Jay's Lifted Outback XT Takes himThrough 4x4 Trails to The best camping spots

Here’s everything you need to know before you lift your 2020-2021 Outback

As soon as the Outback XT hit the showroom floor, we started looking out for a lifted version that we could share with our readers. We finally found Jay and his 2.5″ lifted Outback. He’s graciously agreed to share a little of the background on the build. He’ll lay out each part used for the lift, his wheel and tire setup, and other vital information that you’ll want to know before lifting your 6th gen Outback.

First things first….

The Mod List:

How long have you owned the Outback? Is this the first Subaru you've owned?

My first Subaru was a brand new 2016 Impreza Sport Hatchback. I bought it while living on the East Coast because driving in snow was a new thing to me and I wanted something that was known to do well in it. That thing was fun!  My wife ended up getting a 2017 Crosstrek when we moved back to So Cal and that’s when we really started exploring and camping. Eventually, I wanted a bigger Subaru and when I saw the XT was back, I was sold! I’ve had the Outback for 7 months and I’m loving it and having a lot of fun with it.

Most people out there who own these are scared to void their warranty or cause damage to a newer car - especially if they have a bank note on it! Was that a concern that ever crossed your mind? have you run into any warranty claim issues?

I was more concerned about cosmetic damage to the car more than voiding warranties. From the start, I accepted the fact that I’ll be paying out of pocket for parts that might get damaged from taking it off road. Things like the end links, struts, control arms, all those parts that we can easily replace. Things like the transmission, ac, fuel systems and engine I’m pretty confident in and if something does go wrong, I’ll be able to get it fixed under warranty. I just try to be as careful as possible!

I'm curious about your lift setup. What are you running? A lot of people are wanting to lift up their newer Outback but don't know what's out there for them.

I have the Readylift 2″ SST lift on there and paired it with Rallitek Overload Springs that puts me at 2.5″ of lift.
 
It was really between two popular options for me; ReadyLift and LP Aventure. Ultimately, it came down to price and the reviews from other Subaru owners. I found that a lot of other owners with the new Outback had the ReadyLift and had nothing bad to say about it. The third option was the Primitive Racing kit, but I thought if I’m going to lift it, I’m going to try to get as much height as I can. Theirs being a 1.5″ lift, I decided to not go that route.
 
I’m interested in looking into the Ironman 4×4 suspension kit when it does actually come out for the 6th Gen outback. I’ve been seeing raving reviews for that kit on the crosstreks. 
lifted 2020 subaru outback xt with off road tires climbing a hill

I've heard really good things about the value of those ReadyLift kits.They're super affordable and seem to be built really well for the price. How was the install process?

They definitely are affordable and well built! Full disclosure, I did have an end link bracket break on me, but they immediately sent me a replacement. Since then, I upgraded my front end links to a stronger and adjustable pair from Whiteline. I took it to get installed in a shop. I didn’t have any tools and honestly, just didn’t want to do it.

Are there extra parts you needed for the lift? I know for some older subaru's you have to swap out trailing arms and things like that. Is there anything you would caution people about upgrading when installing a lift on their XT?

From what I see, the lift kit makers do a really good job at ensuring that they are plug and play, so you don’t need to make any other adjustments besides an alignment. The only thing I would recommend are stronger end links for the sway bar. If you push your car hard enough and take it on some more rugged trails, the OEM will likely break. Everything works perfectly once you install the lift kit. No issues with brake lines or eyesight. For the new XTs, I know that the low beams can be a little too high straight from the factory. Putting the lift kit in definitely made it worse and you will be getting high-beamed!
 

Since you've lifted it, did you notice a difference in drivability? I know a lot of people have mentioned that larger tires and a lift can affect how well the car handles.

Definitely. You feel the extra height when you’re driving and the handling does take a bit of a hit. I had to get used to that since I was driving an Impreza before the Outback. The main things for me were that you can’t take turns as fast and tight comfortably and you can feel bumps in the road more. The car itself is still smooth, responsive, and drives great.
 
I did get larger tires prior to doing the lift and that actually improved the handling and ride quality for me. Once you add in the aspect of the higher center of gravity and adding extra pieces of metal to your struts, that’s when you start feeling any adverse effects it has on your car. That’s one of the downsides of your recreational vehicle being your daily driver. Some of the things that are great for off road aren’t really practical for city streets. 

