2021 Subaru XV Hybrid L AWD and 2.0i-S AWD (car review)

THE Subaru XV platform is one of the most popular small SUVs in the country right now. Its practicality, performance, price point and overall driveability makes it a force to be reckoned with.

We drove two of the current XV models, including the Hybrid L and 2.0i-S, before taking a step back and comparing them. Both all-wheel drive, the L is the entry level hybrid, equipped with Subaru’s e-boxer technology.

The 2.0i-S is the top spec non-hybrid variant in the Subaru XV range. Side by side, they are almost identical, with the tell-tale difference being the wheel design. The Hybrid L sports 17-inch wheels, while the 2.0i-S is equipped with 18-inch rolling stock.

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The Hybrid L is available in 10 different colours, while the 2.0i-S is available in only nine. The difference being the Lagoon Blue Pearl paint colour (the colour of our test vehicle). Our 2.0i-S came in the unique Plasma Yellow Pearl.

Inside the cabin, the Hybrid L was finished in a cloth trim with orange stitching. We found this to be fairly interesting considering the XV range is no longer offered in that signature orange paint colour.

A nice leather steering wheel is included, as well as Subaru’s traditional layout consisting of a multi-function display in the driver’s eyeline and 8.0-inch media display.

Our XV 2.0i-S was finished in leather, but the orange stitching remained part of the theme. Between the two models, there is little difference inside the cabin apart from the obvious conveniences which will sometimes make or break a car.

Features such as electric adjustment in the driver’s seat, seat heating, satellite navigation and auto-folding side mirrors. It’s these little conveniences that once we’ve experienced it, have to be included in the next car we own.

It’s why you’ll find this article leans towards the XV 2.0i-S over it’s entry-spec hybrid twin. That said, the hybrid technology in the XV Hybrid L is a huge step forward for Subaru. It’s superb.

It works in harmony with the naturally aspirated 2.0-litre boxer engine, good for 110kW to all four wheels, and delivers 196Nm of torque, which is then mated to a CVT automatic gearbox.

If there’s a downside to it, it’s the lag in engaging the petrol engine. You’ll notice it most when you’re coming to a stop at an intersection. When the lights change, you’ll find the Hybrid L takes a second or two to decide you’ve put your foot back into the throttle.

That’s when it’ll finally switch over to the engine again and you’ll be able to get going. While a little lag is normal in hybrids, the lack of response feels clunky and may not be for everyone.

Subaru’s claimed combined fuel economy of 6.5-litres/100km was pretty close too. We achieved a flat 7.0-litres/100km during our test period. We attributed this to mainly short drives with a lot of stop and go.

The 2.0i-S on the other hand, saw a combined fuel economy of 9.6-litres/100km compared to Subaru’s claimed 7.0-litres/100km. Once again, short drives etc. We did shut off the auto engine start/stop button though.

The 2.0i-S is powered by the same 2.0-litre boxer engine as the Hybrid L, just without the assistance of the electric motor. Paired with the same CVT automatic, it makes 115kW and 196Nm of torque.

What the 2.0i-S delivered though was the instant response missing from the Hybrid L variant. It also benefits from Subaru’s vision assist system, which means you get lane-keep assist, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control and brake light recognition.

As we previously mentioned, these are the features that make or break a comparison between two vehicles. The Hybrid L is missing some of these important safety components, although both retain a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.

The car drives quite nicely, even on terrible roads. Even off-road it handles itself quite well, especially with the assistance of X-Mode, which enhances vehicle dynamics.

First row seats are comfortable and and the interior feels spacious, the leather steering wheel in both models is supple, and not too thick. It’s a comfortable cruiser in all respects, at least until you sit yourself in the second row.

The back seats feel cramped for taller people but are  reasonably comfortable for those of us who are of average or below height. For those of you planning to use this as a family car, be aware that the second row can be a bit cramped for a rear facing infant seat.

Prepare to have the first row passenger seat pushed forward into an uncomfortable position. For a front facing child seat, you’ll have no issues, and there are two ISOFIX points on both outboard seats and three tether points behind the second row of seats.

The boot space across the entire XV range is identical, with 345-litres on offer in normal configuration. Fold the back seats down and you’re left with 919-litres of space. Plenty for a variety of different outdoor activities or transporting larger than conventional items.

Priced at $35,490 plus on-roads, the 2021 Subaru XV Hybrid L is a very reasonable offering, considering it sits between Mazda’s CX-30 (at $29,190) and the Toyota C-HR Koba Hybrid (at $37,665). Both those are also excluding on-road costs.

For an extra $1,800 though, you can have the 2021 Subaru XV 2.0i-S and abandon the entire idea of a hybrid, grabbing more safety features, heated leather seats and even a sunroof, along the way. It can be had for $37,290 excluding on-road costs.

To get the like-for-like Hybrid S, you’ll need to spend more than $40,000 plus on-roads. In reality, it really comes down to whether you prefer to go green, or bundle up all the goodies Subaru can offer, and stick with pure petrol power.

Subaru offers a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty across the XV range.

Our 2021 Subaru XV Hybrid L and 2.0i-S were supplied by Subaru Australia. To find out more, contact your local Subaru dealer. Pictures courtesy of J_Hui Design / Photography.


Driving experience
Exterior styling
Interior look and feel
Technology and connectivity
Family friendly
Value for money


Pros - inclusion of new driving modes; quality ride comfort and handling; benchmark for eyesight systems; interior quality is top shelf.
Cons - hybrid system is a bit clunky; eyesight technology can be overbearing; second row seating a little cramped; feels a bit dated from a tech perspective.
Paul Pascual
Paul Pascual
Paul Pascual is an avid enthusiast of all things JDM, from the legendary powerhouses to the old school kei cars. He has a passion for modification and making his cars look like they belong on the track. But they never actually make it there.


  1. I have a 2015 limited edition sunshine XV.
    Sold with leather seats and leather stering wheel, and gear knob.
    While they did not give false information this so called leather is the lowest grade of leather.
    It seems to be bonded leather and is flaking on the steering wheel.
    To fix the appearance I bought a top grain leather steering wheel cover that has to be sewn on.
    If Subaru likes to do a bit of chest thumping they could use a better quality leather.
    Also the seat inserts look like third grade split leather.


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<strong>Pros -</strong> inclusion of new driving modes; quality ride comfort and handling; benchmark for eyesight systems; interior quality is top shelf.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> hybrid system is a bit clunky; eyesight technology can be overbearing; second row seating a little cramped; feels a bit dated from a tech perspective.2021 Subaru XV Hybrid L AWD and 2.0i-S AWD (car review)