Over the past few weeks I’ve driven some pretty exciting cars including the F-Type and M4. I’ve even driven some high-tech green cars such as the i3 and ELR. The $26,000 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid is neither exciting or technologically advanced, but it is an inexpensive, All-Wheel Drive, Hybrid crossover for the masses.
When I first drove the XV Crosstrek in 2012, I appreciated it for what it was – an affordable crossover for people who need All-Wheel Drive. And at a starting price of $21,995 and self-reported fuel economy of 33MPG Highway and 25 in the City, it made a lot of sense especially when you add class-leading ground clearance of 8.7 inches. What doesn’t make sense is the Hybrid which costs $4,000 more and only gets (in theory) 33 MPG on the Highway and 29 in the City, both of which we could not achieve despite our best hyper-miling attempts. For the sake of argument, let’s say that these fuel economy numbers Subaru has published are correct and like
most Americans, you drive 15,000 miles annually and that gas is $3.50 per gallon. Let’s also assume that you drive 50% of your miles on the highway and 50% in the City. After 4 years, you still won’t reap the benefits of Subie’s mild Hybrid technology, even with an extra 5% residual value.
As you can see, spending the extra $4K for the Hybrid is quite senseless even though you will benefit from an additional 12 ponies and 18 lb-ft of torque, which are needed to compensate for the additional weight of the electric motor and battery pack. The non-Hybrid CVT weighs 3.175 lbs. (3.098 lbs. for the 5-speed manual) versus 3.440 lbs. for the Hybrid. That’s a difference of 265 lbs. or about one of me.
Bottom line is that I like the XV Crosstrek at $22K, but not the Hybrid at $26K, not to mention that those MPG numbers are a stretch at best. Even Mr. CleanMPG struggled with these numbers. Another complaint is the tiny and distant rear view monitor. While other cars in the segment, such as the Nissan Rogue, offer a 5″ screen as standard that is located about 12-inches from the driver’s sight, Subie puts a 4.3-inch that is almost two feet away from the driver, making it seem even smaller. I know, I know…..you are old school and don’t use a backup camera. Guess what, neither do I in my own car which is a 1999 Toyota Land Cruiser because it didn’t exist. However, starting with all 2016 models, these devices are mandatory so if they’re in the car, please make them useful. Another complaint is the absence of XM Radio. Just put it in there. Subaru’s rivals (Kia and Hyundai) put satellite radio in much cheaper cars.
Subaru did comment on this and told us that the base Hybrid comes with about $1500 of added options as compared to a base gasoline model. “It’s more like a $2500 premium. You get some added/exclusive content with the hybrid. Leather wrapped steering wheel, auto climate control, better stereo, plus a few other features.”
What is impressive about the XV Crosstrek Hybrid is the Lineartronic CVT. As a hater of CVTs, I actually liked this one and realize that enthusiasts like me don’t buy cars like this so it’s a non-issue. I’m just excited that Subie found a way to make a CVT not suck.
Bottom line is that buying a Hybrid makes sense when you get a significant benefit. In the case of the XV Crosstrek Hybrid, it costs 18.2% more than it’s non-Hybrid counterpart but only achieves 6.9% better fuel economy. If you were a friend of mine, I would talk you off that ledge and encourage you to buy the gasoline model and if you really want to do something good for the environment, donate the $4,000 you saved to the “green” charity of your choice.