Those who enjoy the world of off-roading are a unique breed. Sure, ordinary people are content with coloring inside the lines and keeping their wheels on the pavement, but you’re not one of them. If you’re looking for new worlds to conquer and land to claim as your own, the tools for your survival are closer than you think. However, a Subaru dealer might be the last place you’ll ever think to equip yourself for just such an adventure.
While off-roading is usually associated with gargantuan pickup trucks and monstrous 4x4s with considerable ground clearance, you might be surprised to know that the Subaru has been specifically formulated for this way of life for several years. All you hip ’90s kids who still remember the days of irony and pants of the baggy variety may recall the old Subaru Outback commercials that featured Paul “Crocodile Dundee” Hogan. There’s a reason why a figure synonymous with the unforgiving terrain of the Australian wild would represent such an advertising campaign: the Subaru was made for rugged individuals.
A Drivetrain for the Daring
Just as the off-road enthusiast stands in a different class than the average driver, Subaru vehicles are formulated to adhere to the high standards that these men and women expect from their various methods of transportation. While the aspect of four-wheel drive is usually synonymous with playing in the dirt, Subaru takes the basic concept and makes it their own. They’re not the first manufacturer to equip most of their fleet with AWD or 4WD, but Subaru’s system is a unique setup known as “symmetrical all-wheel drive.”
First introduced in 1987 for the Subaru XT, this drivetrain system has gone on to provide Subaru’s vehicles with increased stability, high traction, and a rapid response time to sudden changes in the terrain. The placement of the Subaru’s boxer engine provides a low center of gravity, which greatly increases the vehicle’s stability while driving. Continually powering all four wheels at once means constant power and control.
While this naturally makes off-roading feasible, it also greatly increases the chances of staying safe while on the asphalt in unpredictable weather conditions. Even if you’re a driver that’s content staying on the blacktop, you can rest assured knowing that ice, mud, rain, and other troublesome weather conditions won’t stop you from enjoying the ride. This is two-tiered performance that’s ideal for everyone—whether you’re on the road or off the beaten path.
Looking Inward at the Outback
Making quite the impression during its debut in 1994, the Subaru Outback has gone on to be one of the most unique vehicles on the market. While the station wagon was once thought of as nothing more than a family vehicle, Subaru took the basic concept and elevated its possibilities—in terms of both performance and versatility. Looks can be deceiving, so although the Outback may have the appearance of a consumer-friendly family wagon, it can be utilized for adventures just as easily as it can take the kids to and from soccer practice.
The Outback has several attributes that make it more than ideal for the casual or serious off-roader. Aside from boasting Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel-drive, the 2022 Outback is also equipped with a ground clearance of 8.7 in., with the Wilderness trim line having an impressive 9.5 in. for avoiding obstructions—be they natural or man-made. As previously mentioned, the Subaru Outback’s engine is conveniently placed to provide a low center of gravity, but its usefulness and functionality do much more than simply aid the physics of the world’s most revered wagon.
The Outback comes with a turbocharged, 16-valve, flat-four boxer engine. Capable of generating up to 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque, you’ll have no problem propelling yourself over the dunes, dirt, and other natural obstacles that stand in your way. With a combination of AWD, safely generous ground clearance, and an engine that’s been proven to perform, the Outback will allow you to explore the wilds with little to no trouble.
Once Upon an Enchanted Forester
While the Outback is more than capable of fulfilling your off-roading ideas and can handle just about any terrain that you take it to, it’s not the only option that Subaru offers to thrill-seekers. If the design of the Outback appears too much like a station wagon for your liking, the Subaru Forester might be more aesthetically pleasing to the eye—inside and out. After all, the SUV is currently enjoying a tidal wave of ever-growing popularity, and Subaru has a crossover that’s roomy, capable, and highly accessible to the average earner.
Much like its relative, the Outback, the 2022 Forester comes with symmetrical all-wheel drive—a must-have for any adventure that intends to part with the pavement. The Forester holds an advantage over its competitors in terms of cost-effectiveness, too. A starting MSRP of only $25,195 makes the Forester more affordable than the latest Mazda CX-5, Volkswagen Tiguan, Honda CR-V, and Ford Bronco! While the Forester’s flat-four engine lacks the turbocharged enhancement of the Outback, it makes up for this by offering a combined mpg of 26, which means your adventures won’t break the bank.
The Forester is among the more versatile options as far as off-road capable vehicles are concerned. With over 74 cu.ft. of available storage space, your most equipment-greedy hobbies are unlimited. Also, ensuring you have friends and extra goodies with you will make any trip extraordinary. While the Outback is the rugged outdoorsman that wears its intentions on its sleeve, the Forester is the corporate entity that lets its hair down on the weekend and throws complacency out the window.
Across Time and Space in the Crosstrek
Two misconceptions tend to exist about off-road-oriented vehicles: the size and price are both huge. I mean, you don’t hear about anyone taking their Geo Metro off-roading or dune surfing, unless someone has taken the time and money to outfit one as a rally car. As we’ve previously seen, Subaru certainly doesn’t lack the ability to challenge popular myths; many may be surprised to learn what their fleet can do. The 2022 Crosstrek is the perfect example of Subaru scaling down the size and price, but not capability.
Starting with the low MSRP of $22,645, which is considerably less than the Volkswagen Taos and Hyundai Kona N, the Crosstrek is outfitted with the AWD drivetrain that Subaru is well known for. But newly integrated, EV hybrid technology now allows the Crosstrek to achieve out-of-this-world results. With a segment-astounding mileage up to 34 mpg, Subaru has brought their tireless dedication to off-road excellence into the modern world.
Meanwhile, tough 17-in. wheels and uncompromising versatility guarantee you’ll never think of off-roading the same way ever again. After looking over the small but formidable Crosstrek, I’m inclined to believe that size is a factor that no longer matters.
A Final Thought Before We Leave the Road Behind
Recently, manufacturers such as Mazda have been implementing their SUV choices with standard AWD. While this speaks to the competitive spirit of one of Subaru’s rivals, it also makes the world realize one fact: Subaru offers some of the world’s most innovative drivetrains, and other manufacturers are just trying to keep up. Both off the road and on, Subaru is making versatility more readily available than ever before.