Home Automobile First Spin: 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness | The Daily Drive

First Spin: 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness | The Daily Drive

First Spin: 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness | The Daily Drive


2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness
2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness

By Jill Ciminillo

The hood tipped up to the sky as the front wheels hit a divot in the red dirt. Tires spun, then caught, pushing the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness up and over the steep incline. The top of the hill required a tight right turn to hit the next obstacle, and the compact SUV neatly executed the maneuver before dipping right back down the hill.

More Subaru news and reviews

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness

In this compact seven-minute off-road course designed by Subaru, we pushed the newest Wilderness model through its paces, and I, for one, was impressed. From articulation to loose dirt to a sploosh of mud, the Crosstrek Wilderness calmly walked through every obstacle and seemed to say: What else you got?

During this one-day drive program, we probably spent 75 percent of our drive time on dirt and gravel roads, and the Crosstrek Wilderness was perfectly at home.

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness
2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness

This new off-road ready model hits the top of the Crosstrek lineup at $33,290, including destination. While this might seem steep for a Crosstrek, it includes a lot of the up-level features you see in the Limited trim, like heated seats, blind-spot monitoring, an 11.6-inch vertical infotainment screen, wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and a wireless phone charger.

Test Drive: 2023 Jeep Compass Trailhawk

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness
2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness

But Wilderness takes things a step further. In the name of ruggedness; the new trim level includes an extra 0.6 inches of ground clearance, leatherette water-repellant seating surfaces, a light in the rear cargo area, an upgraded suspension, tow points on the front and rear of the vehicle, Yokohama Geolander all-terrain tires, a 3,500-pound towing capacity 2000 more than lesser Crosstreks), and advanced dual-function X-Mode. Standard on Wilderness, X-MODE provides settings that can optimize traction for varying conditions including dirt, deep snow, and mud.

Serious off-roaders will be glad to know that with unique bumpers and the aforementioned added ground clearance, you also get increases in approach angle (by 2 degrees), departure angle (3 degrees) and breakover angles (1 degree).

The remarkable thing isn’t how well it does off road, however, it’s what it does on road that truly impresses. The Crosstrek Wilderness has knobby all-terrain tires, and you’d expect tire noise to creep into the cabin – and it does. But it’s not as harsh as you’d expect, and Subaru still managed to make the ride and handling comfortable on the highway.

Fuel economy does suffer as a result – but also not as much as you’d expect. The Crosstrek Wilderness is equipped with the same 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder “boxer” engine you see in the Crosstrek Sport. It delivers 182 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. In the Sport fuel economy rings in at 26/33 MPG city/highway. On the Crosstrek Wilderness, it’s the highway fuel economy that takes the hit, which goes back to those knobby all-terrain tires. per the EPA, It’ll get 25 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway.

Test Drive: 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness
2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness

While there are a lot of people clamoring for a turbocharged engine in the Crosstrek Wilderness, and it would be awesome, I’m not sure it really needs it. This is a compact SUV, and it has plenty of get-up-and-go for the size. You will hear a little engine-and-transmission whine under hard acceleration, but it’s not awful, and it falls in line with a vehicle of this size in this class.

There is a lot to like on this compact off roader–from the bronze accents and rugged appearance to the easy-to-clean interior–but there are always a couple pain points with any vehicle, and the Crosstrek Wilderness is no exception.

As we were leaving camp on a rocky dirt road, my coffee, which I’d placed in the passenger side cup holder, immediately spilled all over the console area because the cup holders don’t have any grips to hold smaller cups in place. So, the lidded cup bobbled about splashing hot coffee out the drink hole and all over the car. Skinny cans and other small beverages would not do well in the space either, and that’s a definite ding.

I’d also like to point out that though there are amazing heated seats in the Crosstrek Wilderness, there is no heated steering wheel option. At all. That’s a bit of a miss for me since you’re supposedly taking this vehicle on offroad, outdoor adventures, which means you could come back a bit chilled. A heated steering wheel would be lovely in that instance.

Something else that isn’t available on the Crosstrek Wilderness: A navigation system. While this isn’t a huge problem, it is worth noting. Subaru said most of its customers would prefer to use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto–I get it, so would I. But the problem for this vehicle specifically is this: If you buy it to do off-road things, you’ll likely find yourself occasionally without cell service. In that situation, which was most of our drive, CarPlay and Auto won’t do diddly.

Test Drive: 2023 Volvo V60 Cross Country Ultimate

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness
2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness

Finally, and this is perhaps the biggest miss on the Crosstrek Wilderness: There is no front-facing camera. While I appreciate such niceties in an urban environment for parallel parking, in an off-road situation it takes on a new level of importance. When your hood is pointed to the sky, and you can’t see the path in front of you as you come over a hill, a front camera would be helpful.

Then again, when you look at the competitive set, a lot of these features aren’t available there either, or if they are, the vehicles are significantly more expensive.

So, what is the competitive set? And how do they stack up? The quick comparo, according to Subaru, is as follows (pricing is without destination):

  • Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness ($31,995): 25/29/27 MPG, all-terrain tires, 9.3 inches of ground clearance, 3,500-pound max towing, 700-pound max roof rack load.
  • Jeep Compass Trailhawk ($36,395): 24/32/27 MPG, all-season tires, 8.6 inches of ground clearance, 2,000-pound max towing, 150-pound max roof rack load.
  • Jeep Renegade Trailhawk ($31,970): 22/27/24 MPG, all-season tires, 8.7 inches of ground clearance, 2,000-pound max towing, 150-pound max roof rack load.
  • Ford Bronco Sport Badlands ($38,390): 21/26/23 MPG, all-season tires, 8.8 inches of ground clearance, 2,200-pound max towing, 150-600-pound max roof rack load.

Overall, this is the Wilderness model I’ve been waiting for. In the Crosstrek Wilderness, Subaru has put together a comfortable and competent package that gives a lot of the features the younger demographic craves, while keeping it relatively affordable. It’s easy to drive, comfortable for road trips, easy to keep clean and can take you off the beaten path with aplomb.

Forgotten Concept: Saab 9-X

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness
2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness

Listen to the Car Stuff Podcast

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness Gallery

Click below for enlarged images

Test Drive: 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Premium

Consumer Guide Car Stuff Podcast, Episode 156: Subaru Crosstrek, Cadillac Escalade-V, and Suicide Mustangs




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here