At the New York International Auto Show last year, Subaru presented its third Wilderness model - the 2024 Crosstrek. Surprised? We weren’t.
A few months ago, I concluded how much I love the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek when it took it through its paces. Not just because it’s a great value proposition. It is simply a vehicle that does more than you ask for it.
It handles winter like no other vehicle. It can take you and three other friends somewhere without hesitation. The list goes on.
You have to wonder whether it can do more than a standard spec will allow it to. Wonder no more.
At the New York International Auto Show last year, Subaru presented its third Wilderness model – the 2024 Crosstrek. Surprised? We weren’t.
It was a natural progression of the Wilderness model lineup that began with the Outback and Forester. These are off-road ready vehicles that expand Subaru’s natural capabilities. They certainly helped sales of those initial models by inviting adventure-seeking consumers with active lifestyles – and REI memberships – to take one as their own.
The Crosstrek begged for more ground clearance, an enhanced X-MODE, and all-terrain tires. Subaru delivered on a rugged crossover/hatchback that offers the key features found on the two other Wilderness models with a package that is small enough for activities requiring more terrain and a smaller footprint.
The basis of this model is a small and mighty compact package. They share a lot with the more down-to-Earth Impreza, but you will find that the Crosstrek has its own personality and swagger.
The 2024 Crosstrek already went through a round of updates with a more focused design. The Wilderness adds a lot more to this exterior package. Those additions include more aggressive body cladding, the front-end clip, and rear bumper inducing a more aggressive angles of approach and departure respectively. The grille is given a bolder, more rugged treatment. More so, that you think they integrated a bull bar into the grille itself.
Perhaps the key enhancement on the Crosstrek Wilderness is a 0.6-inch increase in ground clearance. That raised the Crosstrek from 8.7 to 9.3 inches. That ground clearance allows a set of all-terrain tires mounted on black-painted 17-inch wheels. The Crosstrek Wilderness’ final touches include a matte black hood decal, copper-colored trimmings, and a full complement of Wilderness badges.
The Wilderness treatment continues inside with a washable StarTex upholstery on the seats. It’s not exactly leather, but it is quite grippy. The front seats were accommodating with plenty of comfort and support. Space was decent in the rear seats – enough for six footers to sit. Those seats fold down in. a 60/40 split to open space for 54.7 cubic feet of anything you’re taking off the highway. Otherwise, there is 19.9 cubic feet of cargo space for luggage and errands.
Our tester had rubber floor mats – which helped in keeping the carpet clean from the mud I acquired on a photo shoot. It also came with a retractable cargo cover to keep prying eyes from looking in the back liftgate glass. The flip side of the latter attributed to being creative in fitting Boomer (my 35-pound, 30-inch tall emotional support musical instrument made of wood, metal, and animal skin) in its bag without dominating the entire cargo hold. I did the best I could with what I was working with. So much for music therapy…
Speaking of music therapy, the best part of the cabin is the 11.6-inch portrait oriented Starlink infotainment touchscreen. This includes wireless smartphone mirroring along with wireless device charging. It also housed the controls for the enhanced X-MODE and its three choices of traction management. Harman Kardon provided 10 speakers of solid sound from their upgraded audio system.
The cockpit is very straightforward and easy to use. Two analog dials frame a digital screen with several informational readouts. The controls are easy to use, including the multitude of buttons on the steering wheel. Plus, the copper finish theme continues inside from the steering wheel to other subtle trimmings.
When you step up the Wilderness model, you also get upgraded to the 182-horsepower 2.5-liter Boxer four-cylinder engine with 178 pound-feet of torque. Subaru’s continuously variable transmission sends power from the horizontally opposed engine to all four wheels through its Symmetrical all-wheel drive system.
Since I mentioned the X-MODE system, you do have three choices of traction management. These choices are Normal, Snow/Dirt for and Deep Snow/Mud. These should be self-explanatory and work accordingly. In addition, there is a Low Speed/Low Ratio Gradient Control for managing steep inclines.
In total, the Crosstrek Wilderness drives exceptionality well. You have plenty of power from the throttle for acceleration and passing maneuvers. It is also cruises quite nicely. It also turned in a fuel consumption average of 24.4 MPG.
The ride quality is very good. The enhanced suspension for the Crosstrek Wilderness includes longer coil springs and shocks. The ride was neither soft nor firm. Yet, suspension travel was well-managed and absorbs the bumps and cracks on all sorts of roads. The handling package yielded good cornering with nominal roll and lean. That also resulted with good overall maneuverability in evasive situations.
The steering system on the Crosstrek Wilderness’ was quite decent with a solid on-center feel. It could use a bit more weight, but no one is complaining because of what this vehicle is capable of. Brake pedal feel was solid, which resulted in very good stops in normal and panic situations.
Pricing for the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek starts from $25,195. You have a choice of five trim levels to choose from, with the Wilderness model sitting on the top of the line. This Wilderness tester came with a sticker price of $35,560.
After gushing over the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek a few months ago, I really am glad to experience the Wilderness version for its capabilities and upgraded packaging. The Wilderness lineup is what attracts a specific consumer to Subaru. In turn, it demonstrates how much this company is committed to producing vehicles for active lifestyle consumers that stand out from the usual suspects.
By the way, did you know that the Subaru Crosstrek almost became a #VOTY2023 finalist? There’s always #VOTY2024…
That alone speaks to how much Subaru has evolved in the past several years. Instead of being the alternative, it is now the mainstream. Rather, its own version of the mainstream. They are doing so with this Crosstrek – and, in particular, this Crosstrek Wilderness.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Subaru of America
All photos by Randy Stern