2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness Review: All Dressed Up With Nowhere To Go

  • Aggressive styling
  • Definitely usable as a daily driver
  • Expensive compared to other Subarus
  • Lackluster fuel economy
  • Limited appeal outside a narrow target audience

To be perfectly transparent, I am not totally clear on what type of vehicle the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness is. It's mechanically identical to the Subaru Impreza RS that I drove and reviewed earlier this year, as higher trim Crosstreks are. A regular Crosstrek is not quite a hatchback and not quite a crossover SUV. Yet, the Wilderness package gives it a different look altogether. The very aggressive cladding, big goofy tires, and overall meanness of the Crosstrek Wilderness set it apart entirely. Is it now a bonafide SUV? Is it a tall station wagon that crashed into an off-road parts store? Is it something else? 

But, by examining what the Crosstrek Wilderness consists of, perhaps we can come closer to a conclusion. The Wilderness treatment is new for the Crosstrek for 2024. It gets a significant lift, giving it 9.3-inches of ground-clearance. That look is enhanced by matte-black 17-inch wheels wearing knobby Yokohama "Geolandar" tires. 

You also get a number of Subaru Wilderness badges and more cladding than you could possibly conceive. Think of the normal amount of cladding on any car in 2024 and double it, then you have an idea of how much cladding Subaru added, to give the Crosstrek Wilderness the most off-roady look possible this side of a Ford F-150 Raptor R leaping over Death Valley. There's a lot going on. It doesn't quite look like a regular Crosstrek, more like a gritty reboot.

Trekking through the wilderness

Under the Crosstrek Wilderness' hood is a 2.5-liter boxer four cylinder that churns out 182 horsepower and 178 foot pounds of torque. It's not a speed demon by any means, with its "Lineartronic" CVT, but it's definitely enough. Power delivery never became an issue during my week with the Subaru.

While the vehicle itself certainly looks like it's capable of tackling any trail imaginable, my time with the Crosstrek was decidedly more pavement-focused. I did, however, go on a few adventures with the Subaru. The most notable of which was a last minute run to the airport to pick up a friend who was returning from a disastrous vacation with his wife and in-laws in tow. I am pleased to report that the Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness fit all passengers and their carry-on bags without a hitch, granted it was a little bit snug. Trips like that are definitely within the normal use case scenario of just about any vehicle, the lifted Subaru just made the "Arrivals" lane at the airport look just a tad more silly. 

It was by far the most "interesting" car on the Baltimore-Washington International airport's system of roads that I refer to as the "BWI Grand Prix." Author C.S. Lewis says in the Chronicles of Narnia series "Adventures are never fun while you're having them." If that's any metric through which to measure my trip to the airport, it was certainly an adventure. Although that blame could be more associated with the airport itself than the Subaru.