by Aiden Eksteen
The Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid is a unique offering in that there aren't many plug-in hybridized compact crossover SUVs available in the US, and with standard all-wheel-drive at that. There are a ton of other advantages packaged with the Crosstrek Hybrid, including a modern interior, an abundance of standard-fit high-grade features, and top-notch safety standards. Even the Hybrid's powertrain offers some edge over the standard models - a sprightly 2.0-liter four-cylinder Boxer engine powers the symmetrical all-wheel-drive system of the Crosstrek Hybrid, with outputs of 137 horsepower and 134 lb-ft of torque via a CVT automatic. It's supplemented by an 8.8 kWh battery and two fully electrified motors, netting total system output at 148 hp. The Crosstrek Hybrid isn't a consummate vehicle though; subpar hybrid efficiency, a compromise in cargo room, and an unrefined CVT automatic all strengthen consideration for the competition, which comes in the form of the Nissan Rogue Hybrid, Kia Niro, and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.
For the 2020 model year, the Crosstrek Hybrid receives restyled LED headlights featuring a silver trim ring on the projector beams. The center console auxiliary jack and USB charge ports have been relocated to the front console storage tray for easier access, and there is now a rear console comprising two USB charge ports for rear passengers. Some new features include an automatic lock and unlock system, a collision detection power door unlock function, and a rear seat occupancy reminder. Finally, the Crystal Black Silica exterior paint option has been deleted and replaced with Magnetite Gray metallic.
The Crosstrek Hybrid carries a sophisticated yet rugged appeal; up front, it boasts a unique silver metallic finish on the grille, lower fascia, body cladding, and front fog lights. All-LED lighting including LED steering-responsive headlights, foglights, and taillights are standard. It features a chrome beltline, low-profile gloss black roof rails, and black wheel arch cladding, which borders its 18-inch black machined alloy wheels.
Most of the Crosstrek Hybrid's dimensions, barring its height and curb weight, are identical to that of the standard models. In length, the Crosstrek Hybrid measures 175.8 inches overall - carried over a wheelbase of 104.9 inches. It is 62.8 inches in height, and the Hybrid shares a ground clearance of 8.7 inches and a width of 71 inches with the gas-fed model. With a curb weight of 3,717 lbs, the Crosstrek Hybrid is around 450 pounds heavier than the heaviest model of the standard Crosstrek, however.
With 137 hp and 134 lb-ft, the Crosstrek Hybrid's 2.0-liter four-cylinder mill has less power at hand than the standard model, yet still proves punchier off-the-line oomph. That's because of the additional electrified power and torque provided by the two electric motors, which together with the engine, accelerates the Crosstrek Hybrid from 0-60 mph in around eight seconds - a full second faster than the standard model. The hybrid powertrain makes for nippy and smooth driving around town and with plenty of low-end torque, and commencing overtakes isn't much of a task. Even so, getting up to highway speeds can be a bit of a gradual affair; the CVT automatic can deliver some clumsy responses but it works well with the Crosstrek's smooth hybridized engine dynamics. The Crosstrek Hybrid is availed with a maximum towing capacity of 1,000 lbs.
By virtue of Crosstrek Hybrid's standard all-wheel-drive system, it rides with a sure-footed and firmly planted feel around corners and at any speed. It exhibits good coordination and stability around winding roads and manages body roll to a fair degree. Its steering is properly weighted and delivers some quick, precise responses to driver input, even if there's not much feedback provided. While the brakes do deliver ample stopping power and the pedal is easy to modulate around town, it can feel a little springy with more aggressive inputs.
In terms of ride comfort, the Crostrek Hybrid's softly-tuned suspension and dampers deliver an impressively subtle and smooth ride. Most road abrasions and undulations are dealt with accordingly and the 18-inch wheels and broad wheel arches give the Crosstrek plenty of leeway to take on larger obstacles. With a ground clearance of 8.7 inches, decent approach, breakover, and departure angles, and Subaru's X-MODE simulated low-range gearbox configuration, the Crosstrek Hybrid is a surprisingly capable off-roader.
