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Subaru XV updated for 2021 with fresh front-end, greater hybrid choice

John Law

Subaru has revealed an updated 2021 XV ahead of its Australian launch with greater equipment levels, updated front-end styling, a striking Plasma Yellow Pearl hue joining the colour palette, and a new range-topping Hybrid ‘S’ variant.

The main focus of the XV’s mid-life refresh is to address driving criticisms of the XV, with the Japanese marque adding its adjustable drive modes with SI-Drive from the Impreza and a sportier program for the CVT transmission.

There has also been a small price bump reflective of the extra equipment, the entry-level 2021 XV starts from $29,690, an increase of $450. A full price list appears at the end of this article.

2021 Subaru XV Horizon Blue
The new XV gets more wheels choice and a fresh face.

Speaking of the updated vehicle Blair Read, General Manager of Subaru Australia said: “We have a formidable list of technology and cosmetic changes across the XV range, which make already comprehensive specification lists even more feature-packed”.

Outside the updates to the XV are subtle and restricted to the front end. That said, the new more angular bumper and blacked-out grille add some needed aggression, as do the more polygonal foglight surrounds. New design alloy wheels finish off the attractive but quirky appearance of the XV rather well in our eyes.

The XV has always been a peculiar player in the compact crossover segment among names like the Kia Seltos and Honda HR-V. Subaru has cornered a niche by giving the XV bonafide off-road credentials courtesy of a full-time four-wheel-drive system and meaningful ground clearance, it’s one of the few small SUVs that might actually make it in the bush.

2021 Subaru XV Plasma Yeloow
Not pictured here but the XV is a rare compact SUV with real off-road chops.

Subaru’s quirkiness remains in full force under the bonnet of the XV where the brand offers a two-litre boxer four-cylinder with reasonable outputs of 110kW and 196Nm. That’s mated to a CVT gearbox exclusively.

The new tuning program of the CVT gearbox brings more natural engine braking characteristics and improved throttle response. That’s teamed with revised suspension settings that Subaru reckons will make the new XV a better steer.

For 2021 the specification levels have been bolstered across the range, though the entry-level XV 2.0i is pretty sparse and misses out on active safety features including rear AEB, rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring. Still, it gets power-folding mirrors added to the spec sheet.

2021 Subaru XV Horizon Blue
Spec bumps occur across the XV range for 2021.

For 2021 the 2.0i-L sees no changes, so the next step up is the XV 2.0i Premium, where the good stuff starts – it gets Subaru’s full EyeSight active safety suite including blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, rear AEB and front-view monitor.

The Premium builds on the base spec with a larger eight-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, off-road mode, leather-appointed steering wheel and shifter with fabric-appointed seats, and for 2021 the power-fold mirrors get heating elements added.

Topping out the petrol-only XV range is the 2.0i-S used to only see leather-accented seats over the Premium. Now it gets a power-adjust driver’s seat with two-position memory, piano-black centre console highlights and stitched leather dash-top.

2021 Subaru XV Plasma Yellow profile
And a new colour – Plasma Yellow. Quirky.

But the big news for 2020 came in the shape of a Hybrid XV which combined that two-litre boxer with a 12kW/66Nm electric motor. Not massive outputs, but enough to drop the claimed fuel consumption to, err, 6.5L/100km, or similar to that claimed by Skoda’s Karoq

Anyway, there are now two specification levels for the XV hybrid starting with the L which mirrors the 2020 Hybrid, though it gets the updated E-Active shift control for more natural engine braking, a larger eight-inch touchscreen and DAB radio for 2021.

The range-topping XV is now the Hybrid S which mirrors the petrol-powered S specification save for the option of Horizon Blue Pearl – replacing Quartz Blue Pearl – as a bespoke hybrid colour choice.

2021 Subaru XV Pricing

All prices are before on-road costs.

Subaru XV 2.0i AWD – $29,960 (up $450)
Subaru XV 2.0i-L AWD – $31,990 (up $380)
Subaru XV 2.0i Premium AWD – $34,590 (up $1,170)
Subaru XV Hybrid L AWD – $35,490 (down $90)
Subaru XV 2.0i-S AWD – $37,290 (up $760)
Subaru XV Hybrid S AWD – $40,790 (New model)

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