Whenever you hit backcountry cow paths or the off-road park, you just expect to encounter certain vehicles. Toyota Land Cruisers, Nissan XTerras, every possible kind of Jeep ever built, and lifted pickup trucks—you know the drill. Lately, however, I've been seeing more and more Subarus out on the trails, and you know what? It's about time.
The folks at Oregon-based Anderson Design & Fabrication agree, which is why they've built a business supplying top-notch body lift kits for everything from old Subaru GLs to the latest Outbacks to the excellent little Forester you see up top. Most of their products use spacers instead of a full spring lift to retain as much of the original ride quality as possible, but they'll also sell you a long-travel suspension kit for your Subie.
There's just something weirdly satisfying about seeing a fairly normal Subaru smear shame on legions of mall-crawlin' Jeep owners who feel as if they need four-wheel-drive and low-range engaged just to pop over some rocks. Subarus don't even have a two-speed transfer case.
Yet with a mild lift, some additional skid plates, body protection, and perhaps a snorkel, these otherwise basic little cars look pretty mean and can handle some surprisingly tough terrain. There are many trails you can go on without ever actually needing four-wheel-drive anyway if you know what you're doing, so the Subaru all-wheel-drive system seems plenty capable for off-road shenanigans. Meeting owners who actually go out and try this sort of thing is the best.
Just take a look at Justin Solis' Forester hooning up an absurdly steep hill at Hidden Falls Adventure Park without ever actually needing to have Subaru's off-road-oriented "X-Mode" on. It's beautiful and makes me honestly question why I see so many of these only soiled with bird poop and crayons out on the road instead of full side-coats of mud.
It warms my heart to see companies like Anderson Design & Fabrication and others like Sumo Parts offering whole kits to lift your Subaru up where it probably belongs and protect the breakable parts from too much damage, plus other off-road gear like locking differentials and sturdier wheels. Anderson Design & Fabrication's gallery of lifted Subarus alone is the stuff of silly dreams where cars made to look rugged and outdoorsy finally get treated like it. Another company, LP Adventure even blogs up some of their wilder, weirder builds, which include other scourges of the Target parking lot like the Honda CR-V. (I'm extremely for off-roading more CR-Vs, too, for the record.)
Anderson offers lift kits for both weirdos like the Baja as well as classics as old as the mid-seventies Leones and Brats. "All-terrain" is even right there in the acronym for Subaru's "Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter," so consider this the Brat's natural habitat. Few sights are as joyous as seeing an older Subaru wagon with a six-inch lift.
Alternately, it's time to take the family Ascent through some low-water crossings. Take your Crosstrek on a real trek, and your Outback into some actual outback territory. It's easier than ever now to hoon your Subaru all over Mother Nature, and it's glorious.