Our Cars

2014 Subaru XV 2.0i-S long-term – week 1

Meet our new team member, the rugged looking, all-wheel driving and very green, 2014 Subaru XV 2.0i-S.

Run by: Isaac Bober
Travel: 348km
Fuel Consumption: 6.8L/100km – tested (7.0L/100km official)
List Price: $36,990 (+ORC)
Service Costs: Nil
Faults: Nil

Week ending July 18.

Read our full review of the Subaru XV

IN ITS FIRST FEW DAYS with Practical Motoring our new Subaru XV 2.0i-S has been a busy little thing. It arrived with just 38-delivery-kilometres on the odometer and has since schlepped up and down the motorways between home and work, has carted both mini-Bobers to their respective schools, and even got its feet a little dirty with a run out onto some tracks in the Blue Mountains.

So, why’d we go for a Subaru XV? Simple, it’s one of the most popular cars on the site and, if my daily commute is anything to go by, one of the most popular on the road too. Now, I’ll be up front and say I’m a fan of Subaru’s first proper compact SUV, but it’s easy to like something when you’re only in it for a week.

I wanted to see what the rugged little Subaru would be like in the real world: how it would handle long commutes back and forth to the big smoke; two kids and a dog; and frequent trips out into the bush west of the Blue Mountains NSW. Will I still like it after six months?

So, what is the Subaru XV? Well, it’s more than just an Impreza on stilts. Sure, it’s obviously been spun off the Impreza, but the XV features a different front-end – it’s more hawk-like – stands taller with an impressive 220mm of ground clearance (more than a Ford Ranger), and it’s also a little shorter in the wheelbase than its Impreza sibling (2635mm Vs 2645mm), then there’s the bulging guards which add to its rugged look.

One of the things that appealed most to me about the XV was that it’s a permanent all-wheel drive with a 50:50 drive split. That, in a sea of part-time AWDs, makes the Subaru XV a true crossover with genuine rough-road ability. And, we’ll be putting that to the test over the next few weeks with some family drives out into the country planned.

2014 Subaru XV long-term test

Under the bonnet of the XV is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder Boxer engine with makes 110kW (at 6200rpm) and 196Nm of torque (at 4200rpm). This is mated, as standard, to a six-speed manual, but we selected the cost-optional CVT and that’s because 80% of buyers, says Subaru, are doing the same. And, as far as CVT units go, it’s pretty darn good; sliding smoothly and ensuring you’re never left wanting – but I’ll spend more time discussing the CVT as we go on with the car.

Fuel consumption is a claimed 7.0L/100km (combined) for the CVT, and while I didn’t expect it to get close to that for the first, say, 1000km as everything started to bed in, I’ve actually managed to better that returning 6.8L/100km for the first 348km travelled. I like the fact the Subaru XV runs on 91RON fuel.

Out on the road, the XV is just as impressive as I remember. Despite its ground clearance, the XV boasts the lowest centre of gravity in the class and offers direct but light steering, incredible grip and a near perfect suspension set-up for this sort of dual-purpose car.

2014 Subaru XV long-term test

Our Subaru XV 2.0i-S sits at the top of the tree and lists for $36,990 (+ORC) and it’s pretty well equipped, getting Bluetooth and iPod connectivity as standard, a reversing camera, auto air-con, cruise control, reach and rake on the steering wheel, 17-inch alloys (with a 17-inch steel spare wheel), front driving lights, full leather interior, heated front seats and electrically adjustable driver’s seat, as well as a sunroof. The Subaru XV comes with a three-year unlimited kilometre warranty and capped price servicing for the life of the vehicle.

I’m just settling in with the XV at the moment but my early impressions are pretty good. Let’s wait and see how it stands up to family life on and off the bitumen.


  • mavstar

    Have heard they’re underpowered though? I know you’re not trying to drag anyone off at the lights (perish the thought) but I had been led to understand they were a little sluggish…

    • Hi Mavstar, thanks for your comment. The manual variants tend to show up a slight torque hole at middling revs, but the CVT smooths that out. With the family on board and driving up and down the mountains I haven’t found it lacking. I think some journos slapped the XV early on because of the CVT thing … a CVT doesn’t shift like a conventional automatic transmission and so it can take a little while to get used to as it slides up and down the rev range. So far, I’m really liking the XV. Cheers Isaac (Editor).

    • Adam Howley

      I think it’s down to the cvt transmission from people I’ve heard from. May be wrong.

      • Hi Adam, you’re absolutely right. The XV’s CVT tends to cop a bit of criticism, but I don’t think that’s fair. My initial impressions are that it’s actually one of the better units out there. The XV certainly doesn’t feel slower than anything else in the segment, and its ride and handling put it ahead of just about anything else in its class, with the possible exception of the Skoda Yeti.

        • Adam Howley

          Yes, wasn’t saying it’s lacking the grunt, but that the cvt is where to “problem” lies for people because of the different sfyle of gearing vs a traditional box.

          Boxer engines always have more poke than people give em credit.

          • Hi Adam, sorry about that. Rushed off a reply. You’re right, you’ve got to get your head around the way CVTs work. It’s the same with VW Group DSGs. Cheers Isaac (Editor).

          • Hi Adam, sorry about that. Rushed off a reply. You’re right, you’ve got to get your head around the way CVTs work. It’s the same with VW Group DSGs. Cheers Isaac (Editor).

          • Adam Howley

            All good. I have a Fiat 500 Dual Logic and everyone gives it heaps, without having driven or lived with one.

            Also drive a Caddy DSG Diesel for work and I actually find the drive so bland and annoying I would rather drive a manual! It’s like they removed the finesse from the caddy version that the golf gets. Do you know if that’s the case at all?

    • Hi Mavstar, thanks for your comment. The manual variants tend to show up a slight torque hole at middling revs, but the CVT smooths that out. With the family on board and driving up and down the mountains I haven’t found it lacking. I think some journos slapped the XV early on because of the CVT … a CVT doesn’t shift like a conventional automatic transmission and so it can take a little while to get used to. So far, though, I’m really liking the XV. Cheers Isaac (Editor).

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober was born in the shadow of Mount Panorama in Bathurst and, so, it was inevitable he’d fall into work as a motoring writer. He began his motoring career in 2000 reviewing commercial vehicles, before becoming editor of Caravan & Motorhome magazine. He then moved to MOTOR Magazine before going freelance and contributing to Overlander 4WD, 4×4 Australia, TopGear Australia, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, The Australian, CARSguide, and many more.