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1996 Subaru SVX REVIEW logo 4/5/2017

What’s New: The L model gets standard solar-reduction glass this year.

Review: Subaru has never been what you'd call a conventional car company. When 18-foot-long V8-powered behemoth station wagons roamed America, Subaru was busy marketing tiny, ugly, four-wheel-drive wagons primarily to consumers in the Northeast and Northwest. While the inline four-cylinder engine became the compact class standard, Subaru installed horizontally opposed 'flat' fours in its models. All the while, Subaru retained character in the styling of its wares, bucking the jelly-bean look for a more squared-off wedge thing. The Subaru XT Coupe, about which nothing was common, became Subaru's first attempt at marketing a sports coupe. The SVX replaced that oddity in 1992.

The first thing you notice about the SVX is the out-there styling. Much more attractive than the XT Coupe, the SVX is an interesting blend of curves, bulges and angles which result in a busy, overstyled car that looks too thick in the rear. Captain Kirk likely would have found the styling pleasing, but we don't. The split side glass is a neat concept that allows you to drive with the window down in a rainstorm without worrying about getting a wet arm or mussing your hair, but we suspect that in the real world of varying-height drive-thru service windows, it doesn't work well.

Inside, the SVX looks more like a luxury coupe than a sports car. Velour covers the seats in the LS; LSi models get leather hides. The swept dash is full of oddities, such as the trick stereo cover. Comfortable chairs provide surprisingly good outward visibility, but the rear view is somewhat compromised by the big decklid spoiler.

So why should you buy this Subaru? It's speedy, comfortable and with available all-wheel drive, is one of the few sports cars made for all-weather driving. Fully loaded at less than $36,000, the SVX gives good bang for the buck, and makes a strong statement about its owner. If your wacky personality matches the offbeat SVX, you've just found the car of your dreams.


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