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Head To Head Subaru Forester Wilderness Vs. Outback Wilderness - The Winner Is Clear

The 2023 Subaru Forester Wilderness and 2023 Subaru Outback Wilderness are the automaker's best models for outdoor enthusiasts. Which one is the best for off-road adventures getting further off the grid? There is a clear winner.

The 2023 Subaru Forester Wilderness and the 2023 Subaru Outback Wilderness are Subaru of America's two rugged off-road all-wheel-drive vehicles built for more extreme outdoor adventures. Both have the equipment for outdoor enthusiasts to get further off the grid than the standard Forester and Outback SUVs. Which is the best Wilderness trim for getting further away from civilization?

We'll compare the 2023 Forester Wilderness Vs. 2023 Outback Wilderness and see which all-wheel-drive vehicle is the best for outdoor adventures. There is a clear winner. Check out the differences, and you decide.

2023 Subaru Outback Wilderness vs 2023 Forester Wilderness

The 2023 Outback Wilderness is one of the hottest models in Subaru of America's all-wheel-drive lineup. The Outback is outselling the Forester by a large margin. Check out the reasons why below.

Ground clearance

The Outback Wilderness will handle more challenging trails with 9.5 inches of ground clearance, a nearly one-inch increase over the standard model's 8.7 inches. The Outback has an almost half-inch advantage over the Forester.

The Forester Wilderness comes with 9.2 inches of ground clearance, a half-inch increase over the other Forester models. It has longer coil springs, shock absorbers, and unique tuning for ride and handling performance.

We asked Subaru for an explanation why the Forester compact SUV has less clearance than the Outback midsize SUV. A company spokesman told us there are several factors why Forester has less ground clearance. The Forester is taller and has a shorter wheelbase, affecting the ride height, including ride quality, handling, comfort, and rollover dynamics. The Outback has a longer wheelbase, allowing it to have additional ground clearance.

The extra clearance gives the Outback an advantage and will handle more extreme terrain. Approach angles on the Outback Wilderness have been extended from 18.6 to 20.0, ramp break-over angle shifts from 19.4 degrees to 21.2 degrees, and the departure angle increases from 21.7 to 23.6 degrees.

Subaru did not announce the approach and break-over angles on the Forester Wilderness, but they would be considerably less than the Outback. The additional ground clearance in the Outback Wilderness allows the break-over angle to make a drop without squashing the rocker panels and leaving your exhaust system behind.

Advanced dual-function X-Mode vs. standard X-Mode

The Outback Wilderness features the advanced dual-function X-Mode that allows the midsize SUV to switch automatically from low-speed managed driving to speeds over 25 mph without interruption of power or performance. The X-Mode display also features a new roll-angle indicator to help the driver navigate off-road terrain. The 2023 Forester Wilderness also features dual-function X-Mode like the Outback.

Safety scores

The 2023 Outback Wilderness and 2023 Forester Wilderness earned the highest Top Safety Pick+ score from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). However, the Forester earned a lower "Acceptable" score in the newly updated side impact crash test, and Outback earned the highest "Good" rating in the same test. Advantage Outback.

Outback has more horsepower and torque

A significant difference between Outback and Forester Wilderness trims is their engines. Outback Wilderness is powered by a 2.4-liter turbocharged Boxer engine producing 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque.

Outdoor enthusiasts were disappointed Forester Wilderness did not get the FA24 2.4-liter turbocharged engine upgrade. Forester Wilderness is powered by a 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated Boxer engine producing 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque. It's a big difference between the two rugged SUVs and gives the Outback Wilderness a distinct advantage.

When carrying extra outdoor gear over a high mountain pass, the Outback Wilderness has the extra power needed. The Outback Wilderness also has added towing capacity.

Outback Wilderness towing capacity

The Outback Wilderness will tow up to 3,500 lbs. vs. 2,700 lbs for the Outback with the 2.5-liter engine.

The 2023 Forester Wilderness comes with a 3,000-lb. towing capacity (vs. 1,500 for the standard model) and features standard trailer stability assist. The additional tow rating will now allow customers with active lifestyles to pull a small boat or camper. The Outback has a 500 lb. advantage over Forester Wilderness.

Cost and fuel mileage

The Forester Wilderness has two advantages over the Outback Wilderness. It has a lower price and gets better fuel mileage.

