The Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid has finally landed, about a month behind its petrol-powered siblings.
While uptake of hybrid and electric vehicles gains momentum, electrified options remain relatively light on the ground in Australia.
There’s a big opportunity for Subaru, being one of the few to offer hybrid and all-wheel drive – only the Eclipse Cross PHEV and Corolla Cross Hybrid do of the above list. Plus, the Crosstrek and its XV forebear have long been touted as more adventure-ready options in the class.
But there’s a niggling issue; the Subaru e-Boxer Hybrid system hasn’t been met with critical acclaim. It’s often criticised for offering minimal fuel savings in the real world despite a fairly hefty premium over equivalent petrol versions of Subaru products.
While the new Crosstrek isn’t a revolution compared to the old XV, Subaru says it has evolved and refined the formula. It definitely felt like the standard Crosstrek benefited from this, so it’s time to find out if the Crosstrek Hybrid does too.
On test we have the flagship Crosstrek AWD Hybrid S, priced from $45,090 plus on-road costs.
That makes it the most expensive variant on sale in Australia, commanding a $3500 premium over the equivalent Crosstrek AWD 2.0S which is effectively identical in specification bar the e-Boxer setup.
Drive-away, you’re looking at $50,495 based on a Melbourne postcode, which is a lot of money for a little crossover, and also puts the Subaru in the firing line of entry-level premium crossovers.
If you want a Crosstrek Hybrid for less cash, there is the entry-level AWD Hybrid L from $38,590 before on-roads.
Similarly-priced hybrids with AWD include the base Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Plug-in Hybrid EV ES ($47,290) and the Toyota Corolla Cross Atmos AWD Hybrid ($49,050).
2023 Subaru Crosstrek pricing:
- Subaru Crosstrek AWD 2.0L: $34,990
- Subaru Crosstrek AWD 2.0R: $38,490
- Subaru Crosstrek AWS 2.0S: $41,490
- Subaru Crosstrek AWD Hybrid L: $38,590
- Subaru Crosstrek AWD Hybrid S: $45,090
Just about identical to the equivalent petrol Crosstrek.
You can hop into the new Crosstrek right after sitting in the latest Outback and WRX and feel at home, such are the similarities across Subaru’s latest models.
The upright 11.6-inch infotainment touchscreen is the headline act, and comes standard across the range with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – step up to the S-spec here and you get embedded navigation.
The interface is clean and easy to use, while the funky fonts and blue colour theme offer some visual pop. Responses to inputs and processing speeds are good, and it’s hooked up to decent audio systems regardless of which variant to you choose.
The 10-speaker Harman Kardon system in S grades has added depth and clarity over the setup in lesser models which is noticeable if you listen back to back. That said, it did shake the door trims a little with higher volume.
While the climate control menu is relegated to the touchscreen, there are physical temperature controls and the HVAC widget is permanently located at the base of the display – it’s definitely one of the better implementations.
Comfort is pretty good for the driver and passenger. In S models you get hardy leather trim with powered driver’s seat adjustment and heated front chairs, which proved handy during a week of chilly Melbourne mornings.
The steering wheel is trimmed in hardy, grained leather that’s grippy and well-suited to Subaru’s more adventurous pitch. The multifunction switchgear is chunky and well laid out, too.
Ahead of the driver you won’t find a flash all-digital cluster, but the gauges flanking a colour supervision display look fine but don’t have the ‘wow’ factor of the digitised units in rival models, though will no doubt be favoured by the more traditionalist crowd. I also like the sports pedals.
Leg and knee room are adequate but won’t challenge the GWM Haval Jolion or Kia Seltos, and the Crosstrek continues to miss out on rear air vents. There are, however, USB-A and USB-C charging points at the rear of the centre console to keep devices juiced.
Headroom is fine, but the skinny body and large driveline hump in the floor impede on rear-centre passenger space. This will seat four fine, and can handle child seats thanks to top-tether points across all three seats and ISOFIX anchors on the outboard positions.
If you are planning to carry kiddies often, the rising window line doesn’t give the best view out for smaller children – but it’s not as bad for outward visibility in the rear as the coupe-styled Toyota C-HR.
I assume these measurements are to the window line or the top of the seat backs, as there’s also a 1278L capacity quoted when measured to the ceiling. It’s well off the likes of the Corolla Cross (380-446L), and it can’t even match the Mazda CX-30 (317L).
