2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid S Review
Price & Equipment:7
Performance & Economy:6.5
Ride & Handling:8.5
Interior & Practicality:7.5
Service & Warranty:8
What we like:
  • Excellent size and packaging
  • One of the only small hybrid SUVs that can go off-road
  • Quite well equipped
What we don't like:
  • Starting to get expensive and steep hybrid premium
  • More mild-hybrid than actual hybrid
  • No spare wheel for hybrid versions
7.5DiscoverAuto Rating:

Last year, we tested the new Subaru Crosstrek, which replaced the popular XV after a solid 10-year run in Australia. Essentially a lifted-up Impreza – a formula that Subaru has applied to various cars like the Outback for decades – the XV won many buyers over thanks to its great practicality and off-road ability, but presented in a smaller package for those not needing a huge SUV. The top-spec Crosstrek 2.0S largely carried the same formula over from the XV, so is it as well-rounded as a hybrid? We tested the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid S to find out.

Somehow, in 2024, hybrid small SUVs still aren’t that regularly available in Australia with the Crosstrek competing against the Toyota Corolla Cross – and its slinky C-HR sibling – as well as the Haval Jolion and imminent Nissan Qashqai e-Power, as well as the plug-in hybrid Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV, though none of those are as off-road friendly as the Crosstrek. Is the Subaru the one to buy?

How much does the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid S cost to buy?

While the Crosstrek range starts from $34,990 plus on-road costs, here we’re testing the top-spec Hybrid S, which is priced from $45,090 +ORC or around $50,500 drive away, depending on location.

Crosstrek Hybrid S standard equipment:

  • 18-inch alloy wheels with a tyre repair kit
  • Automatic dusk-sensing LED headlights with LED daytime running lights
  • Automatic rain-sensing wipers
  • Keyless entry with push button start
  • Heated and electric-folding mirrors
  • Leather upholstery
  • 10-way electric driver’s seat
  • Heated front seats
  • Leather steering wheel and gearknob
  • Paddle shifters
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • 11.6-inch touchscreen
  • Wired and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Satellite navigation
  • AM/FM/DAB+ digital radio
  • 10-speaker Harman Kardon sound system
  • 4x USB charging ports (2x in the front, 2x in the rear)
  • Wireless phone charger
  • Front wiper de-icer
  • Selectable driving modes
  • Subaru’s ‘X-Mode’ off-road system
  • Auto-dimming rear mirror

Crosstrek Hybrid S safety equipment:

  • Nine airbags
  • Auto emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian, cyclist and intersection assistance
  • Adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality
  • Driver attention monitoring
  • Speed sign recognition
  • Auto high beam
  • Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert
  • Intelligent speed limit assistance
  • Lane keeping assistance
  • Adaptive lane guidance
  • Low-speed automatic rear braking
  • Rear parking sensors
  • 360-degree camera

The Subaru Crosstrek is yet to be tested by ANCAP for safety, but the related previous-generation XV received a five-star rating based on 2017 criteria.

Crosstrek Hybrid S colour options (all no-cost):

  • Crystal White Pearl
  • Ice Silver Metallic
  • Magnetite Grey Metallic
  • Crystal Black Silica
  • Pure Red
  • Offshore Blue Metallic
  • Sun Blaze Pearl
  • Oasis Blue (on our test car)
  • Sapphire Blue Pearl
  • Horizon Blue Pearl

Regardless of colour, the Crosstrek Hybrid S is available with either a grey or black interior for no extra charge.

We consider the Toyota Corolla Cross GXL Hybrid AWD (priced from around $48,000 drive away, depending on location) to be the Crosstrek Hybrid S’ main rival. Over the Crosstrek, this particular Corolla Cross adds scrolling front indicators, rear air vents and live services for the touchscreen, though the Crosstrek adds a sunroof, an extra airbag, heated front seats, automatic wipers and a premium sound system. We think that justifies the extra $2,500 spend over the Corolla Cross, and the Crosstrek Hybrid S looks particularly good value against the top-spec Corolla Cross Atmos Hybrid AWD, which is priced from $56,000 drive away.

