Overlanding isn’t just the domain of Toyota Tacomas and Jeep Wranglers, in fact a huge contingent of adventurers has been pushing the limits of more affordable platforms for the better part of a decade now. The biggest knock on these car-based unibody CUVs has been the lack of a true lift solution. 

Sure, there have been ride-quality-diminishing lifting springs or spacer lifts that can mess with alignment and reduce wheel travel, but without many options, these have been the go-to for adding larger tires for increased ground clearance.

Suspension Solution

Enter Bilstein, one of the go-to names in aftermarket suspension. Understanding that this emerging market has been clamoring for a true suspension system, Bilstein engineers went to work and developed a new product line that offers many benefits beyond the typical spacer lift. 


Bilstein’s B8 TerraSport suspension upgrade is application-specific and on the Subaru Crosstrek, uses direct-replacement front struts and rear shocks

Dubbed the B8 TerraSport, these are direct-fit, bolt-on replacement struts and shocks that utilize the factory coil spring to keep the pricing affordable. Depending on the application, the longer bodies of the B8 TerraSport dampers, which are lengthened between the spring seat and mounting point, provide a 1-2-inch gain in ride height while improving ride quality in both daily on-road use, and on the trail. 


In this side-by-side view, the additional length of the Bilstien B8 TerraSport strut is apparent. Note that the 2-inches of additional length are incorporated between the spring seat and the bottom of the strut.

The B8 TerraSport system on the Crosstrek utilizes a front twin-tube strut that incorporates a large-for-the-category 36mm piston and has bottom mounting holes that have been repositioned to allow for alignment to factory specifications.


The Bilstein units include all of the same tabs as the factory unit, making the reattachment of brake lines and wires just like stock.

Anyone familiar with the popular Bilstein 5100 truck shocks will appreciate the monotube rear dampers that share technology with the 5100 series, including the 46mm piston. 

As with all Bilstein products, each application is tuned specifically for that vehicle and the B8 TerraSport’s standard digressive valving that starts with a stiffer rate at low speeds for a more stable feel and tapers off as the piston speed increases.

This allows you to have good on-road handling and feel, while allowing the vehicle to quickly respond to terrain changes, such as a speed bump or a rutted road. Other benefits include room for bigger tires and increased ground clearance.

Subject Vehicle

Bilstein offers the B8 TerraSport in many applications, including the popular Subaru Crosstrek. For this story we located a 2018 second-generation Crosstrek that has been adventuring on an aforementioned spacer lift.


With the Subaru off the rack, we remeasured ride height. It sat .55-inches prouder in the front, with the same ride height in the rear. Keep in mind this was with the existing spring, but without the need for spacers, since the height improvement was incorporated into the B8 TerraSport dampers.

This lift boosted the front 1.5 inches over stock in the front and more than two inches in the rear, with a 1 7/8-in spacer, paired with a 1/4-inch Rallitek high-capacity lift spring that helped to handle additional payload.


Here you can see the 1.5-inch spacer, which sits atop the strut, that gave the Crosstrek additional ride height.

This particular vehicle is no stranger to dirt roads as the owner regularly takes it on short camping trips and on extended overlanding trips with the additional weight of gear. However, due to some of the drawbacks of the spacer lift, he had been on the hunt for a better suspension lift solution, making this the perfect vehicle to illustrate what the B8 TerraSport could do for a more aggressive build.

Upgrading The Crosstrek

With the vehicle in hand, we headed down to Poway, California, to Bilstein’s facility, where we spent the day upgrading the Subaru Crosstrek from a spacer lift to the new B8 TerraSport setup.

In the front, we replaced the existing factory shocks with the B8 TerraSport units, replaced the old springs with factory spec springs, but tossing out the 1.5-in spacers.

004-OVR-Han-Bilstein-Subaru Crosstrek getting ready for the rack

We began our 2018 Subaru Crosstrek’s transformation by getting it on the hoist at Bilstein’s facility in Poway, California.


With the rear coilover on the bench, you can see the rear spacer installed. Like the front struts the spring is transferred from the factory damper to the Bilstein damper.

In the rear, the existing shocks were eschewed in favor of the B8 TerraSport units, but we kept the existing 1/4-inch-lift high-capacity spring, once again relegating the 1 7/8-in spacers to old Instagram posts. With the new parts installed, the vehicle was easily aligned back to factory specifications.


