Subaru’s Incline Assist Feature: A Comprehensive History

Key takeaways:

  • Subaru’s incline assist feature was first introduced on the Forester in 2008.
  • The feature helps prevent rolling back on steep hills by automatically applying the brakes.
  • Over time, Subaru has improved and expanded the incline assist feature to include more models and added features.

Subaru is known for its innovative safety features, and one of its most useful features is the incline assist system. This feature helps drivers on steep hills by preventing the vehicle from rolling back when starting from a stop. But when did Subaru first introduce this feature? In this article, we’ll explore the history of Subaru’s incline assist feature, from its beginnings to its current state.

The Early Years

Subaru first introduced its incline assist feature on the Forester model in 2008. This early version of the feature was designed to help drivers start from a stop on steep hills without rolling back. The system worked by using the car’s brakes to hold the vehicle in place for a short period after the driver released the brake pedal.

🔍 Fun Fact: The incline assist feature was not unique to Subaru at the time. Other automakers, such as Toyota and Honda, had similar features on their vehicles.

The early version of the incline assist feature was well-received by drivers and reviewers, and it quickly became a popular selling point for the Forester. However, the feature was not yet available on other Subaru models.

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Expansion and Improvement

Subaru continued to refine and improve the incline assist feature over the years, adding it to other models and enhancing its functionality. In 2010, the feature was added to the Legacy and Outback models. By 2012, the feature had been upgraded to include a hill holder function, which maintained the vehicle’s position on a hill for a longer period of time.

🔍 Fun Fact: The hill holder function was actually a feature that Subaru had offered since the 1960s, but it was integrated into the incline assist system to make it more effective.

In 2014, Subaru introduced an updated version of the incline assist feature on the XV Crosstrek model. This new version included a hill start assist function, which held the vehicle in place for up to two seconds after the driver released the brake pedal. This gave drivers more time to move their foot from the brake pedal to the accelerator pedal without the vehicle rolling back.

Subaru continued to expand the incline assist feature to more models over time, including the Impreza and WRX. By 2017, the feature was available on nearly every Subaru model sold in the United States.

How Incline Assist Works

So, how does the incline assist feature actually work? When a driver stops on a hill and releases the brake pedal, the vehicle will typically roll backwards as gravity takes over. However, with incline assist, the vehicle’s brakes are automatically engaged to hold the vehicle in place for a short period of time. This prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards and gives the driver time to move their foot from the brake pedal to the accelerator pedal.

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The incline assist feature is particularly useful for drivers in hilly or mountainous areas, where steep inclines are common. It can also be helpful for drivers who are not used to driving manual transmission vehicles, as it can be more difficult to prevent rolling back on hills with a manual transmission.

Future Developments

As of 2021, the incline assist feature is a standard feature on nearly all Subaru models sold in the United States. However, Subaru is known for its commitment to innovation and safety, so it’s possible that we may see further improvements or additions to the incline assist feature in the future.

🔍 Fun Fact: Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist technology, which includes features like adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning, can work in conjunction with the incline assist feature to provide even greater safety benefits for drivers.


Subaru’s incline assist feature has come a long way since its introduction on the Forester in 2008. From its early days as a simple brake hold function to its current form as a comprehensive hill start assist system, the feature has helped drivers on steep hills and made driving safer and easier for many people.

Whether you’re a Subaru owner or just interested in innovative automotive technology, the incline assist feature is definitely worth learning more about. And with Subaru’s commitment to safety and innovation, it’s likely that we’ll see even more exciting developments in the years to come.


Q: Is incline assist the same as hill start assist?

A: Yes, incline assist and hill start assist are the same thing. They both refer to a feature that helps prevent a vehicle from rolling backwards on a hill when starting from a stop.

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Q: Do all Subaru models have incline assist?

A: As of 2021, nearly all Subaru models sold in the United States come standard with incline assist. Check with your local Subaru dealer to find out if a specific model has the feature.

Q: Can incline assist be turned off?

A: Yes, incline assist can typically be turned off by the driver. Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for instructions on how to do this. However, it’s generally recommended that the feature be left on for safety reasons.

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Alton Brobst

As a longtime Subaru enthusiast, Alton brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our blog. From his early days of tinkering with engines to his current role as a certified Subaru technician, Alton has seen it all when it comes to Subarus. When he's not working on cars, he enjoys hiking and exploring the great outdoors.

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