2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness

Not many other cute-utes offer as much on-road comfort, off-road-ready capability, and character as the Crosstrek Wilderness
Not many other cute-utes offer as much on-road comfort, off-road-ready capability, and character as the Crosstrek Wilderness

by Imran Salam | June 5, 2024


Climbing into the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness, I had my suspicions on what “wilderness” meant in Subaru’s terms. As with most off-road-oriented trim packages these days, I expected little more than a sticker-and-colour treatment, some more aggressive all-terrain tires, and a slight lift to fatten up the bottom line, but adding little in the way of actual off-road capability. Turns out, I was wrong.

You’d be forgiven for thinking the same, but credit where it’s due: Subaru went pretty far in making the already-fairly-capable Crosstrek a decent trail-hunter in this Wilderness spec. Starting with the original Crosstrek, you get Subaru’s excellent all-wheel-drive system, their now-ubiquitous CVT, and a 2.5-litre four-cylinder Boxer engine churning out 182 horsepower and 178 pound-feet of torque. Modest figures in today’s turbo world.

But in comes the Wilderness package, which adds numerous tweaks including an oil cooler to the CVT as well as a lower final drive ratio meant to enhance low-end torque; a lower final drive essentially increases RPMs in each gear at a given speed, putting the engine more readily into the meat of the powerband. It may be all in the name of wilderness-ing, but in reality, these tweaks alone give the otherwise ho-hum Crosstrek enough kick to feel just right around town and on the highway. No, the Crosstrek isn’t a hot hatch, but I never felt the powertrain lacking outside of being a little coarse on heavy acceleration. Admittedly, most existing Crosstrek owners probably won’t care.

And there are many Crosstrek owners. Since its inception in 2012, it quickly became one of Subaru’s best-sellers and developed a surprising following among outdoorsy folks. For 2024, the Crosstrek has been redesigned for its third generation with a freshened exterior, a revised interior with some better-quality materials, and more sound deadening to make the experience a bit more pleasurable.

I like the way the regular Crosstrek looks, and I really dig the way the Wilderness treatment looks on the Crosstrek. Finished in Geyser Blue — a colour exclusive to the Wilderness — the black accents and gold trimmings all play together very well. Yes, the gold accents seem like an odd choice at first, but I like that it’s different and adds character. Subaru even went as far as to carry the gold theme inside, with accents on the steering wheel, gauges, and stitching; it all helps unify the whole theme. Back outside, the Wilderness adds more rugged body cladding, funky hexagon-shaped LED fog lights, a skid plate, and unique reworked bumpers that enhance approach angles. Subaru also lifted the Crosstrek Wilderness, boosting ground clearance from an already-good 8.7 inches to a Ford Bronco-besting 9.3-inches. The Wilderness treatment finishes off with a matte black hood decal and unique 17-inch wheels wrapped in Yokohama Geolander all-terrain tires. See? This ain’t just a sticker package.

I didn’t get a chance to really off-road the Crosstrek Wilderness, but most owners spend most of their time pavement-pounding — and the Crosstrek Wilderness is great on road. The added suspension travel lends to a comfortable ride that soaks up bumps very well at virtually any speed; the base Crosstrek was already very comfortable, and this Wilderness is even better. The all-terrain tires don’t add that much more road noise, and the CVT keeps the engine quiet unless you floor it. The steering is typical-Subaru-light, which I don’t love, but I can see why others would. All of this comfort and effortlessness make the Crosstrek Wilderness supremely easy to live with.

Subaru’s interior quality generally leaves something to be desired, and the Crosstrek Wilderness is no different. The Honda HR-V, Toyota Corolla Cross, and even the Hyundai Kona have better-feeling interiors, but the Crosstrek’s cabin isn’t egregious enough to discount it as a viable option. The gold accents do a good job sprucing up the space, and the wetsuit-like upholstery on the seats — another Wilderness exclusive — look interesting and is functional. Subaru’s Starlink infotainment is also meh at best, but the portrait-oriented 11.6-inch display is a plus; most other competitors have smaller displays, though with a better user interface. I was even surprised by how good the Harman Kardon sound system was; I wasn’t even expecting a branded audio system to begin with.

If I had to nitpick, the rear seats are somewhat tight, but even then, the taller roofline makes getting yourself — or your baby and their car seat — into and out of the back seats easy. At 564 litres with the seats up and 1,569 when folded, the Crosstrek Wilderness doesn’t have the most cargo space compared to others in the segment, but it’ll swallow a stroller without issue.

As with every other Crosstrek, the Wilderness comes standard with Subaru’s EyeSight technology, which is their fancy branding for their active safety features and drive assists like radar cruise control, lane-keep assist, and much more. It works well, as most do, but I couldn’t understand the incessant beeping. Why does it beep when the radar picks up a vehicle in front? Why does it beep again when that vehicle leaves its sight? Who thought this was a good idea?

Subaru generally provide a lot of value, and there’s lots to be had in the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness. At $37,995 as-tested before destination and any other fees and taxes, it’s only $1,000 more than the Limited trim. And at that under-$40K point, there isn’t much else out there featuring this level of on-road comfort, off-road capability, and certainly not this much character. In an age where we’re so connected to people and the concrete jungles we live in, I wouldn’t hesitate to grab this Crosstrek and disappear into the wilderness.


Vehicle Specs
Compact crossover
Engine Size
2.5L normally aspirated Boxer four-cylinder
Horsepower (at RPM)
182 hp @ 5,800 rpm
Torque (lb-ft.)
178 lb-ft @ 3,700 rpm
Fuel Efficiency (L/100km, City/Highway/Combined)
Observed Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)
Cargo Capacity (in L)
564/1,569 (seats up/down)
Base Price (CAD)
As-Tested Price (CAD)
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About Imran Salam

Staff Writer

Imran is a true enthusiast who you'll find at shows, local meets, Sunday drives or the track. He appreciates the variety the car industry has to offer, having owned over a dozen cars from different manufacturers. Imran is grateful to own one of his childhood poster cars and enjoys inspiring the next generation. When Imran is not behind wheel he is found playing basketball or spending time with family.

Current Toys: '13 Boxster S 6MT, '24 Integra Type S, '08 328xi