Used Subaru XV (Mk2, 2017-date) review
A full used buyer’s guide on the Subaru XV covering the XV Mk1 that’s been on sale since 2017
The first Subaru XV struggled to compete against obvious rivals, and while the Mk2 is a significant improvement, it’s still largely unknown because there are so many good alternatives that are more readily available. But there’s still a lot to like about the XV. It’s an SUV that isn’t as tall as most, so it’s more like a jacked-up hatchback, which aids the driving experience, even if the seating position isn’t quite as lofty. Reliability tends to be excellent, and usually the dealers are too, although there are just 80 or so of them spread around the UK. Try some alternatives before committing, but strike the right deal and the XV could be very appealing.
While those French marques have a back catalogue full of cars with quirky designs, Subaru’s models have long bucked the trend, thanks to their unusual engineering.
Subaru was one of the first companies to embrace four-wheel drive in a big way, while its fitment of boxer engines is unique in the mainstream marketplace, not that this is an especially mainstream firm. It would be easy to dismiss Subaru as a brand not worth considering, and while its cars are rarely class leaders, the Mk2 XV is intriguing in many ways. But is it a car worth buying?
The original Subaru XV was unveiled in September 2011, and it went on sale in the UK from spring 2012. Its second-generation successor was introduced at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, before reaching showrooms in autumn of the same year.
Car group tests
Used car tests
Buyers could pick between 113bhp 1.6 and 154bhp 2.0-litre non-turbo petrol engines; there was no diesel option, and the only transmission available was a continuously variable automatic with a seven-speed manual mode. A hybrid was added in January 2020, called the e-Boxer. It had the same 2.0-litre petrol engine backed up by a 16bhp electric motor.
A facelifted XV went on sale in March 2021, available solely in e-Boxer form. It brought a refreshed design, new yellow and blue paint colours, revised suspension and extra driver-assistance systems.
Which one should I buy?
The 1.6-litre engine feels under-powered, with the 2.0-litre unit having a useful 25 per cent more torque. The 2.0-litre engine is detuned in e-Boxer form, but with the addition of an electric motor, the peak power is 148bhp and torque is the same as in the non-hybrid 2.0-litre XV, at 196Nm. The 1.6-litre engine has just 150Nm.
All XVs come with plenty of standard equipment, with even the entry-level SE featuring automatic LED headlights with a cornering function and high-beam assist, automatic wipers, powered folding door mirrors, privacy glass, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, keyless go, dual-zone climate control, an eight-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a DAB radio and a reversing camera.
Premium SE adds leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, an electric sunroof, electric front seat adjustment and navigation.
Alternatives to the Subaru XV
The Ford Focus Active and Kia XCeed are arguably the Subaru’s two closest rivals, although these pseudo off-roaders are not available with four-wheel drive. Stick with a conventional SUV and you’re spoiled for choice. The Volkswagen Group offers four of them: the Skoda Karoq, Audi Q3, SEAT Ateca and VW Tiguan, all of which look smart and are user-friendly and good to drive.
The Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson have long warranties and lots of kit, while the Peugeot 3008, Citroen C5 Aircross and Vauxhall Grandland offer decent value and appealing interior designs. The Ford Kuga is good to drive and decent value for money, Mazda’s sharp-looking CX-5 is dynamically excellent, while the Nissan Qashqai is practical and stylish. Also consider the BMW X1/X3 and the Mercedes GLA.
What to look for
Fuel economy is poor and can dip to 25mpg, although 28-32mpg is more usual. The hybrid can do 40mpg if driven carefully.
A transferable five-year/ 100,000-mile warranty covers everything for three years or 60,000 miles; only the powertrain is covered after that.
Despite the XV’s off-road ability, a ‘tyre mobility kit’ is standard issue instead of a spare wheel. Luckily, a space-saver can be fitted.
The lack of muscle is a problem when towing. With the 1.6 or 2.0-litre engine, the towing capacity is 1,400kg, while the e-Boxer is limited to just 1,270kg.
The XV has a reputation for a relatively bombproof powertrain, which is also covered by a five-year warranty. Some examples may have suffered hard use off road, so if you’re buying from a sheep farmer, look out for damage underneath.
First the good news: the cabin offers good all-round visibility and plenty of space for five adults, with lots of head and legroom.
Not so good is the relatively small boot, which can accommodate 385 litres, or 1,270 litres with the back seat folded. In e-Boxer form, this is even smaller, at 340 or 1,173 litres respectively.
Also disappointing is the dashboard design, which is functional but not especially appealing to look at, with the graphics for the infotainment system rather dated. However, this doesn’t affect the functionality of the set-up.
We found little more than 110 XVs for sale, which for a car that has been on sale for more than five years is a very small number. Of those, there was a pretty even split between petrol and hybrid editions.
All Subaru XVs need to be serviced every 12 months or 12,000 miles, regardless of whether the 1.6-litre or 2.0-litre engine is fitted. The first service is in effect no more than an oil and filter change, which is priced at a hefty £350; the second scheduled maintenance also involves replacing the brake fluid, which pushes the overall cost up to £410.
The third check-up includes new air and fuel filters, with an accompanying bill of £460. Services four and five are both priced at £600. At the fourth service all the oils have to be replaced, whereas at the fifth service all of the filters have to be renewed.
The car’s coolant needs to be replaced after 11 years or 137,500 miles; then, after that it has to be done every six years or 120,000 miles at a cost of around £100. Given that timing chains are fitted to every engine, there are no cambelts to replace.
Subaru has recalled the Mk2 XV three times so far. The first was in November 2020 when the Impreza and XV were checked because 585 cars built up to August 2018 left the factory with faulty brake hoses. The solution was to replace the hoses.
The second was in November 2021, because 1,949 Foresters and XVs had incorrectly fitted bolts in the rear suspension. The cars affected were made from the start of production up to May 2019, and putting things right involved tightening up the bolts or fitting new ones.
A third campaign was issued in November 2021, this time because 2,338 Imprezas, Foresters and XVs were fitted with faulty ignition coils on the production line. The cars affected were made up to October 2019 and the solution was to replace the ignition parts.
Driver Power owner satisfaction
Despite Subaru being a small player in the UK, the second-generation XV was in our 2020 Driver Power new-car survey. That’s also the last time that Subaru appeared in our Brands survey, in an impressive third place out of 29 entries. The XV was 33rd out of 75 entries, with buyers unimpressed by fuel economy, servicing costs, boot space or refinement. They’re keener on reliability, overall quality, handling and safety.
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