Overall, the Crosstrek Hybrid S isn’t missing much equipment – just rear air vents, auto-folding mirrors, memory functionality for the driver’s seat, a digital driver’s display and a digital driver’s display – but it is starting to get expensive. We also think that the $3,500 price premium over the petrol model is too much money, especially considering the misery fuel savings you can read about below.

How fuel efficient is the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid S?

Under the bonnet of the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid S is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that’s mated to a 12.3kW/66Nm electric motor, which draws its power from a small battery mounted underneath the boot floor. Total outputs are 110kW of power (between 5,800rpm and 6,000rpm) and 196Nm of torque (at 4,000rpm), which is a lot less than the Toyota Corolla Cross’ 146kW peak. That grunt is sent to all four wheels via a CVT automatic transmission, which has seven stepped ratios against the eight in the petrol Crosstrek.

Unless you really concentrate, the drivetrain of the Crosstrek hybrid feels pretty much identical to the petrol Crosstrek, and quite unlike the Corolla Cross. On start up, the hybrid system always starts the petrol engine and running on all-electric mode is actually quite rare. It can do it, but not for very long and at not very fast speeds either – we’ve driven mild-hybrids that are more hybrid-like because they’re far more keen to switch the engine off at speed, for example. Our test car was quite new, so maybe it would get better after a few thousand km under its belt, but from our testing, the Crosstrek’s hybrid system is very mild and doesn’t seem to add much to performance or economy in the real world. Because of that, the hybrid Crosstrek still feels sluggish, much like the petrol version.

The only transmission is a CVT automatic and it’s different to the one used in the petrol Crosstrek because it feels more like a traditional CVT. The stepping nature of the petrol model’s gearbox is more evident and it therefore feels more natural to keener drivers, whereas the hybrid’s gearbox felt more rubber band-like to us. The Crosstrek hybrids are rated to tow a 1,270kg braked trailer with a 127kg download maximum, which is 130kg and 12kg less respectively than the petrol model.

The claimed combined fuel consumption for the Crosstrek Hybrid S is rated at 6.5L/100km on the combined cycle with CO2 emissions of 147g/km – those numbers are improvements of 0.7L/100km and 18g/km respectively over the petrol Crosstrek. In our combined testing, we achieved 7.4L/100km, which is 0.8L/100km less than our testing result in the petrol Crosstrek 2.0S. Helping running costs further is that the Crosstrek Hybrid S can run on 91RON regular unleaded, and its 48-litre fuel tank is 15L less than the petrol Crosstrek.

What is the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid S like to drive?

Based on the same architecture as the XV that it replaced, the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid S drives well with a solid and plated feel, but it’s also acceptably light on its feet and it can be reasonably fun to drive as well. Part of that is how nicely set up the regular Crosstrek is but also that the Hybrid S’ 1,586kg tare mass is only 93kg more than the petrol-only Crosstrek 2.0S and 66kg more than the Corolla Cross.

The Crosstrek’s ride quality – even on the larger 18-inch wheels of the 2.0R and above – is generally quite comfortable. It takes smaller bumps in its stride quite well, and in urban use, is more than fine. Higher speed bumps are more of an issue however, and expose a slight underdamped feeling thanks to excessive vertical motions at highway speeds, for example but the hybrid’s extra weight makes it feel a touch more solid.

In the corners, the Crosstrek is surprisingly fun. That’s not to say that we thought it would handle badly – far from it – but entertaining Subarus (that aren’t the WRX or BRZ) of the past like turbo Foresters and Liberties have been consigned to the history books. Once you get up some speed in the Crosstrek, tackling corners is reasonably fun thanks to its well weighted and relatively quick steering, good chassis balance and excellent all-wheel drive system.

Speaking of its all-wheel drive system, the Crosstrek’s is slightly different now thanks to its 60:40 front to rear split, which replaces the former 50:50 split on other Subaru models. But like the XV, the Crosstrek is one of the only small SUVs that can handle even reasonable off-road travels and its ‘X Mode’ drive modes help that further. We tested the Crosstrek on a light off-road course and came away impressed at how well it handles rougher terrain like big puddles, mud and dirt roads – and the Corolla Cross won’t come close off-road, if that’s what you’re looking for in a small hybrid SUV.

