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An Unplanned Road Trip and Surprise Snow Present Learning Opportunities

by Staff

Our 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness has been in theMotorTrendlong-term review fleet for about three months now, and much of that time has been spent on short trips around town. A recent unplanned excursion to the Pacific Northwest along with a surprise snowstorm, however, provided a chance to examine a few things in greater depth.

Tech Impressions

Like many new cars, the Crosstrek Wilderness is festooned with technology. And like many new cars, that technology can be both useful and frustrating. Four years ago, our Detroit-based Subaru Ascent long-termer’s EyeSight driver assists often proved more annoying than helpful. Detroit editor Alisa Priddle and technical director Frank Markus both noted that large SUV’s incessant chimes and dings and warnings. Thankfully, successive changes to Subaru’s EyeSight system have flipped that paradigm; our Crosstrek keeps audible warnings to a minimum.

However, Priddle also noted the Ascent’s EyeSight shut itself down in heavy rain or fog. For the Crosstrek, sometimes it doesn’t even take that much. On dozens of occasions, after starting the compact SUV on a simple cool night, I’ve been met with a warning that EyeSight is unavailable. Condensation on the sensors, perhaps? I have yet to identify the culprit, and after a few minutes, EyeSight is back online. It’s an odd occurrence, because Ihavedriven through heavy rain and fog, and EyeSight worked fine then (with one exception).

Road Trip Comfort

With CarPlay and Apple Maps fired up, I settled in and watched as Los Angeles disappeared in the Crosstrek’s rearview mirror. Leading up to the trip, I was actually a bit apprehensive; my longest individual trip in the 2024 Crosstrek had been no more than 10 miles, but whenMotorTrendhad a 2018 Crosstrek in its long-term fleet, I took the keys a time or two and really didn’t enjoy driving it. The years have made it difficult to recall specifics, but I remember having a great deal of trouble just getting comfortable for long stints behind the wheel.

No such issue here. The miles flew by with nary a complaint from my butt or back. Your butt or back might have different tastes, but for me, the seats were properly supportive while remaining plush. They weren’t the best seats I’ve ever been in (among the Crosstrek’s segment competitors, our 2019 Hyundai Kona long-termer was more comfortable on a long drive), but I’ve also felt worse. The only thing I found myself wanting was perhaps a bit more thigh support. And after a few hours of driving, I occasionally wished for a bit more space in the footwell to reposition my left foot—the only time this subcompact SUV actually felt subcompact to me.

A Missed Opportunity in the Snow

After 1,200 miles over two days, I finally reached my destination in the far north of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. My family lives in an area noted for its rain shadow effect (low precipitation caused by nearby mountains diverting clouds), so I was surprised to look outside one evening to see several inches of snow covering the Crosstrek.

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I was not prepared for this.

A more forward-thinking editor would’ve taken advantage of this rare opportunity; few of our SoCal-based long-termers will ever see much winter weather. Me? I was distracted, in town for a memorial service, not in the right headspace to think aboutwork. And because I was distracted, it never even crossed my mind to test out X-Mode’s snow/dirt or deep snow/mud settings or even look up what they could do.

Thankfully, neither mode was necessary. Left in its default settings, the Crosstrek Wilderness’ all-wheel drive and traction control were more than sufficient to keep me feeling safe. Because this was my first time driving in snow in perhaps a decade, I took things slow on my daily quarter-mile drive to my family’s home. The surrounding streets never did seem to get plowedand the temperature never got above freezing, so the streets were covered in densely packed snow for days. Each day, I crept over at what felt like a safe speed, but when I saw no signs of other drivers, I would smash the brakes and take turns with a bit too much speed, just to refamiliarize myself with what it feels like when your car loses traction in tricky conditions. No big surprise, but the Crosstrek stayed firmly planted to the road.

This low-speed familiarization with slick roads proved useful a few days later on my return trip to California. The snow never did pose a problem, but central Oregon, it turned out, got much worse than just snow. Shortly before my drive home the area was hit with freezing rain, and days later the interstate remained a mess. I approached oblivious to the conditions, and the low-speed snow experimentation helped ensure I stayed on the road; when I first saw brake lights ahead, I assumed slow traffic, not a standstill, and I felt the ABS rumble as my right foot realized the truth of the situation. Thankfully, I had grown used to that feeling and avoided panicking, and the Crosstrek stayed stable. The Subaru had done its job, and I had somehow managed to do mine.

The remainder of the drive through the icy quagmire was uneventful. I could feel a tire slipping on a few occasions, but never anything that felt dangerous. The Crosstrek Wilderness does a wonderful job of quietly and calmly keeping its occupants safe.

The rest of the drive was largely uneventful, save for a brief voyage through soupy fog in southern Oregon. It was here that EyeSight finally gave up on me, as it had on our Detroit editors in our previous Subaru Ascent. With EyeSight offline, I was on my own to navigate through fog that seemed to limit visibility to about 20 feet. Once through that, EyeSight reactivated, and it was smooth sailing the rest of the way home.

For More on Our Long-Term Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness:

MotorTrend’s 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness

Service Life

3 months/4,456 miles

Base/as Tested Price



Option package 23 ($2,270: premium audio, power moonroof, power driver’s seat)


25/29/27 mpg; 448 miles

Average Fuel ECON

25.4 mpg

Energy Cost Per Mile


Maintenance and Wear




Days Out of Service/Without Loaner



Geyser Blue paint draws plenty of compliments, rubber floormats make keeping things clean easy


Finicky blinker signal on gentle turns, omnipresent “icy roads” symbol on the driver info screen below 38 degrees



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