Subaru at long last enters the electrified car market with a plug-in hybrid version of its popular Crosstrek compact crossover.
The company has been small enough and its engines clean enough to comply with California’s zero-emission mandates with gasoline-powered engines. But as Subaru becomes more popular and adds models such as the Ascent SUV, which seats seven to eight passengers, it is edging into powertrain electrification.
The company surely is concerned that competitors could lure Subaru’s most eco-conscious customers away as electric-car popularity grows. Subaru plans an all-electric vehicle by 2021.
The Crosstrek Hybrid, like all Subarus, is all-wheel drive, appealing to singles and families who enjoy all seasons in the great outdoors.
The company says the battery has a range of 17 miles, enough for a short daily commute on electric power only. All-electric top speed is 65 mph.
The 2.0-liter gasoline engine provides 148 horsepower — which doesn’t make the vehicle a speed demon but provides enough power for confident passing speeds and hill climbing oomph. The electric-motor drive helps with low-end torque.
The hybrid setup, developed with Subaru part-owner Toyota, brings the mileage to what the EPA calls a miles-per-gallon equivalent of 90.
The base price is $35,970, with enough hybrid-only exterior and interior accents to set it apart from the pure gasoline Crosstrek. Owners can remotely set climate controls and check battery charging levels.
The Crosstrek Hybrid will be sold first in California and other states that match California’s zero-emission requirements, starting at the end of December.