Here's the skinny: at its heart the Subaru XV is an all-new 2012 Impreza Sport, the five-door hatchback version of Subaru's popular C-segment car. The Impreza itself plays host to a number of improvements over the previous-generation car, including a windshield pushed forward nearly 8 inches; a redeveloped suspension that is stiffer and more responsive, improved aerodynamics, and improved fuel economy thanks to reduced weight and a more efficient CVT. Its longer wheelbase also provides more rear legroom without lengthening the actual car. The ancient SOHC 2.5-liter boxer four has been ditched in favor of a fresh twin-cam 2.0-liter mill (don't worry, it's still horizontally opposed), with slightly less power but improved efficiency and fuel economy. Subaru's symmetrical all-wheel-drive system remains standard equipment.
The Subaru XV retains all those features, but adds a few of its own. Most noticeably, the car rides higher than the Impreza. Designed to compete in the white-hot sporty CUV segment (Subaru says competition includes the Mitsubishi Outlander GT), the XV gets 8.6-inches of ground clearance. The front and rear bumpers are also revised, and have been sculpted in the wind tunnel for improved aerodynamics and styled in the studio for increased curb appeal. The front grille is unique to the XV, as are the silver and black 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels, the only ones initially available for the car. Those contrasting plastic wheelarch covers are also new with cutaway ends that reduce their visual heft. Chief stylist for the XV, long-time Subaru designer Masahiro Kobayashi (responsible for the first-generation Forester, among other vehicles), was inspired by the influx of technical outdoor clothing and gadgets that have found a home with today's trendy urbanites.