When it comes to off-roading, motorists don’t often think of a Subaru. But while most Subaru owners don’t take their SUVs off-roading, the Japanese automaker draws in a unique niche in the market that loves to challenge their Subaru. And they have proven that its SUVs are just as good as a Jeep.
Considering the Crosstrek’s 8.7 ground clearance, it’s really set apart from average SUVs. The all-new 2020 Outback has the same ground clearance, and despite being a family SUV, it’s still ideal for extreme recreation.
Subaru definitely deserves a better reputation in off-roading. Good for them, though, because in AutoArena.com’s “Best All-Wheel-Drive Cars for Rough Terrains“, more than one Subaru vehicle have made to the list. So let’s find out what makes them great.
1. Subaru Outback
The 2018 Subaru Outback easily outsold the previous Outback versions. Rightfully so, because it boasted several styling adjustments, including a new grille, bumpers, and headlights with adaptive LEDs. High spec models carry an auto high-beam feature. The Limited, Premium, and Touring trim levels are highly capable of traversing rough terrains, making the Outback one of the best AWD SUVs in the market. Its cabin space is impressive too, with 73 cubic feet of cargo room.
The 2018 Outback holds a rating of 8.1 out of 10 in U.S. Car News. It ranked #2 on the 2018 Wagons Category, #3 in Used Wagons $20K and Up, #14 in Used Crossover SUV $20K to $25K, and #17 in 2018 Affordable Crossover SUVs.
Its most remarkable qualities are the supportive seats, cavernous cargo hold, outstanding safety score, good gas mileage with the base engine, 2,700lbs towing capacity, and high ground clearance.
What about the 2020 Outback, though? Aside from its notable ground clearance, MotorTrend also found its adaptive cruise control a gem. It isn’t really useful off-road, but it’s a blessing in traffic. It increases comfort when the SUV is stuck in traffic, helping make long drives a breeze.
Overall, MotorTrend’s verdict is that the 2020 Outback can handle most rocky trails, except “the most severe stuff.”
2. Subaru Impreza
Second on AutoArena.com’s list is the Subaru Impreza. The 2017 version has spectacular agility, a crash protection feature, and amazing ride comfort. It sits lower for aesthetic, aerodynamic, and handling purposes. Both the hatchback and sedan models are strong contenders for the best AWD auto in the market.
The 2021 version’s rating and reviews on U.S. Car News don’t compare to the Outback, though. But it still scored high, particularly on its sport handling, roomy cabin, intuitive infotainment controls, and standard all-wheel drive. But its most noteworthy feature is the EyeSight, a driver assistance tool that’s been added to the Impreza in 2019, and improved in 2020. It also has adaptive headlights like the Outback.
3. Subaru Crosstrek
Just one look at the Subaru Crosstrek and you can already tell that it’s made to endure rough handling. It is more rugged than the Impreza, and all Limited, Premium, and Hybrid trim levels boast a standard AWD feature
The 2021 Subaru Cosstrek ranked #9 in U.S. Car New’s Subcompact SUVs category. It carries cutting-edge infotainment features and boosted engine power. And it’s indeed one of the few Subaru models capable of off-roading.
Since 2018, the Crosstrek has already gone through multiple upgrades. It’s been fully redesigned with an improved engine bump, streamlined automatic transmission, more interior space, and smart features in 2018 alone. The following year, all trim levels started to have EyeSight, and the hybrid trim was reintroduced. And last year, the Crosstrek has gained standard automatic climate control, and the CVT models got start-stop features.
This year, the Crosstrek has a stronger engine option available, and the Sports trim is unveiled, with the updated exterior styling.
Overall, Subaru Crosstrek is a highly impressive SUV. While it’s not the sportiest or most sophisticated subcompact SUV, its good fuel economy, top-notch infotainment controls, and refined ride are to die for. The spacious interiors and above-average cargo capacity also make it the perfect long-distance drive buddy.
Modifying Your Subaru For Off-Roading
If you own a Forester or any of the models above, you can still improve its performance specifically for off-roading. You can change its wheels to further increase its ground clearance. However, new, heavier wheels will increase the SUV’s weight. 12 pounds of added wheel and tire weight per corner alone can add up to 430 pounds to the whole SUV.
In a Crosstrek, such weight won’t have too much impact, since it can accommodate up to 1,104 pounds of load. But in an Outback, you may start to feel a slight strain, since it can only handle up to 948 pounds of load. Still, with only 674 pounds to work with in a Crosstrek, you can easily overload the vehicle when you take three heavy passengers.
Ultimately, the best thing you can do is stay committed to your Subaru’s required regular maintenance. Excellent upkeep will preserve your SUV’s optimal performance, with or without modifications.