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Discussion Starter #1
Let me start off by saying that I see the value in performing a lift and adding skid plates. I plan on adding some plates soon, but I'm unsure if a lift will really add much value to the capability of my 2017, given my driving style/risk tolerance.

I've been reading a lot about lifts and I think that a 1" lift would, perhaps fit my needs, and give me a more capable vehicle. I drive on a lot of gravel and occasionally will take a rocky fire road or mountain pass (Boreas Pass, Weston Pass, Switzerland Trail, etc.). But by no means am I tackling the much more technical trails, that Colorado has to offer. Long story short, there's only been a few scenarios where I've asked someone to spot my line. I'm a bit risk adverse and I am simply trying to juice as many miles out of my Crosstrek, as possible, all while having fun.

All this can be boiled down into:
  • Fact: I'll get some skid plates, soon.
  • Question: How much more capable is the Crosstrek with a 1" lift?
I suppose I'm struggling with figuring out if going from 8.7" to 9.7"—of ground clearance—is a big jump? It doesn't seem like a lot, but I've also never lifted a vehicle. I could also see myself selling the Subaru if they ever come out with an XT version :) With that in mind, a lift seems like I'd be narrowing my resale market down quite a bit. Though Subaru's are like Toyota's here in CO, so maybe not such a problem.

Anyways, I appreciate any insight. Especially from folks who have lifted (1–1.5"). I'd love to hear your experience/logic.

Edit: I'm running Sparco's with Geolander AT G015's—not overlay aggressive.
 

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Does a lift truly increase ground clearance and, if so, how, without upsetting the geometry of the drive train? I see the advantage of improved approach angle and allowing larger tires. A larger diameter wheel/tire combo would do it, of course.
 

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I think the answer to your ground clearance question is wholly dependent on the trails you drive it on. Not trying to be smarmy, but if an extra 1" of clearance is required, than the extra 1" of capability would be a benefit. Seems pretty simple to me.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Great point about lifts allowing for larger tire/wheel combos @stupidchicken03—I was watching your ADF lift kit install video last night as well, awesome stuff!

I was reading that thread last night @AstroKats. Good conversation in there. I tend to agree with you, I doubt I'll ever lift mine. Simply because the terrain I put this car through hasn't really called for it and if it did, and I wanted to drive over that stuff, I'd probably just get a truck (personally).

I also hadn't thought about 1" of lift really improving approach and departure angles. I suppose chopping up your bumpers could help that out, too. haha! I guess after I get some plates put on I'll take some measurements to see how much clearance I loose. Regardless, I think plates will give me much more confidence.
 

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We did this with a totally stock Limited (Radford Camp Fire Trail in Big Bear)... 😸

Some deep gulleys and sharp rocks sticking up (some with oil on them, LOL) but nothing that couldn't be avoided with a little care and attention. This is about the limit of what we want to do anyway.

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I had a 2012 Impreza with a lift and it made a big difference in clearance. Not sure that the Crosstrek will see much benefit unless you are off-road. Downside was that stability control was much more sensitive for some reason and would kick in on mild cornering. Others had a similar experience with G1 Impreza. I’m not aware of problems with Gen 2 but might be worth researching.
 

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I had a 2012 Impreza with a lift and it made a big difference in clearance. Not sure that the Crosstrek will see much benefit unless you are off-road. Downside was that stability control was much more sensitive for some reason and would kick in on mild cornering. Others had a similar experience with G1 Impreza. I’m not aware of problems with Gen 2 but might be worth researching.
A lifted Impreza = A Crosstrek... 😸
 

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To answer the original question. No. 1 inch won't help you off road better if you have to ask. It would leave me to assume you've never been off road.
Also. 1 inch will not help clear bigger tires.
 

