Subaru’s AWD Crosstrek compact crossover has become the car-maker’s hot seller over its Outback brethren. Perhaps it’s because it sports sporty, chiseled styling, is the right size and is all weather capable.
For fuel economy minded folks, Subaru took this hottie the next step by introducing it as a plug-in hybrid.
Crosstrek Hybrid is Subaru’s first plug-in. And it’s one of the few hybrids with AWD and superior undercarriage clearance of 8.7 inches (which is higher than many SUVs and even some trucks) for mild off-roading and modest to deep snow depths.
This hybridized AWD Crosstrek differs significantly from its gasoline brother in that it employs Suby’s all-new StarDrive system that utilizes two electric motors. The system is coined MG1 and functions as an electric generator and charger for the 8.8-kWh battery and serves as the starter for the 2.0-liter Boxer 4-cylinder engine. Supplementing that, is what Suby coins MG2 (Motor Generator 2) which gives the 2.0L its 137-hp or 148 when combined with the electric motor. Coupled to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), the hybrid has been independently 0-60 timed at 8.3 seconds, a full second quicker than the standard Crosstrek. The combination earns EPA mileage estimates of 35 mpg gas engine alone, or 90 MPGe with electric power. It has a total range of 480 miles and an EV range of 17 miles at speeds of up to 65 mph. The gasoline engine also shuts down during long idle periods to help conserve fuel.
Interestingly, there’s a Save/Hold/Chrg switch on the console that when engaged, uses the gas engine alone to save battery torque.
There’s also an X-Mode with Hill Descent Control that’s intended to take control on steep, slippery, downward, ice-covered roads. Press the button and just steer as the system does the rest.
Crosstrek Hybrids’ onboard charger will recharge the battery in approximately five hours on a 120-volt outlet or two hours on a 240-volt outlet. A charging cable plugs into a fender receptacle and is stored in a nylon pack. The battery also gets a charge from regenerative braking. On the CVT shifter is a “B” position that increases this braking action in an effort to extend battery power and range.
So powered, Crosstrek Hybrid doesn’t possess neck-snapping acceleration. However, Sport mode does invigorate throttle response somewhat. Acceleration is more of a linear application of power. When using full throttle, the CVT seems to maintain the same gear, seemingly never shifting out and similar to a golf cart. Some CVT computerized shift points in certain cars simulate a traditional transmission.
A buddy owns a new Subaru Outback and rode in the Crosstrek with me and commented on how loud the engine was both at idle and during acceleration. He said his Outback 4-cylinder is considerably quieter. Coincidentally, in electric mode a high-pitch whine, similar to a jet engine, is heard.
A highpoint for the Crosstrek Hybrid is that if you keep the battery charged, you may never have to buy gasoline again.
Crosstrek not only has a sporty exterior, its interior is exceptionally sporty and eye-catching. After an easy 19-inch step in that is essentially a nice slide-in affair, the leather seats in the test car were adorned with grey and white panels with perforated inserts, and set off with blue stitching on all seams. An eclectic color combo. The heated front seats have pleasurable lateral support, are soft and comfy over long hauls.
An 8-inch display offers the usual compliment of audio, rearview camera, apps including Subaru’s Starlink that integrates Wi-Fi, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Bluetooth, voice recognition, Pandora, Travel Link with Weather and more.
There’s also a 4.2-inch color driver information display nestled between the gauge cluster.
Our only beef with the Crosstrek is that a small item bin on the forward console in front of the shifter could have better been used for a wireless phone charger.
The rear seats are similarly comfy but 6-footers may need a slight head duck getting in/out as the roofline has a racy slant. Two adults can be accommodated in them with decent leg room provided the fronts aren’t racked well rearward.
Back in the cargo area, loading involves a high 33-inch lift over due to the battery pack stowed beneath the floor. With rear seats upright, there’s 16 cubic feet of space that measures 28 inches deep, 40.5 wide and 23 high, the latter reflects a three-inch decrease compared to the standard Crosstrek.
Flip the 60/40 seatbacks and cargo space increases to 21 cubic feet for 60 inches of cargo loading depth. When flipping the seats, there’s a six inch drop from the floor to the flipped seatbacks, again, due to the underfloor battery pack.
Shod with Falkan 18-inch tires, Crosstrek rode smoothly with just the right amount of tautness. Handling was adept and it parked easily with a tight 35.4 turning circle. There was a slight bit of lean in sharp turns taken at speed, but Crosstrek held tight.
Feature wise, Crosstrek came standard with the gamut of safety items such as blind spot detection, lane change alert, rear cross traffic alert, Subaru’s EyeSight with adaptive cruise, automatic pre-collision braking, pedestrian alert, lane keeping assist, reverse automatic braking and more. The only extra cost options were for the power moonroof, heated steering wheel, nav and Harmon-Kardon audio. That took the base price of $34,995 to $38,470 with a $975 delivery charge.
Safety wise, Crosstrek garnered a “Superior” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for frontal crash, when equipped with the EyeSight feature.
With hybrid’s coming on strong, so much so that even Indy cars will employ the technology for their 2022 season, Subaru’s Crosstrek Hybrid is destined to be the benchmark for its comparable AWD competitors.