SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Following the addition of the Ascent three-row crossover and the redesigned Forester, two vehicles seen as critical for the brand's continued U.S. sales growth, Subaru of America is taking another crack at a hybrid.
The 2019 Crosstrek Hybrid, the automaker's first plug-in hybrid, delivers on one of the promises Subaru Corp. made with its global platform, which called for accommodating gasoline, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full-electric drivetrains.
Subaru sees the plug-in hybrid as a way to satisfy demand of customers who want something electrified and to lure traditional hybrid owners who have outgrown smaller models from rivals, said Garrick Goh, car line planning manager, at the vehicle's media introduction here.
The Crosstrek Hybrid has an EV range of 17 miles and a combined rating of 90 MPGe. The EV range is toward the bottom of a competitive set that includes the Kia Niro PHEV (26 miles), and the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (22 miles). The Crosstrek Hybrid does top the Mini Cooper S E Countryman All4's EV range of 12 miles.
Subaru acknowledged that although the EV range is lower than that of some competitors, it believes that customers will use the 17 miles for short trips and commuting, while the combined range will still allow for longer trips.
With a full tank of gasoline and a fully charged battery, the Crosstrek Hybrid can travel 480 miles — farther than the Cooper S E Countryman All4 (270 miles) and Outlander PHEV (310 miles) but not as far as the Niro PHEV (560 miles).
Subaru will stock Crosstrek Hybrids in California and nine states that have adopted California's zero-emission vehicle regulations: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Subaru made it optional for its retailers in the remaining 40 states to sell the vehicle, Goh said.
Subaru dealers must satisfy three requirements to sell the Crosstrek Hybrid, Goh noted. Sales staffs must be trained on how to sell the vehicle, service tools need be purchased and technicians need to be trained.
The Crosstrek Hybrid starts at $35,970, including shipping. It will qualify for a $4,500 federal tax credit, plus applicable state and local rebates, Subaru said.
The first models are expected to arrive at U.S. dealerships in mid-December.
Goh declined to forecast sales volume for the new model.
Subaru has sold 122,464 Crosstreks in the U.S. through October, an increase of 40 percent from a year earlier, as the automaker stays on track for a 10th straight year of record U.S. sales.
Although the 2019 Crosstrek Hybrid is Subaru's first plug-in hybrid, it's not the first Crosstrek Hybrid.
The first-generation subcompact crossover was offered in a mild hybrid variant, also named Crosstrek Hybrid. Weak sales doomed it in 2016 after just three model years.