Car Review: Subaru Crosstrek now offers plug-in hybrid version of its popular subcompact crossover

When you think of manufacturers that are increasing sales, Subaru may not be the company you would first blurt out. In that case, you may be surprised to learn that Subaru has increased sales each year and could reach 700,000+ sales for 2019. New for 2019 is a Hybrid model that offers drivers who want to use less fuel an appealing option.

The Subaru Crosstrek was redone for 2018 and I liked it more than the previous version of the small crossover, but I thought it lacked in fuel economy. For the 2019 model, Subaru went about improving that situation.

If you want better MPG, welcome in the new Crosstrek Hybrid. This plug in will give 17 miles before the gas engine kicks in. I tested this model during the cold weather months, and the best I could do was about 14 miles of gas-free driving. In the week I drove the Crosstrek Hybrid I managed 44 mpg, a big jump from the gas-only version.

Better gas mileage comes at a price, with the standard model starting at $35,000 and add another $3,000 if you want all the options added in. That’s a big ask in the subcompact crossover market.

For that sizable price tag, you get a very capable machine. With AWD and nearly nine inches of ground clearance, this hybrid could easily tackle some light off-roading. Most of the bumps you encounter are well controlled but there is some body lean in the corners.

The Crosstrek Hybrid is no speed racer but it seems much quicker when compared to the combustion-only version which is more tortoise than hare. Using the electric motor makes for a hushed ride but the four-cylinder engine can be a bit buzzy when at full throttle. The CVT transmission is better this time around — fake shifts make it seem more like a conventional automatic.

Inside is where the latest edition of the Subaru Crosstrek excels. The materials are better than in the past, more appealing looking and feeling than before. The two leather front seats provide comfort for short commutes but can be a touch firm on longer trips for some riders. The seat heaters are very effective some of the better in the class. Those sitting in the back seat are treated well for this size crossover, with good headroom and improved legroom when compared to the previous Crosstrek.

Cargo space seems just adequate with the seats up; folding the back seat yields a larger space but the floor is high with battery pack storage.

A heated steering wheel is part of a $2,500 option package that also includes a power moon roof, NAV system and more powerful sound system. The controls are easy to use and large climate control rotary knobs add an air of simplicity.

The Subaru has a lot of technology with EyeSight Driver Assist that has a series of cameras to help keep you safer on the road. You get Adaptive cruise control, Automatic pre-collision braking, Lane Departure warning and Lane Keep assist.

Outside the Crosstrek Hybrid doesn’t look any different from the gas-only version. You have to look very closely to find the differences. The Crosstrek Hybrid gains an additional utility door for the charge plug; the gas door is on the opposite side. The other give away are the three blue plug-in hybrid emblems. The emblems are small and you have to look close to notice.

The Lagoon Blue Pearl paint color is bright and cheerful and still has some rugged style with the lower blacked-out body moldings.

The redesigned Crosstrek might be more grown-up than before and it has lost some of its funky styling cues that helped the original standout. The little crossover looks more crossover than tall wagon which will help with sales I’m sure.

Subaru’s first plug-in hybrid comes at the right time for this expanding company. The 2019 Crosstrek Hybrid offers you an electric commuter crossover or rugged go anywhere fun machine that’s now green.

Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by DriveShop, FMI or Motus One for the purpose of this review.

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