Sunday, March 22, 2020

Winter and the Crosstrek Hybrid

It's been a while since we posted, and have a lot of new information.

Highlights - this vehicle is absolutely fantastic in the snow and ice. Battery life decreases in the cold. Mileage suffers with snow tires and a roof rack.

Snow tires:

We added snow tires to the Crosstrek in November (and took them off yesterday, March 21) In my case I got the Nexen WinGuard Winspike. We went with a 225-60 on a 17" wheel instead of the stock 18" wheels. These were put on generic steel wheels, with tire pressure monitoring sensors. You can see what it looks like in the picture.

Crosstrek Hybrid is great in the snow
Out on an icy, snowy, day
The Crosstrek AWD system is really good for snowy conditions. With Traction Control, X-Mode, Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC), good ground clearance and highly maneuverable platform, the car is really quite capable in the snow. additionally, the extra weight of the battery did seem to assist initial traction compared to our non-hybrid Subaru's.

Add snow tires, and it's even better. These particular tires are studdable. There are some areas in the Michigan Upper Peninsula I'd like to visit in winter, and some roads require studded tires, or chains. I did not put studs in this winter, as it never got super cold for the places up North I wanted to visit. 

With the snow tires, extra weight, and standard traction control, I had no issues on days where the roads were bad. I was behind a police cruiser on a day of a significant snow fall, and he was sliding all over the road, as were many pickups, Chargers, Mustangs, other SUV's etc, while the Crosstrek maintained composure, tracking, and braking ability.

If you live in an area with a lot of snow or ice, I would totally recommend using winter tires.


Those snow tires come with a disadvantage, and that was weight. While I do not have a scale to weigh them, swapping the stock tires and rims back on I could tell there was a significant difference between the snow tires and stock tires, and the snow tires were heavier.

Plus, they grip the road well, providing more friction. 

Cars generally get worse mileage in the cold, and hybrid batteries lose capacity in the cold. Also, roof racks and roof accessories increase drag. What this means is that on a long trip, all of those factors really killed the mileage.

Last summer, traveling up North to go backpacking, I still maintained over 37 mpg average. This winter, going 250 miles to Boyne Highlands, with a roof rack, ski rack, skis, snow tires, cold temperatures, and a crosswind, the mileage dropped into the mid 20's.

Again you can view the running mileage spreadsheet, but it's not pretty. Look at the dates for 3/5-3/8 2020.

For me, I plan on only using the roof rack only when I have to, but not leaving it on the car all the time. I think the aerodynamic drag, and efficiencies lost, are worth the hassle. 

I'll be curious to see what the Kayak does to the mileage this summer. 

Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid Ski
With Roof and Ski Rack

Battery Life:

There are plenty of times it does not run in EV mode.
  • When the battery is nearly depleted.
  • When driving 65mph or higher.
  • When it's exceptionally cold.
  • When running the defroster and some other accessories.
However, in EV mode, I found the distance traveled in the cold was reduced. I did not keep a chart, but my anecdotal estimate is that EV range dropped 3-4 miles when below 32 degrees. 

When in Northern Michigan, there are not many EV car chargers. Boyne Highlands actually has a spot with Tesla connectors, and you can plug in your 110V charging cables.

Charging at Boyne Highlands

That's a wrap:

Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid is a blast in the snow. You can't get tit to screw up. Mileage and range do suffer, but we expected it. I did not expect such a huge drop when using the snow tires, roof and ski rack, ouch!

Great Smokey Mountains National Park - Part 2

 Drives around the park The Great Smokey Mountains National Park (GSMNP) includes some fantastic drives for your auto. Here are a few we did...