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For off-road, I run the oversize (diameter) 225-65-17 K02s on mine (no rubbing) with no lift. That gives me an extra 1/2 inch clearance to 9.2". But my limiting factor for off-road has not been clearance, but approach angle with the front bumper scraping when going through wash-outs. I have to take them sideways, to get through.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
To answer the original question. No. 1 inch won't help you off road better if you have to ask. It would leave me to assume you've never been off road.
Also. 1 inch will not help clear bigger tires.
Well, I have been off-road. As I clearly mentioned in the OP. So I'm not asking because of ignorance to driving off-road. I was asking because such a "minimal" lift has always seemed odd, to me. Judging by the responses in this thread, it does seem like a 1" lift will help you clear bigger tires, albeit not all that much larger.
 

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Let me start off by saying that I see the value in performing a lift and adding skid plates. I plan on adding some plates soon, but I'm unsure if a lift will really add much value to the capability of my 2017, given my driving style/risk tolerance.

I've been reading a lot about lifts and I think that a 1" lift would, perhaps fit my needs, and give me a more capable vehicle. I drive on a lot of gravel and occasionally will take a rocky fire road or mountain pass (Boreas Pass, Weston Pass, Switzerland Trail, etc.). But by no means am I tackling the much more technical trails, that Colorado has to offer. Long story short, there's only been a few scenarios where I've asked someone to spot my line. I'm a bit risk adverse and I am simply trying to juice as many miles out of my Crosstrek, as possible, all while having fun.

All this can be boiled down into:
  • Fact: I'll get some skid plates, soon.
  • Question: How much more capable is the Crosstrek with a 1" lift?
I suppose I'm struggling with figuring out if going from 8.7" to 9.7"—of ground clearance—is a big jump? It doesn't seem like a lot, but I've also never lifted a vehicle. I could also see myself selling the Subaru if they ever come out with an XT version :) With that in mind, a lift seems like I'd be narrowing my resale market down quite a bit. Though Subaru's are like Toyota's here in CO, so maybe not such a problem.

Anyways, I appreciate any insight. Especially from folks who have lifted (1–1.5"). I'd love to hear your experience/logic.

Edit: I'm running Sparco's with Geolander AT G015's—not overlay aggressive.
Can't speak to a lift on my personal vehicle but I have swapped keys with several lift Treks out on the trails and I can speak to some respectable "off-pavementing" in my stock height Crosstrek.

From the sounds of it a lift is just not a necessity in your case. If it it something you want, by all means do it because it is your car and that's what being a car enthusiast is all about! However, if you are only doing it because you think it will make your vehicle noticeably more capable off the pavement, it likely won't. Sure I plan to do it one day, years from now after the warranty is gone and I have another daily but I have gotten my car everywhere I want to go with nothing but A/Ts, Skids, and careful line selection. Those 2 mods and some know how are what will take you the extra mile and you're already well on your way there (great tire selection)! Next look into some proper recovery gear. Tow strap (quality), shackles (quality), shovel (decent size), jack (quality, seeing a trend yet?), jack plate, FIRST AID (VERY HIGH QUALITY), tools, communications, and most importantly a buddy to go have fun with and watch your back! All of these things will get you further than a lift. Then, if you want to further increase capability, I would argue that a set of sliders and bumpers with a better approach/departure and some break-over protection would still have a greater bang for buck regarding capability than a 1" lift. Heck I think most of the extraneous lights people strap to these things are kinda silly unless you're running Baja at full speed in the middle of the night, but I would still prioritize lights over lift.


It's a pretty big ask for us to quantify exactly how much more capable a 1" lift first gen is. I am sure you went through geometry and could calculate the exact change in the approach/departure/break-over and I am sure there is someone here who knows exactly how much larger a tire you can fit but those are just numbers (expensive ones). You know your terrain and trail selection better than any of us. My terrain and trail selection in the South East US is going to be significantly different than Zap's in BC or Chicken's in California. My driving style is likely significantly different from Zap's and both of our styles is different from Chickens. My willingness to push the limits is likely different than the two aforementioned members. Thus it is very hard for someone on the internet to accurately tell you how much more "capable" a 1" lift is. It is 1" more capable but that 1" will mean something very different person to person. Get some skids on there like you said and keep having fun with your car! Listen, and it will tell you what you need as you explore more.

