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Subaru’s 3 Hot Wilderness Trims Are Far From Equal And Which Is The Best For You

Are you ready for a Subaru Wilderness vehicle? Then, check out the three Wilderness family of outdoor-themed models and see if there's one for you.

Subaru has a hat trick (three consecutive successes of the same kind within a limited period) with the outdoor-themed Wilderness models. But the 2024 Outback, 2023 Forester, and 2024 Crosstrek Wilderness trims are significantly different, and if you are ready to get further off the grid, which model is the best for you?

According to a recent Automotive News report (by subscription), the Wilderness package has been an undeniable success for Subaru. The Outback and Forester Wilderness account for just under 20 percent of the 2023 Outback and 2023 Forester sales volumes.

The 3 Subaru Wilderness models

And the rugged SUVs are attracting new customers to the brand who seek to go deeper into the woods, mountains, or desert. So now, Subaru has the hat trick customers have waited for; the Crosstrek Wilderness arrives this fall for outdoor enthusiasts.

It started with the Outback Wilderness, one of the hottest models in Subaru of America's all-wheel-drive lineup. The outdoor-themed Outback was the first Wilderness trim level introduced in 2020, followed by Forester Wilderness two years later in 2022. New for the 2024 model year is the new Crosstrek Wilderness trim level for outdoor enthusiasts.

Which Wilderness model is the best for you?

2024 Subaru Outback Wilderness

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. In addition, the Outback has an almost half-inch advantage over Forester's 9.2 inches. The Crosstrek Wilderness has 9.3 inches of rock-clearing ground clearance.

They offer additional body cladding and under-armor protection with front skid plates, an anti-glare hood decal, and hex-design LED fog lights. In addition, they are available in Geyser Blue exterior paint. They also have Yokohama Geoplander all-terrain tires for optimal mud, gravel, or snow performance, and they come wrapped around 17-inch alloy wheels in a matte-black finish.

They all feature the advanced dual-function X-Mode that allows the outdoor-themed SUVs 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 drivers navigate off-road terrain.

The big difference is in the powertrains.

2023 Subaru Forester Wilderness

A significant difference between Outback Wilderness and Forester and Crosstrek 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.

Forester Wilderness is powered by a 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated Boxer engine producing 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque. The Crosstrek Wilderness gets the re-tuned 2.5-liter normally-aspirated Boxer engine producing 182 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque.

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 and features standard trailer stability assist.

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness

Maximum towing capacity for the Crosstrek Wilderness more than doubles from the standard model to 3,500 lb. "thanks to the addition of a transmission oil cooler," says Subaru.

Do you want a heated steering wheel?

If you want a 360-degree heated steering wheel you'll need to buy the 2024 Outback Wilderness. The Forester and Crosstrek Wilderness trims do not offer a heated steering wheel option.

What is the price of the 2024 Subaru Outback Wilderness?

The 2024 Outback Wilderness is priced at $41,255, including destination and delivery fees. That's $6,010 more than Forester Wilderness and $7,965 more than Crosstrek Wilderness, but its upgrades are worth the extra cost if you need more power.

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 2024 Crosstrek Wilderness?

The 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness will be the most expensive Crosstrek trim level. The all-new Crosstrek Wilderness costs $33,290, including dealer destination and delivery fees.

Which Subaru Wilderness is the best?

All three Wilderness trim levels are capable all-terrain vehicles for getting further off the grid. The 2023 Outback Wilderness offers more power but comes with a cost premium.

Forester Vs. Crosstrek Wilderness

The 2023 Forester and 2024 Crosstrek Wilderness are closer in price, but the Crosstrek will tow more, has a bit more ground clearance, and it's $1,955 less in cost. We would pick the Crosstrek Wilderness over the Forester for its excellent value proposition. But you'll have to wait until fall to get one.

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