Off-Road Test Review – 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid is Surprisingly Silent + Very Capable

As shown by the Toyota 4Runner off-roading article earlier this week, we know I am a total wimp when it comes to off-roading. Despite my grand ambitions to be a Bowler Wildcat-running mudder in my own 2005 Subaru Legacy GT — all efforts to date have seriously damaged the car.

I am on my fourth set of wheels, for example.

But what would even lead me to take my beloved Subie off-road? One word: grip.

The Subaru AWD system is seriously unflappable. In wintertime this year, I was fortunate enough to have a 2WD Chevy Silverado press loaner in my old digs in an icky Chicago suburb. The Silverado was awesome and felt fine even in a blizzard, with one exception. I could hardly get it out of my steep driveway. It just wouldn’t budge! It took a running start and full-throttle power to get the machine up and through the ice-base of snow that was at least 10 inches deep.

[I did not own a snowblower at the time, so the walks were quite treacherous as well. Sorry, USPS, Amazon UPS, et all…]

But even in this most-awful of weather, my low-riding Subaru Legacy GT could scoot up and out the driveway with barely a wheel slipping.

Such is the confidence that AWD Sbaru’s bestow upon their drivers. For a few years before that, the confidence became over-confidence, with the LGT hitting some daunting off-road parks and trails. To terrible results, mostly.


Not only did the XV Crosstrek Hybrid get through all the same trails as the “real” SUVs on the off-road course, it did so in total comfort and with little body motion. Perhaps the legendary low-center-of-mass in the Subaru boxer engine layout? Or the extra battery mass down low in the spare-tire well of the trunk?

The reason is most likely all of the above, plus the very-good 8.6-inches of ground clearance. This last part is the bit my Subie was missing in my off-road mis-adventures.

The XV Crosstrek’s automatic transmission and AWD system are unaffected by the extra hybrid efficiency. It just did its thing in eerie comfort and unusual smoothness and refinement. Versus the 4Runner we were out in next, the XV Crosstrek really proved its mettle — just getting the job done, like Subaru’s do best.

A great car, and one whose Hybrid premium of $3000 is money in the bank for its extra city smoothness and extra miles-per-gallon all the time, day in and day out.

Now, about that color…

The XV Crosstrek is also available in white, silver and blue.

Official Details from Subaru Below.

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid – WHITE

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid – GREEN

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid – SILVER

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid – BLUE

Official Details from Subaru Below.


  • Model/Trim  Transmission  MSRP  – MSRP + destination and delivery

  • XV Crosstrek Hybrid  CVT  $25,995 – $26,820

  • XV Crosstrek Hybrid Touring CVT  $29,295 – $30,120


2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid



• XV Crosstrek Hybrid based on popular XV Crosstrek crossover
• Subaru-engineered hybrid system uses 2.0-liter BOXER engine and integrates an electric motor into a continuously variable transmission
• 160 total system hp vs. 148 hp for gas model
• 29 MPG city / 33 MPG highway fuel economy
• Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive standard offers solid, all-terrain performance
• Same utility and versatility as the gasoline model

Cherry Hill, N.J.,  –  Subaru of America, Inc. has introduced the carmaker’s first-ever production hybrid vehicle, the XV Crosstrek Hybrid, which arrives in dealerships in early 2014. The XV Crosstrek Hybrid is based on the successful XV Crosstrek crossover model and retains its all-terrain capability while providing better fuel efficiency and enhanced agility.

The 2014 XV Crosstrek Hybrid will achieve an EPA-estimated 29 city MPG and estimated 33 highway mpg, with a combined 31 MPG.

In developing its first-ever hybrid, Subaru chose one of its popular, go-anywhere crossover vehicle platforms. As a result, the new XV Crosstrek Hybrid offers all the capability and versatility of the gasoline XV Crosstrek. Key to this approach is that the XV Crosstrek Hybrid shares the gasoline model’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and chassis capability. For example, the 8.7 inches of ground clearance is the same as for the gas model and is higher than for some dedicated SUVs, while providing a low step-in height. Rather than simply replicate the driving feel of the gasoline XV Crosstrek, Subaru engineered its first-ever hybrid model to provide a sportier driving experience and so equipped it with retuned suspension and quick-ratio electric power steering.

In addition to optimizing the 2.0-liter FB-series BOXER engine to reduce internal friction, Subaru applied a number of other efficiency-enhancing technologies to the XV Crosstrek Hybrid. An Auto Start-Stop system can shut down the gasoline engine when the vehicle is stopped. Brake regeneration works when the car is coasting or the driver has applied the brake, recapturing kinetic energy from the turning wheels to recharge the hybrid battery.

Hybrid Powertrain With 2.0-liter BOXER Engine and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive

The Subaru BOXER engine and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive configuration provided an ideal platform for integrating the parallel hybrid system. Under light acceleration, the Subaru-engineered hybrid system uses the electric motor for initial vehicle acceleration and then starts the gasoline engine once underway. The electric motor can also provide motor assist for acceleration in parallel with the gasoline engine, and an EV mode will operate the vehicle in certain low-speed situations.

The 2.0-liter Subaru BOXER engine uses a slightly higher compression ratio (10.8:1) than in the standard gas model (10.5:1), along with reduced-friction piston rings and valve springs and a higher capacity exhaust gas regeneration (EGR) system with an EGR cooler. The main performance boost comes from the permanent-magnet AC synchronous electric drive motor, which produces 13.4 hp from 1,500 rpm-6,000 rpm, for a total hybrid system output of 160 hp at 6,000 rpm vs. 148 hp at 6,200 rpm for the gas model. The starter and alternator functions are combined into one unit.