One key difference between the Crosstrek Hybrid and the standard petrol versions is the lack of a spare wheel, the e-Boxer models instead making do with a tyre repair kit – I can’t imagine this being much help on a trail.
Power comes from a 2.0-litre e-Boxer Hybrid drivetrain, which combines the standard petrol engine with a 12.3kW/66Nm electric motor and small lithium-ion battery for improved fuel economy.
Outputs for the engine alone are rated at 110kW (5800-6000rpm) and 196Nm (4000rpm). Subaru Motor Assist allows the two power sources to work together under acceleration.
Drive is sent to Subaru’s signature symmetrical all-wheel drive system via a CVT automatic. However, unlike the petrol model which gets eight ‘gear ratio’ steps, the e-Boxer’s unit gets seven ratios.
Subaru claims combined fuel economy of 7.2L per 100km for the standard Crosstrek petrol, while the e-Boxer Hybrid drops that to 6.5L per 100km. The fuel tank measures a large-for-segment 63 litres for the petrol, and 48 litres for the hybrid.
CO2 emissions for the Petrol and Hybrid are quoted at 165g/km and 147g/km respectively. Both power units meet Euro 6b emissions standards, and are tuned to run on regular 91 RON unleaded fuel.
With a braked trailer you’ll be able to tow up to 1400kg in the petrol Crosstrek, with the tow ball download maximum quoted as 140kg. The Hybrid drops that to 1270kg and 127kg – though all versions quote a 650kg unbraked capacity.
It’s really not all that different to the standard Boxer-powered Crosstrek in the big scheme of things.
Acceleration performance and handling are all largely identical from what I’ve experienced, though the addition of the mild-hybrid system means the engine will regularly shut off when you let off the accelerator under 80km/h and allow you to crawl at low speeds in EV mode with nothing but an artificial whirring noise emanating from the e-motor.
That can be quite a juxtaposition to when the Boxer engine is firing, as the signature rumbly note can be quite present in the cabin on cold start and under hard acceleration – even if Subaru has made various developments to the chassis and sound deadening to improve refinement.
Speaking of, one of the first things you’ll notice when you start up the Crosstrek Hybrid is that it actually fires up the engine, rather than starting in a quiet EV mode like most vehicles running proper hybrid drivetrains.
Even if the battery is full and the green ‘Ready’ is lit up in the instrument cluster, you won’t see the Crosstrek enter its EV mode for a little while as the engine works to get up to operating temperature.
It was a particularly cold week in Melbourne when we had the Crosstrek Hybrid S, so the Boxer probably had to work a little harder to get warm.
Once you’re up and running, the Crosstrek Hybrid drives very similarly to the petrol version, with adequate performance from the naturally-aspirated petrol engine and smooth, slurry ‘steps’ between faux ratios from the CVT.
The key difference is how the hybrid system will regularly shut off the engine once you’re off the accelerator, coasting freely in EV mode on flat roads or on a descent, or as you slowly come to a stop as you approach a red light.
You’ll notice when it’s doing its thing, when you see the tach suddenly drop to zero rpm and a bright green EV sign lights up in the instrument cluster. Once the engine is at a happy operating temperature, you’ll see this happen quite a lot.
The little 12.3kW/66Nm e-motor will be your first point of call when you set off, but depending on how much response you need it can either a good thing or a not-so-good thing.
When you’re in slow-moving traffic, the electric motor will whir and let the Crosstrek crawl along in EV mode, efficiently allowing you to roll without using a drop of fuel. You can do a similar thing at car park speeds or when you’re doing the stop-start school run, for example.
The flipside is when you’re setting off from the lights there’s not enough grunt from the electric motor to offer much go on its own, and requires the petrol engine to fire up and step in. While Subaru seems to have ironed out the elastic and disjointed feel of the previous generation, in its normal mode the Crosstrek Hybrid feels like it hesitates off the line as the electric motor hands over to the petrol motor.
It sort of feels like the moment when stop/start fires up the petrol engine, or when a DSG gets itself together as you set off. You can hear the Boxer engine fire up as you get going too, though like I said earlier it’s an improvement over the old one.
The Motor Assist function means the petrol engine can feel and sound less laboured under throttle compared to the regular petrol model, though, as the e-motor adds a small boost off the line and under hard acceleration.
While the Crosstrek Hybrid is down 5kW compared to the petrol model on paper, the boost from the hybrid system means it isn’t down on performance. If anything it’s a little better off – unlike the larger Forester Hybrid which is well down on outputs compared to the 2.5i.
