Competes with: Jeep Compass, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
Looks like: A Crosstrek with badges; the hybrid model is available in an exclusive green color
Drivetrain: 2.0-liter four-cylinder paired with a 13.4-hp electric motor, a 13.5-kw nickel-metal-hydride battery and a CVT
Hits dealerships: End of this year
Subaru's first hybrid powertrain will go into its newest vehicle. The XV Crosstrek was first unveiled last spring in New York and the automaker launched the hybrid version at this year's New York International Auto Show.
On the outside, the cues that differentiate the new hybrid from the gas-powered lineup are minimal. Specific wheels, hybrid badges and a unique Plasma Green Pearl color are all that set it apart visually, and Subaru says the XV offers the same 8.7 inches of ground clearance as non-hybrid models.
The big news is under the hood and inside the cabin. Power comes from a version of the regular XV Crosstrek's 148-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. In the hybrid, it teams with a 13.4-hp electric motor, a 13.5-kilowatt nickel-metal-hydride battery and a continuously variable automatic transmission. Subaru says the motor provides electric assist upon takeoff and will work in an electric-only EV mode in "certain low-speed situations." Fuel is also saved with a regenerative braking system, auto start/stop system and a revised air-conditioning system; the latter uses a temperature and humidity sensor for reduced draw on engine power.
Subaru says the standard all-wheel-drive hybrid model weighs around 300 pounds more than the regular one, which might explain its less-than-impressive fuel economy. The automaker expects the compact crossover to be EPA rated at 28/34 mpg city/highway; non-hybrid versions with the CVT are rated at 25/33 mpg.
Inside, the battery is located under a revised rear floor area, but Subaru says passenger room is almost the same as the gas model; it cites only a 0.7-cubic-foot difference between the two. Cargo room is also similar: With the rear seats down, there’s 50.2 cubic feet in the hybrid and 51.9 in the gas model.
Other interior differences between the gas and hybrid models include extra sound insulation, a new gauge cluster, keyless start and a "cool blue" cabin theme with silver trim.
The 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid will go on sale at the end of the year.