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.
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.”
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.
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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