These lifted vehicles are ready to tackle the outdoors for a fraction of the Outback's price.
The 2022 Subaru Outback just received its most rugged, off-road-capable variant yet. The 2022 Outback Wilderness arrives later this year, equipped with tougher suspension and more ground clearance than the standard model. Subaru says the Wilderness has an extra inch of lift, for a total of 9.5 inches. The added clearance should ensure that this Subaru can tackle almost any terrain that owners throw at it. With a 2.4-liter turbocharged boxer-four producing 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque, it won't be sluggish either.
Subaru hasn't announced pricing for the Outback Wilderness, but we have to assume it will be close to the most expensive trim level, the Touring XT, which currently costs $39,945. If spending nearly $40,000 on a lifted off-road wagon sounds a bit too extreme, we have six more affordable used options.
Built in the same vein as the Outback, the Buick Regal TourX never reached the same success, lasting only three model years before being discontinued. Buick only offered a single engine option, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, producing a respectable 250 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque going to all four wheels. It's 5.8 inches of ground clearance pales in comparison to even the standard Outback, but it's more than enough for some light off-roading.
Despite being a smaller vehicle than the Outback, the Regal TourX offers comparable storage space inside with over 73 cubic feet of cargo space. Used examples start around $20,000, meaning you can pick one up for around half the price of a new, fully-loaded Outback.
Within the Volvo lineup, the V60 and V90 Cross Country models represent the station wagon appeal with the added benefits of a lifted ride height. For a brief time, Volvo even offered an S60 Cross Country; a strange-looking lifted sedan. The first-generation Volvo V60 Cross Country lasted from 2015 to 2018, while the V90 Cross Country landed in 2016. Both originally came with only one engine option, a 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder making 250 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. The five-cylinder was replaced in the 2017 model year by a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder with 240 hp and 258 lb-ft.
With 7.9 inches of ground clearance, the Cross Country models were pretty close to the Outback's capability but offered more luxury and comfort. Used prices for both start around $15,000, making them a great budget option.
If you seek something a bit more modern and much more opulent, Volvo V90 Cross Country and the second-generation V60 Cross Country can also be had for less than a new Outback Wilderness. We found certified pre-owned examples of both models starting in the low to mid-$30,000 price range. While it's not much less than a new Subaru, these Volvo models offer much more comfort along with a five-year, unlimited-mile warranty.
The V60 CC only came in T5 guise with the same 2.0-liter turbo-four found in the outgoing model now producing 250 hp. The V90 CC offered the T5 engine but could also be equipped with the T6 twin-charged engine producing 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. These newer Cross Country models offer 8.3 inches of ground clearance, making them highly effective off-roaders.
Just like Volvo's Cross Country models, Audi's Allroad models offer a wagon body style bundled with a lifted suspension. The German automaker currently offers A4 and A6 Allroad models, but the latter hasn't depreciated enough for this list. The B8 generation Audi A4 spawned a lifted variant called the Allroad, which was later renamed the A4 Allroad when the B9 arrived in 2017.
High-mileage examples of those early B8 cars start at around $10,000 and climb to the $20,000 range with a CPO warranty. Prices for the B9 models are higher, starting in the $25,000 price range. Both cars use a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder, though the B9 produces 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque compared to only 211 hp and 258 lb-ft in the B8. If you need the most ground clearance, the B8 is actually the better option with 7.1 inches compared to 6.5 inches on the B9.
Before discontinuing the base Golf here in the United States, Volkswagen offered not one but two wagon variants, the standard SportWagen and the lifted Alltrack. Though it lasted for just three model years, the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack made a big impression as a seriously cool raised wagon. Power came from a 1.8-liter turbo-four producing 168 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque, going out to VW's 4Motion all-wheel drive system. Though it's not the quickest model on our list, the Alltrack is cool because it offered a six-speed manual alongside the optional six-speed dual-clutch automatic.
The Alltrack offered 6.9 inches of ground clearance, compared to 5.5 inches in the standard Golf. Prices for high-mileage examples start around $14,000 and cap out above $30,000 for a newer example with a CPO warranty. There is clearly a cult classic market for these cars.
Though it doesn't directly fit the lifted wagon mold, we think the Mini Countryman deserves consideration here because it's a fun crossover with decent off-road chops. From 2011 to 2016, Mini offered the Countryman with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder producing only 121 hp, while the Countryman S added a turbocharger good for 181 hp. In 2017, the engine lineup changed to a 1.5-liter turbo-three producing 134 hp or a 2.0-liter turbo-four with 189 hp in the Countryman S. For the enthusiasts, a John Cooper Works model offers 228 hp and 258 lb-ft from a 2.0-liter turbo-four.
With anywhere from 5.9 to 6.5 inches of ground clearance, the Countryman is not the best off-roader here, but it is the sportiest one to drive. Transmission options included a six-speed automatic or an optional six-speed manual. Prices vary greatly depending on mileage and trim level, ranging from under $10,000 to almost $40,000.
Most Subaru Outback owners choose it because they want something different than a conventional SUV. Still, if you want amazing off-road capability, it's hard to look past the Jeep Grand Cherokee. With around 8.6 inches of ground clearance, the Grand Cherokee offers better approach and departure angles than the Outback. It boasts more power, too, with either a 290-hp V6, 360-hp V8, or 475-hp SRT performance model.
Prices range wildly since this generation of Grand Cherokee had been on the market for more than a decade, a new one came in 2021. Used 2011 models cost well under $10,000 while near-new examples can hit $40,000.