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Will The New Subaru Forester Wilderness Be Wild? Why It Needs A Turbo

Subaru of America will launch an all-new 2022 Subaru Forester and Outback Wilderness edition models this year, but how wild will they be? See why Subaru will miss if they don't bring a Forester turbocharged Wilderness model.

Subaru of America asked for more rugged Forester and Outback models, and U.S. customers will get them in 2021. Torque News reported on the new Wilderness models last November, and further information surfaced earlier this month.

Automotive News (by subscription) reported Subaru told retailers about the new Wilderness branding that will launch with the 2022 Subaru Forester and Outback models at its winter meetings. Patrick Wergin, chairman of the Subaru National Retailer Advisory Board, told AN, the new Wilderness models will feature a "rugged appearance package and better tires for off-road pursuits."

2022 Subaru Forester, Subaru Forester Wilderness
Photo credit: Competition Subaru

The 2.4-liter turbocharged Boxer engine will likely power the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness, but what about the 2022 Forester Wilderness? The current Forester comes with the 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated powerplant. What the new Forester needs are a turbocharged engine to be wild enough for U.S. customers.

A new report from Motoring says the Australian-specification 2022 Forester will not be turbocharged. When asked whether a turbocharged Forester would return to the lineup, Subaru general manager Blair Read said no, "Not at this point." Australia will not get the Forester Wilderness models, at least not this year, as they will come to the U.S. market first.

2022 Subaru Forester, Subaru Forester Wilderness
Photo credit: LP Aventure

The new Wilderness trim will be more than an appearance package. "The Wilderness is going to give additional capabilities in those car lines, additional style, and the look of off-roading to a greater degree than we have right now," said Wally Sommer, president of Sommer's Subaru in Mequon, Wisconsin. "It does fit the Subaru character perfectly."

Wergin says, "We're hoping the Wilderness edition will attract consumers that are active lifestyle families and that do like to go out and maybe do a little bit more off-roading. We're excited about the opportunity to have this vehicle capture new clients in the segment."

Sommer says, "People are going to be very pleased with the product when they see it." Subaru of America will make the official Forester and Outback Wilderness model announcement soon. If the new 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness will be successful with an active generation, Subaru needs to offer the 2.4-liter turbocharged engine. Stay tuned.

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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: LP Aventure


Tim Whynot (not verified)    February 23, 2021 - 2:12PM

Agree that a turbo is needed but one that boosts both mileage and power would be preferred by more Subaru customers than one that only boosts power and sacrifices mileage. The 1.8 litre turbo with over 220 lb ft of torque would fit the bill very well.

JEREMY Shawn MOORE (not verified)    February 23, 2021 - 10:15PM

I hope there's a turbo. But I'd prefer a 6-8sp automatic over a turbo IF both aren't on the table. At minimum, I'm hoping it's geared lower for offroading

Thomas Bialzik (not verified)    April 18, 2021 - 11:10AM

In reply to by JEREMY Shawn MOORE (not verified)

The double Xmode found in the new Widerness edition Outback gives you a perfect setup of control off road. It holds speed control down hills automatically based on your throttle foot input so you don't need to brake to hold speed down inclines. It also allows higher rpm/ground speed as you "crawl" through the unknown.

Bernie (not verified)    February 23, 2021 - 10:39PM

Subaru needs to go back to having large side glass. With those cutesy windows, you can only view wildlife well from the windshield. The wildlife does not always cooperate.

Keil Miller Jr (not verified)    February 24, 2021 - 12:17AM

I just bought a new 2021 Forester. I get 28.5mpg and still increasing after almost 4,000 miles in one month of ownership. I love turbos. Forester isn't a race car. If it's more reliable as is, leave it. It's a great family car. Will likely do a 2" lift and add a tow hitch for bicycle rack. How about making bicycle rack and gps standard options?! Necessities for adventurous families. Android auto is unreliable with connectivity. Maybe it's my phone. However, I would have paid more for a model with built in gps.

Glen Abrahamson (not verified)    February 24, 2021 - 10:53AM

In reply to by Keil Miller Jr (not verified)

Did the lift kit on my 2011 Forester. Looked good and helped in deep snow, but ate half shafts. After 3 sets of front shafts pulled the lift kit.

Not fond of the CVT transmission in my 2017 Forester either. Actually rather have a manual. Once spring rolls around I average around 1000 miles per week.

Mike Calloway (not verified)    February 27, 2023 - 11:25PM

In reply to by Keil Miller Jr (not verified)