For a hybridized vehicle, the Crosstrek Hybrid isn't very impressive; in combined driving conditions the EPA recorded gas mileage estimates of 35 mpg on average and 90 MPGe on electricity alone. That's not much of an improvement over the standard Crosstrek's estimates of 27/33/30 mpg city/highway/combined. The Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid leads the segment in gas mileage, returning 46 mpg combined or 105 MPGe on all-electric power. The Crosstrek Hybrid offers a measly 17 miles on all-electric power only, and with its 13.2-gallon gas tank filled and its 8.8 kWh battery fully charged, it's conceded a maximum drive range of around 480 miles. It will take around five hours for a full charge on a typical 120-volt household outlet, around two hours on a 240-volt outlet.
Five adults will comfortably fit into the Cosstrek Hybrid, passenger room is ample throughout the cabin and the steering wheel and front seats feature good levels of adjustability. The seats are impressively comfortable and supportive thanks to generous padding and bolstering. And by virtue of the Crosstrek's jacked-up stance, the driver and front passenger have an expansive outward view; visibility is optimal all-round and the driver's controls are all in easy reach. A high step-in height, level seating height, and wide opening yet compact doors make for effortless ingress and egress.
The Crosstrek Hybrid's lithium-ion battery pack is located beneath the cargo bay, which means there is a slight compromise in cargo space. While there's 20.8 cubic feet of cargo space offered in the standard model, the hybrid offers only 15.9 cu-ft. That is still enough space for a couple of hiking backpacks, a two-man tent, and a few other camping amenities. And, if the 60/40 split-folding rear seats are folded down, a couple of bicycles could fit, too, with 43.1 cubes opened up.
As for in-cabin storage solutions, there are usable door side pockets capable of holding large bottles on all four doors, four cupholders - two up front in the center console and two in the rear center seat backrest. There's a small-items cubby in the dash, a center armrest compartment, and a lockable passenger-side glove box.
As a specialty vehicle, the Crosstrek Hybrid is shipped as a top-spec model. It comes standard with keyless access with push-button start, all-power accessories, a manual tilt/telescoping steering column, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear lever, a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, four-way manually-adjustable front passenger's seat - both of which feature heating, and dual-zone automatic climate control. It also features a 6.3-inch color multifunction display with information for energy flow, heating, air conditioning, audio, weather, hybrid battery charging, vehicle systems operation, and more.
In the way of safety and driver-assist technology, Subaru's EyeSight Driver Assist Technology has you covered. The system includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure and sway warning, and lane keep assist, which supplements the blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, reverse automatic braking, rear-vision camera, hill-descent control, and electronic cruise control.
An eight-inch infotainment touchscreen is integrated to the dash of the Crosstrek Hybrid as standard, and the user interface is intuitive, the visuals crisp, and the STARLINK Multimedia Plus system quickly responsive. It's coupled to an AM/FM stereo with a CD player and a six-speaker sound system, and is installed with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality as standard. There is also SiriusXM and HD Radio connectivity with Travel Link, Bluetooth hands-free smartphone operation and audio streaming, and 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot capability. There is an auxiliary input jack, a 12-volt power outlet, dual charge-only USB ports up front, and another pair of charge-only USB ports in the rear. Those looking for something a little more impressive can opt for a premium eight-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound system, as well as onboard navigation.
While the standard Crosstrek has been recalled numerous times, the hybrid model has not been subject to a single recall since its inception in 2019. A new Crosstrek Hybrid is covered by a three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, and a minimum eight-year/100,000-mile hybrid component warranty, sate dependant.
Though neither the 2019 nor the 2020 year models of the Crosstrek Hybrid have been evaluated by the NHTSA for their crashworthiness, the standard model received a five-star overall rating that can be carried over to the hybrid. The IIHS, on the other hand, categorized the 2019 Crosstrek Hybrid as a Top Safety Pick+ within its class, which is the authority's most prestigious award and a good indication of what to expect for the 2020 model year. The Crosstrek Hybrid comes equipped with seven airbags including a driver's knee airbag, as well as with Subaru's EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, a rearview camera, blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, reverse automatic braking, hill-descent control, and cruise control.
