2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid
by John Davis
The 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid is the brand’s first attempt at a hybrid. Given its compact size and tough personality, it makes a lot of sense that Subaru chose this model for its initial foray into the world of gas/electric hybrids.
Despite Subaru’s corporate connection with Toyota, the drivetrain is all their own. While short of being a Prius-like full-hybrid, the XV’s Hybrid hardware consists of a 13.4-horsepower electric motor built into the CVT transmission, and a small 0.55-kWh battery located under the rear load floor. EV only driving is limited to a very short range and speeds of up to 25 miles-per-hour.
Thanks to the battery’s location, there’s no compromise on interior passenger and cargo space. The only practical compromise is the substitution of an inflation-kit for a traditional spare tire.
While the bland interior design and layout is totally familiar, we do like the fact that the additional hybrid power flow display is mounted up high on the top of the dash instead of in the radio/navigation screen.
Providing the gasoline side of the powertrain is the same 2.0-liter flat-4 you’ll find in the regular Crosstrek. But, combined with the electric motor, total horsepower and torque rise only modestly to 160 and 163 respectively. Here the only significant alteration is the addition of an automatic stop/start system to make sure that all of the hybrid bases are covered.
During our initial outing in the wilds of Iceland, we were surprised that despite such a modest power gain, the XV Hyrbid did drive differently. Even with a weight gain of over 250 lbs., it felt peppier from a standing start, with better throttle response, even if that impression faded quickly as speeds climbed. That appears to make this hybrid perfectly suited for slower, urban or off-pavement work. Ground clearance remains the same great 8.7-inches. So, combined with the Subaru trademark standard all-wheel-drive, the XV Hybrid retains all of the brand’s all-weather prowess.
On road in the dry, the CrossTrek Hybrid is a solid citizen, with a ride that is stiffer than the typical Subaru model, keeping with the XV’s sportier image.
As for fuel efficiency, overall Government Fuel Economy Ratings jump 3 MPG over the regular Crosstrek for a combined score of 31 MPG. That’s very good for any crossover vehicle.
For a complete road test of the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3251 that begins airing on August 22, 2014. For a complete listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About The Show” tab at the top. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on the Velocity cable channel.
Granted, the XV Hybrid does not garner the fuel economy gains of a Prius. But then, the Prius is an equally poor match to the XV when it comes to all-weather and off-pavement security. Plus, when you consider the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid also drives sportier than the original, we consider this rugged little fuel saver a “win-win”.