Crossover is a lesson on compromise packed in a box with four wheels. Want space? Then handling is sacrificed. Want more style? Then you might need to forgo the ‘Utility’ portion of the vehicle. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution although it sure comes close. And this is very much the case with the Subaru XV.

True to its concept, the Subaru XV is designed to look like a four-door hatchback but with more ground clearance. To compare, the XV’s ground clearance is measured at 220mm while the average sedan stops the tape at around 170mm. The XV also wears plastic mouldings to protect the crossover from scrapes due to off-road excursions. In any case, the plastics do make the XV more rugged-looking than in standard trim.

Seen here is the Subaru XV GT Edition that features additional body bits on the front bumper, sides, rear bumper and roof spoiler to make the car appear more robust. The 17-inch alloy wheels are exclusive to the GT Edition and not on the other XV variants. This is Subaru’s bid to make the XV look sportier on top of its ruggedness.

The GT Edition also adds wraps the seats in special leather upholstery. In addition, the XV GT has a dual side-view monitor system, which gives the crossover a nearly 360-degree view.

What you’ll probably what to know is that the front seats are nicely bolstered. The seats hold the torso well and prevent unpleasant sliding when the driver decides to pilot the XV with more spirit around the corners. Comfortable too, the seats hold up well during long, cross-country drives.

Truth be told, the XV’s dashboard is simple in design and function. Nevertheless, every button, dial and eight-inch touchscreens are placed well within reach. At the top of the dashboard is a slim screen that displays important information, like something and something. This screen complements the eight-inch touchscreen display that controls the audio system’s functions. It is flanked by the centre air vents, which are controlled by three rotary dials below the screen.

The transmission tunnel, besides hosting the gear selector, is also where you’ll find the X-Mode button. When turned on, the X-Mode gives that XV the ability to overcome challenging terrain. It does this by staying in the lower gears to give the wheels maximum opportunity to find grip.

In terms of space, what the XV offers is decent. The rear passengers sit in comfort with sufficient leg and headroom to spare. The boot space is large enough to hold the average trip to all the things a young family require, and the power to move it all.

The Subaru XV is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder boxer engine that produces 156PS and 196Nm. Power from the engine is transferred to all four wheels through a CVT ‘box. While this may sound pedestrian to some, the XV is surprisingly an able performer.

With the foot down on the accelerator, the XV moves quickly from a standstill and continues to gather speed with ease. It’s not fast, mind you. While there isn’t an official 0-100kph time, the XV speeds off the line like a 9.0-second vehicle. Nevertheless, the CVT keeps the power distributed evenly throughout the rev range so at no point does the XV feel breathless, even at high speeds.

The combination of the crossover’s rigid chassis, all-wheel drive and boxer engine imbues comfort, stability and interesting vehicle dynamics. The XV handles the road small lumps and bumps calmly while the bigger ones are damped confidently. Its composure on the straight line is directly transferred on to the corners as well.

You’ll quickly feel the XV’s sophisticated handling in the back roads. The well-weighted steering wheel is progressive and keen, giving you no surprises where its wheels are pointed at. Body roll is dialled back nicely and there’s enough grip to have fun driving.

All in, the Subaru XV ticks all the boxes of what a good crossover should be. It rides and handles well, and Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system is a blessing when the weather turns roads into rivers.