WcPbbkYy 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid S 3
2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid S 3

Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid: Fuel for thought

2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid S 2

What is it?

Crosstrek is the smallest of Subaru’s three SUVs, sitting below the mid-sized Forester and larger Outback.

While the name is new, Crosstrek has actually been on the Australian market since 2012 — but as the XV.

It competes against vehicles such as MG ZS, Mitsubishi ASX, Kia Seltos and Mazda CX-30. 

2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid S 1

What’s it cost?

While the general appearance of the Crosstrek is a carry-over from the XV, the bonnet and radiator grille have been updated.

While the grille retains the signature hexagonal shape, it’s now larger with an aggressively styled honeycomb design. 

Use of lightweight aluminium for the bonnet contributes to improved pedestrian protection with a softer head impact zone, while aluminium front fenders save 2kg and optimises weight distribution all round.

Five Crosstrek variants are offered: 2.0L, 2.0R, 2.0S (petrol), plus Hybrid L and Hybrid S, with prices ranging from $34,990 to $45,090 plus on-road costs.

Our test vehicle was the top-spec Crosstrek Hybrid 2.0S, priced from $45,090.

As with all Australian Subaru models, except for the Toyota re-badged BRZ coupe, Crosstrek is all-wheel drive.

LED headlights, plus cornering lights, improve visibility at night and add to power savings, while LED rear combination lights feature a sharp, three-dimensional C-shape.

Rear-view mirrors are smaller, improving aerodynamics and providing a less obstructive view. 

All Crosstrek variants come with dusk-sensing LED headlights, roof rails and power-folding door mirrors. 

Crosstrek 2.0R, 2.0S and Hybrid S also get LED daytime running lights, with the top-spec 2.0L and Hybrid L featuring bulb type DRLs. 

The dash features an 11.6-inch infotainment touchscreen, with a 4.2-inch multi-information display (MID) for the driver.

The central screen is presented in portrait mode, with large buttons and fonts and is within easy reach of the driver. 

There are physical knobs for the audio system and, although the climate controls are part of the touchscreen, they can be adjusted with a minimum of distraction.

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity are standard across the range. 

The nine-speaker Harman Kardon audio system provided excellent sound reproduction. 

It’s standard in the two S variants with the lower-spec models getting a more basic six-speaker system.

Likewise, embedded satellite navigation is only available with the top-spec S petrol and hybrids.

All models get USB-A and USB-C ports in the front console and there are also USB charge ports in the R and S. 

A wireless Qi smartphone charger is standard.

Although it’s yet to undergo ANCAP testing, the outgoing XV scored a maximum five stars.

With a comprehensive range of safety features the same rating is likely for Crosstrek.

Standard features include nine airbags, blind spot monitoring, front side radar, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, rear parking sensors, reversing camera, reverse automatic braking, driver inattention warning, tyre pressure monitoring and Isofix child seat anchor points.

R and S variants add front and side view monitors, high beam assist and a 360-degree camera.

Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist system is standard across the range and includes adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, numerous lane control and pre-collision alerts and braking assist features, speed sign recognition and speed limiter.

The two hybrid models also come with a pedestrian alert system.

2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid S 6

What’s it go like?

The cabin of the Crosstrek Hybrid S has a real premium feel, which it should, given that it costs close to $50,000 on the road.

It’s light and spacious with a friendly soft-touch material on the dashboard and steering wheel. 

The front seats are comfortable and supportive with eight-way power adjustment and lumbar support for the driver in R and S models.

There’s good leg, head and shoulder room, although the centre-rear seat position is best suited to young children as expected in a relatively small vehicle.

Boot space in the hybrid is a reasonable 315 litres, although it doesn’t come with a spare wheel of any sort.

Instead, it relies on a puncture repair kit, a feature likely to deter those who may be considering using the car’s AWD and 220mm ground clearance to venture off-road.

Petrol-only models get a space-saver spare but it reduces boot capacity to 290 litres.

Petrol-only Crosstrek variants are powered by the latest version of Subaru’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder horizontally-opposed (Boxer) engine, delivering maximum power of 115kW at 6000 rpm and top torque of 196Nm at 4000 revs.

The same engine in the hybrid models get slightly less power (110kW at 5800 rpm) but the same torque figure. 

The electric motor adds 12.3kW of power and 66Nm of torque and is self-charging, capturing kinetic energy through regenerative braking and coasting.

The electric motor is placed near the vehicle’s centre of gravity, while the battery and other components are positioned above the rear axle, providing balanced front/rear weight distribution.

Drive from the e-Boxer engine is sent to the all-wheel drive system through a CVT automatic with seven-steps for manual override.

Unlike most other hybrids which start silently and smoothly under battery power, the Crosstrek Hybrid’s engine kicks in immediately, taking away much of the appeal of the EV component.

That means missing out on the instant torque that’s such an appealing feature of electric vehicles.

On the plus side the engine will shut down when the vehicle is coasting or in slow-moving traffic and run solely on battery power. 

e-Boxer logic adjusts the power split between petrol and electric propulsion to match driving conditions.

It automatically changes between three modes: Motor Assist EV driving, Motor Assist electric (EV) + petrol engine driving and petrol engine-only driving.

The lower centre of gravity and greater rigidity provides excellent driving dynamics, both on and off the bitumen. 

When cornering, there is little evidence of body roll and it doesn’t get fazed by rapid changes in direction.

The electric power steering is well-weighted and provides plenty of feel on both bitumen and loose surfaces. 

The steering wheel is both reach and tilt adjustable. 

Crosstrek’s 220mm ground clearance is regarded by many as being the minimum for a genuine off-road vehicle. 

You wouldn’t call it a genuine in appearance, but under its station wagon body it’s close to being one.

Subaru is at pains to describe Crosstrek Hybrid as a ‘mild’ hybrid.

It falls a fair bit short of the sub-5.0L/100km fuel consumption figures that we’re used to from Toyota hybrids such as the similar-sized Corolla Cross. 

On the combined urban/highway cycle, Crosstrek uses a claimed 6.5L/100km, compared to 7.2 L/100km for the petrol only model, making it hard to justify the $3600 surcharge. 

At the same time performance is hampered by the hybrid’s extra weight.

2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid S 4

What we like?

  • Aggressive styling
  • Premium feel
  • All-wheel drive
  • Excellent driving dynamics
  • Smaller less obstructive mirrors
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android

2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid S 8

What we don’t like?

  • More expensive
  • Climate controls part of touchscreen
  • Embedded satnav available only with top-spec
  • No safety rating yet
  • Doesn’t start in electric mode
  • Fuel saving doesn’t justify cost

2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid S 9

The bottom line?

XV was a consistent seller for Subaru throughout its decade on the market.

There’s no reason why the more-sensibly named Crosstrek won’t continue that trend.

It’s a relatively conservative vehicle designed for couples or small families with all the latest in safety features.

And with all-wheel drive and sufficient ground clearance, it is able to cope with moderate off-road conditions. 

2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid S 5


CHECKOUT: Subaru Forester: Tried and true

CHECKOUT: Subaru BRZ: The anniversary is over


Subaru Crosstrek 2.0S Hybrid, priced from $45,090
  • Looks - 8/10
  • Performance - 7/10
  • Safety - 9/10
  • Thirst - 7/10
  • Practicality - 8/10
  • Comfort - 8/10
  • Tech - 8/10
  • Value - 7/10

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