I've gotta ask about your wheels because EVERYONE is going to ask. I really love the LP's on your ride. What's your wheel & tire set up? You mentioned that you upgraded tires prior to lifting. Did you have any issues with rubbing or anything?

Thanks! They’re the LP7’s in Bronze from LP Aventure. The wheels are 18×8 with a +38 Offset. Tires are Continental Terrain Contact 245/60/R18. The wider tire did give a little rub at full turn, but I think everybody experiences that.

What was your initial inspiration for lifting the XT? I've been following you on IG for awhile and you definitely go to a lot of places. For me, I started lifting Subaru's out of necessity so I could go hiking and camping in more remote areas.

That’s awesome! Pretty much the same for me. Initially, I didn’t have plans to lift the Outback. Just some All Terrain tires would do the trick, throw on some skid plates for more protection, and we’ll call it a day. Wrong. 2.5″ doesn’t sound like a lot, but it can seriously be the difference between making it through a trail, taking a lot of damage, or having to turn back. When you’re driving out to the middle of nowhere with no cell service or other people around, confidence is key!

Lifted subaru outback xt 2020

You've been adding a lot of functional accessories lately. I'm really curious about your rack system, your tent, and your jerry can holder! That gas can holder is awesome. You've got a ton of other cool lighting and accessories that I've probably missed. Can you give us the lowdown on what all you've installed?

I’m so glad you said functional accessories! I’ll list them off:
Spider Roof Rack: The modular roof rack systems are so dang cool. It just makes things so much easier when it comes to mounting, it’s stronger than the OEM crossbars, gives you more space to work with, and is low profile. Before this, I had the Yakima basket and it’s exactly that; a basket to carry things. I feel like more companies are gearing towards modular rack systems when they make their products, so I knew it would be beneficial to have one. Plus, it looks freakin’ awesome.
Cali Raised 42″ Light Bar: Need. more. light. This helps out tremendously with lighting the road in front of you on the trails. The ditch lights and headlights alone just weren’t cutting it for me.
Outer Tents Destin Rooftop Tent: Camping game changer for me and my wife. 100% recommend if you can get your hands on one. We just got tired of flattening the ground, folding up the dirty tent footprint, and sleeping on pads. The floor was never level enough to sleep on, just really killing our sleep quality. I found it way easier to level out the car with the tent on top. It’s a solid, flat surface with a mattress pad so it’s like a home away from home for us!
Outer tents Awning: I love me some shade
RNO Fabrications Side Mount Kit for the Rotopax: People have really been blowing me up about this thing! It’s a great solution for storing the Rotopax. The tent takes up 90% of the rack, so having somewhere to mount it came in clutch

I think it's also really important to remind people about safety and recovery gear. A fun day in the forest can become a serious situation real fast if you're not prepared with basic equipment. I'd love to see more people spend their first mod dollars on safety items before spending $1000's on suspension upgrades. What kind of gear do you keep with you for the average trail run?

Agreed! I’m usually trailing solo, so I can’t really depend on other cars for help. Knowing that you have the tools to get you out of a sticky situation definitely gives you more confidence out there. Also, knowing your limitations and driving ability will help keep you from needing recovery. Since I’m alone, I have to pass on a lot of obstacles if there’s even a slight chance of me needing to be pulled out.

  • Air compressor, tire repair kit, extra valve stems, etc.
  • Stock car jack + the extender from LP Aventure to make up for the lift.
  • Shackles and tow straps
  • Traction boards
  • Wrench set
  • Flashlight
  • Portable Battery
  • NOCO Boost battery jumper
  • Full Sized Spare – Awesome thing about the ONYX XT is that it comes with a full sized spare so you can fit a 5th wheel in there and not have to carry it on the roof or the hitch. If you have bigger tires, you’ll have to deflate it pretty low, so make sure you have a compressor handy too!

Speaking of safety gear, what kind of skid plates did you get? I see you've got a Primitive up front. Did you do any CVT protection or rear diff guard?

Heck yeah I have the CVT and Read Diff guards! Those are the parts that scare me most when trailing. Just spend the extra money and get the full set so you know you’re covered!

If you found this article helpful, please check out Jay’s Instagram and show some support with a follow!

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Check out the build on Instagram @outn_back