We all know Subaru drivers. We think they're outdoorsy types who are environmentally conscious. They might be rugged and, perhaps, lesbians in the Northeast. Therefore, the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid must be the best thing ever.
I thought that too, because, the Subaru drivers I know primarily live in California where the hybrid is king and screams "ENVIRONMENT!" as it blows past you in the fast lane.
The Subie Hybrid sounds good on paper, because it's an off-shoot of the XV Crosstrek (an offshoot of the Impreza hatchback) and that's a pretty economical vehicle (36 mpg highway) – particularly for something that has standard all-wheel drive. The XV Crosstrek does worse at 33 mpg, but it boasts greater ground clearance and several violations of the pursuit of great aerodynamics.
But the XV Crosstrek Hybrid is rumored to get just 10% better fuel economy than a gas-only XV. Like a Honda Civic Hybrid, the electric motor doesn't really generate enough juice to motivate the car on its own, which means it's not as clever as many other gas-electric hybrids on the market.
For perspective, Subaru says its hybrid does 31 mpg in combined city/highway driving. But the EPA says the Lexus RX450h, the only other hybrid all-wheel drive in the US, does 29 mpg and that's with a much stronger V6 engine and a much heavier body. Between the two, I'd spring for the Lexus even if it meant living in it.
Subaru owners are discerning. They buy cars that are fairly plain on the outside but ultimately robust and technically capable underneath. A Subaru hybrid that doesn't get significantly better mileage, I think, will fall on deaf ears to devoted Vermonteers and Coloradians. Especially insulting when Toyota owns a stake in Subaru's parent and has a talented hybrid system in that Lexus RX.
Better luck next time, right, Subaru fans?