By on May 14, 2018

Crosstrek Hybrid

While a lot of average folks like Subaru, the brand has long been popular with the hippie-dippy demographic. Frankly, it seemed like the company missed a golden opportunity to further solidify its standing with the granola crowd by being a little late on the hybrid front.

However, maybe we’ve categorized the automaker’s consumer base incorrectly — or at least their taste in powertrains. After all, the Crosstrek Hybrid wasn’t an overwhelming success. The model only lasted three years until Subaru decided to kill it off in 2016. But it’s coming back from the dead for 2019, this time as a plug-in — making it Subaru’s very first PHEV.

Considering how poorly the last model performed, choosing to bring back the Crosstrek Hybrid may sound like a fool’s errand. However, Subaru is being smart by building 2019 model with a power port. Plug-ins are gaining in popularity, though a lot of that stems from consumers being more willing to adopt battery-only vehicles. PHEV sales are more of a mixed bag and both still represent a minuscule portion of the total market.

We’re not sure how well the updated Crosstrek Hybrid will sell. But dealers will be able to boast that the model can be driven as a normal hybrid, using both gas and electric power to eliminate range anxiety, or solely under electric power for shorter commutes. That ought to interest those hunting for a versatile family hauler who are keen to keep fuel costs down but don’t want to go fully electric.

The 2019 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid keeps its four-cylinder Boxer engine and symmetrical all-wheel drive, but adds a new transmission and a hybrid system on loan from Toyota. It’s also supposed to get some unique styling cues to differentiate itself from the gas-powered alternative.

While the automaker didn’t give much in the way of details, it’s safe to expect the same 2.0-liter from the standard car with added oomph coming from the electric motors. Subaru hasn’t released pricing yet, but it’ll definitely surpass the Limited trim’s $26,295 MSRP. Subaru says the model should begin appearing on dealer lots before the end of the year.

[Image: Subaru]

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24 Comments on “The Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid Crawls Out of Its Grave Next Year...”


  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Just call it the Crosstrek Zombie Edition.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Will be interesting to see if it can simulate a low gear for engine braking on descents.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      That shouldn’t be any problem. My C-Max Energi holds speed on hills when I activate extra regeneration on descents, and when I add a shift to “Low gear,” it’s like it’s dragging an anchor! Easily as much resistance as shifting a normal car to third, but you’re getting free miles out of it.

  • avatar
    maui_zaui

    The last Crosstrek hybrid was killed because it was awful. It cost more, weighed more, and only managed to roughly get 2mpg better than the non-hybrid version. Seeing as to how they’re supposed to be borrowing Toyota’s hybrid tech for this new plug-in version, hopefully it will do a little better with the mpgs.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Speaking as a Prius and EV entheusiast, the Crosstrek Hybrid was weaksauce.

      They missed the same thing GM missed with the 2008-2010 Malibu mild hybrid. Yes, green car people like to make a statement — but the statement doesn’t count if the window sticker doesn’t have a high MPG number.

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        The 2008 Malibu mild hybrid was okay at first. Yeah, fuel mileage wasn’t that much better but the cost for the hybrid was only like $842 more. For that little bit of extra coin, it was a good deal.

        Then some greedy bastards at GM decided that wasn’t close enough to the premium others were charging for their (much better) hybrids so they quickly tripled the price for the Malibu Hybrid to over $2500. Suddenly, the Malibu Hybrid wasn’t worth anywhere near what they wanted for one and they immediately languished on dealer lots.

    • 0 avatar
      brandloyalty

      How did they manage to make it so bad? The Escape Hybrid gets 40% better mileage than the non-hybrid version.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Hybrids aren’t magic, and there are a lot of different hybrid systems.

        If you took the HSD out of a Prius, it would still be a verry efficient car.

        IIRC, the Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid was something comparable to the belt-alternator-starter mild hybrid system. Basically, they just put a bigger starter on the engine with integrated control programming to start/stop the motor, and provide a little extra torque at key times. These systems usually have a 36-volt traction battery, so one might argue that it is technically a hybrid system — even if it is nothing like the Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD), GM’s Voltec, or GM’s 2-Mode systems.

