In-depth reviews

Subaru XV hybrid review

The Subaru XV e-Boxer hybrid is good to drive on and off-road, but returns poor fuel economy

Subaru XV hybrid
Overall rating

3.0 out of 5

£33,195 - £35,195
Fuel Type:
Hybrid Petrol


  • Capable off-road
  • Confident handling
  • Boot space unaffected by batteries


  • No plug-in option
  • Average performance
  • Poor economy and emissions
Car typeFuel economyCO2 emissions0-62mph

The Subaru XV e-Boxer is a hybrid SUV that rivals the Nissan Qashqai, Toyota C-HR, Kia Niro and Ford Kuga, among many others. There’s no plug-in variant, and this regular hybrid version of the XV is now the only version available – the petrol model has been discontinued.

It’s called the e-Boxer, because the XV, like all Subarus, uses a type of engine called 'boxer' (because the pistons 'punch' horizontally like a boxer, rather than up and down as in most cars). This type of engine is unusual, but it’s Subaru’s unique selling point and owners are very loyal despite quite a few drawbacks.

The XV e-Boxer can drive on electric power for a short distance (a mile or so) before the engine comes back on to charge up the small battery. This means the car is quiet and calm in traffic and around town, although unlike many of its rivals that do the same thing, it’s not very fuel-efficient.

The official figure comes in at just under 36mpg, which is an immediate turn-off for most buyers – the Toyota C-HR reports just under 60mpg in 1.8-litre form, and there are plenty of other hybrids with similar numbers.

There are a few reasons for this, but the main ones are the boxer engine and the fact that every XV uses Subaru’s permanent four-wheel-drive system. The engine works well for keeping the centre of gravity low in the car, which means the XV is one of the best small off-roaders around – and quite fun on-road as well.

Still, Subaru does offer excellent safety features, a comfortable (if not class-leading in practicality) cabin, decent standard equipment and good build quality – characteristics that may come to the fore over a longer period of ownership and that explain why many customers remain loyal to the brand.

But there’s no getting away from the fact that most UK buyers in the market for a hybrid SUV will be better off looking elsewhere. For anyone needing genuine performance on unpaved surfaces, however, the XV e-Boxer is well worth a look, so read the rest of our in-depth review for a more detailed impression...

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