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With New Wilderness Brand Is Subaru Now Ahead Of The Off-Road Competition?

Subaru now has the 2022 Subaru Wilderness Outback, and 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness trims. Did the new Wilderness sub-brand move Subaru ahead of the off-road competition?

Are the all-new 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness and Forester Wilderness trim levels more than an appearance package? Subaru of America asked Subaru Corporate to build a new vehicle for its active outdoor customers because they modified their all-wheel-drive vehicles to go further off-road and away from civilization. Subaru answered with the Wilderness sub-brand.

When you think of going far off-road with an SUV, everyone thinks of Jeep. And now, many other mainstream car brands want in on the off-pavement action. Ford has the new Bronco, and Honda brings the new TrailSport off-road-focused trim level.

2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness, 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

Are the Subaru Wilderness off-road capabilities different than the standard Outback and Forester, or is the new Wilderness trim just an appearance package?

The Subaru brand has always attracted a different breed who do take their SUVs off-pavement. Before the Wilderness sub-brand arrived, Subaru dealers were getting into the modification business, offering customers off-road accessories and lift kits for more extreme adventures. But with the new Wilderness sub-brand models, they won’t need them.

2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness, 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

In addition to its Symmetrical all-wheel-drive, the Subaru Outback Wilderness adds dual-function X-Mode with an advanced feature. The new rugged Outback Wilderness’ new advanced X-Mode 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 steep off-road terrain.

The Outback and Forester Wilderness have revised CVT automatic transmission gear ratios, an oil cooler, and a revised final drive ratio. The upgrades allow the Wilderness models to trek further and tow more. Both Wilderness models feature an off-road-tuned suspension, increased ride height, Yokohama Geolandar all-terrain tires, an aluminum engine skid plate, and a steel rear differential skid plate.

They also come equipped with a front view camera and hexagonal LED fog lights providing improved visibility through obstructed intersections or on a narrow trail.

2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness, 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

The new Outback and Forester Wilderness aren’t your typical SUVs as they come with 9.5-inches and 9.2-inches of ground clearance, respectively, which no midsize or compact SUV competitor exceeds. The boxer engine sits low in the chassis with a lower center of gravity, giving the SUVs the ability to handle rough terrain. The Outback has a steep ramp break-over angle of 21.2 degrees and 23.6 degrees of departure angle.

Now, straight from the factory, the all-new 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness and 2022 Outback Wilderness trim levels offer additional off-road capability over the standard models and the competition. The Wilderness sub-brand is more than an appearance package designed for active customers who want to get further away from civilization.

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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


Annoyed (not verified)    January 29, 2022 - 7:12PM

"The Wilderness sub-brand is more than an appearance package designed for active customers who want to get further away from civilization."
The only thing that stands out is the height and some suspension changes. And tires? A skid plate?

Ok- so it's got some new stuff, but it's it meaningfully different such that _now_ you'll take it off road, as you would a Jeep?

Don't get me wrong- I own a 2018 Forester. But the new features and this article are underwhelming.

CK (not verified)    December 30, 2022 - 1:29AM

In reply to by Annoyed (not verified)

There's a lot on the whitepaper from subaru that this article and media isn't covering.

3.9 -> 4.4 final drive ratio
They took the VTD AWD system from the WRX and put it in the wild outback (2022-2023) instead of the ATS based system... which means it now has an electronically controlled mechanical center diff. This puts it on the playing field of the land cruiser prado/Lexus GX 460.
Then they put the 2.4L Turbo 4 banger out of the WRX and put it in the outback, and tuned it for 260hp/271 lb-ft of torque, and the improved x-mode system uses the bank angle sensor to swap to low-transfer gearing under 25mph.

It's a completely different drivetrain almost compared to the non-XT trims of the outback, and the forester gets NONE of those things.