2020 Subaru XV Hybrid AWD review

Does the battery-electric XV provide enough benefits to justify the additional cost?

Subaru XV Hybrid AWD

What is the Subaru XV Hybrid AWD?

This is the electrified version of Subaru’s popular crossover was introduced to the Australian market along with a hybrid version of the Forester mid-sized SUV.

Subaru XV Hybrid AWD

Based on the mid-spec XV 2.0i-L ($31,610), the XV Hybrid AWD retails for $35,580 with the extra $3970 bringing the hybrid powertrain along with additional active safety features.  

What is the Subaru XV Hybrid AWD like to drive?

Subaru calls its e-Boxer hybrid powertrain a mild hybrid, but it does more than usual mild hybrid systems which simply offer a power boost on take-off but don’t drive the vehicles on batteries alone.

However, it is a lot more subtle than other full hybrid powertrains, with the electric motor giving way to engine power at lower speeds and preferring to take up the slack when you’re coasting.

The ‘e-Boxer’ powertrain uses the same engine as a regular XV that's been detuned from 115kW to 110kW with the single 12.3 kW electric motor providing some extra boost - by comparison the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid has 131kW and 88kW electric motors for the front and rear axles respectively.

Subaru XV Hybrid AWD e-Boxer

Any differences between the hybrid and petrol VXs are subtle. Like the petrol versions, the drive is smooth and quiet at lower speeds, though the engine and CVT do protest a little loudly when accelerating to overtake or join freeway traffic. 

And, like the rest of the XV range, the Hybrid is capable on gravel roads and dirt tracks thanks to the permanent AWD system that does a good job of helping to keep the nose straight ahead on loose or slippery surfaces.

Subaru XV Hybrid AWD

It also features the X-Mode hill-crawl function, which helps the XV climb slippery slopes, and the hill descent control that helps it get you back down, both work well, giving this small SUV some real-world off-road ability.

According to Subaru, the hybrid system further improves traction because of the more precisely controlled torque distribution, though I didn’t get a chance to test this.

Subaru XV Hybrid AWD

Of course, the big question is, what about fuel economy?

Well, it’s not too different from petrol XVs either. The XV Hybrid has a claimed combined fuel consumption of 6.5L/100km compared to the XV 2.0i-L's 7.0L/100km. The bigger Toyota RAV Hybrid’s fuel consumption is as low 4.7L/100km.

My driving which was mostly on city streets and freeways was generally around Subaru’s claim. I averaged around 6.7L/100km but got down to 5.9L/100km for a while after making a concerted effort to rest my lead foot.

What is the Subaru XV Hybrid AWD like to live with?

The Subaru is a charming small SUV that brings many of the user-friendly characteristics from the Impreza small car on which it’s based.

That includes the cabin design, which looks sharp and plays to the XV’s adventurous image with attractive contrasting stitching that that adorns the cabin and comfortable cloth seats.

Subaru XV Hybrid AWD

The rear seat easily accommodates two big adults and there is good side and front vision for rear occupants, along with face-level air vents.

The 310-litre boot space is a little below the average for small SUV. In the 2.0i-L this is justified by having a full-size spare wheel under the boot floor, but in the Hybrid the space is taken up by batteries, which means you have to make do with a puncture repair kit that isn’t ideal if taking your XV off the beaten track. The rear-seats split 60:40 to extend load space up to 765 litres.

If you need to tow anything the XV Hybrid can lug a braked trailer up to 1270kg, which is 130kg less than the petrol versions.

Of course being a Subaru the XV comes with plenty of technology, including the third generation of Subaru’s EyeSight that uses two cameras to identify other vehicles, pedestrians, and objects in front. Among its functions are forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist.

Subaru XV Hybrid AWD

EyeSight also has a handy feature that alerts you when the car in front has driven off, should you become distracted while waiting at an intersection.

The XV Hybrid is the only variant apart from the fully-equipped XV 2.0-S to have the full suite of safety features that also includes rain-sensing windscreen wipers, dusk-sensing headlights, blind-spot monitoring, lane-change assistance, rear cross-traffic alert and reverse auto-braking.

Subaru XV Hybrid AWD

Infotainment wise, the XV Hybrid AWD has a small 6.5-inch touchscreen with the convenience of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring, AM/FM/digital radio and a CD player, which is becoming a rarity these days.

Is Subaru XV Hybrid AWD good value?

Spending just shy of $4000 more on the XV Hybrid AWD over the XV 2.0i-L, while also bringing the full list of safety features, doesn’t seem worth it when you consider you’re only reducing your fuel consumption by about 19 percent.

Subaru XV Hybrid AWD

If you’re going to spend around $36,000 on a Subaru XV you might as go for the XV 2.0i-S range-topper ($36,530) that has all the safety gear along with extra creature comforts including a sunroof, power-adjusted leather seats, heated front seats, bigger 8.0-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation and of course a full-sized spare wheel and bigger towing capacity. 


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