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 2.0i and 2.0i trims. A continuously variable transmission is offered on the Limited trim, my test vehicle.
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 close. Adaptive headlights are also in the safety suite.
Leather seating, automatic climate control, keyless entry and ignition, power- adjustable driver’s seat and 18-inches wheels are also standard. A Harmon Kardon audio system with eight speakers and a 432- watt equivalent amplifier, a power moonroof and heating steering wheel are in the mix. An intuitive Tom-Tom navigation system is optional only on the Limited trim. Symmetrical all-wheel-drive provides a stable ride. The smallest SUV in the Subaru family, the Crosstrek Hybrid has a raised suspension that provides 8.7 inches of ground clearance. It’s ideal for driving in poor weather and in off-road conditions.
There’s also X-Mode. Push the designated button on the console and it activates the Hill Descent Control. 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 combined gas and electric range is 480 miles. Two generator motors are featured.
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. The electric battery is packed under the rear load floor, cutting about 25 percent of storage capacity to 15.9 cubic feet. The rear cargo area floor is raised about four inches, further limiting cargo space.
The Crosstrek Hybrid is sturdy, maneuvers adeptly and advances with confidence. But getting to highway speed requires patience. Never expect performance when a quick burst of speed would be ideal. It’s another shortcoming for an otherwise worthy newcomer.
James Raia, a freelance writer based in Sacramento, California, specializes in sports and lifestyle topics. He publishes the website theweeklydriver.com.