SUBARU ADDS FIRST HYBRID WITH 2014 XV CROSSTREK

2014 Subaru Crosstek Hybrid

By Tom Crosby

Subaru has added a hybrid engine this year for its XV CrossTrek, the stylish small SUV introduced new last year as an alternative to Subaru’s Impreza hatchback, both built on the same platform.

There are two hybrid models, base and Touring, each differing from the Impreza with 8.7 inches of ground clearance, making the CrossTrek a viable off-road fun drive through mud and snow.

Our test-drive was the base model. Touring would have added a touch-screen navigation system, leather-trimmed seats and a power moonroof.

The 2.0-liter gas engine and electric power working in conjunction can be slightly noisy when ramping up to desired speeds. Handling, however, feels confident and secure, with the all-wheel drive reacting in curves and to quick turning maneuvers using electric power-assist steering.

The ride on the retuned stiff suspension and low-rolling resistance all-season tires is comfortable enough with some feedback over rougher roads.

One performance irritant is the stop/start system that shuts the engine off at a stop but lurches when it starts back up. It sometimes happens underway when accelerating or dawdling at lower speeds just what type of power to use – gas only, electric only or both. Using the manual paddles reduces that indecision.

Outside, the CrossTrek has character with its sharply raked windshield, roof rails, uniquely marked aluminum alloy five-spoke black wheels, Hawkeye LED highlights and low air dam to create a slightly predatory look.

The front grille displays iconic spread wing logo of Fuji Industries, which owns Subaru, and used to build airplanes.

Mileage isn’t as great as some competitive hybrids. We averaged 31.8 miles per gallon on a 200-mile interstate trip.

Inside, the nickel-hydride battery doesn’t cramp as much cargo space as some competitors but does reduce space for a spare tire, replaced by a tire-sealant package. With the rear seats folded, there is 50.2 cubic feet of storage space.

Inside, the look is Spartan but comfortable from the driver’s manually adjusted cloth-clad bucket seats. Front seats are heated.

Blue lighting illuminates dashboard gauges at night; by day they are readable white-on-black. Controls are simple; three climate control gauges are easily reached.

A 4.3 LCD screen shows the hybrid energy flow and other information. The rearview camera is standard this year. A windshield deicer is a winter plus and the sliding center armrest adds to driver comfort. CrossTrek is a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

LIKES: Handling, ride, SUV, price, looks
DISLIKES: Hybrid shifts
BOTTOM LINE: Functional, practical starter car for small family

FACT FILE: SUBARU XV CROSSTREK HYBRID 2014

  • Base price w/destination charge $26,820
  • Vehicle weight 3,451 lbs.
  • Wheelbase 103.7 inches
  • Length 175.2 inches
  • Width 70.1 inches
  • Engine  2.0-liter, 4-cyclinder BOXER electric motor and battery
  • Horsepower 148-hp at 6,000 rpm (gas), 160-hp at 6,000 rpm (hybrid)
  • Torque 145-lb.-ft at 4,200 rpm (gas), 163-lb.-ft at 2,000 rpm (hybrid
  • Transmission Continuous variable transmission
  • EPA Rating 29 mpg city and 33 mpg hwy
  • Range 13.7-gallons, regular
  • Performance 0-60 in 10 seconds