In our head-to-head for SUVs, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon takes on the Subaru Crosstrek
Not all campers are equally adventurous — some pull up their boots, strap on their packs and head up the roughest trail they can find for a night under the stars; others prefer to make a day of it, stop for a nice picnic and return to the lodge when finished. Those are the two sides of the same coin in SUVs we explore today — the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and the Subaru Crosstrek. █
— Casey Williams
Ruggedly handsome looks:
Crosstrek: Smoother flanks and a wider chiseled ass accentuate gray cladding placed to keep rocks from ruining its beautiful paint. Get it in Cool Gray Khaki or Sunshine Orange.
Wrangler: It’s all new with a faster windshield rake, fender vents, and grille inspired by classic CJ7s, but the Rubicon’s snarling hood, LED headlamps, and off-road tires go beyond. Order up Mojito Green, Punk’n Metallic, or Hellayella!
Crosstrek: Traces its roots back to the homely little 1975 4WD wagon. Compared to 4×4 trucks, it represented civilized off-roading.
Wrangler: It looks the spitting image of its 75-year-old war-tested grandfather, but has gone all metrosexual. Slipperier skin and a nose job only make it more handsome.
What she’s packin’:
Crosstrek: A 152 horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, connected to either a 6-speed manual or continuously-variable transmission. A turbo would help fill the trousers.
Wrangler: The boys are squeezed tight with a 283 horsepower V6, 270 horsepower turbo-four eTorque hybrid, or 260 horsepower 3.0-liter diesel — paired with a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission. Whip one out and go to town.
Crosstrek: She’s not the most powerful bitch at the ball, but works efficiently with what she’s got, giving 27/33-MPG city/highway.
Wrangler: Piss her off and you’ll wish you hadn’t, but muscles require constant exercise — and fuel, so expect 18/23-MPG city/highway (V6).
Flogging the ride:
Crosstrek: It absorbs rough roads like Patti LaBelle takes deserts. Jacked up to 8.7 feet of ground clearance, only purpose-built SUVs can top her.
Wrangler: It finally rides more like a car than a tractor — perfect for the house hubby who likes to channel Rambo. With up to 10.8 feet of ground clearance, mountain goats seem wussy.
Crosstrek: X-Mode that will modulate the throttle and brakes to ease you down steep grades with zero pain.
Wrangler: Disconnecting sway bars keep the chassis limber and flexible to take all nature gives it.
Flip your lid:
Crosstrek: Open the cute little moonroof to sniff lilacs.
Wrangler: Flip back a manual top, toss aside hard panels or get the power-retractable canvas center section (the latter is definitely the sassier option).
Crosstrek: Backpacking to a peaceful lake, trekking through a rock quarry, or sprinting down highways. It’s athletic, but prefers moderate trails to mountain trials.
Wrangler: Rappelling off mountains, swimming through rivers or four-wheeling through mud pits that make Woodstock look like damp dirt. If it’s not extreme sport, then it’s just sunbathing in skivvies.
Celebrity alter ego:
Crosstrek: Zac Efron. Hey, he’s buff and pretty, but probably not the type to rough it in the wilderness. The Subie will enjoy the hike, but will be glad to return to its life in Malibu.
Wrangler: Danielle Boone: The explorer sliced through wilderness with his hands and a machete. The Wrangler adds air-conditioning, heated leather seats, and a booming audio system in its Swiss army knife.
Crosstrek: Handsome and capable with a $21,895 base price, or about $30k dripping with accoutrement, the Subaru is a very affordable date.
Wrangler: Marrying the alpha Jeep will cost at least $27,945, closer to $50k with all the toys, but get rough and you’ll come back whistling camp songs.