Search CarGuide.PH

March 12, 2013

Review: 2013 Subaru XV 2.0i Premium

Photos by Ulysses Ang
Each time the Subaru XV arrives at the office to spend time with us; it seems to have a very busy schedule. The first time Subaru’s compact crossover arrived here, we pitted it against the similarly-sized Mitsubishi ASX (full test here) and it came out on top. Next, it was compared to its more luxurious sibling, the Subaru Impreza (story here).

However, in both those cases we were handed the keys to the 2.0i, the base model that’s all well and good but not truly representative of the entire XV line. Instead, that distinction goes to the 2.0i Premium, which is the better selling XV. Yes, it’s slightly more expensive but it also comes better loaded with features. Is the additional price tag worth it or are Subaru buyers getting it wrong? Let’s find out.

What’s New Outside?

The Subaru XV is becoming a common sight on Philippine roads, replicating the success enjoyed by its bigger brother, the Forester. Nonetheless, I still don’t get tired looking at it. The XV remains youthful and fresh, balancing the right amount of machismo and refinement that wouldn’t make it out of place whether it’s in the great outdoors or at a luxury hotel parking lot.

The thought of having extensive black body cladding may seem like a turnoff, but the overall execution is stellar. It’s nicely textured and together with the eye-catching black-and-silver 17-inch alloys makes for a dramatic entrance. Differentiating the 2.0i Premium over the regular 2.0i are HID headlamps with pop-up washers, chrome trimming on the door handles, and signal indicators that migrate from the front fenders to the side mirrors. All in all, the exterior dolling up are mostly in the details but they’re welcome details nonetheless.

Of course, like any other range-topping variant, the XV 2.0i Premium comes in some exclusive colors. Aside from the usual choices of white, black, and silver, the Premium comes in a retina-searing shade of Tangerine Orange. It actually looks good in photographs (and unmistakable in parking lots), but the lack of metallic flakes (it’s pearlescent) make it look flat in person. This year, Subaru quietly added a brand-new color: Deep Cherry which is a cross between dark purple and red. Like the orange color, this one’s pearlescent as well. Thankfully, whether you choose pearlescent or metallic, you don’t have to pay extra (take that, Toyota and Honda!).

What’s Different Inside?

Like the exterior, the 2.0i Premium is modestly upgraded inside to differentiate itself from its base brother. Again, the changes are mostly minute and detail-oriented, but in the bigger scheme of things, they do count (and work).

First up, the instrument panel features LED lighting with a white on black odometer and trip meter combination (the base XV has a black on white display). Second, the pedals are now sheathed in aluminum complete with grippy rubber studs. They hark to Subaru’s sportier offerings such as the WRX STI and Forester XT. Third, the digital calculator-like center display is replaced by a fancy 6.1-inch WQVGA monitor. Aside from offering the usual trip computer functions such as Instantaneous Fuel Economy, Average Fuel Economy, and Distance to Empty; the multi-function display throws things like self-check maintenance alerts, calendar functions (birthday and anniversary), safety-related information, and even Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) monitoring into the mix. It even has a customizable triple-meter display that shows things from coolant temperature to accelerator pressure to elapsed time travelled. Plus it doubles as the monitor for the standard back-up camera. Lastly, the climate control is upgraded to a dual-zone system for optimal comfort for passengers.

Overall, the XV 2.0i Premium feels very, well, Premium. The materials are top-notch, the buttons and stalks have crisp engagement, and build quality is outstanding. The driving position is simply superb and the outward visibility is outstanding. In terms of interior room, it’s actually good to swallow five adults with enough shoulder, hip, and knee clearance. Luggage space is a tad on the small side, though the rear seatbacks fold in a 60/40 split to accommodate larger luggage. The only thing that’s missing on the XV is standard leather seating. Though the XV’s mesh-fabric cloth seats are good (it’s shared with the base XV), the additional price asked over the Impreza should have commanded leather seats as standard (the Impreza has leather seats).

What’s It Like to Drive?

The 2.0i Premium is mechanically the same with the base XV so it pretty much drives the same way. That said, it’s a very driver-centric crossover that balances comfort and enthusiasm very well. The steering on the XV is nicely weighted and the chassis are responsive through corners. There’s also a good amount of mechanical grip which inspires you to carve through canyon roads faster while the full-time all-wheel drive provides an extra layer of assurance, especially in foul weather. If there’s only one chink to the XV’s armor, it’s got to be the brakes which could use better bite.

