2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid worthy despite issues

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Subaru, well-respected for its symmetrical all-wheel drive, sturdiness and belief in human and animal safety in its vehicles, now has additional versatility. The 2019 Subaru Crosstrek plug-in hybrid is the manufacturer’s debut in the segment.

The Crosstrek Hybrid is offered in 2.0i, 2.0i Premium and 2.0i Limited trims, all powered by 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engines producing 148 horsepower and featuring all-wheel drive. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the two 2.0i and 2.0i premiums. A continuously variable transmission is offered on the Limited trim, my test vehicle.

Subaru has expanded its lineup with 2019 Crosstrek Hybrid.
Subaru has expanded its lineup with 2019 Crosstrek Hybrid. Image © James Raia/2018.

The top-line Crossback Hybrid is equipped with features from the lower trims but includes upgrades. Highlights range from an advanced driver-assistance system to rear cross traffic warning and blind spot warning to automatic emergency braking.

Adaptive headlights that swivel in the same direction as the car is turning are also included as is a pedestrian alert system. It engages when the car is advancing at less than 20 miles per hour and pedestrians are in proximity. Adaptive headlights are also in the safety suite, further adding to Subaru’s safety emphasis.

Leather seating, automatic climate control, keyless entry and ignition, power-adjustable driver’s seat and 18-inches wheels are also standard.

The 2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid has limited back cargo space.
The 2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid has limited back cargo space.

A Harmon Kardon audio system with eight speakers and 432-watt equivalent amplifier, a power moonroof, heating steering wheel and an impressively crisp and intuitive Tom-Tom navigation system and optional only on the Limited trim. The grouping is a $2,500 package. With its base price of $34,995 and a destination fee of $975, the total price is $38,470.

More than 30 years ago, Subaru was an athletic sponsorship pioneer, supporting the U.S. Ski Team, and it was a perfect fit. The Subaru SUV lineup remains most prominent in skiing and other outdoor recreation-oriented states, particularly California and Colorado.

The all-wheel-drive system is the best in the industry, providing a stable ride. As the smallest of the utilitarian SUVs in the Subaru family, the Crosstrek Hybrid has a raised suspension that provides 8.7 inches of ground clearance. It’s a feature best for driving in poor weather and in off-road driving conditions, the manufacturer’s shining moments.

There’s also X-Mode. Push the designated button on the console and its activates Hill Descent Control that assists with potentially hazardous situations during downhill treks.

As a plug-in hybrid, the Crosstrek has a 17-mile electric-only range. It includes a charging pack that recharges in two hours with 240V outlets and five hours on 120V systems. The EPA gas mileage estimates are a combined 35 miles per gallon in city/freeway driving and 90 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent). The combined gas and electric range of 480 miles. The Crosstrek Hybrid qualifies for High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) permit in several states, including California, Maryland and New York.

The Crosstrek Hybrid includes two generator motors. The MG1 is the engine starter and electricity generator. The MG2 powers the vehicle for hybrid and electric driving modes. It also charges the battery during regenerative braking. Like many hybrids, a noticeable engine whine is omnipresent.

Storing the battery pack is a concern for many electric vehicles, including the Crosstrek. Its battery is packed under the rear load floor, cutting about 25 percent of storage capacity to about 15.9 cubic feet. The rear cargo area floor is also raised about four inches, further limiting cargo space.

Subaru promotes the Crosstrek Hybrid as one-second faster than the non-Hybrid, but none of the manufacturer’s SUVs are known for performance. It’s one of the Crosstrek’s weaknesses. It advances on the interstate with confidence. It’s sturdy and maneuvers adeptly. But getting to highway speed requires patience. And never expect performance in a scenario when a quick burst of speed would be ideal. The 0 to 60 miles per hour rating is 9.3 seconds, a crawl for the otherwise worthy newcomer.

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