Check Out These Awesome Off-Road Subarus

Consider the humble Subaru. It’s the focus of commercials featuring an adorable family of Golden Retrievers driving around town in a new Ascent. But it’s also much loved by drivers in the northern U.S. for its excellent handling in the snow. The reliability of Subaru’s all-wheel drive is without question.

Putting Subarus Where They Belong: Outdoors

When you think about Subies a little more, it’s not a stretch to visualize them in what should be their natural element—bouncing down a rock-strewn dry gulch in the desert or digging into a muddy fire trail in the mountains. They have always had that outdoorsy image, and they deserve to live up to it.

It would be a blast to break your Subaru free from the office park and bolt for those trails, wouldn’t it?

And here is where the “yes…but” comes in. Yes, your newer Forester has almost 9″ of ground clearance but is it enough to follow a Jeep through that creek? Or, yes, that Impreza of yours is a fun drive on gravel but can it handle washboard roads out in the backwoods without banging up the underbody?

Giving Subarus a Lift

The answer is yes, your Subaru can be transformed into a true off-road vehicle. Stef Schrader of The Drive reports that a Subaru can be modified to do everything the big off-roaders do and look extremely cool while doing it.

The resourceful people at Anderson Design & Fabrication in Banks, Oregon offer high-quality body lift kits that make Subarus as off-road capable as we’ve always wanted them to be. Their products can be installed on Subarus that range in vintage from the late-’70s BRAT to the latest version of the Ascent. To get an idea of what they do—and to dream a bit—ADF’s gallery of lifted Subies of all stripes is well worth a look.

How Do They Do It?

ADF’s products use strut spacers to lift the car’s body instead of a full coil spring lift. The spacers keep as much of the factory ride quality as possible. The folks at ADF say that spacers are a better solution than springs to lift a Subaru because it is less costly. Also, the alternative of replacing the original springs with longer, stiffer springs may not give the Subie the down-travel it needs in certain road conditions.

More recent model Subarus, such as a Crosstrek or can be lifted up to 2.5 inches without creating CV joint problems. Older models with EA82 engines from the ’80s and early ’90s—like the Subaru Leone, for example—can handle lifts between four and six inches.

No Heavy Lifting Here

If you’re mechanically inclined, spacer installation is straightforward. You need only basic tools such as pliers, screwdrivers, and a set of socket and end wrenches. The experts at ADF say that you can install the spacers on your Subie in your garage or driveway in as little as four to five hours.

And if you want more durability, you can buy a long-travel suspension kit from ADF. From there all you need to take on the backcountry are bumper protection, extra skid plates, and body and wheel well moldings.

This shop and others like it such as Sumo Parts can help kit out your Subaru for any off-road dream you’ve been chasing. Besides lift kits, you buy other off-goodies such as ditch lighting brackets, differential braces, and anti-wobble inserts for CVT transmission mounts,

And if your Toyota RAV or Honda CR-V needs a lift, not to worry. Shops like LP Aventure can give you a hand.

A Lot to Love in a Lifted Subaru

A lifted Subaru can put a spring in your step, and it isn’t just because of its great off-road capability and ready-for-anything good looks. One benefit is that a lift kit protects the more vulnerable parts on the car’s underbody from damage while you’re off-roading.

The cost of having this much off-road fun is relatively low too, as compared to investing in a full spring lift or buying a vehicle with higher ground clearance. You’ll also be part of the diverse and growing community of enthusiastic lifted Subie owners. 

So, it’s time to set your Subaru free and drive it over the rugged back of beyond. It’s a sure thing that both of you won’t miss the roads in town.