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November 7, 2017

Review: 2018 Subaru XV 2.0i-S

There are stories about a young man who’s supposed to marry someone sensible, attractive, and a good provider. But when the protagonist meets the would-be fiancée’s more interesting, vivacious, funny, and unconventional sibling or best friend, sparks fly and the original relationship doesn’t stand a chance. Or does it?

The 2018 Subaru XV doesn’t really stack up if one were to base everything on looks. She’s basically the same recipe from before: a raised Impreza with additional cladding and roof rails. The ingredients may sound silly, but it’s a proven formula so why change it? She’s innocuous and proud of it. Oh, and at least she’s benefited this time from chunkier bumpers and a unique grille. If there’s one criticism here, the 18-inch rims do look out of proportion—like it’s meant for a bigger SUV. As it stands, it’s like having a petite girl with gargantuan feet.

The interior styling is once again largely identical to the Impreza with the only difference being in details such as the orange stitching on the dashboard and hexagonal perforation on the seats. This isn’t a bad thing, since the dashboard is more shapely and modern than the dated ones of previous Subarus while still retaining the brand’s knack of providing a simple user interface. The climate control is always adjustable via big knobs and buttons while the infotainment contains large shortcut buttons as well as physical knobs for the volume and tuning.

Perhaps the steepest learning curve here is mastering the Subaru XV’s multitude of LCD screens. However, after knowing which button or toggle switch controls which screen, it becomes second nature. The Starlink infotainment system itself operates much like a smartphone complete with gesture controls. Most of the time, it feels snappy although there are instances where it has noticeable lag, especially when Android Auto is used.

In terms of space utilization, there’s almost nothing to complain about the 2018 Subaru XV. There’s more head, shoulder, and leg room now with a wide range of adjustments for the driver. It makes finding a good driving position very easy. Having said that, the seats themselves could use better support. As it stands, it’s flat and unsupportive making long drives a tad comfortable. The same goes for the rear quarters which may have more legroom, but don’t excel in support. Also, the sunroof robs some headroom for the middle rear passenger. Even at 175 centimeters tall, he or she will already brush the ceiling.

The Subaru XV is now propelled by a direct-injected 2.0-liter motor also found under the hood of the Impreza. It makes slightly more power (156 horsepower) with the same amount of torque (196 Nm). And while it’s buttery smooth and whisper quiet from the driver’s seat, it’s also oddly coarser and more clattery from the outside. More than once, people had mistaken it for a diesel.

In terms of pace, it takes some wringing to extract the most out of the Subaru XV. Most of the power is available high in the power band that only foot-to-the-floor applications will result in a strong pace. And even then, the CVT takes a long time to get up to speed. Still, for most day-to-day driving, it’ll do. Driven sanely, it’s a smooth operator with a good, perky pickup. It’s also very quiet, with just the roar from the Bridgestone Duelers making its way into the cabin. Despite the increase in size and equipment level, fuel economy has largely unchanged from before: 8.58 km/L (average speed of 15 km/h).

While the Subaru XV could use more grunt, one thing it gets right is the handling. Thanks to a brand-new platform, it feels tight with a body free from rattles or shakes. The ride quality itself is very good, muting all small bumps and reducing large ones to minor hiccups. The only drawback here is a hint of floatiness and some noticeable body roll. With a quicker steering rack, it also corners very well with a high degree of precision and grip. Sadly, steering is also devoid of feedback, feeling too light and artificial even compared to the Impreza it’s based on.

Priced at P 1,538,000, the 2018 Subaru XV 2.0i-S is actually even more expensive than the base Forester 2.0i-L (and it’s just P 140,000 off the mid-tier Forester 2.0i-Premium). Nonetheless, it’s actually well-equipped for the price. It gets 18-inch wheels, steering responsive LED headlights, moon roof, leather seats with power adjustment for the driver, dual zone climate control, a full-fledged infotainment system with 6 speakers, 7 airbags, ABS, stability control, X-Mode, blind spot and rear cross-traffic alert, a rear parking camera, and of course, Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system. It’s loaded with everything but the kitchen sink. And even that one, the Subaru EyeSight system, is going to be introduced sometime next year.

Overall, the Subaru XV is a solid crossover. While the weak powertrain really brings it down, it’s redeemed by its usable space and good maneuverability married with crossover flair and comfort. Add in the generous ground clearance and decent water wading depth, and it becomes an option for someone looking for a car that won’t quit when the going gets a little rough. The Subaru XV may not be the most sharply dressed or sexiest girl in the parking lot, but she can cook an acceptable dinner and cleans up nicely for Sunday Mass. She’s a nice girl and good company.

