Navigating the world using the expansive screen on the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness

The big portrait screen on the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness is a wonder to behold. While many modern cars offer a big screen, it is often in landscape orientation. The Crosstrek offers a large portrait screen that makes it easier to perform any tasks.

One of them I wondered about right away, because I was late to a meeting. I almost always connect my phone and use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto (if I’m reviewing an Android phone) so I was really curious how Subaru would handle those interfaces in a portrait mode screen.

Fortunately, CarPlay looked perfect in portrait mode, even though I’m used to seeing it in landscape. Buttons were situated on the bottom of the screen, and the great discovery is that navigation works really well in this mode.

I punched in the address for the lunch place I was heading to, and within a few minutes I was watching the nav directions. As usual, I looked for the estimation of how long it would take and realized the whole screen was easier to see — including the directional arrows, the estimations on miles and time, and even the big arrow on the upper left that shows which direction to run.

Because the 11.6-inch screen is so crisp, I found I could glance at the display and get my bearings easier than other vehicles that use a landscape display. That’s because the entire top of the screen in the Crosstrek shows the map only, with the buttons below.

I decided to test out a few other destinations during my test period. Instead of pulling over and typing in the directions manually, I used Siri — you press and hold on the lower left button to activate the bot. I asked about a pizza restaurant by my house and checked the results. Perfect, I found one in a few minutes and started heading there. 

The wilderness version of the Crosstrek is beefy and ready for any terrain, so I veered off my route and headed to a road I knew would be muddy and wet from a previous storm. Once again, glancing at the screen is easier given the size and layout, and I focused on the road as I plowed through about three inches of raw mud.

Every app I used on the larger screen looked awesome — podcasts were easier to flip through, since more of them were listed at once on the screen. I also noticed the row of icons was easier to see using the portrait orientation, showing 12 of them at a time. It was interesting because I don’t remember ever seeing the Amazon Audible app on previous tests recently, probably because it’s always on the next screen over.

That meant I was more likely to use some of my favorite apps in the car, since I could see them so easily. And, honestly, we tend to interact with the things right in front of us. On a commute in the morning, I used Audible more because it was right there on the screen.

Screens are getting bigger in cars, and a few other models — especially from RAM Trucks — do offer a portrait orientation for the display — but I like how bright and clear the screen looks in the 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness. It was a joy to use on my muddy journeys.