Sat | Feb 24, 2018

2018 Subaru XV - taking a versatile approach to automobiles

Published:Sunday | January 28, 2018 | 12:00 AMKareem Latouche
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From an exterior standpoint, the XV looks a bit more refined and slender than the previous model. The most noticeable change is the pronounced angular running daytime LED which sits above the headlights. There is also a detachable housing for the fog lights, which are incorporated in the skirting that wraps around the front facia. At the back, the rear lights now extend to the trunk, and are complemented by a bumper with sharper edges.

This overall look screams versatility as it is equipped to be a competent off roader,  family vehicle and daily commuter to work.

The XV now has a more leveled ground clearance of 8.7 inches that makes going over the regular terrain a breeze. This is an improvement over the previous model where the front end was noticeably lower than the back.

Interior

Entering the vehicle, it feels very spacious and sporty with carbon fiber panels on the door and orange stitching along the seats. Finishing off this theme are race-inspired gun-metal pedals.

The contours of the seats give it a very comfortable feel and the fabric is nicely stitched together, giving the driver a very relaxed seating position especially over long journeys.

Where the centre console is concerned, the traditional congruent knobs received a minor tweak, where the center knob is a bit smaller and is flanked by the two exterior knobs as well as four buttons, all dedicated to climate control.

The placement of the centre a/c vents has also been changed to the side of the infotainment system. Beyond the dual-climate control, what's really noteworthy is that the car is filled with ports and options for connectivity with your cell phone. There are two concealed USB ports below the climate control buttons, and two in the centre console bin beside a 12-volt power outlet.

Once you have paired your phone to the car's 6.5-inch touch screen, Starlink infotainment system, accessing information becomes a breeze. It will ask if you want to add contacts and media files and after stating yes all information will be transferred.

From here, press the designated phone button on the centre console to look up phone numbers or move the button to find a playlist on your phone. All this can also be done from the controls mounted on the steering that comes with tilt and telescopic functions as well.

If you are driving and want to make a call, simply press the call button and speak the name of the person and the vehicle will recognise your voice with a great degree of accuracy. As a matter of fact, simple names like Robert and Stacy it will never get wrong. This is really impressive because many vehicles require the driver to record name tags for voice dialing to work accurately.

The overall feel of the interior is an airy one, especially when the sunroof is reclined. The same can be said about the driver visibility, which is aided by the fact that the side mirrors are on the door panels and not in the crevices of the window.

The drive

Handling the vehicle is very easy, but it does pay off to learn some of the nuance like the hand brake: it's electronic, and is activated by pulling the switch up and the reverse action to deactivate. This must be done while keeping your foot on the brake, and is important, because the vehicle will roll back if it is not activated and is on a hill.

As for the other driver-aid switches, they are all functional and play an integral role in maneuvering the vehicle. Here is a breakdown of how and when to use them.

Headlights - The Steering Response Headlights (SRH) enables the headlights to turn in a corresponding manner with the steering. This is pivotal when driving on sinuous roads like St. Mary's Junction or the traditional route from Kingston to St. Ann. In addition, for maximum visibility, drivers should ensure that the fog light is on to spot our many potholes. This was crucial for me during my testing period while encountering torrential rain.

X mode - This off-road addition is borrowed directly from the Forester, with the brand's X-Mode system and hill descent control now offered on the XV for the first time. X-Mode modulates drivetrain behaviour, traction control, braking and the symmetrical all-wheel-drive system, while maintaining forward motion. This is ideal when you are off road and the surface is very uneven with deep potholes, it's going to apply brakes and find the wheel with the most traction to ensure there is slow cautious progress.

Paddle shifters - with the nippy performance of the engine the paddle shifters can be good to play around with. However, they come in quite useful when going down a hill and you don't want to ride the brakes. Simply put the engine in the CVT's simulated first gear and allow the compression to moderate the speed as the vehicle moves.

The overall drive experience feels more refined and responsive, especially as it pertains to the CVT. it works seamlessly with the car's computer and does a great job of responding to the accelerator when power is need. The rear suspension comprising of a double wishbone also gives the vehicle a very agile ride, which has the chassis contorting to best challenge the terrain. This is an ideal vehicle for someone who likes to use the weekends to tour Jamaica

What I like

Sensors abound, they activate the wipers and headlights when needed

Interior upgrade from previous model

Gripes

Head rest is a bit too still

Specification

Engine size: 2.0L

HP: 154

Torque: 196Nm

Gas tank: 60L

Competing vehicles: Honda HRV, Mitsubishi ASX

Weight: 3214.34 lbs

Ground clearance: 8.7"

Transmission: CVT, Lineartronic, AWD

Type of suspension: (4-wheel independent)

Front - McPherson strut

Rear Double wishbone type, coil spring, gas damper, anti roll bar

Standard Features

Symmetrical All wheel Drive

AndroidAuto/Apple Car Play,

7 Airbags

Paddle Shifters

Price Options

Entry - 6.5" Touch screen with 6 Speakers, Bluetooth Voice Activation, 17"

Aluminium Alloy Wheels, Roof Rails, Hill Descent Control. - $4.795 million

Mid - 8.0" Touch screen, LED/Bi-Xenon Headlights, Steering Responsive

Headlamps, Automatic Lights and Wipers, 18" Aluminium Alloy Wheels and

Aluminium Pedals, Reverse Camera. - $5.140 million

High - Push-Button Start, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert,

Blind Spot Detection, High Beam Assist, Auto-Dimming Mirror, Leather

Interior. - $5.6 million

Vehicle was provided courtesy of Kingston Industrial Garage Ltd, 923-6479

For comments and suggestions email autodrivegleaner@gmail.com.