The Subaru XV Crosstrek launched last year as a capable little SUV, with good interior space and all-wheel-drive. At the New York auto show, Subaru used the XV Crosstrek as the basis for its first hybrid. Little was changed from the base XV Crosstrek. Subaru kept the same drivetrain, but incorporated an electric motor into the continuously variable transmission. The results are an increase in power over the original, as well as a modest efficiency gain.
The engine in the XV Crosstrek Hybrid, and in its gasoline-only counterpart, is a 2-liter, flat four-cylinder, which produces 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. Subaru added a 13.4 horsepower electric motor, which also powers the all-wheel-drive system. Subaru released no specifications for the combined drivetrain output, but it should be greater than the non-hybrid version.
Where the base XC Crosstrek gets 25 mpg city and 33 mpg highway, the hybrid version gets 28 mpg city and 34 mpg highway. That latter set of numbers works out to 31 mpg combined, 3 mpg better in the combined number than the XV Crosstrek without the hybrid system.
Subaru uses a nickel-metal-hydride battery pack, mounted under the rear cargo floor, for the hybrid system. Most hybrid cars these days have gone to lithium-ion battery packs, but Subaru's close association with Toyota might have led to the XV Crosstrek Hybrid's battery chemistry, as the Prius uses a similar battery type.
Although a compact SUV, the XV Crosstrek Hybrid has the dimensions of a small wagon and can easily seat five. The vehicle only loses .7-cubic foot of interior space over the non-hybrid version. Subaru boasts of an 8.7-inch ground clearance for the car.
The instrument cluster looks unchanged from the gasoline-only XV Crosstrek's, but the eyebrow display in the top center of the dashboard can show hybrid drivetrain information. The hybrid system gives the XC Crosstrek an idle stop feature, which contributes to its city efficiency.
The optional navigation system and digital music system offers quite a few useful features, including voice command that lets drivers ask for artists or albums by name.