Subaru of America has launched its first plug-in hybrid vehicle, the 2019 Crosstrek which it said offers "real all wheel drive capability in a hybrid package".

It goes on sale across the US at the end of this year with unique exterior and interior styling and new technology. The new SUV also qualifies for High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) permits in many states, including California, Maryland and New York.

The Crosstrek, sold pretty much worldwide (badged in some markets such as here in the UK as the XV), has become the brand's third-best-selling model in America since its debut six years ago. The PHEV is priced at US$34,995 plus $975 destination and delivery and, Subaru said, is the most powerful and most efficient version of the versatile compact SUV to date.

It has so called 'StarDrive Technology' that integrates electric motors, a two litre, direct injection horizontally opposed four cylinder engine, the brand's 'symmetrical' all wheel drive, and a new Lineartronic CVT (continuously variable transmission).

There are two electric motors. One functions as an engine starter and can also be powered by the engine to function as a generator for the hybrid battery. The second motor powers the vehicle for hybrid and electric driving modes and also charges the hybrid battery during regenerative braking.

Subaru claims the Crosstrek Hybrid is good for up to 65 mph in full electric mode and a second faster from 0 to 60 mph than the standard Crosstrek. The new powertrain not only yields quicker acceleration, but up to 90 MPGe with a total range of 480 miles.

The high-capacity lithium-ion battery, mounted beneath the cargo area, enables the PHEV to achieve a claimed EV range of 17 miles.

An electronically controlled brake system has been developed. Braking control has been optimised to distribute braking force between the regenerative brakes and mechanical brakes, maximising the amount of power regeneration to improve fuel efficiency and extended battery life.

The newcomer is built around Subaru's Global Platform that was designed to accommodate hybrid and electric powertrains. The CVT has X-Mode and hill descent control for enhanced performance in low friction and off road conditions. Ground clearance is 8.7 inches and towing capacity 1,000lb.

The 60/40-split fold-down rear seats offer up to 43.1 cu ft of cargo space, enough space for camping gear or luggage.

Standard SI-Drive is a powertrain performance management system that allows the driver to tailor the vehicle's throttle characteristics by choosing between intelligent and sport modes. Standard active torque vectoring, first introduced on the WRX, applies light brake pressure to the inside front wheel while cornering for improved control and handling.

As well as a unique new exterior color, Lagoon Blue Pearl, the PHEV is further distinguished by blue headlight projector rings and a silver metallic finish on the front grille, lower front bumper and body cladding, and fog light accents.

The interior features exclusive high-contrast gray and navy blue leather seats, door panels and armrests with blue stitching and accent panels throughout.

Standard equipment includes eight inch touchscreen multimedia with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; keyless access with pushbutton start; automatic climate control; tyre pressure monitoring System with individual pressure displays; LED fog lights and dual rear USB ports. The standard all weather package includes heated front seats, screen wiper deicer and heated exterior mirrors. A leather-wrapped steering wheel includes audio, Bluetooth and SI-Drive control switches while the high-grade instrument panel includes a 4.2-inch colour LCD as well as a power meter.

The high-grade multifunction display located above the centre console adds exclusive hybrid functions including driving and charging screens.

A generous suite of driver assist and safety features is also included based around Subaru's EyeSight Driver Assist Technology. This is the first model from the brand to also have a driver assist indicator at the top of the combination meter to increase visibility of EyeSight status or other warnings.