Crossovers are everywhere. Many hold the Nissan Qashqai responsible for the rapid rise of the raised-height family hatchbacks that have become so popular.
They may look like 4x4s or off-roaders, but the majority are two-wheel drive. Not the Subaru XV, though, where all vehicles are all-wheel drive.
The XV is the manufacturer’s version of a crossover. It’s smaller than the rest of the Subaru range, yet manages to retain most of the off-road ability of its siblings.
The XV is unlikely to make it onto many shortlists – with 141g/km CO2 and a list price of £23,795 as tested here – but the car has a niche appeal for those looking to tackle slightly tougher terrain.
Our test took in a challenging outdoor course, wading through streams and mud, down steep drops and up the other side.
It coped with far more on the boggy half hour test route than most drivers will throw at it during a four-year operating cycle – rural and isolated drivers may well find the reassurance the vehicle offers its key selling point.
The car makes use of Subaru’s ‘boxer’ engine, that sits low and wide in the bonnet of the vehicle. It’s not the quietest on road, but it performs well enough, and delivers the power needed in an off-road environment.
The interior could perhaps be described as utilitarian, with few soft touch plastics, but it’s impressively well put together and all the materials are high quality.
The large infotainment touchscreen is high resolution and easy to read alongside a pleasing number of hot key buttons and tactile heating controls.
When off-roading, a handy top-mounted display shows the direction of the wheels, and the power output being sent to each. When faced with large amounts of mud, it’s invaluable in getting back on track and staying in control of the vehicle.
Interior space for passengers is good, both in the front and back, though luggage space at 380 litres is a little less than the Škoda Yeti, at 416 litres.
The 4WD version of that car is perhaps the XV’s closest rival – both are 2.0-litre diesels with similar economy, cost and CO2.
The XV about costs 2ppm more than the Yeti to run, but is slightly more powerful, with 147PS against 110PS. It will cost a 20% taxpayer £92 per year more than the Yeti in benefit-in-kind (BIK) charges.
So it may be a little more expensive, and not entirely refined, but drivers may appreciate being behind the wheel of something a little different and quirky, and the comfort of knowing they will get home at the end of the day.