It’s otherwise standard Subaru fare, with accurate, predictable controls and neutral handling that is comfortable around town and stable on the highway.
The Crosstrek is impressively comfortable as both a commuter and as a tourer, with a pliant ride and supportive seats that won’t leave you with a sore bum.
I love the size, as it’s super easy to thread through city streets and slot into tight parking spots – the latter helped by the surround camera system. On a couple of occasions I successfully attempted very tight parallel parks that you wouldn’t dream of slotting a Forester into, let alone an Outback.
At a cruise the little petrol engine and CVT settle into a quiet hum around 2000rpm, and you can let the intuitive adaptive cruise control and lane centring systems do most of the work on longer stints.
On the subject of driver assistance tech, Subaru’s EyeSight suite is standard across the range, and does a largely good job at keeping you on the straight and narrow, if with a few quirks.
The constant robotic beeps and bongs aren’t my favourite, with the driver monitor constantly flashing and chiming at you if it thinks you aren’t looking at the road ahead, while there’s a very loud bong from the navigation system every time you approach a road safety camera – “this car is really annoying”, a friend said after successive alerts.
It’s otherwise solid. The adaptive cruise control and lane centring functions will take the load of freeway driving as well as traffic jams, while blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert help compensate for the thick C-pillar and slim rear windscreen.
Another handy feature is the Side View Monitor which is a kerb camera function that means there’s no excuse for scraping those machined 18-inch alloys.
While we didn’t take the Crosstrek Hybrid off-road, we did sample the petrol version off-road during the recent Australian media launch. We scaled some trails that would make most small SUVs sweat; but the Crosstrek’s healthy 220mm of ground clearance, X-Mode off-road settings and all-paw traction meant we could go further than you might think.
The ground clearance and short overhangs came in real handy on the more challenging trail up to the lunch spot in the Hunter Valley, which included plenty of uneven surfaces, sharper dips and big rocks.
Standard hill descent control is activated whenever you engage X-Mode and are heading downhill, and it smartly adjusts the set speed to whatever you last brake or accelerate to. It does a good job at keeping said set speed, too.
Sure this isn’t a proper 4×4, but then again other than a Suzuki Jimny what is for this kind of money? The Crosstrek will arguably go further than just about any rival will dare to travel – and we don’t even get the Wilderness version that was recently revealed for the US, though Subaru Australia is working hard for it.
Crosstrek AWD 2.0L + Hybrid L highlights:
- Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive
- Auto Stop Start
- Subaru Intelligent Drive (SI-Drive)
- X-Mode with hill decent control
- 17-inch alloy wheels (new design)
- LED headlights
- Dusk-sensing headlights
- Rear combination lights with LED brake lights
- SUBARU letter badge
- Door mirrors – power-folding with indicators
- Roof rails – black
- Tricot (Tetra Embossing) cloth seat trim
- Dual-zone climate-control
Entertainment, Technology and Safety
- Central information display with 11.6-inch touchscreen
- Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- USB ports – USB-A and USB-C
- Wireless Qi charger
- 6-speaker audio
Crosstrek AWD 2.0R adds:
- 18-inch alloy wheels (new design)
- Front and rear wipers with front de-icer
- Self-levelling LED headlights with auto off
- Front cornering lamps
- Door mirrors – heated
- Steering Responsive Headlights (SRH)
- Front LED fog lights
- Roof rails – dark grey
- Premium cloth seat trim
- Leather steering wheel/gear shift
- Sports pedals
- Auto-dimming rear view mirror
- Heated seats – driver and front passenger
- 10-way power driver seat with lumbar support
- Shift boot
Entertainment, Technology and Safety
- Rear passenger USB-A and USB-C charging ports
- Subaru Vision Assist:
Crosstrek AWD 2.0S + Hybrid S adds:
- Leather-accented seat trim
Entertainment, Technology and Safety
- Satellite navigation
- 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio system
- Crystal White Pearl
- Ice Silver Metallic
- Magnetite Grey Metallic
- Crystal Black Silica
- Pure Red
- Offshore Blue Metallic
- Sun Blaze Pearl
- Oasis Blue
- Sapphire Blue Pearl
- Horizon Blue Pearl
All exterior finishes are no-cost options
- Tricot fabric – charcoal (2.0L, Hybrid L)
- Premium cloth – charcoal OR grey (2.0R)
- Leather accented – black OR grey (2.0S, Hybrid S)
The 2023 Subaru Crosstrek is yet to be tested by ANCAP, and therefore is unrated.
