Car Review: 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

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Subaru’s new 2014 XV Crosstrek Hybrid is crossing over plenty of bridges.

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid
2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

Let’s start with the hybrid. The combination of gas and electric motors allow Subaru to cross over into the hybrid club. This is not a super high mileage hybrid. Subaru says you can expect about 29 mpg in the city and 33 on the highway with a combined number of 31 mpg. My week with the Crosstrek came in at 30 mpg. That’s only about three miles per gallon better than the gas-only Crosstrek. Since it costs you about an extra $3,000 for the hybrid, and you have to use mid-range fuel, it’s another example of making sure you do the math to decide whether you want to commit.

Subaru's Hybrid Engine Compartment
Subaru’s Hybrid Engine Compartment

The hybrid itself works well. It’s not the smoothest hybrid I’ve driven, but it’s not bad. It’s supposedly capable of moving you away from a dead stop on pure electric power, although I think you have to take it slow and easy to accomplish that task. The electric motor can also simply be a boost for the 2.0 liter boxer (which means the pistons pump away from each other on a horizontal plane) gas motor at certain speeds although it kicks out completely after 40 miles per hour. The batteries are in the back under the cargo area which means you lose a little bit of storage space. You also lose the spare tire (although this is becoming more common in a variety of cars).

The Crosstrek is also a standard crossover concept but with a Subaru twist (they always have to be a little different). It’s basically a Subaru Impreza with an SUV style body and higher ground clearance. But the designers didn’t skimp. They give you a full four inches more which means almost nine inches to take on semi-treacherous terrain. Throw in Subaru’s all-wheel drive system it’s a pretty handy car for a variety of situations.

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid
The Crosstrek Looks Great

Another bridge they crossed was in the looks department. I think it’s actually a quite attractive design. It has pleasant lines from stem to stern with a nice rake. Instead of explaining to your friends why you bought the quirky looking Subaru you can brag about how this car has looks and function.

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid Interior
2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid Interior

Inside, the interior is simple in a good way. My test car was the upscale touring model that stickered at  $30,120 . That included leather seating and a 6.1 inch display on the radio. I actually liked the fact that the radio and display look like something that could actually be replaced if or when it breaks. A lot of displays are so beautifully integrated into the dash that I feel like they’re going to cost big bucks when something goes wrong. The Crosstrek has a second display high on the dash that was handy for various information ranging from mileage and temperature to hybrid performance. It also is the monitor for the backup camera. Unfortunately, it’s a bit small for that purpose. Yes it works, but you’re going to have to look carefully to find an obstacle. I have a feeling that is the monitor a lot of cars will get with mandated backup cameras coming.

The Crosstrek Hybrid’s performance was reasonable, but nothing special. But then the four-cylinder motor only puts out 145 horsepower. The electric motor adds another 13 horsepower plus a little torque on the lower end. The hybrid also gets the continuously variable transmission. Smooth and efficient, it improves mileage but doesn’t leave you feeling that you got every ounce of power from the motor.

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid
A Subaru with Great Looks and Function?

But I’m thinking that the people who buy the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid aren’t looking for raw power. They want to cross bridges in bad weather with extra cargo in the back. They want to do it knowing they’re burning a little less gas while slightly helping the planet a little more on the way. And they want to do it with a little more style. Consider the bridges crossed.

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