• Subaru Crosstrek Plug-in Hybrid

News: Subaru Crosstrek Plug-in Hybrid To Arrive by Year’s End

Second Hybrid Offering Should Be Better Than First

In a brief press announcement, Subaru said a 2019 Crosstrek crossover SUV plug-in hybrid would arrive at U.S. dealers “near the end of the year.” Brief press announcement is really an overstatement as the automaker gave no details regarding system power, battery size, electric driving range or fuel economy numbers.

Subaru Borrows From Toyota

The 2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid will integrate the Toyota Hybrid System (THS) used in the Prius Prime plug-in and pair it with Subaru’s direct-injection flat-four (boxer) engine along with an all-new transmission. But even if Subaru borrowed the Prime’s 8.8-kilowatt-hour battery and electric motors, the Crosstrek Hybrid will have a difficult time matching the Toyota’s 25-mile EV range or its 54 mpg combined rating.

Subaru Crosstrek Plug-in Hybrid

The first plug-in Subaru will go on sale before the end of the year

The tie up with Toyota is the result of the two companies forming an alliance in 2016. Toyota owns 16 percent of Subaru, which will reap benefits for the smaller of the two Japanese automakers.

Subaru fans can rest at ease: The 2019 Crosstrek Hybrid will retain Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. But the automaker didn’t clarify whether that means a separate electric motor powering the rear wheels or a mechanical connection from the front. It stated, however, that the Subaru Global Platform, which now underpins most of its vehicles for the U.S. market, “was designed to accommodate hybrid and electric powertrains.”

Following in the tire tracks of the Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid minivan, Subaru downplays the plug-in capabilities, saying that it can just be driven like a hybrid, even though it describes a mode with “pure electric drive for local commuting.”

Compliance Vehicle?

California is one of the biggest car markets in the country, and the state requires automakers who sell more than 20,000 vehicles there to produce a certain number of plug-in cars. Subaru has not been a target of the mandate yet, but is approaching that sales threshold and could reach that number by 2018. The plug-in Crosstrek would help the automaker earn credits toward the mandate.

Subaru didn’t say whether the Crosstrek Hybrid would be sold nationwide, only in California, or in other states that follow California’s clean-car rules. If it is a California only proposition, that would make it a “compliance” vehicle, meaning it is only sold to comply with that state’s mandate.

Not Subaru’s First Hybrid

Easily forgotten is Subaru’s first hybrid. Unveiled for 2014 and killed off three short model years later, the gasoline-electric hybrid version of Subaru’s first-generation of the XV Crosstrek wasn’t very impressive.

Subaru Crosstrek Plug-in Hybrid

The badge returns to Subaru (with a little help from Toyota)

With a 13-horsepower electric motor and a small nickel-metal hydride battery added to a 148-hp 2.0-liter boxer engine with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), the EPA combined rating of 30 mpg wasn’t much better than the non-hybrid’s 28 mpg. More troubling was that it cost about $3,000 more than the regular Crosstrek.

Whatever the fuel economy is for the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid is, we are reasonably confident it will be more than 2 mpg better than the standard Crosstrek.

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About Author: Larry E. Hall

Larry E. Hall is the Editor-At-Large at Clean Fleet Report. His interest and passion for automobiles began at age 7, cleaning engine parts for his father, a fleet manager for a regional bakery. He has written about cars and the automobile industry for more than 25 years and has focused his attention on “green” cars and advanced technology vehicles. Larry’s articles have been published by Microsoft’s MSNBC.com and MSN Autos as their alternative vehicles correspondent, and is currently the Senior Editor at HybridCars.com. His work has appeared in metro and suburban newspapers as well as business publications and trade journals. He is the founding president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association and a member of the Motor Press Guild. Larry lives and drives in Olympia Wa. with his wife, Lynne, who shares his passion for cars.

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