The Crosstrek Hybrid is Subaru’s first foray in the plug-in hybrid world and a bold move for a company not known for hybrids. This is the brand’s second shot at a Crosstrek hybrid model—the first was discontinued after a few years—and it’s currently the automaker’s only hybrid offering. Not straying from its off-road pedigree, the Crosstrek Hybrid was developed to be efficient as well as capable. The crossover also strives to keep the driving experience as familiar as possible for new hybrid owners. Keep reading to find out what makes the Crosstrek Hybrid unique.
For driving impressions, please read our First Test review.
The Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) Powertrain
The Crosstrek Hybrid’s plug-in powertrain consists of a 137-hp, 134-lb-ft 2.0-liter flat-four engine (Atkinson cycle), a generator motor, a drive motor, and an 8.8-kW-hr lithium-ion battery pack housed under the cargo area. Both motors are integrated and housed inside the CVT. Besides charging the battery pack, the generator motor is also the starter motor for the flat-four. The 118-hp drive motor powers the wheels in EV and hybrid operation and charges the battery pack during regenerative braking.
Subaru estimates total system power at 148 hp, 4 hp less than the non-hybrid Crosstrek. Using a traditional 120-volt outlet will take about five hours to charge an almost depleted battery, but a Level 2 (240-volt) charger takes about two hours. Fast charging is not available.
If driven with a light foot, the Crosstrek Hybrid will travel Subaru’s claimed 17 miles on all-electric power and delivers 90 mpg-e. The crossover is also capable of traveling up to 65 mph on all-electric power. Once you pass that speed or apply more than 50 percent throttle, the gasoline engine turns on for more power. If the battery is low, the Crosstrek acts like a regular hybrid by frequently kicking on the gasoline motor for thrust and energy generation. Driving the Crosstrek like this gets you 35 mpg combined. Subaru says the total driving range on a full tank and battery is 480 miles, the same as the regular Crosstrek—the Hybrid has a 13.2-gallon tank versus the non-hybrid’s 16.6 gallons. At the time of this writing, EPA figures weren’t available.
Can Still Off-Road and Tow
Unlike some all-wheel-drive hybrid crossovers that only power two wheels during certain situations, the Crosstrek Hybrid doesn’t; it retains Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system. However, Subaru adapted it to the PHEV system by using an electric coupling multiplate transfer clutch instead of the electronically managed continuously variable hydraulic transfer clutch found in the regular Crosstrek.
Additionally, the X-Mode off-road mode and generous 8.7 inches of ground clearance from the non-hybrid Crosstrek carry over, making the Hybrid model almost as capable as the regular model. I say almost because the PHEV system adds about 500 pounds of weight. But Subaru claims the instant torque from the motor provides better performance on slippery surfaces. Towing is possible but is rated at 500 pounds less than the regular Crosstrek’s 1,500 pounds.
Looks and Feels a Lot Like a Regular Vehicle
The Crosstrek Hybrid, like all plug-in hybrids, has a few unusual driving quirks that some drivers might not be used to. Even so, Subaru did a good job making the PHEV feel like a regular gas burner. When you lift off the gas pedal, regenerative braking starts to slow the vehicle down and charges the battery, but you can barely feel it; it feels almost like normal engine braking. There aren’t adjustable levels for regen—you can only modulate it by the pressure you apply to the brake pedal. The Hybrid also creeps forward from a stop when in EV mode, something all-electric vehicles usually don’t do. Furthermore, the gear lever operates like a normal one, and the instrument panel gauges are easy to understand. Outside, the Crosstrek Hybrid doesn’t have any futuristic design cues and looks like any other crossover.
However, Subaru did give the Hybrid model unique features to set it apart from the regular model. Outside, Plug-In Hybrid badges are located on the front fenders and liftgate, and “Plug-In” is imprinted on the charge port door. The headlight projector rings are painted in blue, and the front grille, lower front bumper, lower body cladding, and foglight surrounds are accented in metallic silver. Further distinguishing the Hybrid model are the unique 18-inch wheels and black low-profile roof rails and spoiler. Four exterior colors are available, including the new and exclusive Lagoon Blue Pearl.
In the cabin, exclusive gray and navy blue leather covers the seats, door panels, and armrests. Bright blue stitching and interior accents panels add to the exclusivity. An electric switch replaces the non-hybrid’s manual parking brake, and the fuel door lever is replaced by a button.
The Crosstrek Hybrid comes in one well-equipped trim with an optional package. Standard features include an 8.0-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, two USB ports, a proximity key with push-start ignition, heated front seats, LED cornering headlights, LED foglights, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Sport and Intelligent drive modes, and a 4.2-inch instrument panel display. The optional package adds a moonroof, a heated steering wheel, a navigation system, and a Harman Kardon audio system.
Subaru didn’t forget about safety. The Hybrid comes equipped with the EyeSight package of driver-assist safety features, which includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, and sway warning. Reverse automatic braking, LED high-beam assist, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert are additional standard safety features.
All this comes out to a starting price of $35,970 before any federal or local EV incentives. The optional package tacks on an additional $2,500.
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