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Test of the 2nd-gen Subaru XV

by Dorothy M. Drewry

It was a few years ago when I test-drive the second-generation Subaru XV. At the time, buzz about the automaker’s new global platform, as well as two new colors brightening up the smaller Subie crossover.  

As they say, time flies and now I’m writing about an updated version of the best-selling Subaru in the Philippines. Launched worldwide around the second half of last year and arriving in the United States last January, Motor Image Pilipinas, Inc. (MIPI) quickly brought the upgraded XV here, making us one of the first Asian countries to get the updated model.  

With subtle updates and reduced range, is the XV still a good-value compact crossover for you? And what do you think of the performance of Subaru XV Philippines market? I got my hands on the only EyeSight 2.0i-S for this review to find out.


Since this is only a mid-cycle update, Subaru has opted to make only subtle tweaks to its exterior design for the 2021 XV. Among them are the diagonal slats on the grille,  now on the grille. more prominent. The chrome border on either side of the star emblem has also been revised, as has the shape of the contour with LED fog lights.  Another tweak can be found on the wheels, with the rims dropping the ninja star design of its predecessor. This time, the 18-inch two-tone aluminum alloy features intricately designed R spokes. 

And oh, there are new color options for this year’s model, which are Plasma Yellow Pearl, Horizon Blue Pearl, and Magnetite Gray Metallic. Unfortunately, the orange color is lost from the range. 

Overall, the changes are insignificant, but they should be enough to tell you this is an updated model. Not necessarily a bad thing, as the XV is still on par, if not more modern, than its contemporaries.


Three screens, orange leather and stitching – the new 2021 Subaru XV retains its regular shape, although the 8-inch infotainment screen in the center of the dashboard is an updated version with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

Almost everything is soft to the touch, except for a few hard plastic parts hidden outside the touch points. The piano’s black plastic trim is minimal, but I think things around the gear shifters could use some protection for a good lifespan. Space is practically ample inside the 2021 XV, which is not surprising since it’s the largest compact crossover on the market. Headroom and legroom are generous even in the second row, even for those standing six feet away. 

On the other hand, horizontal space is more comfortable when there are only two people in the back. The rear vents are still absent, but that’s fine because the front air-conditioning is sufficient to quickly cool the cabin. Cargo space is another big thing with the XV, further maximized by folding the rear seats flat to reveal nearly 1,200 liters of volume. Loading is a bit high, though, but at least the cargo area is tethered and can be covered by a retractable truck.

Tech & Safety

Subaru is known for its high-tech interiors, and the new XV doesn’t disappoint in that respect. In addition to the updated infotainment, the new display also shows a 360-degree camera view. The EyeSight feature remains the crowning glory of the Subaru family, with an updated version now housed in the upgraded XV.

In addition to the nifty adaptive cruise control – which can be used in city traffic –  sensors and cameras work together for safe journeys. To surmise, the XV’s safety system won’t let you crash into anything or anyone, front or back – something I experienced firsthand a few years ago. 

The right mirror also automatically flips, a very useful upgrade to protect your beautiful rims from damage. In addition, the XV also has other high-tech gadgets such as automatic lights, electronically adjustable seats with memory function, automatic brake hold and a new dual X-Mode. I wasn’t able to test the second version, however, but I’m happy to report that the XV now comes with a speed-sensing door lock, which I noted was missing from the outgoing model.

Driving & Handling

Whether in Sport or Smart mode, the XV’s 2.0-liter boxer engine doesn’t fail to deliver power to all four wheels with urgency. The Lineartronic CVT doesn’t feel like a low-speed CVT, although there is some springy feeling when shifting in the mid and high ranges. The steering, although light and electrically powered, doesn’t feel dull. 

There is also a sense of confidence when attacking slippery situations thanks to the standard symmetrical all-wheel drive system and active torque. In terms of comfort, Subaru says the coils and shock absorbers have been updated on the upgraded model, and I really felt that during testing. While the pre-facelift model can feel a bit harsh on imperfect lanes, the new XV absorbs them better without transferring the impact into the cabin. However, the outside soundproofing needs a bit more improvement, especially at high speeds.

Fuel Consumption

Fuel consumption of the Subaru XV remains the same as before with no change in its oil intake. An hour of a busy city run at  20 km/h escalation yields 8.1 km/L, while a highway sprint with EyeSight at 90 km/h yields 18.1 km /L. It should be noted that there were only two people on board during the energy efficiency tests and with minimal load.


Truth be told, I would be lying to you if I told you that the XV is an affordable car. Even with a steep discount of up to Peso 80,000 for an introductory price of P1,828,000 (through the end of June), the price of admission is still high for the segment. But again, with so many standard safety gears the XV comes with, most notably the award-winning EyeSight technology, the question is whether you want to survive adverse situations or not. prevent it completely. It’s an important choice, but at least for Filipinos of discerning taste and means who don’t want any compromises.

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