But my limiting factor for off-road has not been clearance, but approach angle with the front bumper scraping when going through wash-outs. I have to take them sideways, to get through.
While true and you should always take washouts at an angle for your suspensions sake, I have been very impressed with the quality of the plastic bumpers. I have popped both front and rear off several times and each time they snap right back in.


But a lift will really only help a little. I have a friend with an XV on 2.5" spacers and 1" springs (amazingly the CVs are doing okay at 3"+ lifted but lets see how long that lasts) and even she still struggles with approach. IMO The only real solution to the awful approach angle would be a bumper cut/entirely new bumper. The chin of these cars is just too long to significantly increase approach angle without significantly altering the look of the car, which is very reliant on that big ole "Johnny Bravo" chin. Compare the chin of the XV to the Forester on the same platform. The chin is noticeably longer and lacking the subtle upward curve that the Forester has.

Image result for crosstrek side profile

Image result for 2020 forester side profile


Judging by the responses in this thread, it does seem like a 1" lift will help you clear bigger tires, albeit not all that much larger.
While I own a 2nd gen and can only speak to what I have learned second hand about the 1st gens, yes a lift will marginally increase your available tire size. While the the 2nd gen (what both zap and I own) have significantly larger wheel wells that can easily fit all but the biggest over sized tires at stock height, the 1st gen does not and would benefit, marginally, from a lift. That being said I stand behind what I said earlier. Your car will let you know when it actually needs that level of major modification. Not trying to be a smart*** but IMO Zap is right (albeit slightly presumptuous) if you need to ask whether or not a lift will benefit you, you would probably just be better off putting that money toward something else for the car or holding on to it until it is clear that you need a lift. There are so many better "bang for buck" mods out there for those looking to explore in their trek. But of course, if it is just something you think is cool and you want to do it, do it! Happy trail hunting!

**Apologies to everyone for the long winded speech
 

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While true and you should always take washouts at an angle for your suspensions sake,
While I agreed with most of your post, I didn't quite understand what you meant by this statement. I take the washouts at an angle so that my front bumper doesn't hit the other side when I take it straight on. But if anything, I would think this is harder on the suspension, as most of the time it is on 3 wheels and rocks back and forth on 2 wheels to switch which 3rd wheel (diagonally) is touching ground. Besides suspension, I would think this would put a fair load on the unibody as well.

Your point about the Forester is very true, too. My son has a 2009, and it has a more up sloping front end as well as a shorter wheel base than my Crosstrek. He also has oversize A/T tires giving 9.2" clearance, but just the regular auto tranny (before CVTs) and no X-mode. Hence it is not near as good as my Crosstrek, when climbing really slow on 3 wheels in loose gravel/shale. He needs to use momentum to get through the poor traction spots. I think the new 2019 Forester would be much better though with the CVT and X-mode.
 

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Approach angle has been our biggest issue, too. I've scraped the front bumper a few times, especially on the deep gulleys on the fire trail I posted about earlier, even taking them at an angle. I haven't popped it off yet but it's only a matter of time. Good to know they pop back on easily. It's not my car and I'd be sleeping on the cat perch... 😸
 

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While I agreed with most of your post, I didn't quite understand what you meant by this statement. I take the washouts at an angle so that my front bumper doesn't hit the other side when I take it straight on. But if anything, I would think this is harder on the suspension, as most of the time it is on 3 wheels and rocks back and forth on 2 wheels to switch which 3rd wheel (diagonally) is touching ground. Besides suspension, I would think this would put a fair load on the unibody as well.

Your point about the Forester is very true, too. My son has a 2009, and it has a more up sloping front end as well as a shorter wheel base than my Crosstrek. He also has oversize A/T tires giving 9.2" clearance, but just the regular auto tranny (before CVTs) and no X-mode. Hence it is not near as good as my Crosstrek, when climbing really slow on 3 wheels in loose gravel/shale. He needs to use momentum to get through the poor traction spots. I think the new 2019 Forester would be much better though with the CVT and X-mode.
This is what I thought for the longest time until I had someone explain it to me. Warning this is going to be hard with only written examples but lets give it a try!

