COMPETITION is a funny thing. It can bring out the best and worst in people. What it can also do is point out some obvious differences between competing entities, even if those entities are on the same team. Take the 2020 Subaru XV Hybrid AWD for example.
For many years now, Subaru have gone about things a little differently to most of the market. Starting back with the utilisation of the boxer motor, symmetrical AWD, and now technologies like the e-Boxer and its global platform which underpins all its vehicles.
Subaru as a brand has very much forged its own path rather than pander or succumb to market pressure. The epitome of this philosophy is the 2020 Subaru XV Hybrid AWD, presented here in the exclusive and eye-catching Lagoon Blue Pearl.
The exterior has some minor changes compared to its petrol-only siblings, which are pretty much limited to the slimline roof rails, colour changes to some of the trimmings and front grille fascia, and e-Boxer badging.
At the heart of the XV Hybrid is a 2.0-litre petrol e-Boxer 4-cylinder engine which is accompanied by an electric motor with a compact battery, designed to assist the petrol engine to deliver improved acceleration, and more efficient fuel economy.
Power is rated at 110kW and 196Nm for the petrol engine and 12.3kW and 66Nm for the electric motor. Unfortunately, the power train can sound a little harsh and unrefined at times, despite smooth delivery thanks to Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT transmission.
It also has slightly different gear ratios in M mode when compared to the petrol only models, but is able to deliver a combined fuel consumption figure of 6.5-litres/100km. That’s just 0.5-litres more efficient than the petrol only models.
It’s not quite as much as you might expect from a hybrid. Where the XV Hybrid starts to make more sense though, is in city or urban driving. It’s here that it’s 1.3-litres/100km more efficient than the petrol models.
This is significant because this is where you will spend most of your driving time, and goes some way to justifying the price premium the XV Hybrid demands. It’s worth noting that auto stop/start features on all XV models.
Inside, the XV is a pleasant place to be, with plenty of quality leather, contrast stitching and a variety of touch surfaces which give both a feel of quality and sporting character. Overall, the design is modern and inviting with subtle sports inspired elements.
It gives a nod to Subaru’s racing pedigree of times gone by. The hybrid XV is also loaded with cutting edge technology to provide you with an abundance of information and feedback on your driving experience.
Between the display screen in the dash cluster and the multi-information display unit at the top of the centre console, you will have all the driving data you could ever need. Both screens are easy to read and navigation is as simple as the touch of a button.
Smartphone connectivity is well covered thanks to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, all made easier and more intuitive to use thanks to the 6.5-inch LCD touchscreen. It operates like a smartphone too, with touch, swipe and pinch haptics.
DAB+ digital radio is also included. Again, it’s worth nothing that the 2.0i-L and S petrol AWD models get an 8-inch touchscreen. As you might expect, if you’ve experienced the petrol variants, safety in the Subaru XV is top class.
Technologies such as EyeSight driver assist and vision assist give you feedback on what is in front and beside you at all times, while the state-of-the-art reverse camera with rear cross traffic alert and reverse automatic braking will take care of what’s behind you.
EyeSight uses dual colour forward facing cameras which constantly scan the road ahead for unexpected dangers. Pre-collision braking and steering assist will then take over when needed to avoid or reduce the severity of any unanticipated impacts.
It also pairs with the adaptive cruise control system which can slow, stop or accelerate to keep a safe distance to the vehicle in front of you. It’s easy to see why the Subaru XV scored a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.
Should you want to take your XV off-road, X-Mode will provide fine-tuned control of the engine, brakes and all-wheel drive system when you are off the beaten track. X-Mode also includes hill descent control to keep the XV steady on slippery downhill surfaces.
Practicality is a hit and miss affair for the Subaru XV though. It can carry five full-sized adults in comfort, even behind the tallest of drivers, but you won’t be taking much of their luggage, thanks to a relatively small 345-litres of boot space.
One of the smaller boots when compared with its competitors, it does however provide adequate in cabin storage, with plenty of cup and bottle holders as well as a large centre console bin.
Speaking of its competitors, being a small crossover style SUV, there are plenty. Its main competition though is likely to come from Subaru’s own XV petrol models.
With the XV Hybrid priced from $40,239 drive away, for $816 more, you could have the XV 2.0i-S AWD model which gains 18-inch wheels, a larger fuel tank, a temporary spare tyre, LED headlights, daytime running lights and dual zone climate control.
It also scores sports pedals, leather accented heated seating with 8-way power adjustment for the driver, satellite navigation and a larger 8-inch LCD touchscreen.
In isolation (no pun intended), the 2020 Subaru XV Hybrid AWD is a very good car, but when you start to look closer and compare apples to apples within the XV range, you really have to wonder if it makes sense.
The price premium and minimal advantages that the hybrid power train brings doesn’t stack up for us. Which pains us to say, as like we said, it is a very good car. If it were our choice though, we’d go with one of the XV petrol siblings.
Our test vehicle was provided by Subaru Australia. To find out more about the 2020 Subaru XV Hybrid AWD, contact your local Subaru dealer.