2018 Subaru XV 2.0i-S
Ownership 2018 Subaru XV 2.0i-S
Year Introduced 2017
Vehicle Classification Sub-compact Crossover
The Basics
Body Type 5-door SUV
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/AWD
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.0
Aspiration Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders F4
BHP @ rpm 156 @ 6,000
Nm @ rpm 196 @ 4,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 95~
Transmission CVT
Cruise Control Yes
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 8.58 km/L @ 15 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,465
Width (mm) 1,800
Height (mm) 1,615
Wheelbase (mm) 2,665
Curb Weight (kg) 1,444
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Struts
Rear Suspension Independent, Double Wishbone
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Vented Disc
Tires Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport 225/55 R 18 V (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 7
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors No, with Rear Camera
Other Safety Features X-Mode
Hill Start Assist
Hill Descent Mode
Blindspot Indicators
Rear Cross Traffic Alert
Exterior Features
Headlights LED, Active
Fog Lamps Yes, Front and Rear
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers Yes
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment Electric (driver)
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, with Fold
Climate Control Automatic, Dual Zone
Audio System Stereo
Android Auto
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes


  1. I'm very interested in buying this but the author's honest statement about the lack of steering feedback makes me think twice because I previously had a Toyota when I had a Mazda, it was world's apart in terms of steering feel and the overall feel of the vehicle.

    Currently, the Subaru feels neck to neck with the Mazda in terms of quality and feel but I'm disappointed about the lack of feedback. Might as well reserve for a test drive before trying to buy one. Anyway, kudos to the author for pointing out even the small details, I hope that you will continue to do so and I trust you more than the pigs in TG who almost never criticize a car.

    1. True. It's like reading an advertisement. TG need to get their shit together.

  2. For a price like that Subaru can do a much better job. Reviews are unanimous in saying the engine is anemic. Everything in Subaru is expensive. Running cost and maintenance are high. So why would anyone buy a car that doesn't excite but can cause a hole in the pocket?

    1. Honestly, price per price, the offerings of Subaru more or less are neck to neck with the offerings of others, like Toyota or Mazda. For example, the XV is more or less as expensive as the CX-3, but it's much larger, has a higher ground clearance, has X-Mode, hill assist, better AWD and is more fuel efficient. The CX-3 is more comfortable and is, "omg fun to drive connection with the road who cares about comfort and jittery suspension and bad NVH" though.

  3. Its an expensive car at 1.5M. Electric power steering is inconsistent and driving experience is worsened by the underpowered engine.

    1. The CRV and CX5 both have underpowered 2.0L engines at 1.5M. I don't hear anyone complaining about it.

    2. Sportage is a beast compared to those sissies and it starts at 1.3M

    3. Agreed. Sportage has the best value and has the power to boot. The only issue is its looks, questionable reliability and horrible aftersales services. At 1.5M it truly is the winner.

    4. Anon 7:39...both are a lot bigger cars. That's the point, what they're saying is the XV should've been more sprightly to drive because of its smaller size.

    5. Maybe its because of the Subaru's AWD?

    6. You're getting 4WD, many safety aids and infotainment that the Korean counterparts don't have (as well as a much better touch interface), reliability and interior space that's awesome for a subcompact crossover.

      I'll still choose the HR-V over this because it's more comfortable, fuel efficient and has even better interior space, but this is much more usable than a Trax, i20 or CX-3.

      And for the stupid one comparing them to bigger cars, compare the Forester to them.

    7. Comparison should be done at the price since the budget is what most buyers start with in buying a car. At this price point you can have the Tucson or Sportage at 1.3-1.5M and their huge six figure discount. It depends on the buyer if their priority is safety or power and economy.

    8. @anon 9:59AM the sportage has AWD at 1.5M and has a powerful diesel engine. It also has leather seats etc.

    9. @1142, kailan pa naging 1.5M ang price ng sportage na AWD, 1.7m+

    10. Yun yung GT, top of the line nila tag 1.7M. Tignan mo na lang sa price list. May AWD sportage tag 1.5M lang. Basa basa din paminsan.

    11. @0637, ooops sorry, yong GT kasi nabili ko, d ko nakita yong in between entry at top of the line, thanks

  4. I agree. XV is not the most sharply dressed and hottest guy in the parking lot. But he sure can do a good maintenance fix and put the trash out every night. He's a nice a guy and a good company.

    1. He's the type of guy that gets cheated on because he's unexciting.


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