The last time I drove the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness, it was 95 degrees in Utah where we were driving through desert and mountain trails. That bliss couldn’t be further extinguished as I woke to 3” of snow and zero degrees in Indiana this morning. It’s all good; the Subie loves to play no matter the weather, and the skills that made it an ace in the desert, kick it across snowy prairie.
I chisel away the snow and ice to get a fresh look at it. As with the larger Outback and Forester Wilderness, the most capable version of Subaru’s compact crossover is distinguished by angry black body cladding, black anti-glare hood patch, and 17” matte black wheels shod in Yokohama GEOLANDER tires. The roof rack is rated 700 lbs. for pop-up tents. Anodized copper accents identify tow hooks and other attachment points, so it’s not all for show.
Check the digits. Wilderness models employ a 2.5-liter “Boxer” four-cylinder engine that routes 182 horsepower and 178 lb.-ft. of torque through a continuously variable transmission. All-wheel-drive is standard. A turbo would be nice, as would a geared transmission, but it’s peppy enough and the transmission can be paddle-shifted through eight pre-set ratios for a more natural feel. Better, it can tow up to 3,500 lbs. – enough for a pop-up camper or small boat. Fuel economy rates 25/29-MPG city/highway.
Ready to warm up, I slide inside.
A giant 11.6” tablet-style touchscreen takes center stage, but proper volume and tuning knobs plus buttons for key climate functions add convenience. Devices connect wirelessly through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Charge wirelessly too. Especially today, I’m a fan of the heated StarTex “vegan leather” seats that are all-day comfortable and easy to wipe clean. Crank the crisp 10-speaker Harman Kardon audio! Looking closer, I notice copper accents on the steering wheel, shift knob, gauges, and seat stitching. Open the hatch and flip down the seats to haul bicycles, plants, and hiking gear.
I’d love to engage in all of that, but my daughter must get to piano lessons.
The smattering of snow is no problem as the Crosstrek’s ground clearance increased from the standard 8.7” to 9.3” for clearing ruts, logs, snow, and speed bumps. Dual Mode X-Mode, a traction control system that allows the car’s AWD system to claw through deep mud/snow, employs hill descent control to automatically creep down steep inclines (in case you need such things). The enhanced suspension is as adept at soaking up potholed city streets as articulating over rough trails.
Back on snowy pavement, it’s comforting to know the Crosstrek Wilderness comes with an extensive suite of safety tech that includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise, lane keep assist, and blind spot warnings. Rear cross path detection with auto brake protects rear fenders while a new three-camera “EyeSight” system detects obstacles ahead and can even steer around them.
When snow falls hard, I love to drive around, busting drifts, and drifting just a little. It always seems the only cars out in snowstorms are Subarus and Jeeps, which closely mirrors brands most likely to actually go off-road. With a short wheelbase, enhanced capability, and substantial ground clearance, the Crosstrek Wilderness is equally ready to play in the snow, tackle mountain trails, take dogs to parks, or get kids to class.
Base Crosstreks start at $25,195, but our well-optioned Wilderness came to $35,560.
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