If anyone is interested in further discussing this topic I suggest we start a fresh thread, so not to hijack this one*

The TLDR of this is that diagonal approach to a washout allows the suspension to deal with the terrain one wheel at a time and better distributes weight

Preempting with all of the following conceptual thought relies on relatively slow speed off-roading. I am not responsible for damage that may befall your vehicle while you're having fun.


First, the suspension is designed to be repeatedly moved through its full range of travel without issue. As long as you aren't aggressively slamming into the bump stops repeatedly, you are no more at risk of strut/suspension damage than someone with a couple speed bumps in their neighborhood.

Second and most important to this concept, Subaru's and most other vehicles are structurally designed to very comfortable supporting their weight up on just 2 wheels. It may look like it is straining the car, but the steel hardly even notices. The unibody may flex a little but this is nothing the engineers did not account for and it will return to normal once the car is back on 4 wheels. This flex is actually beneficial for off-roading so stay away from those strut tower braces.

Now we come to angled vs straight approach and this is where the explanation would be easier in person but bear with me here. Its all about weight distribution and the fulcrums around which the car is rotating as it pitches through a wash-out/gully.

Straight Approach:

As you approach a wash-out straight on and your front wheels drop in, your car is "rotating" around a fulcrum which is the span between your back tires. All weight (red) in front of this fulcrum (blue line), which is most of your car, is applying force downward through the unibody and front suspension with only the weight (green) behind the fulcrum countering this force
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And the same happens as you pull your tail through.
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Notice the extreme imbalance of weight and only allowing the car to rotate about 2 fulcrums

Diagonal Approach:

As you approach a wash-out at an angle and your front right (or left but this example is right) wheel drops in, your car is "rotating" around a fulcrum which is the span between your back right tire and your front left. All weight (red) in front of this fulcrum is applying force downward with the weight (green) behind the fulcrum countering this force. Here you can see that the suspension is allowed to deal with the washout one wheel at a time AND the car is much better balanced, thus much less aggressive weigh transfer.
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As your front right begins to climb out and your front left drops, the fulcrum transfers as shown below.
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As the front left begins to climbs and the rear right drops, weight is transferred about the same, well balanced fulcrum.
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And finally as your rear right climbs and your rear left drops, the fulcrum transfers again as shown below.
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Notice the much better weight distribution and breaking the action down from 2 large transfers of weight to 4 smaller and better balanced ones.

A lot of this is purely conceptual and I have no legitimate research to back it other than having several "old-timers" (term of respect for wisdom where I am) say that's just how you do it. Hope this helps!
 

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This is what I thought for the longest time until I had someone explain it to me. Warning this is going to be hard with only written examples but lets give it a try!

If anyone is interested in further discussing this topic I suggest we start a fresh thread, so not to hijack this one*

The TLDR of this is that diagonal approach to a washout allows the suspension to deal with the terrain one wheel at a time and better distributes weight

Preempting with all of the following conceptual thought relies on relatively slow speed off-roading. I am not responsible for damage that may befall your vehicle while you're having fun.


>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
A lot of this is purely conceptual and I have no legitimate research to back it other than having several "old-timers" (term of respect for wisdom where I am) say that's just how you do it. Hope this helps!
Thanks for the taking the time to provide such a detailed explanation. If I understand correctly, there is more even weight distribution front to back when going diagonally. I can see that. And I guess the two lower wheels front and back would always be the ones touching when one single one above would be raised. The other single one above touching would then not be bearing as much weight based on the angle of the car.

So yeah, when you look at it that way, I think I see your point. I expect though, that the suspensions are designed strong enough that even straight on, front to back, the loads would not be too much for the suspension given how slow you go through these washouts.

Having said that, I saw other trucks having to use momentum to get through these washouts (4WD does not work as well as Subaru's AWD), and would hit their suspensions pretty hard sometimes. It was real entertainment to watch them in front of me (was constantly waiting for them), and then afterwards calming crawling through them with my Crosstrek with no fuss or muss (flying rocks and gravel).
 
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