I am moving to the Santa Fe NM area and want the best car for long drives and rough country roads. Probably not off-road but even back roads can get rocky and slippery muddy. Do Subarus have a higher undercarriage than most? How do I find those details?
The “Outback” models from Subaru have greater ground clearance than most comparable vehicles, and their all wheel drive system gives them very good traction in less than ideal conditions. They are NOT meant for heavy-duty off-road conditions, however, as the owner’s manual clearly states.
You can get lots of information from Subaru.com
I think one reason is that Subaru perpetuates this image of being environmentally friendly. Santa Fe, and Taos, are essentially “artiste” communities with a high number of what you might call “tree huggers” who think they’re doing the right thing by driving a Subaru. I’ve visited both places; and no thank you for a return.
There are many other vehicles out there with better ground clearance than a Subaru if that is an issue. Subaru is actually kind of low slung in comparison to some.
The current 2005+ Outback has more ground clearance(8.4 - 8.7") which is slightly more than a Jeep Grand Cherokee and Ford Explorer. Realistically its on par with mid-size SUV’s.
Its not intended for heavy off road use but Subaru’s work quite well on rough, muddy, and washed roads that are otherwise in decent shape the rest of the year.
There are some places in the Sangre de Cristos that are only accessible if you have higher ground clearance than a standard car. At the same time, Santa Fe tends to be a bit more laid back about projecting a macho image, so residents of that fair city probably figure they don’t need a truck (aka “compensation device”) to do the job a car will do just fine.