Subaru XV at the Frankfurt Motor Show


  • Competes with: Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback, Jeep Patriot
  • Looks like: A bright orange Impreza
  • Drivetrain: 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, continuously variable automatic transmission, all-wheel drive
  • Hits dealerships: 2012

Subaru has always perplexed us by offering a more capable version of its compact Impreza hatchback and calling it an Outback Sport. The company is addressing the problem with its new XV, which will join the Impreza family next year in the U.S.

The model will feature the same engine and transmission as the new Impreza hatchback that’s going on sale later this fall, but it has some differences. The most notable will be the increased ground clearance from 5.7 inches on the regular Impreza hatch to 8.6 inches for the XV. A Subaru Outback has 8.7 inches of ground clearance but a Jeep Wrangler Sport has 8.8 inches, so the XV might be the choice for off-road duties.

Of course, you’d be putting the cool-looking black aluminum wheels at risk. The rest of the car gets some unique bodywork but much less gray cladding than the last Outback Sport. On the XV, the gray cladding looks more attractive, especially around the lower front bumper.

Inside, the XV is similar to the next Impreza with less alteration.

We doubt the XV will be the first choice of Impreza shoppers, but at least it does more to stand out — especially in the orange paint color we see here — than the Outback Sport. Hopefully, fewer car shoppers will be confused by the Subaru models.

2012 Subraru XV

2012 Subraru XV

2012 Subraru XV

2012 Subraru XV

2012 Subraru XV

2012 Subraru XV

2012 Subraru XV

2012 Subraru XV

2012 Subraru XV

2012 Subraru XV

2012 Subraru XV

2012 Subraru XV

2012 Subraru XV

2012 Subraru XV

2012 Subraru XV


Chris K

Subaru turns another model into an SUV. Sigh.

I'm going to have problems in a few years. My wife's '05 Outback Sport will eventually need replacement and we want a bigger wagon next time. But we do not want an SUV.

Until recently we could have chosen a Legacy Wagon or an Outback (Legacy, not Outback Sport). Now the new Outback has been jacked up to look like an also-ran CR-V, and the Outback Sport appears to be headed in the same direction.

Will Subaru ever offer a wagon again? Would they sell me an Outback with Legacy suspension? I'm certainly not going to buy the current Outback model, which means our Outback Sport will be our third and last new Subaru. That saddens me, because I like everything about their cars except their new SUV designs.



I think the Forrester is pretty close to being a wagon...don't know if it would be what you're wanting or not.


Actually, looking back on it the Outback was more wagon-shaped than I remember, so I seriously doubt the Forrester would be what you're looking for.

Amuro Ray

@ Chris K,

This post by Mike Hanley (from here, Kickingtires) kinda tell you the answer, and it certainly doesn't sound promising to your question. Sorry...

Matt C.

@ Chris K.

I love my 2011 Outback because it feels like a great in between car. You don't feel like you are sitting up that high in it compared to most trucks ans SUV's, but it doesn't feel as low slung as a car. This is also my first Subaru, so my 2 cent maybe worth just that.

Ste (The Original S.G.)

@Chris K,

Have you given the new Outback a chance? Like actually checking one out and test driving one? My Grandmother is on her 9th Subaru. She's basically driven and owned every single Legacy/Outback to date and finds the ride height the best ever. She always wanted them a little higher cause ingress/egress from the vehicle was always harsh on her back, as she has back problems. Also, the interior is so much roomier. You don't feel like you're sitting high, I felt higher when I was test driving a FIAT 500.

On the new Impreza XV, I really like it. Kinda reminds me of the RVR's of yesteryear. Any word on Pricing? I might just have to hold out now.

Max Reid

Good design, so much space. Should give better mileage with CVT tranny.

Matt C.

@ Bob,

Those wheels are pretty common. I see that style all the time at the detail shop next door to my shop.

I do like the new design of the Impreza though.

Chris K

Thanks for all the responses, everyone. I have not even sat in the new Outback, so perhaps I'd see it differently if I sat inside it. My opinions come from seeing it on the road, where it looks like an SUV in height, ground clearance, and body style.

I know many people don't mind SUVs, and that's fine. My wife and I just don't like them. She doesn't like them from a size standpoint (she won't drive a car a whole lot bigger than her Outback Sport), and I don't like them from a handling standpoint (body roll, soft suspension, too heavy for their size). It's personal preferences, of course.

I really liked the old Forester. I drove one a few times and it handled like a slightly-taller Impreza. I actually tried to lean my wife towards the Forester instead of the Outback Sport simply because it would allow us to carry taller loads, but she liked the lower Outback Sport. The NEW Forester is pretty much the same as every other small SUV on the market.

I'll bet Subaru does well with the XV... it looks like a fun little Jeep-ish car, despite being sized like an Impreza.


This is a good-looking car. The design is more aggressive. I have always felt that the design of Subaru's is what held them back from real mainstream success. If Subie ever gets their design down, watch out!


Chris K,

The Outback has always been a "jacked-up" version of the Legacy wagon... just as your current Outback Sport is a jacked-up version of the Impreza wagon. The only difference is, the Outback Sport, unlike the Outback, only got a very slight increase in ground clearance. It looks like the XV will finally address that.

So the answer is simple: just get a regular Impreza wagon next time. The current 2011 model is bigger than the old Imprezas, including your 05 Outback Sport. In fact, it's roomier than my old Legacy. The 2012 model will be even roomier from what I understand. Anyways, the regular 2012 wagon will have the exact same space as the XV without the ground clearance.


This will be painfully slow. I would get one if they offer a turbo, with manual.

It is great to have the opportunity to read a good quality article with useful information on topics.
"Engine and Transmission World"


I agree with Chris K, but the replies are valid as well. Subaru made a huge mistake when they stopped selling the Legacy wagon. The car was lower to the ground, hence better aerodynamics and an even lower center of gravity that was already enhanced by the low mounted engine. I think Subaru made a big mistake with the new Outback and it arrived at a time when fuel costs were on the rise. Raising the car up to look like an XC70 seems counter-intuitive when the writing was on the wall that fuel costs are going to continue to rise. Subaru's reluctance in bringing more gears to their transmissions is just unforgiveable, and I won't be buying a fourth one until they improved their fuel efficiency dramatically. My Honda Accord with 4 snow tires is nearly as good as my Forester on my north facing, hilly driveway. Until I tried the snows, I didn't believe it. You don't really need AWD in southern New England.

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