It’s the year of the Crosstrek – fans of the Subaru crossover SUV will soon have a new trim level option, the Crosstrek Wilderness. The 2024 standard model is all-new, and drivers can choose from Base, Premium, Sport, Limited and Wilderness trim levels.
For the most adventurous drivers, you may be wondering if you should go with the Crosstrek Sport or Crosstrek Wilderness. Recently, the Subaru Drive editorial team traveled to the Utah desert to drive the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness on long stretches of highway, twisting sections of paved road, gravel trails and serious off-road climbs, descents and off-camber obstacles. Earlier this year, we also drove the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Sport, so we can compare the two trim levels that are expected to make up approximately half of 2024 Crosstrek sales.
Torn between the Crosstrek Sport and Crosstrek Wilderness? Here’s how they stack up in major categories.
Crosstrek Sport vs. Crosstrek Wilderness: What’s Different?
Both the Crosstrek Wilderness and the Crosstrek Sport share an engine: the 2.5-liter Boxer four-cylinder. (The engine also appears in the Crosstrek Limited.) The Crosstrek Sport and Crosstrek Wilderness both boast 182 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque, providing ample power for back-road cruising and brisk highway on-ramps.
Where the Crosstrek Sport and Crosstrek Wilderness diverge is in the Lineartronic® CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) and the final drive ratio. The Crosstrek Wilderness features retuned CVT calibration to maximize that engine power.
The Crosstrek Wilderness also features a 4.111 final drive ratio versus the Crosstrek Sport trim’s 3.700. Each time the Crosstrek Wilderness driveshaft turns, the wheels will make 4.111 revolutions, allowing for better acceleration and climbing ease, while the Crosstrek Sport wheels turn at 3.700 revolutions, providing slightly more relaxed engine rpm and a better fuel economy at highway speeds.
The Crosstrek Wilderness also benefits from an external transmission cooler, which contributes to its 3,500-pound towing capacity versus the Crosstrek Sport at 1,500 pounds.
The Crosstrek Sport features an impressive 8.7 inches of ground clearance. It beats everything in the compact crossover class and more conventional compact SUVs like the Jeep® Cherokee.
Ground clearance is the space from flat ground to the lowest part of a vehicle’s undercarriage. The Crosstrek Wilderness increases ground clearance to a surprising 9.3 inches, pushing into territory held by off-road SUVs like the base version of the Jeep Wrangler. That ground clearance increase comes from longer springs and shocks.
The shocks in the Crosstrek Wilderness are also retuned to provide better dynamics in highway driving situations. Unlike SUVs that provide better off-road performance at the expense of on-road comfort, the Crosstrek Wilderness feels capable, comfortable and planted on the highway.
Wheels and Tires
The Crosstrek Sport is equipped with natural finish 18 x 7.0-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, shod with 225/55 R18 Yokohama Geolandar all-season tires. The emphasis is on all-around performance on the road, regardless of the weather and terrain.
The Crosstrek Wilderness possesses a unique wheel design, with a matte-black finish. Counterintuitively, the wheels on the Crosstrek Wilderness are an inch smaller than the Crosstrek Sport. The smaller wheel diameter allows for 225/60 R17 tires with a bit more sidewall for a more compliant ride over rough terrain. The Yokohama Geolandar tires on the Crosstrek Wilderness are also all-terrain tires with a beefier tread pattern for better grip in the mud and snow. Despite that aggressiveness, tire noise never intruded into the cabin over miles of asphalt at highway speeds.
Both trim levels are unmistakably Crosstrek, but each stands out with a distinct look.
When describing the Crosstrek Wilderness grille, Product Public Relations Manager Todd Hill explained that the vehicle designers zoomed in on the Crosstrek Sport grille, allowing more space and airiness between the grille’s horizontal and vertical lines. The Crosstrek Wilderness also features unique LED fog lamps mounted low to the ground under the headlights, with replaceable covers if the lamps are ever damaged off-road.
At first glance, the yellow accents under the headlights and along the bodysides of the Crosstrek Sport look very similar to the color of the accents on the Crosstrek Wilderness, but the color is slightly different. The Crosstrek Wilderness also features the details on the tow point covers and the roof rails.
Both the Crosstrek Sport and the Crosstrek Wilderness have significant cladding around the wheel arches and rockers, but the Crosstrek Wilderness cladding is more aggressive, working to keep scratches off the paintwork. The unpainted plastic on Crosstrek Wilderness cladding carries over to the front and rear bumper covers, which are designed to avoid scratches and be easily replaced in case of damage off-road.