You are getting 28mpg in a naturally aspirated 4cyl forester? I have a 2023 Forester Wilderness and even with the advanced cruise control and steering assist on the highway I get around 27. In town, 22 at the very best with a performance chip to jncrease mpg as it was about 19 to 20mpg. I do live in the 6th largest city in our nation and at times spend an hour of gas going maybe 10 miles in rush hour but I wonder how you are basing your assessment? Does the 2021 show you how many mpg from sensors and the odometer etc? Are you using 91oct fuel and averaging this over a full tank? I'm not near my manual but I don't think it lists the efficiency averages that high. It (I believe) it was 23/28 highway with the same boxer engine.The ODB2 Chipset I bought and installed definitely changed the entire powet curve from the start up to fast highway speeds. It's like a completely different car.i bought it with absolute real expectation perimeters for just mostly info to the ecu changing mostly fuel to air mixture and a little bit higher rpm settings before each higher gear with again... A really nice and very quick pedal response time shave and very noticeable power where cars usually flatten out on the dyno (regular commuting cars) at around the 65 to 70mph area all the way to (I won't say) but it now comes alive through all 8 gears. Well good for you if you're really getting 28.5 mpg because you're averaging 48,000 miles per year!? 4000 in a month and you've gone to fill it up about 14 times. Where the heck did you go?, I drove from Tucson to Manhatten NY one spring break and that isn't even 4k.
The Blue tooth is standard on wildnerness models. You don't mention what model you drive. There are 7 different models of Foresters that are quite a lot different from one end to the other with them..
Also (and I'm just curios as i bought this new about 2 months ago and one thing that sticks out that makes me double take every time I see another one like mine is the very undersized wheel and tire combined sizes on all. They look shockingly too small and sit inside the wheel wells with so much space that it looks almost like 4 spare tires that are larger than a doughnut tire but under privileged so to speak. They read 235/60/r17 on a 4wd suv with 9 2" clearance because they're using those Yokohama cheap priced no tread pattern worth a darn on street and definitely off road. And it is why Subaru is offering the free tire replacements for longer than any other suv in their basic warranty package.
This is what I got confused for about you putting a 2inch lift in your 2021 forester? A body lift gives you no more clearance at all and the tires are imho verrry undersized even for the size listed on them.

I immediately put them in storage as they are dangerous in my opinion on faster highway speeds that have multiple curves with a speed suggested reduction of 10mph. I had the steering assist on (amazing feature) and those tires at 38lbs each rolled enough under to feel not grabbing well making the truck bare most of the force and leaning...
Enough of that. Got back from the little 2 day excursion to test all the 4wd settings
and have 235/65/17 BFG All Terrain new KO2 type tires. Night and day difference. Like a Cadillac compared to those others, not loud even though it's much more aggressive tread that is all over the side walls as well and went from 0 to TEN PLY safest wheels and no need to say what they do for off road with bfg A.T. Ko2s..
No need for a lift You couldn't fit a tire that requires a real suspension lift because the front and back fenders on these SUV class would rub and you would have to cut and retrofit a larger wheel well. The ones I have are the limit and will not rub despite very aggressive off road driving in some harsh AZ Sonoran desert turned deep mud from the 12" we got the morning I went with the new set up. Back home, had it completely detailed and can't believe I carved many of the same higher level 4x4 roads with it that I have taken my 350 hp raptor. Impressive technology in a little 4 cylinder that was fine for city but now much more capable with the chip after the engine fully cycled in about 150 miles.
I asked those questions to you because I don't know about the 2021 and what kind of Forester because there are around 7 with 2 for off road and some really nice touring edition Foresters...
I'm new to this site and appreciate any good advice or experiences people have had now that I'm a Subie.
Thanks for having me and I hope to add some part of value sharing my findings.
Mike V

Keil Miller Jr (not verified)    March 1, 2023 - 1:13AM

In reply to by Mike Calloway (not verified)

I am using 87 octane and the Subaru interface for fuel calculations. I haven't done it by hand. Mpg now sits at 30mpg. I just hit the 2 year anniversary of taking the car home a few weeks ago (Jan 20) and am at 65,000mi with it. Heavy 8" of snow last night and the car drove without issue. I have new barely used tires that are pretty good (Nokian Hakmapeliita R3 225/65r17). It made a difference. Within reason, I tried to take off quick and slip or cut the wheel. It was like driving on clean pavement. Obviously braking, any car will slip in the snow. Clearance slightly better and it doesn't rub. I'm pleased. Lift will have to wait. I'm broke.

Mike Calloway (not verified)    February 27, 2023 - 11:34PM

In reply to by Keil Miller Jr (not verified)

Just FYI. Didn't want to come across doubtful or sarcastic with the miles.i was blown away at the amount in a month and wouldn't personally want to put that on a new vehicle. The Tucson to NYC reference was just because I drove it non stop with a friend in 48.5 hours in the days of youth that would kill me now if I tried.

Listo (not verified)    February 24, 2021 - 10:42AM

I rather have a normal transmission over the crap as hell, elastic trash CVT and of course, a proper manual, stick shift transmission.
A turbo would work, but a turbo CVT is just a disaster.

Tim Whynot (not verified)    February 25, 2021 - 9:50AM

Besides a small turbo my wish list includes more clearance, skid plates, easy to clean seats (which it sounds like the Wilderness will deliver), a built in trailer hitch and more towing capacity. It certainly has all the ingredients of a great vehicle, just needs some fine tuning.

Robert S (not verified)    March 16, 2021 - 7:46PM

Several months ago I suggested a model with a rear window that opens separately
And removing the carpet and place heavy duty rubber mats . A wilderness model is meant to get dirty, so removing the carpets only makes sense.

Cesar Augusto … (not verified)    March 30, 2021 - 12:20PM

My wife's Forester XT does great in the mountains and just okay when we go camping because the CVT is just not cut out for low speed/rough trails.

I wish they would just source an 8-speed ZF transmission instead continuing to 'develop' their CVT. Or to others' points, a manual transmission option... can you imagine a turbo Forester with a WRX manual? Oh yes, like the old XT's!

Dave Webster (not verified)    May 19, 2021 - 2:39PM

Subaru, you want success like the current Bronco craze? Listen to your customers. Start with me. Haha Put the manual transmission in this Forester. I'll buy it. I promise.