Finally, an Electric Model
Subaru has been very successful over the last decade in the U.S., with sales rising every year. They build and sell the kinds of cars that Americans crave. However, they’ve been a no-show in electric vehicles. Well, that’s over now, with the introduction of the brand’s first plug-in hybrid, the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid.
The Crosstrek itself is an appealing model and has been doing very well in the increasingly popular compact crossover market. Much like the Outback did with the Legacy wagon in the 1990s, the Crosstrek takes an Impreza wagon and lifts it a bit, applies some cladding and, with Subaru’s standard all-wheel drive, provides a credible vehicle for heading off-road. It boasts 8.7 inches of ground clearance.
Subaru’s designs have never been gorgeous, but they’ve become a bit more stylish and less purely practical. The Crosstrek shape looks like a Subaru, and the inside features rugged-looking, well-finished materials. The Hybrid interior gets some blue door and dash accents and stitching (blue is the “green” color across the industry). The center screen is not the largest in the industry, but the technology behind it is easy to understand and use.
The Power Game
The drivetrain combines a 137-horsepower, 2.0-liter, flat four-cylinder engine with StarDrive Technology for electric power. StarDrive uses two motor generators: the one up front functions as an engine starter and electricity generator, while the other one provides hybrid and EV driving modes and charges the hybrid battery when you press the brake pedal to initiate regenerative braking.
The 2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid gets electrified by adding an 8.8-kWh lithium-ion battery. The battery can be charged to provide 17 miles of pure electric motoring at up to 65 miles per hour. That’s enough for local fuel-free jaunts, and, as the hybrid system switches back and forth, helps limit running the gas engine in some situations. You can recharge the battery on Level 1 household 120-volt current in five hours or on Level 2 240-volt current in three.
The Hybrid model has a couple of disadvantages. With its added battery and generators, while using the same engine as the non-hybrid Crosstrek, at 3,726 pounds it outweighs the non-hybrid Limited model by nearly 400 pounds. Additionally, the battery lives below the cargo area and pushes the floor there up a few inches to keep that desirable ground clearance. That means it offers only 15.9 cubic feet of storage with the rear seats up, and 43.1 cubic feet for your tents and backpacks with the seat down. The standard Crosstrek holds 20.8 and 55.3 cubic feet respectively.
However, the big advantage of the Crosstrek, besides a full second better 0-60 acceleration from its 148 combined horsepower, is its smaller carbon footprint. Official EPA numbers are 90 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) versus the automatic-transmission standard Crosstrek at 27 city/33 highway/29 combined. I recorded 61.7 MPG combining gas and electric driving.
While cruising in EV mode, the car is quiet and smooth—an aesthetic advantage enjoyed by cars that spin motors rather than translate piston motion into twist.
Selection is Limited
While the gas-only Crosstrek comes in base, Premium and Limited models with ascending levels of standard equipment, the Hybrid is the top level Crosstrek, with all the electric, high tech and safety features you’d want. The seats and steering wheel are leather-covered, and you get keyless entry, climate control, black 18-inch alloy wheels and the all-weather package, which includes heated front seats and exterior mirrors, along with windshield wiper de-icers. This one figures–Subaru is a favorite in snow country.
You can add a $2,500 option package, which includes a power moonroof, heated steering wheel, a high-tech navigation system, smartphone integration (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and audio streaming, Sirius XM All AccessRadio and a 432-watt Harmon Kardon premium audio system with eight speakers.
My test vehicle came in a new color—a beautiful Lagoon Blue Pearl. It was very pleasant for driving to work and around town, and, although I didn’t take it off the pavement, the all-wheel-drive made me feel more secure during California’s drought-cancelling wet winter.
Pricing for the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid starts at $34,995 plus $975 for destination and delivery. The option package, full of quality-of-life-enhancing features, added $2,500 for a bottom line of $38,470 for my tester. Compare those numbers to the non-hybrid models, which start at $22,870 for the base car and range up to the more fully equipped Limited at $28,170 (all prices include destination and delivery).
I welcome Subaru to the world of electric vehicles, and hope to see more soon, including a pure electric model. While the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid has reduced cargo capacity and a significantly higher price, it boasts much better fuel economy, part-time EV driving pleasure, and all the “Subaruness” that’s helped the brand thrive.
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