How comfortable is the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid S?

Anybody who’s sat in a recent model Subaru product will find the cabin of the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid S instantly familiar thanks to a similar layout to other other Subaru products like the Forester and Outback. The quality inside the Crosstrek doesn’t hit the same highs as those cars, however, with the only soft touch materials in the cabin smattered atop the dashboard – but not on top of the instrument binnacle – and faux leather covering the front doors. The Crosstrek’s cabin feels built to last, but a soft touch dashboard fascia and centre console – like the Forester – would improve the quality inside.

Centre of the cabin is an 11.6-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satellite navigation and digital radio, though no live services for features like over-the-air updates or live traffic for the navigation. It’s identical to the system used in the Outback and Forester, so screen quality is good but it can be a bit slow to react to touch. The Crosstrek is the first Subaru to have a proper 360-degree camera, though it can’t be displayed at the same time as the reversing camera – we think that both features could be displayed on the huge centre screen without issue for better usability.

The 10-speaker Harman Kardon sound system is nicely punchy – if you’re a sound lover, definitely choose the Crosstrek S for it. The front cabin also features a – fairly useless in our experience – wireless phone charger, as well as USB-C and USB-A charging ports, an AUX port and even a 12V socket for a lot of charging options. What would improve the cabin further would be a digital instrument cluster, which is currently offered in Japan-spec Outbacks. The current dials set up is fine, though looks almost identical to the unit used in the XV and can be a touch overwhelming thanks to the amount of information displayed.

As you’d expect for a Subaru, the cabin of the Crosstrek is quite practical with reasonable door bins, a big glovebox, a big box underneath the centre armrest, a handy slot ahead of the centre box which can fit a wallet or pair of sunglasses, big cup holders in the centre console and a big tray underneath where the wireless phone charger lives.

The back seat of the Crosstrek is not huge, but will fit two adults fine. It’s actually a bit roomier than the XV thanks to the wheelbase increase, though not as roomy as the Corolla Cross. As for features, there are some door pockets, one map pocket, a centre armrest with cup holders and two USB charging ports – but no air vents, heated seats or a second map pocket.

The boot of the Subaru Crosstrek is not its strongpoint at 315-litres with the seats up and 1,297L with the seats folded, which is smaller against the 390L Corolla Cross Hybrid AWD but strangely, larger than the petrol Crosstrek. The Crosstrek’s boot is not huge and also features a high boot lip to lift luggage over and the boot floor is quite high as well. Plus, because of the hybrid’s battery location, underneath the boot floor lies a tyre repair kit and not a spare wheel.

How much does the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid S cost to service?

Like other new Subaru models, the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek is covered by a five-year/unlimited km warranty with 12 months of roadside assistance and an eight-year/160,000km warranty for the hybrid system. It has once-yearly/15,000km service intervals and five years/75,000km of servicing costs $2,373 ($474 per service), which is identical to the petrol Crosstrek.

Toyota also covers its products with a five-year/unlimited km warranty, and although it gives no roadside assistance, it gives you two extra years of mechanical warranty if serviced at a Toyota dealer and up to an extra five years (10 years in total) for the hybrid system if a yearly battery check is performed. Five years/75,000km of servicing the Corolla Cross costs just $1,250 ($250 per service).

Should I buy a 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid S?

Overall, the 2023 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid S is a solid entrant in the small SUV segment and if you’re after one – particularly one that can actually go off-road – then we think you’d be crazy not to consider it. Like its petrol siblings, the Crosstrek Hybrid S has lots of charm and character, and it feels like a mountain goat egging you on to go up that trail or over those rocks. It’s also practical for its size, well equipped and quite comfortable.

But if you’re looking for a hybrid small SUV, we’d ultimately suggest looking elsewhere because as far as hybrids go, the Crosstrek is not great. Its hybrid system is just far too mild to notice any meaningful difference in both performance and efficiency, especially against the Corolla Cross. In addition to that, the $3,500 price difference between the petrol and hybrid is just too large, and it would take a long time to recoup it. Overall, quite we’re big fans of the Crosstrek, but our advice is to save $3,500 by sticking with the petrol model and enjoying its long list of attributes.

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