What is the price of the 2023 Subaru Forester Wilderness?

The 2023 Forester Wilderness has a lower starting price than the 2023 Outback Wilderness, starting at $35,245, including destination and delivery fees.

What is the price of the 2023 Subaru Outback Wilderness?

The Outback Wilderness is priced at $39,670, including destination and delivery fees. That's $4,425 more than Forester, but its upgrades are worth the extra cost.

What is the fuel mileage of the 2023 Forester Wilderness?

The 2023 Forester Wilderness gets better fuel mileage. The EPA rated the Forester Wilderness with an estimated 25/28 city/highway mpg and 26 combined mpg. The standard Forester gets 26/33 city/highway mpg and 29 combined mpg.

What is the fuel mileage of the 2023 Outback Wilderness?

The EPA says the 2023 Outback Wilderness gets an EPA-estimated 21/26 city/highway mpg and 23 combined mpg. The Outback XT with the 2.4-liter turbocharged engine gets an estimated 22/29 city/highway mpg and 25 combined mpg.

The Outback has additional ground clearance, more horsepower power and torque, a better side-impact safety score, and additional towing capacity for outdoor enthusiasts who want to get further off the grid. The Outback Wilderness is the more capable model to handle extreme off-road terrain. Besides cost and fuel mileage, the 2023 Subaru Outback Wilderness is the clear winner over the 2023 Subaru Forester Wilderness.

Which rugged Wilderness model would you choose if you could buy one this year?

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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report, where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Photo credit: Subaru USA


Greg (not verified)    January 5, 2023 - 1:00AM

Actually the Forester has better ramp and departure angles than the outback.
The Forester is narrower and has a shorter wheelbase, which is advantageous in most offroad settings.
You sit more upright, like an SUV in the Forester.
Visibility is much better in the Forester.
Some don't like a turbocharged motor because of frequency and cost of repairs.
The Forester is made in Japan!

Mark Bickel (not verified)    February 2, 2023 - 11:03PM

In reply to by Greg (not verified)

Advantages for Forester Wilderness over Outback: Wilderness: tighter turning radius; steeper approach angle; slightly narrower better for narrow offroad paths;;more glass = improved visibility, zero blind spots; lower price by several thousand $; lower TCO due to less maintenance compared to expensive Turbo engine, also made in Japan (it's actually a plus compared to Ascent and Outback made in Indiana plant).

Empathy (not verified)    January 6, 2023 - 12:01AM

I have a 2022 Subaru Wilderness Forester and I absolutely love it! I have to admit that I went from a 2003 Honda Odyssey to my Subaru. But I spent 2 years researching my new vehicle choice. We keep our vehicles for life. Still have my Honda! My 16 yr old drives it. I put off buying my new Forester vehicle due to COVID. But once I discovered the Wilderness Edition. I made the jump. Granted it was the absolute worst vehicle buying experience of my 44 years of life. I "custom" built my vehicle online, took the paperwork to my "local" dealership, 60 miles away, put down my deposit and waited.... From Feb 2022 to Aug 27th 2022 for it to arrive! Paid full MSRP (extremely painful) and added every available upgrade. But, I LOVE this vehicle. I got the Autumn Green so her name is Zelená. And I can honestly say the safety features in my Subaru Wilderness have been worth every single penny. I had to make 2 14 hr drives to another state for family reasons and made the drives straight through. Zelená has kept me safe on ice, snow, mountains, highway construction, everything thrown at me. I'm glad I waited for the Wilderness edition. I had the tow hitch installed by Subaru as well. All around, excellent vehicle. However, I average 23.4mpg tops! Still, wouldn't trade her for anything!

Mark Bickel (not verified)    February 2, 2023 - 11:07PM

In reply to by Salinas (not verified)

forester made exclusively in Japan (for all markets) note VIN starts with J, outback made in Indiana US, for the North American markets, Vin starts with 4 (a USA identifier).

Collin (not verified)    January 7, 2023 - 7:18PM

I currently drive a 5spd manual Forester (Subaru #4). I won't consider another Subaru as long as it comes with a CVT.

Subunoway (not verified)    January 7, 2023 - 11:20PM

Each of these sh!tboxes have 1 feature that breaks the deal.. the originally made for Nissan cvt .NO THANKS. 6MT or nothing.