The Seattle area is one of Subaru’s hottest markets, and our Subie fans who’ve been hoping for a plug-in hybrid model finally have their hopes fulfilled this year with the intro of the 2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid.
This plug-in hybrid version of the fast-selling Crosstrek compact SUV can go for 17 miles in fully electric mode at speeds up to 65 mph, deliver up to 90 MPGe in hybrid mode, has a total range of 480 miles, and can be recharged in about five hours using a standard household 120V outlet or two hours at 240V.
Subaru calls its new hybrid system StarDrive. Momentum comes from a four-cylinder Subaru boxer engine and two electric motors. The motors have individual tasks. One functions as an engine starter and can be powered by the engine to serve as a generator for the hybrid battery; the other powers the car for hybrid and electric driving modes and also charges the battery during regenerative braking. A new Lineartronic CVT (continuously variable transmission) and Subaru’s respected Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive complete the team.
Total output for the StarDrive motor/engine combo is 148 horsepower.
The Crosstrek Hybrid has roomy seating for five, but less overall interior space than the gasoline-powered Crosstrek. That’s because the rear cargo area is pinched by the battery pack. With rear seats in upright position, it measures just 15.9 cubic feet. With rear seats folded, capacity is 43.1 cubic feet.
On the upside, the cabin is attractive and skillfully crafted, with great forward and lateral visibility. Bumps in the road are smoothed out pretty well, and intrusion from outside noise is duly prohibited.
There is one version of the Crosstrek Hybrid, no assortment of trim levels. Base pricing of the car I tested is $35,970 including destination charge. That’s kind of high compared to some other cars in this segment, but it does include an impressive list of upscale standard features, and the Subaru nameplate is always worth a premium to Subie fans. In any case, don’t forget to research federal tax credits for hybrid vehicles when considering pricing.
An option package on the tester ($2,500) added a power moonroof, heated steering wheel, and an upgraded Subaru Starlink infotainment system with navigation, a sweet Harman Kardon premium audio system, and – God bless Subaru for this – a CD player.
Exterior color choices include gray, black, white, and the tester’s Lagoon Pearl Blue, the Crosstrek Hybrid’s exclusive signature color, about which there are strong opinions both pro and con.
With the StarDrive system, the Crosstrek Hybrid takes less time than the conventional Crosstrek to go from zero to 60, but it’s still no powerhouse. But it doesn’t deserve to get dragged for that. The Crosstrek isn’t built with g-force fanatics in mind. So, OK, but there IS a tiny issue with the powertrain’s sound, which is the exact opposite of a nice throaty rumble.
On the upside again, Crosstrek Hybrid has 8.7 inches of ground clearance, a boon for driving on rough dirt roads to access hiking trails and birding hotspots, and getting around in the snow on any surface.
2019 SUBARU CROSSTREK HYBRID
Base price, including destination charge: $35,970
Price as driven: $38,470
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.