2020 Subaru XV HybridPetrol / electric hybrid vehicles have been around in Australia since Honda and Toyota introduced them about 20 years ago. Subaru recently entered the field with hybrid versions of its two most popular vehicles, the mid-sized Forester and compact XV.

We recently reviewed the Forester and will now look at the XV Hybrid.

The Subaru XV first went on sale in 2012 and quickly struck a chord with ever-reliable Subaru buyers and has been a consistent seller throughout its life. The current (second generation) model arrived midway through 2017 and was one of the earliest Subarus to use the company’s latest global architecture that that has been gradually used in all subsequent models.

Subaru XV Hybrid comes in a single specification level.

On the outside the XV uses a design theme based on sharp edges and bold curves producing a solid profile and no soft styling. The Hybrid gets black roof rails, matt silver foglight trim and an ’eBoxer’ badge on the rear.

The cabin of the XV is light and spacious with a friendly soft-touch material on the dashboard and steering wheel. There’s good leg, head and shoulder room in four seats although, as expected in a relatively small vehicle, the centre-rear seat is best suited to young children.

At 345 litres boot space isn’t great partly because it’s based on the Impreza hatch rather than designed as a wagon.

There’s further bad news below the boot floor because that’s where the batteries are located and therefore there’s no space for even a space-saver spare wheel. Instead there’s a puncture-repair kit, something that’s likely to deter those who may be considering using the car’s AWD and 220 mm ground clearance to take it off-road.

Subaru XV uses a 2.0-litre horizontally-opposed Boxer engine, high-voltage lithium ion battery and Lineartronic continuously variable transmission, with seven manual overrides.

The four-cylinder engine produces 110 kilowatts of power at 6000 rpm and 196 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. The electric motor adds 12.3 kW of power and 66 Nm of torque and is self-charging, capturing kinetic energy through regenerative braking and coasting.

The e-Boxer logic adjusts the power split between petrol and electric to match driving conditions. It automatically changes between three modes: Motor Assist EV driving; Motor Assist electric (EV) + petrol engine driving and engine-only driving.

At low speeds, the vehicle is powered by the electric motor only. A Pedestrian Alert system emits an artificial sound to alert pedestrians who don’t look both ways before crossing the road. The PA system operates when the vehicle speed is 24 km/h or less.

2020 Subaru XV Hybrid

Depending upon the driving environment and vehicle and battery condition, the XV Hybrid can operate in fully electric mode up to 40 km/h.

A cooling system draws air from the cabin to help maintain the battery at operating temperature and to help ensure better longevity.

Subaru XV Hybrid comes with a high level of safety features starting with the basics of seven airbags; ABS brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution; stability and traction control; active torque vectoring; rear view camera and Isofix child seat restrains.

In addition the Hybrid gets Auto Vehicle Hold; Pedestrian Alert as well as Subaru’s advanced Vision Assist and EyeSight systems.

Vision Assist includes Blind Spot Monitor; High Beam Assist; Lane Change Assist; Rear Cross Traffic Alert; and Reverse Automatic Braking.

The excellent camera-based EyeSight system comes with Adaptive Cruise Control; Lane Departure Warning; Lane Sway Warning; Lead Vehicle Start Alert; Pre-Collision Braking System; Pre-Collision Brake Assist; Pre-Collision Throttle Management; and Brake Light Recognition.

The XV Hybrid gets the same 6.3-inch touchscreen as the lower specced XV petrol models. It misses out on embedded SatNav. It does comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Bluetooth connectivity; digital radio; six-speaker sound system; and voice command recognition. There’s just one USB socket.

2020 Subaru XV Hybrid

The instant torque that’s such a great feature of electric power provides makes the Subaru XV Hybrid sharp off the mark and for overtaking acceleration.

Although handling is somewhat hampered by the extra ground clearance Subaru XV gets closer than any of its competitors in terms of driving enjoyment.

The lower centre of gravity and greater rigidity provides excellent driving dynamics both on and off the bitumen.

When cornering, there is little evidence of body roll and it doesn’t get fazed by any rapid changes in direction.

The electric power steering is well-weighted and provides plenty of feel on both bitumen and loose surfaces. The steering wheel is both reach and tilt adjustable.

The ride is a firm, pliant and well-controlled.

The combination of a 220 mm ground clearance, all-wheel drive, Subaru’s X-Mode system and Hill Descent gives the little SUV pretty good off-road ability in moderate terrain.

The biggest problem with the XV Hybrid, as it was with the equivalent Forester, is the minimal reduction in fuel consumption. At 6.5 litres per 100 kilometres it’s only marginally below the 7.0 L/100 km of the petrol-only XV. Likewise the equally important CO2 emission number of 147 grams per kilometre is only 12 g/km lower.

That criticism aside Subaru XV remains our favourite compact SUV due to its overall high build quality, outstanding safety level and excellent driving dynamics.


2.0i: $29,240 (CVT)
2.0i-L: $31,610 (CVT)
2.0i Premium: $33,420 (CVT)
2.0i-S: $36,530 (CVT)
2.0 Hybrid: $35,580 (CVT)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Subaru dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Subaru XV 2.0 Hybrid 2.0-litre petrol/electric hybrid SUV)

Capacity: 1.995 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders horizontally opposed
Maximum Power: 110 kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 196 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Fuel Type: Standard unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.5 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 147 g/km

DRIVELINE: Continuously variable automatic

Length: 4465 mm
Wheelbase: 2665 mm
Width: 1800 mm
Height: 1595 mm
Turning Circle: 10.8 metres
Kerb Mass: 1536 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 48 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc

Five years / unlimited kilometres

About Alistair Kennedy

Alistair Kennedy is Automotive News Service and Marque Publishing's business manager and the company's jack-of-all-trades. An accountant by profession, he designs the Marque range of motoring book titles, operates the company's motoring bookshop on the NSW Central Coast and the associated web site, as well as its huge digital and hard copy database. Whenever we can escape from the office he does so to cover new vehicle releases and contributes news stories. Alistair's other interests include cricket and family history on which he has written three books.
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