NEWS

Subaru Plugs in for 2019 Crosstrek Hybrid

Competes with: Toyota Prius Prime, Hyundai Ionic Plug-in Hybrid

Looks like: You’ll have to look hard to tell the plug-in hybrid apart from the gas-only version

Drivetrain: 148-horsepower (combined), 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with two motor-generators and continuously variable automatic transmission; all-wheel drive

Hits dealerships: End of 2018

We heap plenty of praise on Subaru’s smallest SUV, the Crosstrek, but there’s one version we’ve never been able to get behind. The automaker’s last Crosstrek Hybrid, which was canceled after a short run, was an embarrassment of low fuel economy and high prices. Subaru says a 2019 reboot as a plug-in model should fix some of its problems.

Prices still look high, but the new model’s lithium-ion battery has an 8.8-kilowatt-hour capacity — enough to qualify for some $4,500 in federal tax credits, by our calculations. (A Subaru spokeswoman told Cars.com that the automaker expects a tax credit, but the final amount is still pending.)

Related: Socket to Me: Subaru Reboots Crosstrek Hybrid as Plug-In for 2019

The redesigned 2019 Crosstrek Hybrid will go on sale at the end of 2018 starting at $35,970, including destination. That’s much higher than the 2019 gas-powered version’s $22,870 starting price, though Subaru says it builds off the well-equipped, non-hybrid Crosstrek Limited grade ($28,170). The new model will make its debut at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, then hits dealerships in California, Oregon and a handful of Northeast states with quotas for zero-emissions sales.

Exterior

Outside, the hybrid’s styling is very similar to its gas-only sibling, with a few exceptions. The grille has a model-specific unique silver metallic finish, while the headlights wear blue projector-ring accents. There’s also extra lower front bumper and body cladding as well as a black spoiler and black machine-finish 18-inch wheels. Of course, hybrid badges also abound on the exterior.

Interior

Inside, the new hybrid model again closely resembles the non-hybrid version, but it adds a few model-specific touches. A new color scheme is among the biggest change: It gets high-contrast gray and navy blue leather seats, door panels and armrests, complemented by blue stitching and accent panels throughout the cabin.

Cargo room takes a departure from the non-hybrid model, however. Subaru says the Crosstrek Hybrid will offer 43.1 cubic feet of space once the 60/40, split seats are folded, about 22 percent less than the regular model’s 55.3 cubic feet, as the battery beneath the cargo floor eats into the room.

Under the Hood

Power comes from a combination of two electric motor-generators, a lithium-ion battery pack and a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with a combined output that Subaru estimates at 148 horsepower — about the same as the non-hybrid’s 152 hp. A continuously variable automatic transmission is standard, as is all-wheel drive. Subaru says the Crosstrek Hybrid is a full second faster to 60 mph than the standard Crosstrek. The automaker also says it can travel 17 miles on electric power alone at speeds of up to 65 mph. The battery takes about five hours to charge on a household 120-volt outlet and just two hours on a 240-volt Level 2 charger, Subaru says.

Subaru also didn’t release full economy information but says to expect up to 90 mpg-equivalent, with a total range of 480 miles. The 2016 Crosstrek Hybrid had an  EPA-estimated fuel economy of 29/33/31 mpg city/highway/combined — only 3 mpg combined better than the EPA city figures for a non-hybrid Crosstrek and 2 mpg better in combined figures.

Safety

The hybrid comes standard with a full complement of safety and driver assistance features like automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with steering assist, adaptive (pivoting) headlights, reverse automatic braking, automatic high-beams, a blind spot warning system and rear cross-traffic alert.

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News Editor Jennifer Geiger joined the automotive industry in 2003, much to the delight of her Corvette-obsessed dad. Jennifer is an expert reviewer, certified car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats — many of them while driving a minivan. Email Jennifer Geiger

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