        Remember that HSD is a system where the gasoline engine is basically an accessory attached to a magic gearbox (consistening of 2 electric motors, a single planetary gear set (similar to a differential) and a 1.5KWH+ battery). GM’s 2-mode is similar in principle, but is built around a complicatified automatic transmission. GM’s Voltec started out as a serial hybrid, but evolved to be more like HSD over time — because mechanically linking the engine to the wheels is efficient.

        Now, with that as context, bolting a bigger starter/alternator onto a regular engine and calling it a hybrid is weak sauce as far as fuel saving goes. It’s fine as engineering (all fuel savings are good fuel savings), but using marketing terms which imply it’s similar to HSD or Voltec is misleading.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      Any hybrid surely will weigh more, until batteries can be made from paper and air. But they carry the weight well. The energy spent on accelerating a larger mass can be recovered, mostly, by regen braking. That’s how my C-Max, which weighs about two tons with me in it, can give me excellent economy AND a “big-car ride,” which I’m coming to enjoy a lot.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    “But we do know that Subaru is getting a helping hand from Toyota which will provide it with a version of the plug-in drive system first developed for the Prius Prime.”
    Detroit Bureau

    Probably about the same specs as a Kia Niro, 8 or 9 kWh battery. Then we all get to see whether the Toyota hybrid system beats the H/K system in mpg but with actual AWD which the Kia lacks.

    This puerile ho ho ho Subaru stereotyping has to end. First it was lesbians, now it’s hippy dippy. Fer crissakes, it’s doggie-woggie. Or colorless grey people judging by the folk prodding their smartphones in the Subie waiting room last month as I got my summer tires out of storage. My 08 LGT shows up the bubble Subies of today and looked like a pike among the plus-size minnows out in the lot, virtually all equipped with gasping four cylinder normally-aspirated wheezers. These latest Subarus interest me not one jot. Still if you own Great Danes, the Ascent is out in 8 or 10 weeks and will attempt to motivate itself with a 2.4 turbo against headwinds and hills while the CVT moans. Hold me down, the excitement is too much!

    • 0 avatar
      gottacook

      None of Subaru of America’s current offerings appeal to me, either (all of ours are from ’03 through ’07, including two 5-speeds but no turbos). However, I see no reason to denigrate either current Subaru buyers or the cars they buy. Where do you think SoA would be today if their line-up was the same as in 2008? They’d still be a niche manufacturer. Of course, there are plenty of “proper Subarus” remaining that aren’t too used up, for those like us who would seek them out.

      • 0 avatar
        Hogey74

        07 Forrester owner here, yep. 5 speed, dual range, 2.5l engine. A little thirsty but the newer ones aren’t for me I’ve realized. Gonna overhaul and improve the vehicle next year and keep it as a second car until it gets too expensive… 5, 7, 10 years?

        They seem to have done what Toyota did in the mid 00s – chased refinement by adding metal but keeping the same power, resulting in significantly quieter but heavier vehicles that were sluggish and both less efficient and less enjoyable to drive. Appealed to more people over all but lost plenty of fans who went to Mazda etc.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    This will be a WINNER. A hybrid system from Toyota in an all-wheel-drive wagon ! It will not just be hippies who will buy this vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      It’s not just “hippies” and engineers who buy Prii now.

      The Prius is the new Honda Civic, at least in towns and cities where people admit to staying on the oaved road. Prii are driven by all kinds of people.

      We owned a 2004 Prius for 12 years, through two of our 3 kids. We bought an actual Civic as a cheaper alternative to hold us over until our Tesla Model 3 is ready.

      The HSD RAV4 has been selling will. AWD does expand the appeal!

      But, if you think you have to be a “hippie” to drive a Prius, you probbably haven’t been out of your bubble in about a decade or so.

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    This will be a WINNER. A hybrid system from Toyota in an all-wheel-drive wagon ! It will not just be hippies who will buy this vehicle, assuming that it has some family/cargo room.

