2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid: Real-World Fuel Economy

Subaru-crosstrek-hy

The concept of a hybrid Subaru is a great one. Many Subaru owners love the outdoors and owning a greener car might appeal to these car shoppers. But the reality of Subaru's first hybrid is a tale of pretty unimpressive mileage.

Related: 2015 Subaru Outback Up Close

The 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid spent some time and hundreds of miles in the Cars.com test fleet recently and delivered less than stunning results.

The EPA ratings on the XV Crosstrek Hybrid are 29/33/31 mpg city/highway/combined. That's an improvement of 3 mpg combined over the non-hybrid XV Crosstrek but just a 1 mpg improvement over a Subaru Impreza hatchback — which the XV Crosstrek is based on — when both are equipped an automatic continuously variable transmission.

The ratings also suggest that the XV Hybrid shows most of its improvements in city driving versus highway, with the highway rating actually identical to the non-hybrid XV and worse than the Impreza.

During our travels we found that the mild-hybrid system in the XV actually performed quite poorly around town and in bumper-to-bumper traffic, which in some ways is similar to the conditions of a city rating.

After nearly 200 miles in this type of congested driving — with a bit of higher-speed highway driving mixed in — the XV showed a rating of 25.6 mpg on the trip computer. We did fill it up to see what the trip computer and gas pump would tell us, but we encountered a possibly "tilted" pump. At fill-up with a trip computer at 188 miles we somehow filled up 8.1 gallons with a reading of the tank half full. The tank holds only 13.7 gallons. And the distance to empty range was 160 miles. This calculates to 23.2 mpg, meaning the gas tank could fit a total of 15 gallons.

We've seen discrepancies this big on a few occasions, but we're going to side with the computer versus the questionable downtown Chicago gas station.

Neither number, however, should sit well with consumers looking for an efficient vehicle.

We put on a few hundred more miles of mixed driving among various editors. Two saw nearly 30 mpg during highway trips, while two others barely broke the 20 mpg barrier in heavy highway traffic and driving through Chicago neighborhoods. We also checked out fueleconomy.gov where two XV Hybrid owners reported averaging 28.8 mpg combined.     The general rule of thumb for driving in Chicago and on congested highways for me is that a test car should get near the city rating if the weather is decent, and temperatures during our test were favorable.

To see results nearly 12 percent off the EPA rating is rather significant.

But it wasn't this single test — which couldn't be exhaustive based on our limited time in the car — that bothered editors most.

The XV Crosstrek Hybrid wasn't a pleasant driving experience; one editor remarked that it wasn't ready for prime time. Braking wasn't a major issue, but the transmission offered a fair amount of undesired shudders under various acceleration calls.

Then there's the whole concept of why the car even exists. If the XV Hybrid achieved its EPA ratings it would save owners $750 a year in gas over a non-hybrid XV, but it starts $4,000 higher taking more than five years to recoup the initial higher outlay. Also, because of the smaller gas tank, total range on the hybrid is 425 miles versus the non-hybrid's 445 miles.

That means the XV Crosstrek Hybrid really is just an option for those who are strictly concerned for the environment. The XV Hybrid releases less greenhouse gas emissions than either the non-hybrid or the Impreza.

Check out the gallery below; Cars.com photos by Evan Sears.

 

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

Comments 

John Kuhn

No surprise that the fuel economy disappoints. The XV is almost six inches taller and 500 lbs heavier than an Impreza. Just shows how useless an SUV is, unless you really need that ground clearance. I'd say for most people it's just a styling statement.

Jimmy Song

I don't know how these guys tested gas mileage, but I'm getting much better results. I recently took a road trip from San Francisco up the coast to Oregon (Crater Lake), down to Lassen Volcanic National Park, and back to SF. Over around 1000 miles of driving, I averaged over 32mpg as calculated at the pump (not the trip computer). Keep in mind this included a lot hill climbing, winding roads, some unpaved roads, and with 3 people plus a trunkful of luggage.

On my normal highway trips, I have gotten over 40 mpg once, and I routinely get over 30 mpg in the city.

Have owned our XV Hybrid since 12/2013, logged over 10,000 miles. Vehicle travels 70 miles daily in 50 / 50 city / highway traffic and averages over 33 MPG. (Really, pretty difficult to achieve less then 30 MPG) We held off on a Subaru purchase simply because of lower MPG in the rest of the line up. Test-drove the Standard XV and Forester and either could match the XV Hybrid in driving refinement, would have simply purchased the XV Hybrid over the others on ride quality alone. Achieving the best MPG is a matter of learning the features offered, really very simple. Have logged and tracked our MPG at another web site from day one. We own a Civic Coupe, which achieves less MPG under the same driving conditions. I do test mileage by topping off the vehicle and /or carefully filling up at same locations and find this basic system of measure is much more accurate than using the fuel savings instruments as each time the vehicle is turned off part of the gauge info is reset, and proved most often not accurate to the actual fuel usage, have been testing / checking MPG's for many years, Really surprised other "testing" would rely on total MPG's logged as this method is not accurate at all. A recent 1000 mile road trip over Memorial Day weekend rewarded us with great MPG’s, wonderfully quiet ride at 80 miles per hour or less, really quiet, and a blast twisting around the hills and curves of Tennesee, we could not ask for more. Did a few tweaks to the Clarion Head Unit that helped the standard audio system crank! This vehicle is truly a Subaru first….. Best of luck to others with their vehicles!

Daniel T

I previously owned a 2013 Impreza 2.0i sport premium, and now I own the XV hybrid. Therefore, my insights come from my experience with two vehicles that have the same gasoline engine and similar materials. The short answer is that the XV hybrid's enhancements make it a much more complete car than its gasoline-only brethren.

First, let's talk fuel economy: it gets better after the break-in. Both the impreza and the hybrid saw noticeable increases once past the 5000 mark on the odometer. I averaged between 29 and 30 with the Impreza using conservative driving techniques, and I average between 32 and 35 with the hybrid (this data is based on calculations and not the trip computer). I'm consistently noticing about 3 mpg better with the hybrid than I ever did with the xv's lighter gasoline cousin. Regarding the author's fuel economy numbers, I must say that I am impressed with Mr. Thomas' ability to obtain numbers similar to those of Subaru's own STI. Hey, I'm no stranger to fast driving--I did own a supercharged SRT magnum after all--but I don't even think I could average 23 MPG. I'm halfway serious: please post a video of your road test, Mr. Thomas. I'm picturing the XV Hybrid taking corners with same enthusiasm as a 911 Carrera.

Power: it's like driving two different vehicles. The FB engine is not lacking in power--drivers just have to keep revs around 4500 RPM for optimal passing power. This is easy for the 5 speed, but difficult with the CVT as it is designed to keep revs low. However, the hybrid sees maximum torque at 2000 RPM, and the difference is profound. The electric engine transforms the FB engine into a machine with usable torque and power at all RPM ranges while allowing for impressive passing abilities at both city and Highway speeds. This makes the XV hybrid much more enjoyable to drive than it's impreza/gasoline equivalents, and is well worth the increased cost.

Also, the hybrid comes with many more goodies, including a modern instrument panel, standard back-up panel, smoother ride, tighter turning radius, and a quieter cabin (which also makes the ride much more pleasant). These enhancements are not mentioned by many reviewers, but they make an immense difference during day to day driving.

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