Like most of its competitors, Subaru has seen its SUV sales remain strong the past three years while other models declined in popularity.

Now the 2019 Subaru CrossTrek, already climbing in sales with a gas-only engine, boasts the brand’s first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) as part of the electric vehicle trend.

Like most plug-in hybrids, electric-only has an unimpressive 17-mile range. However, with the hybrid blending gas and electric with regenerative braking, range increases to an impressive 480-mile range averaging 35 miles per gallon.

The 2019 CrossTrek received top safety scores in crash tests, aided by symmetrical all-wheel drive and the company’s highly praised, camera-controlled EyeSight technology for dynamic cruise control, pre-collision braking and lane departure warning/assist.

Other standard safety features include blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert with automatic braking, pedestrian detection sound alert under 20 mph and swiveling headlights rimmed in blue light. CrossTrek is a apable off-road vehicle when in X-Mode controlling engine, transmission, AWD torque split, braking, hill descent with 8.7 inches of ground clearance.

Our $2,500 option package included STARLINK for an 8-inch easily reached touch-screen, navigation powered by TomTom but not with great map detail, Sirus XM audio with eight harman/kardon speakers, voice controls, powered moonroof and a heated steering wheel.

Even with this option, CrossTrek is competitively priced against PHEVs with less versatility and fewer safety features.

Handling was a strong point and our ride was smooth on 18-inch black alloy wheels below surround black cladding. Hard braking kept a straight ahead bias. There is a startup whine when accelerating from a stop using the non-regenerative electric motor; a second electric motor mates with the gas engine and contributes to regenerative braking. Power is adequate when boosted by Sport drive mode.

The PHEV gains 500 pounds due to the lithium-ion battery pack, which eliminates space for a spare tire and reduces cargo area.

The exterior remains similar to last year with some subtle differences like a silver grille and our striking new Lagoon Blue Pearl color which was mimicked in the cabin with blue plastic trim and blue stitching in doors and along the two-tone slightly bolstered, comfortable leather seats, heated in front. It’s a classy, modern look.

Plug-in charging worked well with 120 volts, completing the charge in just under five hours. Historically, vehicle reliability has been strong.

LIKES: Price, safety, spacious interior, voice recognition, mileage, versatility.

DISLIKES: Lack of map detail, no spare tire, minor wind noise.

BOTTOM LINE: Electric vehicle with range, reliability and value.

FACT FILE

2019 SUBARU CROSSTREK PLUG-IN HYBRID

Base price w/destination fee: $35,970 ($38,470 as tested)

Vehicle weight: 3,726 lbs.

Wheelbase: 104.9 inches

Length: 175.8 inches

Width: 71 inches

Engine: 2.0-liter, 4 cylinders, DOHC, BOXER

Horsepower: 137-hp @ 5,600 rpm/gas only 118-hp electric motor 148-hp combined

Torque: 134-lbs.-ft. @ 4,200 rpm gas 149-lbs-ft. electric

Transmission: Continuous variable transmission

EPA rating: 35 mpg average

Range: 13.2-gallon tank, regular

Performance: 0-60 in just over 8 seconds

Tom Crosby is a former journalist and communications director for AAA Carolinas. He has been reviewing cars since 1996, and has been active in traffic safety issues for more than 30 years.