Subaru’s First-ever Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle
Automotive journalists and enthusiasts have been wondering when Subaru is coming out with a plug-in model. Well, wait no longer as the 2019 Crosstrek Plug-in Hybrid will be in dealerships by the end of 2018. Priced at $34,995, excluding the $975 delivery fee, Subaru says the 2019 Crosstrek Hybrid is the most powerful and efficient compact SUV ever. Optional equipment can bring the price higher, but federal and certain state tax rebates can significantly drop the final price.
Subaru recently invited the automotive press to Santa Barbara to introduce this much anticipated crossover, which is a significant addition to their line-up. The chance to drive it on varied terrain, from highway to city streets to off-road, was a good mix, especially the latter being a proper challenge to test the all-wheel drive capability.
Clean Fleet Report takes a quick look at the all-new Crosstrek Hybrid, with this Flash Drive; a longer and much more detailed Road Test will be posted in the coming months.
The Crosstrek Hybrid is powered by the Subaru StarDrive system that includes two electric motors, and a four-cylinder 2.0-liter boxer (horizontally opposed pistons) engine that puts out 148 total system horsepower, and 149 pounds-feet of torque. Subaru’s Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) delivered power to the symmetrical all-wheel drive system. The CVT was smooth and included X-MODE and hill descent control for off-roading.
The Crosstrek Hybrid has an EPA fuel economy estimate of 35 mpg highway, and a 90 MPGe. MPGe is a measurement of how efficient a car powered by electricity is, using the same amount of energy as is contained in one gallon of gasoline. With the 8.8 kWh lithium-ion battery fully charged, and the 13.2 gallon tank filled with 87 octane, the Crosstrek Hybrid has a potential driving range of 480 miles. Recharging the battery comes with the driver-selectable onboard charger, regenerative braking, and by plugging into a 120V (Level 1) or a 240V (Level 2) outlet. To replenish the lithium-ion battery’s 17-mile driving range, estimate plugging-in for five hours for Level 1 or two hours for Level 2.
Driving Experience: On the Road
Cars made for highway cruising and semi-serious off-roading need to find a ride and handling compromise. The Crosstrek Hybrid was smooth and easy to drive on the open highway, with acceptable wind and road noise for a compact crossover. When the road became a series of moderate speed sweepers, as on Highway 154 cutting through the San Marcos Pass between Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez, the suspension required small steering wheel corrections to find and keep the apex. When the sweepers became tighter twisties, the handling became more confident as the suspension tightened, and the brake-based active torque vectoring helped put needed power to the correct wheel at the correct time. There was very little at-speed body roll, and the 3,726 pounds never felt heavy.
Where the Crosstrek Hybrid shined was off-road. It isn’t designed or built for rock crawling, so we stayed away from anything too severe. However, loose rocks and gravel, along with deep ruts and mounds, were easily mastered. The instant torque from the electric motors, and selecting the X-mode setting, gave confidence in any surface we encountered. If you live in an area where snow covers your roads each winter, the traction and grip delivered by the Crosstrek Hybrid will bring a level of reassurance that will get you where you are going.
Driving Experience: Exterior
The 2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid is based on the completely redesigned 2018 Crosstrek, but carries minor identifiers that says it is electrified. First off, all Crosstrek Hybrids can be ordered in a unique color of Lagoon Blue Pearl, with blue protector rings on the headlights, and “plug-in hybrid” badges on the front fenders and the rear hatch, with the word “plug-in” embossed on the charge door. Other design cues that differentiate the Crosstrek Hybrid from its gasoline-only sibling, are grill, fascia and roof rail treatments and unique 18-inch wheels with a black machine finish in a “throwing star” design. All in all, this is an attractive crossover.
Driving Experience: Interior
The 2019 Crosstrek Hybrid interiors all get seats in gray and blue leather. Blue top stitching and accents appear on the dash and door panels. The heated front seats have manual adjustments, but no lumbar, which would have been nice to support the lower back for road trips and when going off-road.
The Crosstrek Hybrid’s infotainment (information and entertainment) system is fully equipped with all the convenience features. The 8.0-inch, high-resolution touch-screen houses the StarLink in-vehicle technology of Tom Tom navigation, and multimedia systems of SiriusXM/FM/CD, with Aha, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Harmon Kardon eight-speaker system with a 432-watt amp really rocked the cabin.
The second-row seats are best for two adults or three children. The second-row folds 60/40, which is good, as storage space behind the upright rear setback is limited due to the hybrid battery placement. Therefore, the Crosstrek Hybrid is ideal for two on those long road trips.
Observations: 2019 Subaru Crosstrek PHEV AWD
Subaru has a winner on their hands with the 2019 Crosstrek Hybrid. The plug-in feature gives drivers up to 17 miles of gasoline-free driving, while the over-the-road hybrid fuel economy is attractive at 35 mpg.
The selection of AWD plug-in hybrid electric crossovers is small (and most are more expensive than the Crosstrek), but more are coming to market each year. This lack of competition presents Subaru with a good opportunity to impress consumers, and lock-in sales of buyers looking for a comfortable crossover that also doubles as a very competent off-roader.
The 2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid goes on sale in late December 2018 in California, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Before visiting your local Subaru dealer, call and make an appointment with a factory-trained and certified hybrid specialist. Then, see if they will let you take the Crosstrek Hybrid for a lengthy test drive that includes corners, freeway onramps and, if possible, some dirt to play in.
Whatever you end up buying, Happy Driving!
Related Stories You Might Enjoy—Other AWD Plug-in Hybrids
Road Test: 2018 Volvo XC60 T8 AWD
Road Test: 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Road Test: 2018 BMW 530e xDrive iPerformance
Road Test: 2018 Volvo S90 PHEV AWD
Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at email@example.com.