Opening a new chapter in the automaker's history, the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid was unveiled in New York. Heading to showrooms in the fourth quarter, Subie's first-ever production hybrid shares all of the utility and capability of its conventional sibling but packs an electric-assist edge that makes it even more fuel efficient and features a revised suspension setup that promises to make it more engaging to drive.

Motivating this new Subaru is a hybrid package that combines the XV Crosstrek's 148-horsepower/2.0-liter flat-4 engine with a 13.4-horspower electric motor/generator integrated into the Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). It's energized by a 13.5kW nickel-metal hydride battery pack located under the rear cargo area along with the drive motor inverter. This compact, Subaru-engineered hybrid setup weighs just 209 pounds and trims passenger volume by less than one cubic foot and total cargo space by less than two.

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In addition to being optimized to reduce internal friction, the engine in the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid is fitted with an efficiency-enhancing auto start/stop system. The other notable variations in this mix include wind-cheating active grille shutters and a regenerative braking package that replenishes the battery pack under active stopping as well as coasting situations. Under light acceleration, the system is designed to use the electric motor for startups whenever possible. Both Crosstrek variants share the same Active Torque Split version of Subaru's Symmetrical AWD, but where the standard vehicle earns 25/33-mpg city/highway marks from the EPA, the Hybrid is slated to deliver 28/34 mpg.

Its exclusive Plasma Green Pearl paint notwithstanding, save for aero-optimized 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in all-season tires and "HYBRID" badges on its front doors and tailgate, there are no other visual tipoffs to the dual-modality of this more eco-friendly  Subaru. Inside, the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid features a new dedicated gauge cluster, a more efficient heating/air conditioning system, additional sound insulation and a host of other lesser changes. Only three options are available: leather upholstery, navigation and a power moonroof.

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While some of the suspension changes on the XV Crosstrek Hybrid were mandated to offset the added weight of the hybrid system, Subaru also took the opportunity to toss in a few additional enhancements that quicken the steering ratio, sharpen handling response and improve the overall ride quality. Those with more adventurous spirits will be pleased to know that the Crosstrek's baseline 8.7-inch ground clearance spec remains unchanged. About the only numbers left to speculation are the ones that will reveal exactly how much the 2014 Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid will cost.


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