2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness Review: The Best Outdoor Companion

Sometimes, the journey is the destination. The 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness, with off-road tires, a skid plate and X-Mode, make it all the more enjoyable.

Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness And Me. Photo: Sara Lacey
Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness and Me. Photo: Sara Lacey

Need Something to Get You Back To Nature?

The 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness is the third Subaru to be kitted out in the Wilderness trim. What does that mean? It means Subaru has taken an already versatile car and given it some more serious off-road and adventure chops. What I loved in particular about the Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness is that it’s so ready for off-roading and would be a great starter car for someone who wants to start participating in that. It’d be a fun car to start exploring an off-roading lifestyle. Not only that, it could carry you pretty far into that life before you needed something different.

Just to make sure I knew exactly how versatile and serious it is, Subaru had me drive the Crosstrek Wilderness in Utah. I drove this car, which has a starting price of $31,995, through Zion National Park and took the Crosstrek Wilderness across some fairly tame off-pavement roads. Lastly, I went up some slightly more technical roads and sand dunes. I’m telling you, I was surprised and delighted by every surface I drove on.

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Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness Double Vision. Photo: Sara Lacey

Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness double vision. Photo: Sara Lacey

It’s an Elevated Experience, Literally

The Wilderness trim starts with raising the Crosstrek up a bit so that it has 9.3” of ground clearance. This is the most obvious change in the Crosstrek, as the non-Wilderness trims have 8.7” of ground clearance. Then Subaru added black lower cladding along the door panels and over the wheels to protect the car’s paint and metal. The front end has the cladding all around the grille and the headlights, and on the rear, the cladding is emblazoned with “Subaru” in all caps across the bumper. In addition, there is an anti-glare decal on the hood to prevent the reflection of the sun from getting into your eyes. So thoughtful! 

The additions my test car had were a Harman-Kardon sound system, a moonroof, and a power driver’s seat with lumbar support. These features are all included in one package that adds $2,270 to the price, making a total price of $34,265 (not including dealer fees). It’s a lot of car to take you to a lot of places.

The Crosstrek Wilderness is slightly less fuel efficient than its non-Wilderness Crosstrek counterparts, with an estimated 25 city/29 highway miles per gallon.

Related: Little Subaru, Big Amenities: The 2024 Impreza 

Lunch Break With The Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness. Photo: Sara Lacey

Lunch Break with the Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness. Photo: Sara Lacey

Supporting You and Your Hobbies

The Crosstrek Wilderness trim has the cool Wilderness badge and adds copper trim details like tow hook covers and roof rack anchors. And speaking of the roof rack, Subaru learned that Crosstrek owners love carrying gear up there on the roof.

In fact, the roof basket is the number one accessory for Crosstrek owners. So, in a nod to the activity-lovers carrying bikes, canoes, paddle boards, and other gear, Subaru actually increased the roof weight capacity to 700 pounds. This means you can even camp on the roof of the Crosstrek.

And though 35% of Crosstrek owners purchase a roof basket accessory, it does not come standard on the Wilderness trim.

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The Multimedia Touchscreen System. Photo: Sara Lacey

The multimedia touchscreen system. Photo: Sara Lacey

Extra Off-Road Gear Makes the Crosstrek Capable

The Crosstrek Wilderness has been beefed up with the wheels, tires, and suspension. The Crosstrek has 17” wheels and Yokohama all-terrain tires matched with a more hearty suspension to manage whatever off-roading you’d like to tackle.

The Crosstrek Wilderness also has a skid plate under the car to protect it from whatever you may come into contact with. It was so fun driving the Crosstrek Wilderness in these ruts and over rocks, thinking, “this is where we are going to bottom out” and then never actually bottoming out!

Check Out The Gear Basket! Photo: Tanya Gazdik

Check out the gear basket! Photo: Tanya Gazdik

X-Mode for the Win

Then, the Crosstrek Wilderness has X-Mode. X-Mode is a system to manage specific road conditions. I actually drove the Crosstrek Wilderness in very soft sand and put X-Mode to work. I pressed the X-Mode button on the screen and selected the Deep Snow/Mud option. This particular mode does allow the wheels to spin a bit, which is what you need in sand, mud, and deep snow.

