Mon | Aug 10, 2020

Automotive Review: Subaru XV continues to improve

Published:Sunday | June 14, 2020 | 12:10 AMKareem LaTouche - Automotives Coordinator
The resolution of the rear camera is high, and images are very clean.
The resolution of the rear camera is high, and images are very clean.

The Subaru XV, which is also known as the Crosstrek in many markets, is a compact crossover that is aimed at attracting a younger market for the Japanese brand. It’s a heightened version of the Impreza hatchback with accessories to give it a more aggressive look and some off-road capability.

AN INTERIOR WITH EDGE

The interior has a sporty and adventurous theme with chrome pedals and orange double stitching throughout the cabin.

One of the first things that greeted my eyes was the Starlink infotainment system, which protrudes from the dashboard in a confident manner. It also helps to distinguish a divide between driver and passenger without seeming intrusive. Flanking the sides of the eight-inch screen are vertical air vents with an angular outline. Below them are the three customary temperature knobs that can be found in all Subarus, and then there is a small storage section for cell phones and keys.

In the roof is a tilt-and-slide sunroof, which, due to the heat, I didn’t get a chance to use. However, it’s nice to know that it is there. Other creator comforts include rear a/c vents, which come in very handy, given our current temperature, and ample legroom for a six-footer.

The touchscreen infotainment system is quite simple to use, whether pairing a phone via Bluetooth or answering a call. The audio system for the six speakers is also easy to configure as there is a ‘drag and move’ feature to direct the sound to anywhere in the vehicle.

DRIVING WITH COMFORT

I got a chance to drive the first-generation XV several years ago, and my major gripe was that the CVT transmission felt unresponsive, especially on a hill. Fast-forward some years, and Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT has improved in a tremendous way. It sends power to the wheels when needed and can mimic a seven-speed transmission, which is paired with a two-litre engine. I took it up in the hills of Kingston, where at one point, the gradient was close to 40 degrees, and the vehicle performed confidently.

What is also great is that the mini screen on the dashboard can display the degree of incline or decline of the vehicle and which wheel is receiving power. This is a signature feature of Subaru that off-road enthusiasts are always pleased to see. While it may not be able to do hardcore four-wheel-drive work, it gives the driver as much information to navigate challenging situations. If things get really bad and the driver doesn’t know what to do, he can activate X Mode and let the computer figure it out.

One thing that most drivers love about Subaru is the boxer engine, which gives the vehicle a low centre of gravity. This means that the driver can go around corners at fast speeds without any body roll despite having a high ground clearance of 8.7 inches. The vehicle also feels stable on rugged terrain, like the Caymanas cane fields that I was driving around.

PUTTING COMFORT AND SAFETY AS PRIORITY

Another great improvement from the last model I drove is the suspension. They operate in a truly independent manner to best absorb potholes. The MacPherson strut at the front gave the usual ride comfort, but it was the set-up of the double wishbone at the back that really surprised me. It contorted in every way possible to ensure the vehicle got over any obstacle.

With everyone paying utmost attention to safety, Subaru has been pushing its EyeSight and rear vehicle-detection technology. It basically uses a combination of sensors and cameras to warn the driver of any impending danger. So when I was on the highway and a vehicle was overtaking me on the right-hand side, before I could spot it, a yellow light on the side mirror signalled that something was passing. The visual cue was really appreciated, especially around town, which can be extremely congested. My only concern is that with so many sensors and cameras, replacing one of these mirrors must be expensive. But that is the price for safety and convenience.

The XV is a fun and practical vehicle to have in Jamaica. It is high enough to tackle most of our roads, especially on a rainy day, and there is enough space for luggage. All this makes it a unique blend of practicality and versatility that someone with an adventurous spirit will really appreciate.

Price of tested model, 2020 Subaru XV with EyeSight: $7.5 mil (high spec).

Price range/options: 2020 Subaru XV starts at $6.232 mil

Body type: compact crossover

Engine: two-litre

HP: 153

Torque: 196Nm

Transmission: AWD, CVT

Fuel tank: 63 litres

Standout features:

EyeSight Driver Assist Technology

18-inch aluminium-alloy wheels

Power sliding tilt-adjustable sunroof

Eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat

Vehicle was provided courtesy of Kingston Industrial Garage Ltd, 876-923-6479, sales@kigjamaica.com.

For views and comments, email yl.jamaica@gmail.com.