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November 26, 2019

Want A Better Drive? Skip the Forester and Get the Subaru XV Instead

I’ll let you in on a little secret: if you’re on the fence and can’t decide whether you should get the Subaru XV or the Forester, take my advice and go straight for the smaller, quirkier one. Sure, utility is a bit compromised here, but it more than makes up for it in other areas including better on-road dynamics.

Typically, Subaru doesn’t get their compact SUV wrong; after all, it’s their bread-and-butter model loved more by enthusiasts than soccer moms. Sadly, it seems their marketers got in the way of their engineers and as a result, came up with a rather sedate crossover. In the end, the Forester is so boring it makes the RAV4 seem promising by comparison (spoiler alert: it’s not).

But where does that leave the enthusiast? The one who wants a bit more fire between his loins even if his favored six-star badge doesn’t offer a turbocharged engine upfront anymore? Well, there’s always the Subaru XV.

Frankly, the Subaru XV isn’t all that exciting, but next to the Forester? Well, at least it’s still a zip code away from yawns-ville; as opposed to the Forester which has already taken residence there. From the get-go, the 2.0-liter motor is a better match to this smaller, lighter crossover. Not only does the speedometer climb up faster, but more importantly, it doesn’t sound like a couple of zebras getting castrated. Oh, and the best part? The fuel mileage is way, way better—14 percent better than the Forester at 7.14 km/L (average speed of 14 km/h).

Oh, and thanks to the magic of the Subaru Global 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. There’s a bit of floatiness and some body roll, but compared to the Forester, it’s more controlled here. Togther with the smaller, lighter body, the quicker steering also lends to a more sporting character with good precision and copious amounts of grip.

The Subaru XV’s added sportiness may have been the inspiration for this sporty body kit dubbed the “GT Edition.” Now, personally, I’m never a big fan of body kits. I’ve always believed that if designers did their job right the first time, they wouldn’t have to fix things “in post,” or in this case with aftermarket appendages. But I do have to admit that the Subaru XV GT Edition actually looks nice, especially compared to the lukewarm Subaru XV STI Performance from a generation ago. It’s as if former Subaru designer Jack Kobayashi saved the best styling bits when it was his name (and not his company) that was on the byline.

Moving inside, the Subaru XV presents itself as a clear-cut, easy-to-use vehicle. And while there are attempts to spruce it up with the added orange stitching, the name of the game here is KISS or Keeping It Simple, Stupid. With that, everything is easy to understand; all operated via big knobs and buttons. Material choices aren’t really a standout, but they feel sturdy and well-wearing—a perfect match for this crossover’s overall character and vibe. Oh, but if there’s one thing I’d like to nitpick here is that the fit and finish of the XV GT Edition’s leather seats could use some work. The added silver highlights do liven things up, but the sewing work is crooked in places.

In terms of space utilization, there’s almost nothing to complain about the 2018 Subaru XV. There’s ample head, shoulder, and leg room with a wide range of adjustments for the driver. That said, the sunroof does rob some headroom for the rear middle passenger and the cargo hold itself doesn’t really qualify as cavernous.

Priced at P 1.768 million (without discounts), the Subaru XV GT Edition is P 100,000 more than the Subaru XV 2.0i-S (without discounts) on which it’s based on. It is a high price to pay for what’s essentially just an aesthetics upgrade. Whatever you think though, its value proposition cannot be ignored. It’s well-kitted for the price. It gets 18-inch wheels, steering responsive LED headlights, moon roof, leather seats with power adjustment for the driver, auto-dimming rear view mirror, dual zone climate control, 7 airbags, ABS, stability control, X-Mode, blind spot and rear cross-traffic alert, a 360-degree camera (still in the experimentation stage), all-wheel drive, and of course, the Subaru EyeSight system. For those keeping track, this equipment makes it more loaded than even the top-trim Forester 2.0i-S EyeSight!

That along with the fact that it drives better and is more fuel efficient is the reason why the Subaru XV has managed to upstage its bigger brother. The Forester now appeals to those with a practical mindset, but its less than stellar powertrain cannot be ignored any further. It severely hampers its appeal for those who want a bit more pep in their family car—a very small consideration, especially I presume they’ve always wanted a WRX before the baby stork came knocking at the window. With that in mind, if you don’t have kids but are still looking for a solid, well-rounded crossover? The Subaru XV fulfills that role now. And if the GT Edition trim doesn’t appeal to you, there’s always the (better) 2.0i-S EyeSight variant.


  1. Those who want a turbocharged Subaru can opt for the Levorg, WRX or WRX STi instead.

  2. I have both the Forester and XV. I use the Forester for family drives. The XV is my daily driver

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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