Pressing this button enabled me to get through super fine sand, a muddy riverbed, and dunes so sandy and steep I was looking straight up at the sky while making my way up them. There are three terrain options with X-Mode: Normal, Dirt/Snow, and Deep Snow/Mud.

On-Road Driving Was A Kick! Photo: Sara Lacey

On-road driving in the Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness was a kick! Photo: Sara Lacey

But how is Daily Driving?

When engaged in regular driving, you can put the Crosstrek Wilderness into Sport Mode, and that will tune the engine to be a little more assertive. You’ll feel the pull of the engine, and it will respond a little quicker. Subaru knows that as much as you may want to be taking full advantage of the wilderness when you’re in it, they’ve made a pretty nice drive when you are around town and on the highway, too.

The Crosstrek Wilderness has a CVT, and I was worried there would be some noise because of it. But there was surprisingly little engine noise and also little road noise. Acceleration was good; the Crosstrek Wilderness comes with a 4-cylinder engine that has plenty of power (182 horsepower, to be specific) for most things you would want to do with it. It even tows up to 3,500 pounds.

Deep, Fine Sand Was No Worry For The Scw. Photo: Sara Lacey

Deep, fine sand was no worry for the Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness. Photo: Sara Lacey

Let’s get back to the Wilderness Part

But the most fun I had in the Crosstrek Wilderness was learning that it was capable of doing some pretty serious off-roading. And I don’t mean just off-pavement on some dirty and slightly rocky roads. I put the Crosstrek Wilderness through it by climbing up sandy dunes outside of Zion. We had steep ups and challenging downs. While going up the crazy hills was fun, what was also fun was testing the Crosstrek on the downhill slope. I trusted the descent control and was impressed that I could take my foot off the brake completely, and the Crosstrek Wilderness would manage the speed just right all the way down. 

It’s here that I’ll mention the Crosstrek Wilderness has a modified approach angle on the front and departure angle on the rear to provide more clearance on the front when you’re going up steep climbs; when you have the dips between the bottom of a hill and the climb out, you won’t smack the back end on the ground. I had a blast. It’s incredibly cool that you can get the Crosstrek Wilderness starting at $31,995. It’s got all the modifications you could want to do some camping and off-roading that will get you beyond the normal car-camping sites. 

Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness Fits In Here. Photo: Sara Lacey

The Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness fits in here. Photo: Sara Lacey

What I Loved

  • Built for off-roading from the get-go, no need to add anything
  • Large 11.6” multimedia touchscreen
  • Subaru is the largest corporate donor to the National Park Foundation.
  • The Subaru Crosstrek has earned IIHS’s Top Safety Pick designation for eleven years.
  • Optional reinforced pet-resistant cladding and window button covers on the inside of the doors. Your pet may scratch at the door, but it won’t show!
Twisty Road In Zion, And The X-Mode Button At The Top. Photo: Sara Lacey

Twisty road in Zion, and the X-Mode button at the top. Photo: Sara Lacey

What You Need to Know

  • Slightly decreased fuel efficiency
  • 3,500 pounds of towing capacity
  • 700 pound roof capacity
  • No in-house navigation system. Owners need to use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto
  • The only interior option is synthetic, weather-resistant STARtex upholstery

What I learned in this first drive event is that the Crosstrek Wilderness might be the car to get you everywhere you want to go. In a time when many people are still looking to the outdoors for adventure and good times, the Crosstrek Wilderness is your perfect companion.

Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness Monroney. Photo: Subaru

Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness Monroney. Photo: Subaru

Disclosure: I was a guest of Subaru for this test drive. Travel and accommodations were provided, but all opinions are my own. Additionally, A Girls Guide to Cars may earn a commission from affiliate links in this story.

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Sara has written about cars since 2005. She used to beat them up with her kids and write about... More about Sara Lacey