Subaru XV: the new contender in the Crossover SUV market

 Subaru XV_2 We can presume that a 1.4 tons for a Subaru XV 2.0-liter is light for its class as most cars in this category are usually 1.5 tons and above. The AWD system is not as economical as a RWD system because power is transferred to four wheels instead of two wheels, therefore more power efficiency is loss in the drive train.

We thought long, in-depth about the Boxer powerplant inside Subaru XV Crossover Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) during our recent trials of the Subaru XV courtesy of Motor Image. Does it really make that much difference to a Crossover or an SUV, which is in the first place meant to be higher off the ground, a comfort drive and an off-road vehicle. The Boxer powerplant is usually used for additional stability, which is why they are more common in aircrafts not in cars, much less in Crossovers or SUVs. If it was used in cars it was probably for Supercars or high performance cars. So, what’s Subaru up to? Here’s a couple of reasons; one, Subaru stuck to their existing Boxer engine platform to reduce cost of developing a new engine and two, they just didn’t want to include a new engine as they already have a proven platform. However, we strongly believe that a Subaru XV diesel would do a lot of good than the existing petrol version. Think about it, there are already plenty of petrol-engined Crossovers or SUVs in the country; the Honda CRV, Ford Escape, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5, Mitsubishi ASX and more. In the case of the Subaru XV, Motor Image has decided to play it safe rather than set the Crossover apart from other car manufacturers. We figured that the Subaru XV diesel version would be 25% more fuel efficient and deliver higher torque to pull the XV’s 1.4 tons weight. Be that as it may, the Subaru XV is the first Crossover SUV with a Boxer engine, which entails a more stable ride and supposedly better road holding. Our writer, however, is insisting that the Boxer engine isn’t a necessity for the Crossover SUV.

Subaru XV_2

From an efficiency standpoint, there are two factors that will bear down on the consumption for this vehicle. Firstly is the weight of 1.4 tons. Secondly it’s a AWD Symmetrical. These two combinations are major negative factors on fuel economics. We can presume that a 1.4 tons for a Subaru XV 2.0-liter is light for its class as most cars in this category are usually 1.5 tons and above. The AWD system is not as economical as a RWD system because power is transferred to four wheels instead of two wheels, therefore more power efficiency is loss in the drive train. The Subaru XV is equipped with a CVT gearbox which works effectively on a normal drive when the engine management continuously shifts to the most efficient torque band, maintaining the general cruising speed. Our Subaru XV test unit averaged 9.6 liters of petrol per 100km or 10.41 km per liter, against the spec. sheets’ 7.84 liters per 100km or 12.76 km per liter. The efficiency we figured wouldn’t have been too bad had it been an Impreza or an STI WRX. Parts for the Subaru XV are scarce at the moment, but with the extended warranty the buyer shouldn’t be concerned. The Subaru XV is assembled domestically, hence necessary parts should be within the expected price range. The Subaru XV’s second-hand market value is another matter altogether.

Subaru XV

The Subaru XV is built for comfort first and foremost, with a bit of push whenever situations call for it. Acceleration was a struggle but bearble for a Crossover SUV, we have to understand, that acceleration is always also better in an AWD car. This is simply because there is more traction from stand still. More traction means better acceleration. It’s usually at higher speeds when we begin to see the down sides of having an AWD. AWD needs more power to be efficient. Acceleration from standstill would be better, but at higher speeds wind resistance and road surface traction would become opposing forces that unnecessarily burden the car. Whereas, a rear wheel drive (RWD) or front wheel drive (FWD) would not burden as much. In a nutshell, the Subaru XV’s decently quick, even during up the hill climb. We were surprised that it was able to accelerate at a fairly quick pace, but mind you we were frequently flooring the accelerator. We had to squeeze every bit of engine performance to get it to move uphill at a relative quicker pace.

Subaru XV AWD Symmetrical emblem

Another advantage of an AWD Symmetrical is handling. As there are four wheels that are continuously providing traction to the road surface. This minimizes slippage, which is more common on front/rear wheel drives. Steering at the front can also be more devoted to steering the vehicle rather than propelling and turning the vehicle, therefore increasing turning precision. With the boxer engine and the AWD’s equal traction distribution, our Subaru XV test unit performed superbly at corners. Noticeable under steers were detected under extreme corners, but negligible for an SUV. The Subaru XV performed admirably at twists and turns as the Crossover stayed glued to the road and body rolls were rather minimal, thanks to a firmer rear suspension setup, the Traction control and Vehicle Dynamics Control. The writer did feedback a tad bit of skidding, presumably on extreme corners. In addition, Subaru did not skimp on the suspension set up of the XV as the Crossover is equipped with 4-wheel independent raised suspension, front strut type with lower L-arm with stabilizer bar and rear double wishbone, stabilizer bar. The 17″ alloy wheels would have been better if they were 18″ wheels in minimizing body rolls on twisty roads.

Subaru XV_Kenwood 7-inch touch screen Subaru XV interior, dashboard overview Subaru XV boot space

The Subaru XV felt sturdy and solidly built, and on an overall sense, felt safe. Lets go through the ABCs and safety features; the XV is incorporated with Subaru AWD Symmetrical, 4-wheel anti-lock braking systems (ABS), Brake Assist (BA), ample Airbags and Rollover sensor. The XV also comes standard with rear view camera, which is displayed in what seems like an after market LED Kenwood touch screen. Why we say after market, because the controls in the steering does not seem to be able to control the audio unit. The Subaru XV is also accommodated with 5- star Euro NCAP.

Though our Subaru XV test unit handled relatively well, it didn’t really absorb potholes’ impacts to the best of our expectations and whenever the accelerator was floored hard the engine noise became very apparent in the cabin. These are grey areas Motor Image might want to look into. One more of thing, the audio system should be an OE fitted equipment instead of an after market product, for driver’s convenience and such. Ample storage compartments and a large enough boot space should suffice camping trips, golf excursions and out-of-town rendezvous. The writer is most annoyed that the Subaru XV is completely covered with hard plastic. He deemed the XV’s dashboard actually felt unrefined, but not cheap unrefined. It’s a bit like sitting in a hard plastic shell. The seat belt alarm was like a siren that one would hear in a prison. Every time the siren goes off we would rush to put on our seat belt, even when we should be focusing on the road to avoid another car. Subaru should learn a cue from Europeans on how to include a more subtle reminder alarm. A gentle but annoying reminder is better than a fire alarm or prison inmates’ alarm for that matter.

Subaru XV_3

For RM 151,226 OTR with insurance, the Subaru XV is a tad over-priced but there are technologies and innovations incorporated in this Crossover package that make the Subaru XV a prime choice when it comes to Crossover SUVs. This is the first CKD Crossover SUV that is produced by Motor Image (Subaru Malaysia), and they are surely on the right track. Is it worth RM 150,000 plus? Yes, with a unique stable Boxer engine to a nice CVT gearbox, on good suspension set up and an AWD drive system; this is actually very close to being a great car. The Subaru XV is priced on the premium  for a Japanese Crossover SUV, but one ought to have a closer inspection on what’s inside and out.

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