2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness
Subaru has always stood out in any crowd. However, these popular all-wheel drive vehicles seemed to be missing something that would attract even more active lifestyle owners – ruggedness.
Not that the Outback wagon is rugged already. Subaru knew that more customers were looking at vehicles that were more capable and can go further afield.
That is why Subaru introduced the Wilderness line for the Outback and Forester. These enhanced vehicles were given more ground clearance, a skid plate underneath the engine, a set of all-terrain tires, more rugged surfaces, yellow or copper trim and badges that denote its ambition to get you closer to the summit of any mountain you want to climb.
To experience this new element of Subaru’s most popular vehicles, we drove the 2022 Forester Wilderness to find some adventure of our own.
By adding the Wilderness model, the Forester underwent a mid-cycle refresh. That meant larger grilles, a new set of headlamps and other subtle changes all around. The Forester’s basics remain the same with its taller roofline, large opening doors and liftgate. The lobster claw taillights remain with additional trim across the glass line of the liftgate, depending on model.
The Wilderness model turns that liftgate trim into a black matte finish. You also find additional cladding on the bumper, along the side, with a specific grille texture that is more aggressive than other models in the Forester lineup. A set of 17-inch alloy wheels with all-terrain tires and a bump of just 0.5-inches for ground clearance finish out this ruggedized model.
Step inside andf you will find the Wilderness added more to a very functional cabin. Analog dials keep you informed, along with a digital screen for key data. The upper dashboard features a series of screens ranging from a clock to a screen giving you the status of all of the Eye Sight safety features on board the Forester. Below it is the Starlink-driven infotainment screen, giving you great readout for radio and navigation, as well as an excellent interface for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Our Wilderness tester came with a water-repellent StarTex material using a honeycomb pattern on the inserts, along with copper stitching all around. You will also see copper trim in key touch points throughout the cabin. The front seats are quite comfortable and supportive. Four adults or a family of five can sit comfortable inside across two rows of seats.
In terms of cargo space, there is 26.9 cubic feet of volume available with the rear seats up. It is expandable to 69.1 cubic feet with the rear seats down. The cargo area is accessed through a lower entry point, with a taller cargo height than most competitors in its class.
Underneath the Forester’s hood is a 182-horsepower 2.5-liter horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engine with direct injection. It is a very happy engine underneath the Forester’s hood providing a superb power band in every situation.
Subaru’s continuously variable transmission is fine tuned for the Forester Wilderness delivering solid shifts where you expect them to be. There may be the occasional long shift hold on onramps, but passing maneuvers offer shorter shifts than other CVTs out there. Plus, there’s the symmetrical all-wheel-drive with an enhanced X-Mode that includes a Low Speed/Low Ratio Gradient Control for greater traction in situations where you will need it. You have two additional settings for traction conditions and surfaces.
As for fuel economy, we averaged 25.3 MPG in our turn with the Forester Wilderness.
We praised the ride quality in the Forester before. We’re loving it even better with the raised ground clearance and added shock travel to smooth out the rougher stuff. This also lent to a softer handing with some lean and roll through the corners.
We found a good turning radius thanks to a quicker steering set that is precise and tuned for off-highway use. Braking is just fine with decent pedal feel. It exhibited decent stop in normal and panic situation.
The 2022 Subaru Forester lineup starts at $25,395. Our Wilderness tester came with a sticker price of $36,015.
The Wilderness opens up a new sub-segment of SUVs designed to tackle anything anywhere. This puts the Forester Wilderness up against the Mazda CX-50, Toyota RAV4 Adventure, Hyundai Tucson XRT, Kia Sportage X-Line Pro, and Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk.
This might seem like the right Subaru Forester for those looking for more adventure in their lives. With a higher ground clearance, all-terrain tires, and an enhanced X-Mode system, Subaru made the right adjustments to an already popular SUV. For its loyal owners, this is a great “out of the box” solution for taking a favorite vehicle anywhere you point it.
Story Credits: CarSoup Editors