Review: 2022 Subaru XV EyeSight - AWD isn't necessary, but you'd love to have it

Shaun · Apr 2, 2022 10:00 AM

Review: 2022 Subaru XV EyeSight - AWD isn't necessary, but you'd love to have it 01

Within a span of just three months, parts in Klang Valley had been struck by severe flood incidents and it’s obvious where this is going – the argument for a SUV/crossover has just gotten a little stronger. So, our order of the day here is the 2022 Subaru XV facelift with EyeSight.

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Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should buy SUVs/crossovers to go swimming in floods. What I am saying is that they stand a better fighting chance of escaping such scenarios, and the Subaru XV with the famed Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system, 220 mm ground clearance, and all its electronic wizardry gives it an edge over the competition.

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In its renewed fight against the Honda HR-V and Toyota Corolla Cross, the 2022 Subaru XV facelift now gets the EyeSight suite of ADAS as standard. Other additions include the Dual-Function X-Mode and SI-Drive mode selector to toggle between throttle mappings. But as far as facelifts go, this is a fairly subtle one.

Also read: EyeSight ADAS as standard, 2022 Subaru XV launched in Malaysia; priced from RM 140k

Exterior – Still an Impreza on stilts

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From the outside, changes as so subtle that even if you were to park this and the pre-facelift model side-by-side, it would still be like playing a game of spot the difference.

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There’s a new front grille with V-shaped slits in place of the previous honeycomb-style pattern and the front bumper has been tweaked with even more black cladding. And that’s pretty much it really, the rest of the car looks nigh on identical.

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Everything is still angular and rugged, with zero design flair unlike Mazdas. But personally, I quite like how the Subaru XV looks, certainly more than its bigger sibling, the Subaru Forester.

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The GT Edition kit you see here adds a front lip, side skirts, rear bumper garnish with silver highlights, and a more aggressive rear spoiler along with unique 17-inch wheels. I was indifferent to the kit at first but now that I’m used to seeing it, the regular variant now looks “bald” to me. But it’s all down to individual preferences.

Interior – All about being functional

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Moving inside, it’s pretty much identical to the pre-facelift with its angular design, from the air vents to the seat pattern. I like the wraparound effect on the top of the dashboard that flows into the door cards, creating a sense of cohesiveness.

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Build and material quality wise, there’s not much to fault. Everything feels well put together and all touch points are covered in either leather or soft-touch plastics. The contrasting stitches add a hint of spice to the interior.

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The new infotainment system that was introduced last year is a much-improved unit from before, with a crisper display and more pleasing user interface. Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity is supported as well, addressing one of the biggest complaints we had for the earlier models.

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There’s a bit of learning curve when it comes to operating all of the functions on the steering wheel at first, figuring out which buttons control the Multi-Function Display mounted at the top of the dashboard and the instrument cluster. But once familiar, it’s quite a doddle to navigate through the settings.

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Space wise, it’s adequate for averaged-size adults in the rear. A colleague who stands at 174 cm tall has about two tennis balls worth of kneeroom and one tennis ball of headroom. While we’re at the rear, there’s still no rear air vents, which is a bummer.

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Also still a bummer is the rather tiny boot space, rated at 385 litres. Cargo area is short, boot opening aperture is small, and the boot floor height is on the taller side. This is a potential deal-breaker for those who require a large cargo area.

Also read: Subaru XV facelift vs Toyota Corolla Cross in Malaysia: Practicality isn't the only yardstick

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Driving Experience – The theme is smooth

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The powertrain remains unchanged in this facelift exercise – a 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated boxer engine paired to a CVT. It behaves as before, with a buttery smooth and linear power delivery.

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Refinement is perhaps the Subaru XV’s forte. There’s virtually no vibration from the engine (that can be felt from the cabin at least) and it’s inaudible when cruising along. It feels almost like an EV when pootling along at city speeds.

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Steering is nicely weighted with a rather quick turning ratio that makes the XV feel reactive to inputs. Though one characteristic I personally find to be slightly off-putting is the weak self-centering effect on the steering. It makes the steering feel inert and less fluid around corners, but this could be intentional from suspension geometry setup.

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Brakes are fantastic. The firm pedal feel provides absolute confidence in its stopping ability and it’s also easy to modulate.

Put the Subaru XV through a set of bends and the low centre of gravity courtesy of the powetrain becomes quite evident. It feels, as cliché as it may sound, like a sedan/hatchback in the way it manages body roll.

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Overcook a corner, and the torque vectoring system applies individual braking to reel in any understeer. It’s an uncanny feeling when you’re expecting the car to wash wide but the system just pulls the car back into the intended line. 

And that’s the Subaru XV’s USP. The car is constantly detecting any slip or loss of traction at any given moment and is ready to combat it, maximising all the available traction. It gives an unshakable sense of stability when combined with its handling prowess.

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The newly-added EyeSight is one of the better-calibrated systems. The adaptive cruise control's stop and go function accelerates and brakes gently, depending on the settings chosen.

Ride Comfort - Brilliant suspension, mediocre seats

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There are very few cars of which I have no qualms at all in the suspension department, and the Subaru XV is one of them. Regardless of the road surface, the XV keeps its composure and soaks up imperfections with ease, without any thumping or clunking noises from the suspension.

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Compared to the Toyota Corolla Cross, the XV has a firmer edge that gives a slight sense of sportiness but not at the expense of ride comfort. It’s quite an impressive feat, really.

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In terms of absolute comfort however, the Corolla Cross still takes the cake because of its seats. I find that the XV’s seats are rather flat, lacking in sculpture and support. It’s decent in isolation but when compared to the Corolla Cross, it’s just not as comfortable and cosy.

Also read: Pros and Cons: Almost perfect, the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid is why good is good enough

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The Subaru XV is an inherently quiet car with minimal noise generated from the mechanical aspects of the car, powertrain or suspension. As such, cabin noise levels are generally low, with tyre noise only creeping in at higher speeds.

Fuel consumption

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In an equal mix of city and highway driving, the Subaru XV’s fuel consumption is calculated at 9.0-litre/100 km.

Being an all-wheel drive model with more weight and driveline losses, the Subaru XV understandably consumes more fuel than its FWD rivals like the Honda HR-V (7-litre/100 km) and Toyota Corolla Cross (6.8-litre/100 km)

Conclusion

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In this price bracket of RM 140k to RM 150k, choices are aplenty in the SUV market. None, however, with the all-weather, all-road-condition capability of the Subaru XV.

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While I do agree to a certain extent that you don’t need all-wheel drive or the electronic gizmos found in the XV, especially if you don’t intend to go off road. But the added sense of security is something intangible and all it takes is just one experience in a sketchy road condition or flash flood to make it all worthwhile.

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If it weren’t for the relatively small boot, the Subaru XV would’ve been an easy recommend and that’s from a purely objective standpoint. In reality, the boot size isn’t its biggest obstacle, it’s the badge. I’ve had friends and even relatives dismiss the XV just because it’s a Subaru.

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But if you’re not one to judge a car by its badge, do give the Subaru XV a try. A fellow colleague had fallen head over heels for it having done so. Who knows? You might too.

Also read: Pros and Cons: 2022 Subaru XV facelift, driving sophistication at the cost of space

Shaun

Writer

The quest for automotive knowledge began as soon as the earliest memories. Various sources information, even questionable ones, have been explored including video games, television, magazines, or even internet forums. Still stuck in that rabbit hole.

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