Subaru, the manufacturer of all-wheel drive vehicles that define versatility, has long been a favorite among mountain dwellers and those who live where inclement weather is a daily routine.
The carmaker’s rugged reputation expanded this year with the debut of the 2014 XV Crosstrek Hybrid. The five-passenger crossover is Subaru’s first full hybrid, and its unveiling occurs one year after the gas-only Crosstrek joined the Subaru lineup
The Weekly Driver’s Test Drive
The new Hybrid, one of four available trims, starts with the standard features of 2.0 Premium and 2.0i Limited editions. The Premium model’s list is substantial and geared toward to the car’s functional ideals: 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, heated mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer, air-conditioning, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, heated front seats, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a six-speaker audio system with a CD player, USB port and auxiliary jack.
The 2.0i Limited adds automatic headlights, automatic climate control, leather upholstery, a rear seat fold-down armrest, a rearview camera and six speakers and a 4.3-inch LCD display for the audio system.
The Hybrid loses the leather seating, buts it adds chrome door handles, quick-ratio electric power steering, active grille shutters, foldable side view mirrors with signal repeaters, keyless ignition/entry and an upgraded multifunction display.
Good Standard Features
There are also plenty of options available, a sunroof to a navigation system that my test vehicle didn’t include.
Driving the new XV Crosstrek hybrid is like driving any other Subaru. It can operate with only electric power at low speeds as well as via its gas engine.
It feels tight and confident. It’s utilitarian and can be counted on for its off-road capabilities steadiness in more traditional commuting scenarios. But don’t mistake the XV Crosstrek Hybrid as a performance vehicle on any level. It doesn’t accelerate with authority.
The Crosstrek’s hybrid system is quiet and, unlike other manufacturers’ hybrid editions, the Crosstrek often doesn’t seem like a hybrid. The transition from its gas-to-hybrid engine is smooth.
Subaru should also never been defined as a luxury brand. The interior materials are satisfactory, with a leaning toward industrial. The instrument panel is straightforward, with one disappointment — the multi-function display screed set back and high on the dash in small. It has one particularly keen feature — a diagram that shows the engine efficiency adjusts during the transition between the gas and hybrid systems.
Good interior space.
Hybrid option further adds to Subaru’s overall versatility.
Exterior color, Plasma Green Pearl, looks classy.
Ground clearance? How do 8.7 inches sound?
Exterior design has a sporty look, not the futuristic design of some hybrids.
Cargo space not the best in the segment.
Small screen for back-up camera and other display read-outs.
Paddle shifters on a hybrid? A first for me.
Facts & Figures: 2014 XV Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid
Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 10.1 seconds.
Fuel economy: 29 mpg (city), 33 mpg (highway), 31 mpg (combined), six-speed automatic transmission, with gas/electric hybrid engine.
Government Safety Ratings: Not yet rated.
Horsepower: 160 (gas/electric combined).
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $25,995.00.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.subaru.com.
Price As tested: $26,820.00
Warranty: Bumper-to-bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Powertrain, 5 years/60,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited miles; Roadside Assistance, 3 years/36,000 miles.
What Others Say:
“A hybrid that is rated at 29/33 mpg on the EPA cycle (only 3 mpg better combined than that of its $3000-cheaper nonhybrid brother) doesn’t make a whole helluva lot of sense, either.” — CarandDriver.com.
“On paved roads, the XV Crosstrek Hybrid offers the same sort of competent-but-not-particularly-luxurious driving experience familiar to a generation of Subaru all-wheel-drive-commuter-car aficionados. The Hybrid gets more soundproofing than the regular XV, which we assume quiets down any hybrid drivetrain sounds.” — Autoweek.com.
The 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid struggles to justify its bigger price tag, as it doesn’t have significant power or efficiency gains over even its non-hybrid base model and pales in comparison to other hybrid wagons. — www.cnet.com
The Weekly Driver’s Final Words:
“Subaru is an all-or-none manufacturer. Owners are loyal with good reason. Detractors don’t like them because they’re not all-wheel drive fanciers or aren’t seeking versatility. I’m in the former category. The Crosstrek Hybrid works for me for a lot of reasons, just like all other Subaru models. I don’t live in an area with snow or altitude, but if I did and didn’t need the cargo space for a big dog or large equipment, I’d go with the new hybrid. Otherwise, there’s its Big Brother, the Outback.”