There was a time that having an all-wheel-drive (AWD) at your disposal meant that you were living on the fringes. This meant that one was always dealing with rough terrain or their ideal home (or vacation) was in the great outdoors. Nowadays, you’ll find these rough-and-ready vehicles parked outside the office or living out their lives between suburbia and the metropolis.
Times have indeed changed as what were once viewed as unnecessary vehicles in the city have become, more or less, a common sight in the concrete jungle. Subaru is no stranger in making AWD vehicles and have always produced cars good for on and off-road use.
One such model that has proved to be a hit with the motoring public is the XV. First launched around six years ago, it was essentially an Impreza on stilts albeit sleeker and dare I say more practical. Given a mid-cycle facelift last year, we recently took it for a spin to see what Subaru improved on.
Personally, I have always liked how the XV looks even though it strongly resembles the sedan from which it is based off. It was nice to see that Subaru only gave the 2016 XV minor alterations. For starters, the front fascia now has a more prominent chrome grill, as well as new L-shaped foglight accents. Meanwhile, the headlights now have a clearer design which I really liked. This being the base model, it does not come with LED daytime running lights.
Around the back, the 2016 XV gets new C-shaped taillights with LED lighting. While there was nothing wrong with the previous design, the new clear finish was off putting for some as I found out when I asked some of my colleagues. The 17-inch black alloy wheels may look the same but they actually have a slightly different design compared to the previous set.
One may also notice that this particular tester has a subtle bodykit called the Crosstrek Aero Kit. I was unsure at first by the looks of it but ultimately, it gave the crossover a sportier look and complemented the Dark Blue Pearl paint. Subaru will even throw the bodykit for free for a limited time.
Climb aboard and almost everything has been retained for the 2016 refresh. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, in fact, I like the XV's no-nonsense interior design. Everything inside the 2016 XV is where you expect them to be. It's clutter free and very ergonomic.
A mix of hard- and soft-touch plastic envelopes the cabin and is spruced up by the orange stitching which contrasts the pre-dominantly gray interior . The brightly-colored trim can be seen on the seen on the steering wheel, leather seats, shifter boot and door panels as well. I also liked the natural driving position of the XV. Every time I got into the XV, it actually felt like I was driving a low-slung sedan, not a high-riding vehicle.
An entry-level model this may be, Subaru still made sure to pack the 2016 XV with plenty of in-car amenities. It gets automatic climate control, touchscreen infotainment that supports AM/FM radio, Bluetooth, USB, Aux and CD, cruise control and has a multi-info display on both the instrument panel and center dash. It even comes with headlight level adjusters and, more importantly, vehicle stability control.
Delivering power to all four wheels is a 2.0-liter Boxer engine. Internally known as the FB20, the flat-four produces 150 PS at 6200 rpm along with 196 Nm of torque at 4200 rpm. It is then mated to Subaru's Lineartronic CVT and Symmetrical AWD system.
Power from the horizontally-opposed engine was sufficient though I did find that most of the flat-four's power is at the mid-range. I'm guessing Subaru set up the XV's powertrain to focus on fuel economy rather than outright performace. Nonetheless, the CVT and 2.0-liter engine are well-matched for city driving. Once you're at cruising speeds, the engine hums along quietly at around 1700 rpm.
Overtaking with the XV has to be done with commitment and timing when in automatic mode. Switching the transmission to manual mode mends that, however, allowing me to make full use of the powerband and play with the six 'simulated' gear ratios.
With a low center of gravity and symmetrical all-wheel-drive, handling the XV was a cinch. As this is technically a raised Impreza, the XV was able to take on the bends admirably. Honestly, the XV has the most car-like handling out of all the crossovers that I've driven. There was some body roll but then again, you are in a crossover, not in a sleek sedan. The car's steering is slightly on the light side but stiffens up nicely when driving at significant speeds. Ride comfort, on the other hand, is just right as there was still some bumps that can be felt when going over rutted streets or rough terrain.
For fuel economy, the XV is quite fuel efficient. In normal city driving, the XV is capable of averaging around 9 km/l. Take it out on the expressways and it will be able to return 15 km/l. Not bad for an all-wheel-drive 2.0-liter crossover.
Retailing for PhP 1,348,000, it is Subaru's most affordable crossover. It has decent power, plenty of in-car features, handles well and can easily carry plenty of luggage. Being the base model, it does lose some key features like the power sunroof, power folding side mirrors, reverse camera, HID headlights and aluminum pedals. Those can be found as standard on the 2.0i Premium which sells for PhP 190,000 more.
So what's my take on the 2016 XV? For me, it's a well-built, well-appointed crossover that was specifically built for the city. While it does have AWD and a rugged pedigree, it's the type of car that will draw active lifestyle individuals. With just enough ground clearance and pep, it's great for taking on dirt trails or for those weekend getaways that demand little to no off-roading.
It may be put out of pasture soon, but Subaru's smallest crossover still presents great value for those who want their first crossover from Gunma.