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Subaru's first PHEV is the 2019 Crosstrek Hybrid

It combines a boxer engine with Toyota hybrid tech.
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Roberto Baldwin / Engadget

You're probably more likely to associate Subaru with high-powered rally cars than any kind of eco-friendly transportation, but the automaker is determined to change that perception: it just unveiled plans for its first-ever plug-in hybrid. The 2019 Crosstrek Hybrid (not yet pictured) will combine Subaru's familiar four-cylinder boxer engine and all-wheel drive with a hybrid system from long-time collaborator Toyota to bring efficiency to its familiar crossover SUV. While details of its performance are mostly under wraps, Subaru is promising a pure electric mode for those times when you're more likely to be commuting around town than off-roading (which, let's face it, is most of the time).

The PHEV edition will also tout "unique styling" to remind everyone that you're not using a run-of-the-mill Crosstrek. It should arrive at dealers by the end of 2018.

As far as car brands go, Subaru has been conservative about electrifying its lineup. It did introduce a conventional hybrid version of the Crosstrek for the 2014 model year, but it's not expected to launch its first all-electric cars until 2021. The 2019 Crosstrek Hybrid is a first step in that direction, and an acknowledgment that Subaru can't afford to stay still lest rivals like Kia lure customers away with PHEVs of their own.

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