FOR most people it's the rugged looks and high stance of an SUV which has caused them to turn their backs on hatchbacks and saloons.
But while many of these cars might look as if they can handle tough terrain often it's an illusion.
But when the going gets tough the Subaru XV E-Boxer is able to handle it all thanks to its tried and tested 2.0-litre Boxer engine and more than capable four-wheel-drive system which really can cope well off-road.
And these qualities mean that, like the Subaru Forester, it's a car which has added appeal to anyone involved in outdoor sports like equestrian events or boating which may necessitate crossing muddy fields or pulling trailers.
But even if you don't want to leave the highway this is a car which gives you peace of mind when the weather takes a turn for the worst and you need all four wheels to grip.
And if things get really bad you simply press the X-Mode button and select either snow/dirt or deep snow/mud.
It's a class act too. For while it has both a sporty and rugged persona it's also impressively smooth and refined when cruising at high speed thanks in part to Subaru‘s well respected Lineartronic automatic gear system.
And if you want to press on with some urgency the XV is only too willing to respond, particularly if you switch to the more sporty Si driving mode and then use the paddles behind the steering wheel for hands-on driving.
And as the latest XV also comes with an electric motor there is even more power available.
There are no worries about plugging and no range anxiety as the XV is a self charging hybrid so everything is done automatically and seamlessly.
At low speed you will often see the EV symbol light up on the dashboard so you know you are in electric mode and saving on fuel. Put your right foot down hard and the Boxer engine either takes over or works in conjunction with the electric motor depending upon how much power is needed.
The whole system works well and while Subaru claims it will give you an average of 35.7 miles per gallon I was often averaging over 38mpg which for permanent four-wheel-drive is impressive.
The top spec SE Premium Lineatronic, driven here, comes with full leather upholstery with nice contrasting red stitching and good side bolsters to hold you in place on fast bends or rugged terrain.
The front seats are heated and the driver's is electrically adjustable.
Other appealing features include a sliding/tilting powered glass sunroof, a reversing and front facing camera and aluminium pedals.
In the centre of the dashboard there's an 8-inch touch screen for accessing on-board features as well as the TomTom satellite navigation system.
Above is a smaller information display which usefully shows detailed turn-by-turn instructions when you are using the sat nav as well as where the car's power is coming from at any given time.
Despite its relatively compact size the XV offers generous space for both front and rear passengers and its high stance means good all-round vision.
The rear boot space is lacking a bit in depth but can still handle 340 litres of luggage with the seats in place rising to 1,173 litres with them completely folded.