Standard safety features include:
- 9 airbags
- Dual front, dual front side, dual curtain
- Driver’s knee
- Far side
- Front passenger seat cushion
- EyeSight Driver Assist:
- Front Pre-Collision Braking (AEB)
- Adaptive cruise control
- Lane keep assist
- Lane centring assist
- Lane departure prevention
- Lane departure warning
- Lane Sway Warning
- Lead Vehicle Start Alert
- Pre-Collision Braking System (AEB)
- Pre-Collision Throttle Management
- Autonomous emergency steering
- Brake light recognition
- Intelligent speed limiter
- Speed limiter
- Speed sign recognition
- Wide-angle monocular camera
- New stereo camera with improved image recognition
- Subaru Vision Assist:
- Blind-spot monitoring
- EyeSight Assist Monitor
- Lane change assist
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Rear parking sensors
- Reverse Automatic Braking (AEB)
- Front side radar
- Driver Monitoring System – Driver Focus:
Crosstrek 2.0R adds:
- Subaru Vision Assist:
- High-beam assist
- 360-degree cameras
- Side View Monitor
Considering the entire Subaru range wears five-star ANCAP and Euro NCAP safety ratings, we’d be surprised if the new Crosstrek didn’t achieve similar, given the common vehicle architecture and suite of standard safety systems.
The Crosstrek is covered by Subaru Australia’s five-year, unlimited-kilometre new vehicle warranty.
Buyers will also receive 12 months of Subaru Roadside Assistance with purchase.
Scheduled maintenance is required every 12 months or 15,000 kilometres – whichever comes first. Subaru offers five years of capped price servicing, which covers up to 75,000 kilometres.
The first five visits will set you back $346.25, $473,47, $420,60, $771.74 and $361.13 – for a total of $2372.19.
It’s on the pricier side, but isn’t the dearest to maintain in the segment.
As for fuel consumption, we saw an indicated real-world return of 7.5L per 100km over 520km of mixed driving, including a week’s worth of peak-hour commuting and urban errands. That’s a little up on Subaru’s 6.5L/100km combined claim, but almost bang on the Crosstrek Hybrid’s urban cycle claim of 7.4L/100km – which is 2.0L/100km less than the urban claim of the non-hybrid models.
While far from stellar efficiency for what is branded a ‘Hybrid’, viewed for what it is (a mild-hybrid) the Crosstrek e-Boxer saves you a decent amount of juice if a lot of your driving is in and around town. You should be able to get similar range out of a tank to the petrol in real-world conditions with more urban use, despite the petrol having a 15L larger tank.
We had this vehicle shortly after the 2.0S, which was showing 9.6L/100km after similar daily peak-hour driving, and that means for every 500km or so you’ve saved around 10L of fuel and reduced your carbon footprint. However, it’ll take a while to recoup that $3500 premium for the e-Boxer, even if it also will run on cheaper 91 RON unleaded.
Don’t let the name fool you – this isn’t a proper ‘hybrid’ to rival an equivalent Toyota.
But, the Crosstrek Hybrid does offer tangible fuel savings in real-world use (albeit on the smaller side) particularly if the bulk of your driving is in the city, while offering effectively the same experience and capability of its petrol sibling.
There’s the added refinement of silent coasting and deceleration when the e-Boxer system turns off the petrol engine, and judging by the classifieds for the old XV Hybrid, you can make part of the price premium back on depreciation – you tend to see a $5000-$10,000 difference between equivalent petrol and hybrid XVs.
It’s far from perfect though. The price premium over the equivalent petrol is too great given the extent of the fuel savings (or lack of, to some), and the positioning of this Hybrid S model is knocking on the door of more premium competition. Plus, the lack of a spare wheel compared to the petrol also limits its appeal if you head out of town regularly.
Performance is nothing more than adequate despite the e-Boxer’s Subaru Motor Assist function, and there are some premium features still missing like a powered tailgate, digital instrument cluster and front parking sensors.
For me the best picks of the new Crosstrek range are the 2.0R and Hybrid L. You can either get the strongest value for money with the petrol-fired former, or get the still well-rounded base specification of the latter with the more efficient e-Boxer mild-hybrid – there’s about $100 between them, so take your pick.
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