Subaru introduces plug-in hybrid Crosstrek

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- It won't be long before pretty much every car brand has at least one model that plugs in to run on electricity. Now, add Subaru to the growing list, with its first ever plug-in hybrid.

"When you come home, you plug in the car, you can charge up the car at night. And then you have EV range to get to work, or run your errands," said Garrick Goh, product planner for Subaru of America.

The new Crosstrek Hybrid plug-in starts at about $35,000 and doesn't look that different from the regular Crosstrek. But its hybrid battery system can take it about 17 miles on a charge, with the gasoline engine off. That range sounds pretty low, until you do a little math.

"Even if you just use it just once a day, that's 6,200 miles a year of EV driving. And you're saving about 15 to 20 trips to the gas station every year," Goh said.

The car handles well on pavement and does surprisingly well off pavement too. All-wheel drive is sort of a Subaru hallmark, and all four wheels being driven even at low speeds under electric power makes the Crosstrek stand out. The key is the transmission, which contains two electric motors. So just like with the engine, all the wheels are driven, whether running on gasoline or electricity. Some other hybrids that can run on electric power are not able to drive all four wheels on electricity.

And as the term "plug in" implies, you recharge the Crosstrek's battery by attaching a standard EV connector, either via a conventional home outlet and supplied adaptor, or from a public 240-volt charging station.

But the battery can also be recharged by the car itself. During normal driving, you can engage "Charge Mode" to let the hybrid system replenish the battery on the go. An example would be on a trip to a place like Yosemite.

"If they forgot to charge the car, but they want to be able to drive around in EV mode, which is much more peaceful and much more relaxed and don't disturb the environment as much and it's more serene, you can do that your way there," Goh said.

The only glaring drawback to the Crosstrek Hybrid is reduced luggage space to make room for the battery. The floor of the luggage area sits notably higher than that of the conventional Crosstrek. But Subaru fans who've been waiting for a vehicle like this are probably willing to overlook that. After all, it's Subaru's first plug-in vehicle. But with electrification becoming the norm in the future, it most likely won't be the company's last.
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