It's easy to dismiss crossovers as mere station wagons on tall tires. While some have all-wheel drive, they don't quite have the same abilities as 4x4 SUVs. But Subaru insists that their crossovers can take on the rough stuff. Not only that, they came up with a new variant aimed at the off-roader crowd.

Subaru calls it the Wilderness, and the first model to get that tag is the Outback. The Outback Wilderness isn't a mere cosmetic upgrade over the standard versions. The Japanese automaker made several tweaks under the chassis to give it more off-road ability.

2021 Subaru Outback Wilderness has more ground clearance than a Fortuner image

For starters, Subaru went to great lengths to give the Outback Wilderness a unique and more aggressive rear differential. They also modified the all-wheel drive system for good measure. It comes equipped with dual-function X-MODE that includes Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud modes. Not only that, but it also has an advanced feature for X-MODE that allows the vehicle to switch automatically from low-speed managed driving to speeds over 40 km/h without interruption of power or performance. You can think of it as an automatic low and high-range system.

2021 Subaru Outback Wilderness has more ground clearance than a Fortuner image

Those chunky tires are not for show, either. The Outback Wilderness comes equipped with Yokohama Geolandar all-terrain tires for better grip on mud or rocky trails. To fit those tires within its wheel arches, rim size is down to 17-inches, one inch smaller than regular Outbacks. It even comes with a functional skid plate at the front.

2021 Subaru Outback Wilderness has more ground clearance than a Fortuner image

Subaru also fitted a set of upgraded dampers and springs for better articulation. The new suspension set-up gives it more ground clearance over standard Outback variants. Subaru claims a ground clearance of 9.5 inches or 241 mm. So not only is it higher off the ground than most crossovers but it also more than some truck-based SUVs. For reference, the Ford Everest, Isuzu Mu-X, and Toyota Fortuner have ground clearance ratings of 225 mm.

2021 Subaru Outback Wilderness has more ground clearance than a Fortuner image

As for the engine, it uses the new turbocharged 2.4-liter flat-four as seen in the Ascent/Evoltis. It's good for 260 PS and 376 Nm of torque. The only transmission choice available is a CVT that Subaru calls Lineartronic.

With all the upgrades on the Outback Wilderness, we wouldn't call it a soft-roader. Not only does it look like an off-roader, but it can also act the part, too, thanks to new hardware under the chassis.