Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

Subaru Enters The Hybrid SUV Market

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Subaru’s first venture into the world of hybrid vehicles has finally arrived. Unveiled at the 2013 New York Auto Show, this crossover is certainly unique with its standard wagon look, tough styling, and jacked-up suspension. These qualities make the all-wheel drive Crosstrek skilled at getting its passengers over crumbled pavement on the way to work as well as to the mouth of the trailhead on a fun weekend adventure. When compared to its gasoline counterpart there are hardly any noticeable differences on the surface, but under the hood it’s a totally different story.

Under the Hood

The XV Crosstrek Hybrid (2014 model) still carries the Subaru 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, horizontally opposed Boxer engine which is paired with a continuously variable transmission. It doesn’t offer any different driving modes like sport or eco, but it does give driver’s the choice of a manual mode that allows them to choose between six virtual gears that have paddle shifters. Completing the hybrid powertrain is a permanent magnet AC synchronous electric motor that adds 47.9 pounds of torque to the mix. The electric motor gets its power from a nickel metal hydride battery that is located under the cargo floor.

Different from most others, the XV Crosstrek Hybrid also has two 12-volt lead batteries under its hood. One of them acts just like the battery in a traditional non-hybrid vehicle and the other is used specifically for the Auto Start-Stop operation. The maximum output for this system is 160 horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque, which is only 12 more horses than the traditional XV Crosstrek. Although most hybrid drivers aren’t as concerned with speed, it is worth mentioning that it takes the XV Crosstrek Hybrid just over 10 seconds to do zero to sixty.

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Fuel Efficiency

Most critics in the auto industry agree on one thing when it comes to the XV Crosstrek Hybrid; the fuel economy is rather disappointing. It gets an EPA estimated 29 mpg city and 33 highway, giving it a 31 combined rating. Sadly, that is just 3 combined mpg better than its gas guzzling counterpart and 4 in the city.

If you look at the breakdown from the EPA on Fueleconomy.gov, you’ll see that the hybrid version of the XV Crosstrek will only save you about $200 a year in fuel costs if you choose the hybrid version. With a price difference of about $5,000, that means it would take this particular hybrid model about 25 years to pay for itself. Likewise, many experts that have tested and reviewed the vehicle got a lower gas mileage than the EPA estimate making it even less financially appealing. All this depends on the price of fuel as well, so do your own math before you decide.




On a slightly better note, you can supposedly drive on full electric power up to 25 mph in the XV Crosstrek Hybrid, and the benefits of electric assist are applied full-time at higher speeds. However, because the hybrid only carries a 0.55-kWh battery it is drained very quickly. Hybrids usually see the largest gains during traffic jams and while driving at city speeds because their batteries hold a large enough charge to power them until the driver needs to return to full speed. But with the XV Crosstrek Hybrid’s battery only holding a charge about half the size of a typical hybrid, it usually loses that energy before it is able to recharge – so you end up running on gasoline power even while creeping along in traffic. Not to mention you are also toting around an extra 276 pounds of added hybrid gear compared to the non-hybrid version.

Interior and Exterior Specs

Although it’s based on the Impreza, the Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid looks much different. One of the first things you’ll notice is that Subaru lifted this model to give it a ground clearance of almost 9 inches, which is nearly 4 inches more than the Impreza. The hybrid version also gets larger alloy wheels, body cladding that makes it look slightly tougher, and a restyled front end. In true Subaru fashion, this hybrid is made to look ready for off-roading and like it is more than capable of handling poor driving conditions. Subaru is also offering a unique exterior color just for the hybrid that they call plasma green. A roof rack comes standard on all XV Crosstrek models as well.

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Although you certainly won’t be in the lap of luxury with the few technologies that the XV  Hybrid offers, you will be comfortable. Many of the technological advances added were more for the car’s efficiency than for the driver. Some of them include:

• Added sound insulation
• An automatic start/stop feature that shuts the engine off at red lights
• Regenerative braking
• A distinctive instrument cluster
• Revised climate controls
• A Multi-Function Color Display which shows how the hybrid system’s energy changes based on the current driving conditions
• An Active Grille Shutter system that helps reduce the air resistance
• The air conditioning system monitors humidity and temperature to reduce the draw on the engine
• An audible vehicle approach and pedestrian alert system

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The interior of the car is almost exactly the same as the Impreza although Subaru has added a few different trim packages and the upholstery has been upgraded. It keeps Subaru’s traditional analog instrument cluster and offers steering wheel controls, but both are very basic. They also added a keyless start feature to the hybrid, and other standard amenities include heated front seats, automatic climate controls, Bluetooth phone support, USB connections including iPod connection, and a rear back up camera.

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The standard/base Crosstrek Hybrid comes with a MSRP of $25,995 (2014 price) or you can step up to the Hybrid Touring model for $29,295. Added features to the later model include navigation, leather seats, and a sunroof. Since the XV Crosstrek Hybrid falls in the middle of the small crossover class and the hybrid wagon class it really doesn’t have any similar models to compete with directly. Although the gas mileage isn’t what many hybrid buyers may want, the all-wheel drive and ample passenger and cargo space are definitely a bonus – so comparing it to something like a Prius just isn’t fair.

The official website for the Crosstrek Hybrid can be found here. In addition, here is a mostly positive review from MotorTrend along with a less favorable one from Car and Driver.

 

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