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Car Tech Video: Subaru XV Crosstrek gains 'Hybrid' badges, but not much else

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Car Tech Video: Subaru XV Crosstrek gains 'Hybrid' badges, but not much else

5:41 /

Even on paper, the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid's power and efficiency gains over the nonhybrid version's are minimal.

A tall-wagon form factor, Subaru's symmetrical all-wheel drive system, and the legendary two liter Boxer four, with a hybrid twist. Could this be the most crunchy granola Subaru of all times? Let's hop behind the wheel of this 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid and check the tech. [MUSIC] Now the interior should come as no surprise if you've ever seen or sat in a current generation Impreza because like I said, it's basically the same vehicle. Inside we've got an interior that's nice. It's not gonna convince you that this is a luxury vehicle, but that's not really the point here. What we do have is materials and a design that remind me a lot what Volkswagen is doing right now. Its simple, its understated, its not gonna wow you, but its also not going to feel really cheap when you touch it and that's a good thing at this price point. In the center of the dashboard, we've got the standard infotainment system, and it's not really gonna wow you, but it does have a lot of good inputs. We've got an auxiliary input, we've got USB and iPod connectivity, we've got Bluetooth for hands-free calling and audio streaming. Now at the top of the dashboard, we've got our multi-information display. And that's gonna be a small screen up there that's gonna basically show you a variety of information about what's going on with your fuel economy, and the hybrid system. So we've got not one, but three different fuel economy screens. One's gonna be historic. Two are gonna be instantaneous. We've also got the all wheel drive screen that's gonna be on a lot of these current generation Subaru vehicles and that's gonna show you what your all wheel drive system is doing. But because Subaru all wheel drive systems are symmetrical, all wheel drive full time, it's pretty much going to show you that it's in all wheel drive all time. It's a pretty useless screen in this situation. And then finally we've got an interesting screen, the fuel saving screen. What that's going to do is show you how much, how your engine has not been running. Now one of the benefits of the hybrid is that you are able to shut that engine down and run in electric mode every now and then and then also shut it down when you're idling. So this is going to show you how long the engine has not been running when you're behind the wheel and how much fuel you've saved. Now under the hood it doesn't look very different from what you would expect to find underneath the hood of pretty much any other Impreza platform vehicle. Right here in the middle we've got our Boxer four. It's gonna displace about two liters and it's gonna punch out of either side so it's wide, but not very tall. That's gonna be mated with Subaru's symmetrical all wheel drive system that's gonna put power to all four corners. Now up front we've got also, two batteries, that's a little confusing, usually you only. Only see one under hood battery and on in the trunk battery, but we've got three in total here. I'm not really sure what Subaru was doing here. And even though Subaru is frequently a partner with Toyota, this hybrid system has actually been developed completely in-house by Subaru. Toyota had no hand in it. That probably explains why it's a little weird. In between the engine and the all wheel drive system is an electric motor that's been carried with a continuously variable transmission and that's actually going to give this car a fuel economy bump. Thanks to a nickel metal battery pack that you'll find in the truck. Fuel economy here is 33 on the highway, 29 in the city and that's gonna average out to about 31 miles per gallon. Now that average is only about three miles per gallon more than the standard XT. Part of that is cause this vehicle is about 300 pounds heavier. Here, we're looking at about 160 horsepower and a 163 pound-feet of torque. That's about twelve more horsepower than the standard XV, and about eighteen more pound-feet. And, if you wanted to have a little bit more fun with that extra power, you could actually shift virtual gears with the pedal shifter. You've got sort of six faux gears there, but I wouldn't really bother because fun's not really the point here. [MUSIC] I've been able to cruise in pure electric mode at speeds about under 20 miles per hour. If you're in stop and go traffic and you're creeping along at under 20 miles per hour, you'll be able to take advantage of that EV mode that takes fuel. But you won't be able to do it for very long, there is not a very big battery on this thing. But at highway speeds, this CVT is just sort of holds your RPM at a weird sort of droney level. So you kinda get this weird constant humming. And it's even worse when you're trying to do a zero to 60 run. The revs just kind of jump up to about five or 6,000 RPM and they just hang there. You don't really get that sort of satisfying shifting. And of course you can shift yourself, but they're big shifts so why even bother? And the transition from gasoline to electric power can be a little bit less than smooth, and even though this car has a bout ten more horsepower than the standard XB. It just doesn't really feel like there's a performance gain. It doesn't really feel like there's a big efficiency gain. And so it seems a bit like you're just hanging an extra $4,000 for a car that's quieter when you're idling. And have a hybrid badge on the outside. Now pricing your 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid is easy, because there're only two choices to make. There's the standard model, that starts at $25,995. And then there's a limited model that's gonna add navigation, leather and a power sunroof for about $30,000. Either way, it's a dubious sell because the advantages that you gain over the standard XV are minimal at best. And if you're looking at a hybrid, you've got the CMax and the Prix SV that are gonna give you a lot better fuel economy here. The weird thing about this XV Crosstrek hybrid is that it kind of overcomplicates Subaru's simple methods. So for my money I think I'd go standard XV or I'd get a real hybrid. [MUSIC]

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