A lot of our customers are new to Subaru ownership having switched from bigger SUV’s or Trucks to Subaru’s because they have better fuel economy and are just simply more comfortable to drive but still have off road capability. Subaru has built its brand around their symmetrical All Wheel Drive system which performs very well in most conditions, it’s perfectly suited for snow, gravel, mud or sand but when trails get deeper and the rocks get taller Subaru’s just don’t have the clearance needed to make it through that washout or water crossing. We don’t want you to have to cut your adventure short or feel like you’re going to do damage to your vehicle so by popular demand we’ve worked continuously to develop products to lift your car without degrading the on road performance.
“I want to lift my Subaru, not a lot, just three to four inches.”
We hear this statement everyday and in the current culture of off-roading this is the norm and isn’t extreme at all for a Truck or conventional SUV, but for a Subaru this is the maximum that we lift them and it requires more parts and currently the end result is a compromise to get maximum lift and performance suffers.
Commercially available lift kits for Subaru’s are a new phenomenon and currently there are two main ways to lift your Subaru: King Springs or Lift Spacers (Strut top spacers). They achieve the lift in two different ways and have different advantages and disadvantages. We ask the question, what is the vehicle used for? For most of our customers they drive almost exclusively in town or on the highway and off-road excursions are reserved for play days and weekends pursuing their variety of outdoor hobbies, then a small percentage who use their cars for work and hauling people, heavy loads or towing small trailers, and even smaller percentages who have vehicles exclusively for OFF-Roading or Competition(Rally or Rallycross).
King Springs: The advantage to lifting with King Springs is that they use a stiffer spring to achieve the lift and a stiffer spring counteracts body roll after raising the vehicles center of gravity. Excessive body roll makes any car no fun to drive on pavement so King springs are the best solution for people that do most of their driving around town. The one disadvantage to using a stiffer spring is that to achieve the lift you’ll move up where the vehicle sits in the suspensions stroke range at ride height, you lose some droop travel, which isn’t optimal for OFF-Roading. King springs also work well if you’re hauling a lot of weight and just don’t want the rear of the car to sag too much or bottom out, we have combinations to suit all scenarios.
Lift Spacers: Lift spacers don’t change the spring rate or where the vehicles sits in the suspensions stroke range at ride height, so no lost droop travel but you will have increased body roll and the driving experience on dry pavement will be diminished. Lift spacers are a great value and if you just use your car OFF-Road they provide the lift you need and also offer good performance.
Now that we’ve went over the different ways to lift your car you can decide which route to take, keep in mind if the King Springs available for your specific model don’t provide as much lift as you want you can combine them with lift spacers to make up the rest (within reason). Getting the alignment and geometry back within factory specs is extremely important for safety, tire wear and drivability.
Modern subaru’s have two different types of suspension systems:
- 1989-1999 Legacy and Outback, 1993-2007 Impreza and 1998-2008 Foresters all have Mcpherson front and rear suspension.
- 2000-2015 Legacy and Outback, 2008-2015 Impreza (including XV Crosstrek), 2009-2015 Forester and all years Baja and Tribeca have Mcpherson front and a Multilink rear with a coilover spring/shock.
The fronts have all been the same basic configuration and the rears have all been either Mcpherson or multilink. The nature of the Macpherson strut gives it a good range of usable ride heights(~+ or -3”) without needing to relocate or modify suspension mounting points. The multilink rear suspensions aren’t as forgiving having only about half the range of acceptable ride heights limited by it’s suspension geometry. To do most mild lifting you can get away without relocating any suspension mounting points:
- up to about 2.5” on Mcpherson front cars
- 2” on Mcpherson rears
- 1-1.25”on the multilink rears, you can get
But after going beyond this threshold all of the suspension mounting points need to be spaced down close to the same amount that the vehicle is lifted. Spacing down the Mcpherson strut suspensions is an involved process, in the front the whole engine, transmission and steering need to be spaced down, however the Mcpherson rear is simpler and just trailing arm spacers and camber bolts will help a lot. The multilink rear are split into two different generations early 2000-2009 Legacy and Outback and all years of Baja, the later generation are all years of Tribeca, 2008-2015 Impreza (including XV Crosstrek), 2009-2015 Forester and 2010-2015 Legacy and Outback. Both are similar but the early generation has the hub integrated into the trailing arm and the trailing arm has its mount independent of the rear subframe making it less forgiving and more difficult to space down than the later generation, we have a solution available that we call the PRSS (Primitive rear subframe spacers) and they are included with all the lift kits we have available for these years.
Lifting Subaru’s may be a new trend but it’s growing in popularity and we’re working continuously on new and innovative solutions, I hope this article helps you to make educated decisions about how you want to lift your Subaru.