With Subaru already in the top tier for resale value, reliability and safety, the brand has added a 2022 Wilderness Outback with new exterior/interior styling at a competitive price while ramping up off-road prowess.
The mid-size Outback was redesigned in 2020 winning several awards including top safety pick, best resale value, number one in customer satisfaction and number one in brand loyalty. Subaru claims 97% of vehicles sold in the last ten years are still on the road. Outback is currently the brand’s best-seller.
There are four turbo-charged Outback trims, all with symmetrical all-wheel drive – Onyx Edition XT, Outback Wilderness, Limited XT and Touring XT. Wilderness was added as an off-road specialist.
Our $38,120 test-drive had no options and was armed with an array of off-road features – upgraded suspension, dual-function X-MODE, front skid plate, all-terrain tires, slightly increased tracking, front view monitor, a higher 9.5-inch ground clearance and improved approach/departure/ramp breakover angles.
The Wilderness was designed to conquer dirt, sand, snow, mud, gravel and has water-proof upholstery for water fording estimated at about 1.5 feet deep.
It hugs curves, oozes confidence on icy roads and adjusts torque, wheel spin and power as needed on and off-road.
Wilderness is a little taller, wider, with a higher cargo lift over and a fixed-ladder roof rack for camping gear. Exterior Anodized Copper-finish accents, a unique grille and specific front and rear bumpers, easily identify it.
It has a composed on-road presence, helped by the improved suspension, with some road humming from the Yokohama all-terrain 17-inch tires.
We noticed a jerky stop/start which is disconcerting but can be turned off or kept on for an extra mpg. We averaged 26.5 mpg on an extended Interstate trip, experiencing the engine muscle when needed. Towing capacity is 3,500 pounds.
Handling was solid with Active Torque Vectoring and Vehicle Dynamics Control.
Subaru’s vaunted Eyesight safety features are cutting-edge, although adaptive cruise control settings for single mph increments can be tricky. Lane alerts and centering worked well.
Inside, StarTex simulated leather covered front and outboard rear heated/cooled seats, Anodized copper accents were used again along with cooper stitching to showcase a spacious cabin with nice fit and finish.
An 11.6-inch SUBARU STARLINK™ multi-media colored dashboard touchscreen is very busy with icons, however, it has a very easy voice interface and can also be accessed by touch for additional information and functional drilldowns. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard.
Rear seats recline and fold flat to create commodious cargo space above a full-size spare tire.
At a Glance
LIKES: Safety features, power, ride, versatility, reliability, off-road prowess
DISLIKES: Jerky stop/start, road thrum, navigation system is optional
BOTTOM LINE: There are reasons Outback wins industry plaudits
Fact File: Suburu Outback Wildweness
2.4-liter, 4-cylinder boxer, DOHC, turbo-charged
260 hp at 5,600 rpm
277 lbs.-ft. at 2,000-4,800 rpm
High torque, continuous variable Lineatronic®, paddle shifters
22 mpg city/26 mpg highway
18.5-gallon tank, regular
0-60 in just over 6 seconds
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Tom Crosby has written more than 1,000 automotive reviews and is a retired Vice President of Communications for AAA Carolinas. He has seen dramatic changes in the automotive industry over the past 25 years and ponders the advent of self-driving vehicles, electric-only vehicles, sophisticated in-car telematics, and the financial challenges facing automotive manufacturers in an increasingly congested worldwide market.