Water surges over the hood of the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid as we motor it through a river with baseball-sized chunks of ice floating ominously near its door handles. Just minutes earlier, a huge rut in the path — and that's being generous — left a half-dozen cars high-centered, teetering on their floor pans, tires pawing at air.
Subaru innocently expected Iceland in November to be an ideal environment to show off its first-ever hybrid car. Instead, 90 mph wind gusts constantly blow snow over the path, and the water crossings are all deeper than anyone anticipated. "We wanted the circumstances to be a 9.5 out of 10 for difficulty. What we got was a 13," one Subaru representative laments.
In-House Hybrid System Still, a little perspective. We're driving in conditions that would strand many vehicles, yet with a little assistance, the Subarus just keep on keepin'-on. But what exactly are we driving? The XV Crosstrek Hybrid pries open a heretofore underrepresented niche of hybrid-dom: the affordable all-wheel-drive hybrid station wagon with a lift kit. Based on the don't-call-it-an-Impreza XV Crosstrek, the Hybrid introduces the gas-electric Subaru to the world.
Subaru developed its hybrid system in-house and in doing so kept things relatively simple. A 13.4-horsepower electric motor was engineered into the tail end of the company's continuously variable transmission (CVT), while a 0.55-kWh nickel-metal hydride battery finds its way into the trunk floor. Though a lithium-ion battery would have been much smaller and lighter, Subaru brass cite cost as an issue.
Revisions to the 2.0-liter flat-4 gasoline engine include a bump in compression ratio (now 10.8:1, up from 10.5:1) and new heads with revised exhaust port geometry.
The hybrid system's combined power rises to 160 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 163 pound-feet of torque at 2,000 rpm. These numbers represent peak gains of 12 hp and 18 lb-ft over the non-hybrid XV, which smacks of small potatoes until you consider that the base car develops its peak torque way up at 4,200 rpm. Thus, the electrified XV Crosstrek Hybrid feels punchy at low revs despite its 300-pound weight gain over the non-hybrid XV Crosstrek.
Chassis Tweaks The Hybrid's 225/55R17 all-season tires had been swapped in favor of dedicated winter tires for our drive, so it was hard to say if the Hybrid's 3,451-pound curb weight noticeably influences the car's handling character. Nevertheless, Subaru says the Hybrid handles more sharply than non-hybrids and backs it up with hardware changes. Hybrid models get a quicker steering ratio (14.0:1 compared to 15.5:1 in non-hybrids) and a larger rear stabilizer bar than non-hybrids, in addition to retuned dampers and stiffer front lower control arm bushings.
For sure, the XV Crosstrek's ample 8.7-inch ground clearance and AWD abetted the tires in traversing the Icelandic terrain. Subaru's CVT-based AWD system uses an electronically controlled hydraulic clutch pack to bias torque where it's needed. It's an effective setup for blasting up snow-covered hillsides, as we found out. Once stuck in snow, however, the CVT doesn't switch rapidly enough between Drive and Reverse (and back) to facilitate rocking the car free.
Based on feedback from existing XV Crosstrek owners regarding that car's noise levels, Subaru added sound-deadening measures like a thicker front floor pan, more sound insulation and quieter glass. These changes will also show up on 2014 model year non-hybrid XV Crosstreks, too.
Small Fuel Economy Improvement Go easy on the right pedal and the XV Crosstrek Hybrid will propel itself solely on EV power up to speeds of about 13 mph, at which point the gas engine springs to life to help things along. It's a commendably seamless transition. Likewise, the hybrid's regenerative braking is unobtrusive, with a minimum of synthetic-ness to the pedal feel.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this hybrid is its fuel economy, and not in a good way, unfortunately. The hybrid manages 31 mpg combined (29 city/33 highway), a gain of just 3 mpg over the standard XV Crosstrek. With its $3,000 price premium (the hybrid starts at $26,820 with destination) the hybrid's payback period based on fuel savings pencils out to more than 15 years.
The extra cash commanded by the hybrid does net some unique features like automatic climate control and keyless entry/ignition. Want more? The XV Crosstrek Hybrid Touring model adds a sunroof, navigation and leather and costs $30,120 with destination.
The Hybrid's bulky battery pack elbows aside space for other things, so there's a slight reduction in cargo volume (now 21.3 cubic feet, down from 22.5) and, as with most hybrid cars, the spare tire is history. Also, the hybrid's fuel tank shrinks to 13.7 gallons, so despite the slightly better fuel economy, range is a touch less than the non-hybrid version.
Subaru played it safe with the hybrid system in the XV Crosstrek Hybrid. While its increase in low-end thrust is welcome, the fuel economy improvement is too modest for the cost and attendant weight and space compromises of its hybrid battery. Still, it'll serve you well if you decide to venture off the beaten Pjórsárdalsvegur onto a closed road in Landmannalaugar right when a snowstorm rolls in.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
Is the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2014 XV Crosstrek featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
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How do people like the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2014 XV Crosstrek 3.9 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2014 XV Crosstrek.
Review Lots of "compact" SUVs out there, and almost all of them are boring and bland. While no drag racer, this car is fun to drive, has exciting styling, and is just the right size. Also, it has a unique look and size that isn't quite an SUV, more like a sports wagon/SUV cross. You get a lot for the money - heated leather seats, Navigation, moonroof, backup camera - compared to other cars. Plus, the raised clearance, cool wheels, and great gas mileage (at at 27 MPG mostly on short trips and city driving). The drive feels very secure, and the shift paddles are fun to use. The engine does rev high and won't get you 0 - 60 in a record time, but the car feels punchy, spry, and turns on a dime.
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Is the 2014 Subaru Xv-crosstrek safe? The 2014 Subaru Xv-crosstrek earned a 5-star overall safety rating from NHTSA and "GOOD" ratings from the IIHS in the following caregories: Side Impact Test, Roof Strength Test, Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint, IIHS Small Overlap Front Test Results, Moderate Overlap Front Test Results, and a JD POWER overall quality rating of 2.0 out of 5. Among Edmunds' many tools and resources for finding your perfect car are detailed safety ratings and analysis from NHTSA, IIHS, and JD Power, including overall ratings, frontal barrier crash ratings, side impact tests and crash ratings, rollover test results, roof strength tests, rear crash protection and head restraint ratings, side barrier ratings, combined side barrier and pole ratings, and more.
What options are available on the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek?
Available Subaru XV Crosstrek 2014 Submodel Types: SUV, Hybrid
Exterior Colors: Ice Silver Metallic, Dark Gray Metallic, Desert Khaki, Tangerine Orange Pearl, Venetian Red Pearl, Satin White Pearl, Quartz Blue Pearl, Crystal Black Silica, Crystal White Pearl, Plasma Green, Marine Blue Pearl, Sunrise Yellow
Interior Colors: Black leather, Black, Ivory, Black cloth, Ivory leather, Ivory cloth
Popular Features: AWD/4WD, Alarm, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Aux Audio Inputs, Bluetooth, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Rear Bench Seats, Stability Control, Tire Pressure Warning, USB Inputs, Heated seats, Trip Computer, Back-up camera, Auto Climate Control, Sunroof/Moonroof, Leather Seats, Post-collision safety system, Navigation, Keyless Entry/Start, Blind Spot Monitoring, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Pre-collision safety system, Remote Start, Towing Hitch