Upgrading your Subaru Crosstrek XV for Off-Roading

September 16, 2020 6 min read

The Crosstrek XV has become one of the most popular crossovers for adventure seeking. It didn't take long before consumers realized how capable of a vehicle Subaru had built that was priced just right. 

In this article we discuss what some of the first and most important upgrades that @4x4Subi believes are.  

There are hundreds of products out there for offroading, so the choices could sometimes get overwhelming. Whether it’s recovery gear, vehicle armor, or tires, choosing the right equipment could be the deciding factor whether you have fun out there, or get stuck in a rut. We’ve developed a guide for the basic gear that we all know and use, so you can enjoy your trips knowing you’re well prepared. 

Recovery Gear- 

There are lots of options out there for recovering yourself when you’re stuck. In mud, sand, and tricky terrain, it’s important to have the right tools for the job. The best overall product that covers most bases is the MaxTrax recovery tracks. These tracks, although pricey, are tough and reliable. They’ll be used dozens of times and still be perfectly functioning the next time you’re stuck in the mud. Maxtrax are engineering-grade reinforced nylon tracks, which flex, bend, and pop back into shape use after use. 

Most cheaper alternatives are made of cheaper plastics, which look the part, but don’t perform the part.The tracks feature aggressive cleats that your tire clenches onto, allowing you to drive up onto the tracks, pulling your vehicle out of sand, mud, and most other terrains. You could use them to bridge a gap you may get stuck in, to get extra traction on a steep rock lip, or use them as a shovel to dig yourself out of the sandy beaches. No matter the situation, these will help get you out of it safely. Best of all, they come with a lifetime warranty against faulty materials and workmanship, so if anything goes wrong, they’ve got your back. 

Another option for recovery is a winch. For this option, you’ll need an offroad winch-capable bumper, like the RRW Tubular Bumpers. The winch we recommend for these cars is the Warn Industries VRX 45-S. A winch will help not only in offroad situations like when you need that extra bit of help getting up a steep hill, or recovering yourself from a bad choice of lines on the trail, but it will also be useful in real-world situations where you may need to help someone get out of a flooded area, or just to move something extremely heavy. The VRX 45 has a 4,500lb load rating, enough to pull out most mid-sized crossovers such as the Subaru Crosstrek. Need more power? Use a snatch block technique to double your pulling power. Although a more expensive option, this is the true tool in the arsenal of the prepared dirt warrior. 


When it comes to other crosstreks, it seems everyone is running something different. We’ve tested out many of the popular choices, and came to two champions. Our main choice would be the BFGoodrich KO2 tires, and the runner up is the Falken Wildpeaks. Both are all-terrain tires, so they’ll be perfect for offroad driving and highway driving alike. The reason we went with the KO2’s as the champion choice: Better tread construction, smoother noise free ride, and a much stronger sidewall thanks to the CoreGard Technology, which makes the sidewall much more resistant to splitting. 

If you’re on a tight budget and need to cut some corners on pricing, the Falken Wildpeaks are the way to go, but you’re going to get a little noisier ride, and less performance. They are known to be cheaper and lighter than the KO2s. Both are great choices though, and would both perform on the trails. It comes down to budget and intensity of offroading. More protection from BFGoodrich, cheaper price from Falken. 


This comes down to personal preference most of the time, but there are a few great choices. We think the Relations Race Wheels comes in at the top of the food chain. With the tough outer lip on all the wheels, these are made to withstand whatever you may throw their way. On the trail and traversing a sketchy line? Not a problem. The V-Line wheels come with beadlock styling bolts on the outer lip - which are all replaceable - so if you ever hit your wheel on the side of a rock, all you do is remove the bolt and either repaint or replace it. Simple as that. The wheels also come with a 2100lb load rating, so whether you’re towing your camper, or loading your rig with all your heavy gear, you’re travelling worry-free knowing your wheels can take it. 

There are two options coming out from RRW for the Subaru community right now, and more to come. The RR2 design features the iconic six-spoke design that originates from Japanese wheels from the 80’s, and has been considered a timeless design. The RR5 design features the concave wheel face, with multiple spokes going to the lip for a rugged look. Both wheels feature the thick outer lip, and the correct spacing for the brake calipers on all Subaru Crosstreks. 

These wheels are CAD designed and tested for structural integrity and reliability, and are produced in a JWL/VIA certified facility, making them ahead of the competition as far as testing and manufacturing goes. Best of all, the wheels come with centercaps to make your ride clean and mean. 


When you’re out in the woods, you come across trails that have been washed out, rutted, and rocky. The Crosstrek doesn’t have the greatest approach angle, so sharp inclines in trail are difficult to pass over without hitting the bumper. Getting offroad bumpers not only increases your approach and departure angles, but it also helps keep those overgrown bushes from scratching your paint job. If you’re trying to get bumpers fabricated, it could cost you upwards of $1800 per bumper. We didn’t like the fact that you’ve got to dish out that much to be able to take those beautiful rugged trails, so we came out with a new bumper design with added strength where our cars need it, and lighter weight to account for the weak engine we’ve got. It was then, that the RRW Tubular bumpers were born.

The bumpers feature a winch mounting area on the front, and a clean yet aggressive back end to keep the weight low, and the strength high. With the new approach angle you’ll have, you can explore the unexplored and not worry about scratches or damage. They integrate with the Primitive Racing Skid Plates as well, which is the next topic we’re going to talk about. 

Other Gear 

With all the upgrades you’re doing, one of the most important would be skid plates. You don’t want to go out there and puncture your oil pan on a rock, or even worse hit your CVT transmission. Those are costly repairs that could be avoided by getting a set of the Primitive Racing 3-piece skid plates. These will cover your engine, your transmission, and your rear differential, and protect them from those pesky rocks. A small investment up front can save you a lot of money in the long run. Take it from me, I’ve banged through two sets of these skids already, and they’ve saved me countless times. 

Another important upgrade to consider is more of an accessory, but if you take long trips in remote places, you’ll want to be carrying a set of Rotopax fuel canisters. These are lightweight and made of a tough durable plastic, allowing you to carry up to 4.5 gallons of fuel with you on your trips. Our tanks only hold 13 gallons, so if you’re heading out to the desert, you don’t want to get stranded on an empty tank. These tanks are individually pressure tested and manufactured in the USA, ensuring a quality, leak free product.

There are hundreds of accessories you could buy for your Crosstrek, but these are the most important ones. Set up with these upgrades, your trek will be ready to take on anything that gets in its way. 

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