With the strut unbolted, it was removed from the vehicle as a complete unit.


To keep the price of the B8 TerraSport upgrade affordable, the existing springs are transferred from the old dampers to the new ones. Here you can see an assembled B8 TerraSport strut next to an assembled factory damper with a spacer installed.


Using a spring compressor, the existing springs were removed from the factory damper.


After assembly, which included the transferring of the shaft bump, boot, isolators, and spring, the Bilstein dampers were reinstalled onto the car.


Next, we turned our attention to the rear coilover shocks. While some applications will use struts at all four corners, the Crosstrek uses a shock, allowing Bilstein to package a true performance damper in the rear. These 46mm rear monotubes have a lot in common with the popular 5100 series off-road shock.

One nice surprise is that Bilstein’s vehicle-specific approach to applications means that each kit is a complete solution. For example, our Crosstrek was equipped with self-leveling headlights and Bilstein was thoughtful enough to include a bracket to ensure this feature worked as intended, even after the lift.


Bilstein includes an extended leveling sensor bracket to ensure the self-leveling headlights work just like they did at stock ride height.

019-OVR-Han-Bilstein-Subaru Crosstrek headlight adjusting bracket installed

Finishing off our install, all of the components were re-checked and torqued to spec and the headlight leveling sensor bracket was installed.


Removal of the rear coilover is straightforward. They use a bolt on the bottom mount and a threaded stem on the top.


Once the rear shocks had the existing coil loaded onto them, everything went back on the vehicle just like stock.

The Results

After the installation, we found an increase of .55-inch lift for the front, while the change to the rear was minimal. Remember, this vehicle was previously sitting on a 1 7/8-inch spacer and the 1/4-in high-capacity lift spring on the rear before the B8 TerraSport install. We also found improved steering wheel clearances at full lock as a result of improved steering geometry from the new parts.

005-OVR-Han-Bilstein Terrasport_ 2018 Crosstrek Front Left with puck causes rubbing and knocking 1

The owner of this Subaru Crosstrek reported a rubbing or knocking noise when off-road. With the vehicle on the lift, we quickly identified the possible issue as the spacer lift was allowing the sway bar to interfere with the tie rod at full droop and full lock on the steering wheel.


With the B8 TerraSport struts installed, you can see here that the tie rods no longer interfered with the sway bar.

If you’re interested in seeing an installation video of the B8 TerraSport on a first-generation Subaru Crosstrek, shot by Bilstein, click this link.


Before beginning our installation, we took measurements of the Crosstrek’s ride height so we could verify Bilstein’s claimes. 

Does It Deliver?

With the suspension installed, we pulled out of the Bilstein installation facility and immediately felt an improvement. We spent some time driving on-road and enjoying a noticeably enhanced driving experience, including a smoother ride. The owner remarked that his five-year-old Crosstrek was “smooth as butter” and “felt like a brand-new car,” with none of the shaking and vibration that had previously been sensed at higher speeds. 


After the installation, we found a huge improvement in drivability, both on- and off-road, without sacrificing the look of the lifted stance that provided room for bigger tires, increased ground clearance, and improved off-road performance.

Of course, we were anxious to experience the B8 TerraSport-equipped Crosstrek off-road, so we found a rutted fire road, damaged from recent storms, and pointed the Subaru down the uneven trail. The new suspension was clearly superior, absorbing hits way better, while feeling more compliant overall. Remarkably, the banging and roughness from the previous setup had all but disappeared off-road. In fact, the owner told us that the new suspension was a “night and day” difference over the previous setup.

If you are looking for a real suspension system that goes beyond harsh-riding springs swaps and inadequate spacers for your CUV, Bilstein currently has applications for 2015-2020 Jeep Renegades, 2013-2018 Toyota RAV4 models, and 2013-current Subaru Crosstrek, 2009-2013 Forester, and 2010-2019 Outback models, with future applications planned for the current-gen Toyota RAV4, Ford Bronco Sport and Maverick, Honda Passport, Kia Telluride, and additional Subaru vehicles. 

We are thrilled with the B8 Terrasport performance and we feel confident that this is the quality suspension upgrade for car-based overlanders that you’ve been waiting for. It is an upgrade that just plain works, and without unnecessarily lightening your wallet.