The XV runs on the same FB20 engine powering the Impreza and the non-turbo Forester. Overall, it’s a good engine with excellent low-end pull and a fat torque curve that matches the CVT very well. Even with 150 horsepower and 196 Nm of torque, the XV doesn’t like to be rushed; if you do, you’ll only end up with the CVT’s drone. Power must be laid down in a linear fashion, resulting in surprisingly brisk acceleration (it feels faster than my Forester equipped with the same FB20 engine but with a 4-speed automatic) while returning top-notch fuel economy. In city driving, the XV Premium did 12.5 km/L while achieving 15.38 km/L on the highway.

With a ride height of 220 mm, the XV is actually taller than most crossovers and equals the Forester (both the 2009-2013 and even the upcoming 2014 models). This means the XV’s got surprisingly good off-road ability to go with the stellar on-road dynamics.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Priced at P 1,478,000, the Subaru XV 2.0i Premium is priced P 80,000 more than the base XV and a whopping P 180,000 more than the Impreza 2.0 i-S. Initially, this may sound like a lot of money to pay for, given you’re basically getting a raised Impreza. But after a while, it hits you: the 2.0i Premium DOES feel more like a complete product. By simply drilling down the difference between the two XV models, you’ll notice that the difference pays for itself:
  • HID headlamps with pop-up washers
  • Power-folding side mirrors with LED turn indicators
  • Chrome door handles
  • LED backlit gauges
  • Aluminum sport pedals
  • 6-inch multi-function display
  • Dual-zone climate control
  • Rear back-up camera
Of course, some will argue that the Impreza is better value given you’ll get everything the XV Premium has plus leather seats. There’s no denying that, but remember: you’re not getting the security offered by the increased ground clearance. Overall, the choice is definitely up to the consumer, whether he or she wants a more luxurious (Impreza) or youthful (XV) ride. But in case, you’re leaning towards the youthful XV, you won’t go wrong with spending the additional P 80,000. By far, this is the best compact crossover around blending driver-centric handling with family car practicality and stellar fuel economy.


  1. i'm planning to get a car and i'm a bit torn between cx 5 and xv. performance wise and fuel economy which one is much better? :)

    1. I'd say, the Mazda CX-5 is a better driver's car and produces better highway economy. Plus you can get a MT if you wish.

      Meanwhile, the XV is much better suited to do off-roading stuff, has more ground clearance, and of course, standard all-wheel drive. The XV also has the edge in city fuel consumption.

  2. would you prefer the XV over the CRV?

    1. Hmmmm...depends on what you're after. The CR-V is the better bet if you have a family. It's more spacious and offers more trunk space.

      That said, if you prefer something sportier, spunkier, with a bit more character, the XV is the one to go for. Not to mention, it's actually even more fuel efficient even if it's got standard AWD.

  3. hello! im not sure if my questions were uploaded.. sorry.. but whats your advise between xv and monterosport regarding aftersales market and fuel efficiency? thanks!

    1. The Subaru XV and the Montero Sport belong to different markets altogether. The Montero Sport is a pick-up based SUV with a diesel engine and 7 seats while the XV is a car-based crossover with a gasoline engine and 5 seats.

      If you've got a family or go trailing to say, a farm, then you've got no choice but to go Montero Sport. It's got a much larger trunk as well.

      That said, if you don't need the 7 seats and you don't mind a small trunk, the XV is a pretty hard crossover to beat. I love it very much. However, if you're looking at the XV 2.0 i-Premium model, take a look at the Forester 2.0 i-L which is slightly cheaper!

  4. hello. just want to know since i heard no engine temperature gauge for the xv, so how is it possible to know if it's about to overheat?

    1. The XV, like most modern cars out there, use two indicators marked with a blue and red pilot light on the instrument cluster. The blue indicates that the engine is still cold and is warming up while red indicates that it's about to overheat.

  5. Any review on the 2014 Subaru XV?

  6. Hi, I'm looking for a good car for my family right now, and I am seriously considering the XV as a top contender since it is not that far from my budget. However, I read your article and it says 12.5km/l city driving which got my attention. A 2.0li engine AWD with this fuel economy is great, however, for long drives like going to Baguio, and further how does this contend? Off-road? Can this baby take on muddy and slippery off-road tracks (i'm from the province)? And what about water wading capabilities? it floods most of the time where I come from although not that high...

  7. A little help Buddy.. A b'new XV or a 2nd hand BMW X1? Thanks..

  8. Hi i have 2013 xv auto trans. Just asking why is it that the oil light is flashing even if its newly changed oil almost 2 months ago.... Can i add the same oil in quart? Any suggestion... Pls help. Ty

    1. Yes atleast engine oil s almost at the maximum as per my expereince at my 2013 xv subaru


Feel free to comment or share your views. Comments that are derogatory and/or spam will not be tolerated. We reserve the right to moderate and/or remove comments.