaru XV -

The boot space is rather lacking, due to the rather wide spare tire used. This unfortunately eats up precious boot space, but on the flip side, the rear seats can be split folded at 60:40, and that increases the usable boot space to a healthy 1250 litres.

As Shawn moved to the back seat, he did like the amount of rear legroom the XV has to offer, but lamented on the lack of toys.

Knowing most of you, this section matters the most. The XV’s engine is a 2.0L boxer unit, which comes with Subaru’s Active Valve Control System (AVCS) and has an optimized air intake. In the real world, this means that the engine can provide a very good amount of low end torque, as well as linear power delivery.

With 150hp and 196NM of torque, it won’t push you hard into the seats, but it will take it’s own sweet time to build it up. By no means it’s slow, but thanks to the CVT transmission, acceleration is gradual and smooth, not abrupt at all. Speaking of the CVT gearbox, it only has 2 modes, Drive and Manual. No fancy Sports mode to be found here, but there are paddles shifts for that somewhat semi sporty feel.

Review: Subaru XV -

Handling wise, the XV is very composed. Funny car, this XV, as it can balance passenger comfort as well as road handling relatively well. My mom did enjoy the quietness of the XV, as well as the comfort of it, while I did find the handling to be pretty decent through the corners.

Bodyroll is to be expected from an SUV, but thanks to the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, you are always in control, and the car won’t surprise you. Steering wise, it is an electronic assisted power steering, and feedback is rather vague. Odd, I feel, as the bigger brother’s electronic power steering feels so much better than this. Perhaps Subaru might want to retune it?

The Drive
For the XV, I drove Shawn (my photographer) up to Kuala Kubu Bharu for the photo shoot, via Jalan Kuching. The XV doesn’t make you feel tired driving it for long journey, and this makes it an excellent highway cruiser. Cruising at 110km/h is barely an issue for the XV, as wind noises as well as tire noises are kept at a bare minimum.

Review: Subaru XV -

When I collected the car, the average fuel consumption was at 14.4L/100km. After cruising and being extremely gentle on the throttle, I brought that number down to a respectable 9.6L/100km. It’s still a far cry from Subaru’s official figures of 7.3L/100km, but do bear in mind that it was a mix of hilly roads, some traffic jam along Jalan Kuching (towards town), some spirited driving as well as idling the car. Passing the key to Shawn to have a drive, he mentioned that the XV does not feel like an SUV at all, in fact feels very much car like. Body roll, according to him, is very controlled, in a good way.

Is it for you?
To be really honest, I preferred the XV over the Forester for a few reasons. Firstly. The size. The Forester may have a bigger presence on the road, but that is also its downfall. Parking can be a bit hard when driving the Forester, and navigating through tight spots can be rather daunting. The XV’s size fares better in this, as the size suits our city roads better.

Review: Subaru XV -

Then there’s the looks. I know, looks is very subjective, and some people may question my taste, but don’t get me wrong, the XV isn’t perfect, but I’m really digging the looks of the XV. The front end itself, already looks better than the Mitsubishi ASX, while the 4WD system leaves some of its rivals in the dust.

Thirdly, the XV isn’t entirely underpowered. Sure, it’s not as fast as the Forester, but the XV doesn’t pretend to be a mini Forester. On its own, the XV is a very capable SUV, able to keep up with it rivals very well. The other thing worth nothing is the Subaru XV can help you garner some attention, like the priceless expression on my colleagues who saw me drove off in this very unit.

For the sake of comparing, the Subaru XV has quite a tough set of competitors. Among the competitors are the Mitsubishi ASX, Peugeot 3008, Kia Sportage, Ford Kuga and the Honda CR-V. Price wise, the CKD Mitsubishi ASX, which ironically enough, rolls off the same assembly plant as the Subaru XV, has a clear advantage, as the 4WD model tops out at RM128,800. But the ASX is based on a rather old platform, while the XV’s platform is much newer. Safety kit is pretty much the same, down to the 3 airbags and traction control.

Mitsubishi ASX CKDSubaru XV 2.0i PremiumKia Sportage
Type 2.0L 16 Valve Inline-4 DOHC MIVEC (4B11)DOHC 16-Valve, Horizontally-Opposed,
4-Cylinder, 4-Stroke, Petrol Engine
Displacementcc 199819951998
Bore x Strokemm86 x 86 84 x 90 86 x 86
Compression Ratio10.010.510.5
Max Powerhp/rpm 155 / 6000 150 / 6200166 / 6200
Max TorqueNm/rpm197 / 4200196 / 4200 197 / 4600
Carburetion SystemMulti Point Injection Multi point sequential injection Multi Point Injection
Fuel Tank CapacityL 60 6055
TypePower Assisted Rack & Pinion Electric power assistance rack and pinion Motor Driven Power Steering
TransmissionINVECS-III CVT Lineartronic CVT6-Speed Automatic with All-Wheel Drive
Gear Ratio D – 2.349 – 0.394
R – 1.750
FDR – 6.120
D – 3.581 – 0.570
R – 3.667
FDR – 3.7
1- 4.162 , 2- 2.575 , 3- 1.772 , 4- 1.369, 5- 1.000 6- 0.778
R – 3.5
FDR – 3.648
Type Front – MacPherson strut with stabilizer bar
Rear – Multilink with stabilizer bar
 Front –  MacPherson strut type
Rear – Double wishbone type
Front – MacPherson Strut with Coil Spring
Rear– Multilink, coil springs
Front Ventilated disc brakes Ventilated disc brakesVentilated disc brakes
Rear  Solid disc brake  Solid disc brakes Solid disc brake
Diameter – Frontinches 11.611.611.8
Diameter – Rearinches 11.9 10.811.1
Tyres 215/60 R17 225/55 R17235/55 R18
Wheels Alloy AlloyAlloy
Overall Lengthmm4,295 4,4504,440
Overall Widthmm1,770 1,780 1,855
Overall Heightmm 1,6151,6151,645
Wheelbasemm 2,670 2,635 2,640
Ground Clearancemm 195 220172
Max Kerb weightkg 1,475 1,4301,655
Luggage Capacity (VDA)L 614
Seats Folded – 1,402
Seats Folded – 1270
Seats Folded – 1353
Grademin. 95 RONmin. 95 RONmin. 95 RON
Consumption 7.9 L/100 km8.6 L/100 km8.2 L/100 km
Max Speedkm/h190187180
0 – 100km/hsec9.6 10.710.8
PRICERM 128,880152,255135,000


Will I buy it?
Weighing the pros and cons, the Subaru XV is very tempting, but I wont put my money down as yet, until I’ve tested the Mitsubishi ASX. But on its own, the Subaru XV does have a special place in my heart.

Special thanks going out to my friend Shawn who was my photographer and Motor Image Malaysia for loaning us this unit.

Read our full review on Subaru Forester 2.0 XT.




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here