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Car group tests

Subaru XV vs Jeep Renegade

Subaru and Jeep have muscled into the trendy compact crossover class, but is the Subaru XV or Jeep Renegade a more convincing choice?

The Subaru XV has always been a leftfield choice in the compact crossover class. With its angular looks, novel flat-four engine range and utilitarian interior, the four-wheel-drive car takes on a no-nonsense approach in the face of a whole host of fashion-conscious rivals.

So, in an effort to boost the XV’s showroom appeal, Subaru has treated the crossover to a mid-life refresh. It now features sharper looks and an overhauled interior, and promises lower running costs. Here, we test it with the frugal and punchy 2.0-litre diesel and in mid-range £23,995 SE guise.

However, Subaru isn’t the only maker of four-wheel-drive vehicles that’s hoping to crack the profitable crossover sector. Jeep is also at it: the Renegade is the brand’s most ambitious model yet, and combines rugged looks and genuine off-road ability with family hatchback efficiency. We’ve already tested the capable but expensive Limited flagship, and now it’s the turn of the attractively priced £23,395 2.0-litre MultiJet Longitude 4WD edition.

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Which of our crossover contenders makes more sense? We hit the roads and rutted tracks to find out.

Head-to-head

Off road

When it comes to the rough stuff, our cars are surprisingly accomplished. The Subaru has 15mm more ground clearance, at 220mm, plus grippy all-terrain tyres. The compact Jeep’s shorter overhangs mean it has better approach and departure angles, while its Active Drive transmission gets Auto, Sand, Snow and Mud settings. 

Engines

Subaru has stuck with its tried-and-tested boxer engine recipe for the XV. It delivers a low centre of gravity and allows easier packaging of itssymmetrical four-wheel-drive system. Jeep has turned to sister firm Fiat for the Renegade’s four-cylinder MultiJet diesel.

Personalisation

The latest XV is available in two new exterior colours – Dark Metallic Blue and the Hyper Blue seen here – but that’s about as far as its customisation goes. Jeep buyers can choose from a wide range of body decals, plus numerous interior trim inserts.

Verdict 

First place: Jeep Renegade

With its bold looks, customisation options, decent practicality and composed driving dynamics, the Renegade is a fine choice for families looking for something a little different. Yet it’s the car’s lower running costs that make the difference in this encounter, while the mid-spec Longitude model is the sweet spot in the range thanks to its attractive price and decent kit count.

Second place: Subaru XV

The XV has a lot going for it. Its four-wheel-drive transmission is one of the best in the business, while its boxer engine is smooth and powerful. Plus, the well equipped cabin gives the Subaru upmarket appeal, and it’s more capable off-road than you’d think. But the XV is undermined by high running costs, while suspension tweaks haven’t been successful.

Other options for similar money...

New: Suzuki Vitara 1.6 DDiS SZ5

Suzuki Vitara S - front tracking

Price: £21,799Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 118bhp

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The rugged Vitara isn’t all that glamorous, but it’s spacious, good to drive and well equipped. Selectable ALLGRIP four-wheel drive gives all-weather traction, while the 1.6-litre diesel is smooth and efficient.

Used: Land Rover Freelander 2 2.2 SD4 HSE

Used Land Rover Freelander 2

Price: £23,000Engine: 2.2-litre 4cyl, 187bhp

Few brands can match Land Rover’s off-road heritage, and if you don’t mind buying used, one of the last Freelander 2s offers a strong blend of luxury, car-like road manners and decent running costs. A 40,000-mile flagship HSE is just £23,000.

Figures

 Jeep Renegade 2.0 MultiJet Longitude 4WD Subaru XV 2.0D SE
On-the-road price/total as tested£23,395/£23,395£23,995/£23,995
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£10,481/44.8%£10,030/41.8%
Depreciation£12,914£13,965
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£1,208/£2,416£1,333/£2,665
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)1,511/2,519£1,371/£2,285
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost15/£516/E/£13026/£506/F/£145
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£159/£209/£159£269/£366/£315
   
Length/wheelbase4,236/2,570mm4,450/2,635mm
Height/width1,684/1,805mm1,615/1,780mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,956cc4cyl flat four/1,998cc
Peak power 138/3,750 bhp/rpm145/3,600 bhp/rpm
Peak torque 350/1,750 Nm/rpm350/1,600 Nm/rpm
Transmission 6-spd man/4WD6-spd man/4wd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel48 litres/foam60 litres/foam
Boot capacity (seats up/down) 351/1,297 litres380/1,270 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,502/1,500kg1,420/1,600kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient10.8 metres/N/A10.6 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/3yrs5yrs (100,000)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers12,500 miles (1yr)/7312,000 miles (1yr)/59
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.26th/28th12th/6th
NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars87/85/65/74/5 (2014)86/90/64/86/5 (2012)
   
0-60/30-70mph10.0/10.8 secs8.7/8.6 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 3.7/5.0 secs3.8/5.9 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th 7.3/9.0 secs7.5/9.3 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 113mph/2,00rpm123mph/1,950rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 48.1/35.7/8.9m46.1/38.7/10.7m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mphN/A/N/A/59/68dB64/45/64/73dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range38.1/8.4/402 miles42.0/9.2/554 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined47.2/61.4/55.4mpg41.5/61.4/52.3mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined10.4/13.5/12.2mpl9.1/13.5/11.5mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket199/134g/km/26%180/141g/km/28%
   
Airbags/Isofix/parking sensors/camSix/yes/£270/noSeven/yes/no/yes
Auto gearbox/stability/cruise controlNo/yes/yesNo/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seats£350/no/£250Yes/no/yes
Metallic paint/xenon lights/AEB*£600/no/£500^£500/yes/no
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yesNo/yes/yes/yes
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