Subaru adds a new 2022 Wilderness trim to its mid-size Forester SUV, giving buyers a choice between the Subaru Wilderness Outback or the Forester for vehicles capable of off-road rumbles and camping adventures.
Even though surveys show only one in six buyers will take their Forester off-road, Wilderness is outfitted to conquer challenges with off-road and bad weather gearing, an increased ground clearance to 9.2-inches; improved approach, departure and ramp breakover angles, and 3,000 pounds of towing muscle for boats, trailers, etc.
Adding to off-road encouragement is an upgraded suspension, wider roof rails capable of holding 220 pounds while underway, water-resistant upholstery, a front view monitor with a 180-degree view and a skid plate under the engine.
Subaru advertises 90% of its vehicles are still on the road after 10-year’s ownership and now has three competing, popular SUVs – mid-size Outback, compact Forester and subcompact Crosstrek – each sold more than 127,000 units last year.
Our test drive 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness (one of six trims) added the option package for $1,850 including STARLINK’s navigation, Harmon Kardon audio, power liftgate, 8-inch screen with multimedia content and smartphone connectivity – enhancing cabin technology and comfort.
Subaru SUVS consistently maintain high resale value, according to Kelly Blue Book.
Wilderness comes with 17-inch all-terrain tires (and a full-size spare), rugged plastic cladding and three exceptional drive modes – snow/dirt, deep/snow/mud and Xmode for hill-descent control under 25 mph.
All Foresters now use a 2.5-liter boxer engine with continuous variable transmission that isn’t as muscular as the previously optional 2.0-liter turbo-charged engine. The trade-off: more miles per gallon and 400 miles driving range.
Wilderness off-road prowess translates to a good ride on macadam with an improved suspension, Subaru’s vaunted all-wheel-drive system with torque vectoring for responsive and sure-footed handling, an impressive array of driver-safety aids with fourth-generation standard Eye-Sight technology and driver visibility.
There is remote start. A stop-start feature to improve gas mileage is clunky but can be shut off.
Inside, the cabin’s classy and roomy, seating six-footers easily front and back. Comfort and functionality blend with StarTex cooper-colored stitched upholstery mimicking stylish accents found inside and outside the vehicle.
Fit and finish is excellent, the STARLINK 8-inch touchscreen is loaded with technology, smart-phone app access and drill down information. There are knobs for radio and climate (the most used items), cabin cubbies and an automatic lift-gate to the large cargo area with hidden storage trays.
At a Glance
LIKES: Reliability, versatility, spacious cabin, ride, off-road prowess, visibility
DISLIKES: Perceptible stop/start, poor acceleration power, minor wind noise
BOTTOM LINE: Safety, reliability and performance make it a top-notch compact SUV
Fact File: Suburu Forester Wilderness
2.5-liter, DOHC, 4-cylinder, Boxer
182-hp at 5,800 rpm
176 lbs.-ft. at 4,400 rpm
Continuous variable transmission (8 gears/manual paddles)
25 mpg city and 28 mpg highway
16.6-gallon tank, regular
0-60 in just over 8 seconds
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.