  • avatar
    Hogey74

    Nah cummon, forget it. It was understood from the start that hybrids were an environmental negative but a useful stepping stone for getting in-the-field experience with new drive train tech. No Prius has ever paid back via fuel savings the extra energy and pollution they take to make. I really appreciate Toyota biting that bullet but there is no need to jump on this merry-go-round now. It’s been done, unless it’s an electric vehicle with a 2-cylinder sustainer motor (say). I’m a Subaru owner and fan but they’re still a car manufacturer: clinging to old fashioned tech and avoiding change until the last minute. If they had gonads of any description they’d have a decent EV on sale by now using the open tech from mobs like Telsa. Instead they’re getting into Toyota’s impressive prototype-as-product 90s tech in 2018? Cummon.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      You’ve been misinformed.

      Our Prius was reliable and efficient every day for 12 years. It saved us a ton of money, and kept saving us money until a Silverado bumper deformed the cargo area. (It would have been fine if the bumpers had been at matching heights.)

      The “study” which claimed that a Hummer had lower total lifecycle emissions was based on faulty assumptions. The lesson of that study is that there exists a hypothetical world where hybrids are worse than conventional (boring) cars, but that the real world is very different world.

      The 1.5KWH NiMH battery and two motor-generstors in our Prius allowed for a truly astounding amount of mechanical simplification, because the gearbox is a single planetary gear set (as opposed to the 3+ thst you find in an automatic transmission). Also, the battery lasted about as long as an automatic transmission, and cost about as much to replace (at least by the time the Prius line of cars started to mature).

      So, yeah, as a 12-year Prius owner, I call BS on your comment. Our Prius was the best car I’ve ever owned – at least as far as responsible transportation goes.

      P.S. I’ll admit that it was more fun to own a Prius than it was to actually drive (WOT sounded like you were stomping on a very angry kitten, and it had no special abilities in the handling department) — but it was competent at everything, and cheap to run. Get out of your bubble, or else you’ll miss some really excellent vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        My plug-in hybrid (I’ll stop the name dropping here) has recorded 65.7 MPG over its first 13,000 miles. My fuel cost (110 V AC included) is under 5 cents per mile. Those are facts that are very easy to live with.

  • avatar
    1998S90

    I will be needing a new vehicle soon and this one ticks a lot of boxes for me. I just need to see what the towing capacity will be.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    If the increase in fuel mileage is big enough, and the price low enough, this will sell.

    OTOH, if Subaru gets a bad case of ‘GM-itis’ and overprices the hell out of it, well, it’s going to go over just as well as the last lame-ass Crosstrek Hybrid.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Man the crosstrek is a pricey car. But I see them everywhere in Idaho.

    Will this System have the weird awd, battery-powered rear axle awd like the RAV and Lexus NX hybrids?

    Otherwise intriguing, except for that price.

    Aside question.. Anyone here driven a new crosstrek with stick? I never see one in stock anywhere near me.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    It probably will end up the same if it is using the 2L FB20d. The savings in a hybrid comes from the fuel efficiency of a small engine, the hybrid hardware is basically there to make it more livable. If you use the same size engine, the savings are nominal.

    That said, and I’ve said before, the click-bait Subaru articles on TTAC are a bad bellwether of this site, it’s the same principle (but in less extreme) that BS used to do during his tenure. “What do you think of this provocative ting…now have it” does not an informed reader make.

    How about actually providing context and information, so that the point of clicking on an article is to actually learn something? (Birkenstocks and dogs hurr durr durr! … how original…)

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      Maybe it gets boring writing about cars every day? They’re all pretty good. So you start writing about people- not people you know, just classes of people. It’s easy to do. Mostly you’re just quoting reliable old slurs and aspersions from past articles. It’s in keeping with the lousy temper of the times, I guess.

      Personally, I was one of those “Hybrid? Never,” folks, until I was helping a family member shop for a car. I found a rather unusual plug-in hybrid that does have power, handling and comfort- but I would have spent the seat time to discover that until I stepped outside my personal peeves and prejudices. It’s great when that happens; it expands your world.

  • avatar
    Zipster

    Over its lifetime, a Prius will use 2,000 to 3,000 gallons less fuel. Are you saying that the energy expenditure to make the batteries exceeds that? You are off by more than an order of magnitude. If making batteries cost that much in energy expenditure, it would be reflected in all of the batteries that you buy.

    One believes what one wants to believe.

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