The Crosstrek has always been a near-consummate adventure vehicle thanks to permanent all-wheel-drive, high ground clearance, and Subaru's attention to detail when it comes to building robust SUVs. The Crosstrek Hybrid plays to those strengths, but with a few added benefits, improving gas mileage and offering 17 miles of all-electric range, which is ideal for saving on fuel costs in daily short distance driving. Furthermore, with permanent all-wheel-drive, a jacked-up ride height, and 1,000-pound max tow capacity, it's also a capable weekend getaway vehicle thanks to real off-road capabilities and traveling practicality. But as a plug-in hybrid, the mileage estimates are disappointing, the cargo bay is even smaller than the already cramped standard Crosstrek, and the cabin doesn't boast as much space as rivals do. However, loaded with standard functionality and high levels of safety, the Crosstrek is a true adventure hybrid. Whether it's good enough to justify its purchase over a standard model is what we're unsure of. The standard model is cheaper and more practical, while if you have your heart set on an urban hybrid, the Kia Niro Plug-In is simply the best.
The 2020 Crosstrek Hybrid is only $150 more than the 2019 year model, but even so, with a hefty starting MSRP of $35,145, excluding Subaru's destination and handling fee of $1,010, acquisition fee of $595, as well as any tax, registration, or licensing fees, some may find that the proposition in value is far off from the standard models, and not worth the up-shot in price.
2.0-liter Flat 4 Plug-in Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
There is only the single Crosstrek Hybrid model available and it comes well-outfitted with high-grade features as standard, and as such, has access to only a few options. We do suggest optioning in the only available Optional Package for $2,500, which adds onboard navigation and an eight-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, a heated steering wheel, and a power tilt and sliding moonroof. The Crosstrek Hybrid would make for an ideal rugged outdoor-mobile for a young family, as a fuel-efficient, practical, and semi-capable off-roader that comes standard with an expansive selection of contemporary infotainment and driver-assist technologies, including Subaru's EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, and general creature comforts. These include keyless access with push-button start, a power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, and dual-zone automatic climate control.
Honda is renowned for its well-rounded vehicles, and the 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid follows through. Coming in at nearly $7,000 cheaper than the Crosstrek Hybrid, the CR-V Hybrid is already an appealing option to consider. The standalone model comes equipped with a more powerful engine that also proves significantly more fuel-efficient, with 212 horsepower instantly at hand and an expected 45 mpg combined. As an all-new vehicle for the 2020 model year, the CR-V Hybrid may be the more contemporary vehicle too, coming with the latest in design and style and with the newest features, while the Crosstrek's rugged nature lends itself to an interior that looks and feels a little cheap by comparison. When it comes to crashworthiness, standard safety, and inclusive advanced driver-assist features, both vehicles are pretty much on par. The CR-V Hybrid will be the roomier and more practical vehicle, though. All in all, there's a lot more value from the CR-V Hybrid as the vehicle that's a little better than the Crosstrek Hybrid in almost every regard.
The Toyota RAV4 Hybrid comes in four varying models, two of which are more affordable than the single Crosstrek Hybrid model, while the other two are specced to levels the Crosstrek is not. The RAV4 features a more powerful and more fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain with 219 net hp and 41/38/40 mpg. That means along with a greater selection to choose from, a lot more value for money can be attained from the RAV4 lineup. The RAV4 Hybrid delivers a far more refined driving experience than the Crosstrek Hybrid, it has a lot more power at hand for swift acceleration and even though it's equipped with a sport-tuned suspension, it still delivers luxurious levels of ride comfort. The RAV4 also carries Toyota's renowned penchant for reliability, which it couples with exceptional safety ratings and a vast list of standard-fit safety and driver-assist features. It's also the more practical vehicle, offering more cargo space in the trunk, with 37.5 cu-ft, and a greater max tow capability of 1,750 lbs. Overall, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid is a better well-rounded vehicle and the recommended buy.