Almost every major automotive brand seems to have at least one hybrid in its lineup or has had at one point or another. One of the lone holdouts up until now has been Subaru. It has shown several concept cars with hybrid drivetrains, but none imminently destined for the showroom. But that's about to change come fall 2013, when the XV Crosstrek Hybrid will be rolling into town.
When we first got news of the XV Crosstrek Hybrid, we were a little surprised at the model choice for getting a hybrid option. The more popular Outback wagon or Forester SUV might have seemed a more obvious choice at first glance, but the Impreza-based Crosstrek works as well as any. Other than the addition of the usual hybrid-related hardware of a powertrain battery and supplemental electric motor, the drivetrain is pure Subaru. The standard XV Crosstrek's 148-hp, 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder engine remains, with a 13.4-hp electric motor sandwiched between the engine and Subaru's Lineartronic CVT.
Interestingly, as almost every other major OEM has gone to lithium-ion battery technology for its new hybrid models introduced over the past few years, the XV hybrid sticks with the proven nickel-metal hydride chemistry used for over a decade by Toyota in its non-plugin hybrids. Toyota's partial stake in Subaru may have played a factor in the decision. The weight and packaging sacrifices for the hybrid system are relatively minimal, with the system adding 209 pounds to the vehicle, and overall vehicle weight going up approximately 300 pounds. Maximum cargo capacity with the seats down takes a minor hit from 51.9 to 50.2 cubic feet.
As with the regular XV Crosstrek, ground clearance is a generous 8.7 inches. Hybrid-specific features include an auto stop-start system with a dedicated 12-volt battery, regenerative braking, a color multifunction display with hybrid system energy flow, and active grille shutters. The hybrid model also gets unique 17-inch wheels, and "hybrid" badging on the front doors and tailgate. Already fairly fuel-efficient for a small crossover, the hybrid bumps the XV's fuel economy by 3 mpg in the city and 1 mpg on the highway, for a rating of 28/34, and a 31 mpg combined rating.
Pricing was not announced for the hybrid model, but will probably be released closer to the XV Crosstrek Hybrid's expected on-sale date of fall 2013.