top of page
s-Subaru Crossttrak Wilderness_edited.jpg

What to Bring to the Wilderness

A couple of decades ago, my colleague Dan Neil at the Wall Street Journal waxed rhetorically about the adventurous lads driving the Sports Utility Vehicles that were cropping up throughout our towns and villages. The image was kept intact when the operator made his exit attired in camo-dyed cargo pants with an Outfitters logo shirt. Then you glanced into the machine and discovered the baby seat. He was so married and unremittingly urbanized.

That recollection flashed through my mind when I encountered Subaru’s Crosstrek Wilderness. This small SUV plays in an important segment of the market, the new vehicle entrance level for young couples, often starting families. Most of us have lived through that young adult time zone where one part of our psyche looks forward to nesting while we still crave adventure. And the marketing folks get it. The techniques most often witnessed in commercial messages for small SUVs beckon drivers to the wilderness.

Subaru’s Wilderness fitment is available in its larger Outback and Forester models as well as our Crosstrek and adds off road substance along with some strapping styling. New rugged bumpers front and rear accompany larger cladding over the wheel arches and down the sides. Longer coil springs and shock absorbers help raise the ground clearance to 9.3-inches while still offering good contact with the uneven surfaces encountered in the wild. And while it’s hiked up a bit, the Crosstrek maintains a reasonably low step in height for ease of entry and exit.


Tires play a crucial role so the Wilderness is shod with Yokohama GEOLANDER all-terrain tires designed for traction in mud, gravel or snow. They also comport themselves nicely in sand as I discovered during a jaunt to a local beach for my photos. And they’re mounted on 17-inch alloy wheels that are appropriately finished in matte-black. While I didn’t test the enhanced 20-degree approach and 33-degree departure angels, I’m sure reasonable rock crawling in a canyon is an attainable virtue.


Whatever you encounter, Subaru’s X-MODE all-wheel-drive system awaits your finger’s command on its 11.6-inch multimedia screen that’s nicely incorporated into the center of the dash. Along with off-road commands, everyday features like Bluetooth phone integration with wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and Sirius XM with Travel Link take ample screen landscape when connected. And updates are over-the-air.


Seats in the Wilderness are upholstered in Subaru’s water-resistant Star Tex material and are perched above all-weather floor mats. A water-resistant rear cargo tray protects the load floor from whatever is tossed back there that’s not in a shopping bag. These are great features for active outdoors adults as well as their cute kids cosseted in car seats because it’s not much fun to get drink spills out of quilted leather and plush carpets.


With all this rugged demeanor, the Crosstrek Wilderness is still civilized on the paved roads we most often travel. Subaru’s unique 2.5-liter Boxer engine with direct fuel injection makes 182 HP and 178 lb-ft of torque, enough to move the 3,369-pound SUV with reasonable enthusiasm. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) aids that alacrity without too much moaning over the absence of gear changes.


The Crosstrek’s 4.11 final drive ratio, up from the standard 3.70, assists performance on and off road, including the ability to tow up to 3,500-pounds, but the combined fuel economy of 27 MPG is just average in this category. That segment includes Ford’s Bronco Sport, Jeep Compass and the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross in the low to mid-$30-grand MSRP range. Our well-equipped Wilderness retailed for $35,560 including Harman Kardon sound, moonroof, 10-way power driver’s seat and destination.

s-Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness Rear_edited.jpg
s-Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness Int_edited.jpg
s-Crosstrek engineDSC_0393_edited.jpg
Subaru Wilderness Badge_edited_edited.png

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness

TYPE:  Front-engine, all-wheel-drive

ENGINE:  2.5-liter Boxer 4

HORSEPOWER:  182 @ 5,800 RPM

TORQUE:  178 lb.ft. @ 4,400 RPM

BASE PRICE: $32,195

AS TESTED:  $35,560

FUEL CONSUMPTION:  25-city, 29-highway, 27-combined

bottom of page