The drive motor also contributes 47.9 lb.-ft. of torque from 0-1,500 rpm. The result is total system torque of 163 lb.-ft. at just 2,000 rpm, compared to 145 lb.-ft. at 4,200 rpm for the gas model, adding a significant boost to low-speed driving performance. The electric drive motor, which weighs 28.7 lbs. (77.2 lbs. with frame), is neatly integrated into the Lineartronic® Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The CVT includes a manual mode with steering wheel paddle switches.

A 100.8V, 13.5kW nickel-metal hydride battery, with 0.55kWh capacity, is located under a revised rear floor area. The battery, placed low in the vehicle, contributes to handling agility, which has also been enhanced with quicker-ratio electric power steering and special suspension tuning.

Hybrid Operation
The 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid automatically adapts to driving needs, using only the electric drive motor, the gasoline engine or combining output of the two, depending on conditions and always prioritizing maximum efficiency. Initial acceleration is performed in EV mode with the driving force generated by electric drive motor only. The gasoline engine will then start depending on conditions, including pressure on accelerator pedal, state of battery charge, air conditioner use and other factors.

When the transmission shift lever is in Drive, but not in Manual mode, it is possible to drive the XV Crosstrek Hybrid in EV mode at speeds below 25 mph for a short distance. When accelerating, Motor Assist adds to engine power. Under certain conditions, such as steady-state driving and when driving uphill, the engine will operate alone when it is more efficient to do so.

When the vehicle is stopped, Auto Stop-Start stops the engine to help reduce fuel consumption. When the brake is released, the system transitions to a creep state using the electric drive motor. If the climate control is operating, Stop/Start may not operate and instead, the engine uses the electric motor to charge the battery.

The XV Crosstrek Hybrid employs regeneration when the accelerator is released during driving, and when braking. The motor then acts as a generator, using the still-turning wheels to charge the hybrid battery. For times when the vehicle is operating only in EV mode, an audible vehicle approach pedestrian warning system generates sound from a small speaker below the right headlight and directed toward the front of the car.

Same Capability and Utility as Gas Model, With Greater Agility
The 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid builds upon the utility and versatility of the gas model, while also offering enhanced handling responses. All XV Crosstrek models benefit from additional sound insulation measures for 2014. Significantly, the hybrid model uses the same Active Torque Split version of Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive as in the gasoline model, preserving the all-weather performance that Subaru customers expect. The system sends torque to the four wheels all the time and adjusts the torque distribution in response to acceleration, cornering and road conditions.

Low-rolling resistance all-season tires are mounted on new aluminum alloy-wheels with an aerodynamic design. Exclusive to the North American market, a new Active Grille Shutter system helps reduce air resistance. The air conditioning system uses a temperature and humidity sensor to optimize operation for reduced draw on engine power. Numerous enhancements that help to reduce noise include thicker floor sections, under-floor covers and additional sound insulation.

Retuned suspension and a quick-ratio version of the electric power-assisted steering give the XV Crosstrek Hybrid sharper handling responses than the gasoline model. Integrating the electric drive motor within the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system places it close to the vehicle’s center of gravity – which remains the same as in the gasoline model – enhancing handling agility.

Thanks to clever packaging of the hybrid system components in the XV Crosstrek Hybrid, Subaru maintained the same passenger cabin room as in the gasoline model (97 cu. ft.), while the Hybrid’s maximum cargo room (rear seatbacks down) measures 50.2 cu. ft., vs. 51.9 in the gas model. With the rear seatbacks in the raised position, the XV Crosstrek Hybrid offers 21.5 cu. ft. of cargo space vs. 22.3 cu. ft. for the gas model.

All other cargo area dimensions, including load floor length, remain the same for both models. Also, as a result of the new floor configuration, the XV Crosstrek Hybrid is able to offer sub-floor storage for the jack and other items.

The cargo area is outfitted as standard with a cover that can be pulled into place or removed, along with a removable waterproof cargo tray, tie-down hooks and grocery bag hooks. Subaru dealers offer a number of accessories for the standard roof rails for carrying items such as bicycles and kayaks.

Sophisticated Appearance
The 2014 XV Crosstrek Hybrid serves as the top model in this series and features numerous exclusive design features. The rear LED combination lights illuminate the surface uniformly for a high-tech look.

In addition to the different wheels, other exterior enhancements readily differentiate the Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid from the gasoline model. “HYBRID” badges appear at the front edges of the front doors and on the tailgate. A new Plasma Green Pearl exterior color, exclusive to the XV Crosstrek Hybrid, spotlights the vehicle’s environmental character. Chrome exterior door handles add an upscale touch.

In front, the Active Grille Shutter system closes the shutters to reduce wind resistance and enhance fuel economy during continuous highway-speed driving. Closing the shutters also helps warm the engine more quickly, reducing friction.

Upgraded Interior with Expected Subaru Value
The 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid’s instrument cluster, exclusive to this model, uses gradations of the blue color scheme to provide a sense of depth.

The XV Crosstrek Hybrid includes all the standard equipment from the XV Crosstrek Premium model and adds an automatic climate control system, upgraded instrument cluster, high-grade multi-function display, body-color foldable side mirrors with integral turn signals, leather-wrapped steering wheel with silver stitching, chrome exterior door handles, Keyless Access & Start and more. The XV Crosstrek Hybrid Touring model adds a touch-screen navigation system, leather-trimmed seating and a power moonroof.

The high-grade color multi-function display is exclusive to the XV Crosstrek Hybrid and featured on both models. The 4.3-in. LCD screen, which can be easily viewed from any seat, can show the hybrid system’s energy flow according to driving conditions. Using switching screens, the display was designed to combine driving operation information with entertainment content.

Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.

He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.

Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)

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