Finally, the bold Subaru branding embossed on the rear bumper cover is unique to the Crosstrek Wilderness, a further step beyond even its Outback Wilderness and Forester Wilderness stablemates.
You’ll recognize all the features you’ve come to love about the Crosstrek in both the Crosstrek Sport and the Crosstrek Wilderness, but there are some significant differences.
The Crosstrek Sport features durable sport cloth upholstery, while the Crosstrek Wilderness gets StarTex upholstery unique to this vehicle in the Crosstrek lineup. StarTex is similar to neoprene wetsuit material, making it easy to wipe up mud, water and pet hair after an adventure. Like the rest of the Wilderness Family vehicles, Wilderness branding is embossed in the headrests.
Mirroring the Anodized Copper-finish accents on the outside, the Crosstrek Wilderness also features Copper-finish accents on the steering wheel and contrast stitching.
The Crosstrek Wilderness boasts a “showerhead” lamp on the rear gate, illuminating the ground around the open rear gate when necessary.
The Crosstrek Sport – like all trim levels in the lineup – is brimming with technology to keep drivers and passengers safe on the road. EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology6 is standard, and for 2024 features a wider field of view, an additional monocular camera, along with an electric brake booster. The Crosstrek Sport has available Automatic Emergency Steering,7 which works with EyeSight and Blind-Spot Detection to assist with steering control to help avoid a crash at speeds less than 50 mph.
These features are standard on the Crosstrek Wilderness, and the EyeSight system is recalibrated to function optimally with the taller ride height of the Crosstrek Wilderness.
The Crosstrek Sport features standard X-MODE® with improved control operation for the 2024 model year. X-MODE automatically disengages at speeds over 18 mph but will re-engage if speed drops below 18 again.
Hill Descent Control, which regulates a set speed when descending steep off-road declines, is standard on both the Crosstrek Sport and Crosstrek Wilderness, as is dual-function X-MODE with Deep Snow/Mud setting. The Deep Snow/Mud setting allows for a bit of wheelspin, ejecting mud, snow and rocks from the tires so that the treads have a better chance at gripping solid ground underneath.
Which One Is Right for You?
Both the Crosstrek Sport and the Crosstrek Wilderness provide the tools you need for your next outdoor adventure. The Crosstrek Wilderness is designed for drivers with a seriously active outdoor lifestyle. The Crosstrek Sport is also more than capable of getting to your favorite ski lodge, trailhead or fishing location.
If your outdoor adventures lean toward using your vehicle as a basecamp after a trip through more challenging terrain, the Crosstrek Wilderness is the most appealing choice. Either of these vehicles will support a 176-pound dynamic (or moving) roof capacity or 700-pound capacity when the vehicle is parked, allowing for accessories such as a rooftop tent.8
Crosstrek Sport or Crosstrek Wilderness: Either vehicle will take your outdoor adventures to a new level.
1 MSRP does not include destination and delivery charges, tax, title, and registration fees. Destination and delivery includes handling and inland freight fees and may vary in some states. Prices, specifications, options, features, and models subject to change without notice. Select colors may be subject to an additional charge. See your retailer for more information.
2 EPA fuel economy estimates. Actual mileage will vary with driving conditions and your vehicle’s condition.
3 Harman Kardon® is a registered trademark of Harman International Industries, Incorporated.
4 Blind-Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert are systems designed to assist the driver by monitoring the rear and side areas of the vehicle during a lane change or reversing and are not a substitute for safe and attentive driving.
5 Reverse Automatic Braking is a system designed to assist the driver by detecting objects to help avoid a possible collision when the vehicle is moving in a reverse direction. It is not a substitute for safe and attentive driving. System effectiveness depends on many factors such as vehicle maintenance, weather and road conditions. Always exercise caution and use vehicle mirrors and Rear-Vision Camera when backing up. See Owner’s Manual for complete details on system operation and limitations.
6 EyeSight is a driver-assist system that may not operate optimally under all driving conditions. The driver is always responsible for safe and attentive driving. System effectiveness depends on many factors, such as vehicle maintenance, weather, and road conditions. See Owner’s Manual for complete details on system operation and limitations. Requires automatic transmission.
7 Automatic Emergency Steering is a system designed to assist the driver. It is not a substitute for safe and attentive driving. Automatic Emergency Steering works in conjunction with and after Pre-Collision Braking has been activated by providing steering support at speeds lower than 50 mph to try to help avoid a collision. See Owner’s Manual for complete details, including important system limitations. Availability varies by trim level.
8 Roof tents may be used in certain conditions. Contact your Retailer for important safety information and requirements.