Into the Wild: Subaru Releases the Forester Wilderness

By Sevan Shahijanian | September 2nd, 2021
Above view of 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness with Kayaks on the Roof
Subaru

A practical adventure companion

In a sea of growing automakers, few brands have been as successful as Subaru in creating a standout image for themselves. With a company philosophy centered around nature and adventure, the new Wilderness Editions are par for the course for the Tokyo-based automaker. Adding to an already capable machine, the 2022 Forester Wilderness improves on the Premium trim by introducing a slew of off-road focused enhancements. Let’s take a look.

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2022 Subaru Forester Front Three Quarter View
Subaru

Taller and more capable 

The suspension on the Forester Wilderness has been fully revamped with longer coil springs and dampers, resulting in 9.2 inches of ground clearance – a half-inch increase over standard Foresters. For comparison’s sake, the Jeep Wrangler ranges from 9.7 inches in the standard trim to 10.8 inches on the Rubicon; but they also don’t ride as smooth or have the handling capabilities that come along with Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel drive system.

Subaru has also equipped the car with new 17-inch matte-black wheels wrapped in Yokohama GEOLANDAR all-terrain tires, both exclusive to the Wilderness Edition. Although the new dampers and springs should increase smoothness when driving overall, the new tires are engineered to handle rougher terrain and will produce more vibrations and noise compared to standard road tires on pavement. The changes aren’t so extreme that they’ll cause problems if you’re mostly driving on city roads, but it’s important to note that off-road enhancements usually result in reduced mpg and comfort – a tradeoff that Wilderness Edition shoppers are likely willing to make.

The Forester Wilderness takes an mpg hit similar to that seen between the Outback Wilderness and standard Outback models: pushing 25 mpg city and 28 mpg highway compared to the standard Forester’s 26 mpg city and 33 mpg highway. This is likely due to the increased ride height, all-terrain tires, and overall tuning that’s better suited for off-roading than highway driving.

2022 Subaru Forester Front View Driving Through Forest Road
Subaru

To complement the off-road capabilities of the Forester Wilderness, Subaru redesigned the front fascia and added a skid plate to protect the underside when climbing rough terrain. Beefier wheel arches and body cladding, more powerful LED fog lights, a stronger ladder-type roof rail, and an anti-glare matte-black hood highlight the biggest exterior changes. The upgraded railing on the roof allows for carrying more weight. With a load capacity of 220 lb. dynamic and 800 lb. static, it’s now better suited for keeping you up high and dry in a rooftop tent. The Geyser Blue paint with anodized copper accents is also exclusive to Wilderness Edition Subarus and gives the car a more adventure-ready look.

2022 Subaru Forester Interior View
Subaru

Rugged inside and out 

The interior also gets the rugged outdoorsy treatment to protect from all the dirt and mud you’ll be slinging in the mountains. The seats are covered in Subaru’s durable and water-resistant StarTex material and show off embossed Wilderness logos on the headrests. Copper accents continue throughout the cabin, which is otherwise covered in non-reflective black materials. Subaru’s standard 8-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and satellite radio make a return as well.

A front view monitor sits above the infotainment screen, providing a 180-degree view of any obstacles directly in front of the car. There’s only one optional package for the 2022 Wilderness which adds Harman Kardon premium audio, Subaru Starlink, and a power rear gate. There’s ample rear seating space and storage, further amplified by folding rear seats which are backed with all-weather material. All-weather floor mats also come standard.

Subaru has also upgraded all 2022 Foresters with their latest version of EyeSight Driver Assist Technology. Along with overall safety system improvements, the Wilderness gets upgraded automatic emergency steering, which works in conjunction with the pre-collision braking system to avoid accidents at speeds under 50 mph.

2022 Subaru Forester Gauge Cluster with X-Mode
Subaru

Enhanced X-Mode 

The 2022 Wilderness comes equipped with Subaru’s X-Mode, which has been upgraded and retuned for increased off-roading capabilities. Settings for snow, dirt, deep snow, and mud alter the car’s engine throttle response, transmission tuning, front and rear coupling force of the all-wheel drive system, and limited-slip differential tuning to provide more traction in various conditions. X-Mode also comes with a nifty hill descent control, where the car automatically manages throttle and braking to safely maneuver down steeper declines. Subaru’s Wilderness Edition doesn’t just talk the talk, it walks the walk (or crawls the rock? – ok, I’ll stop).

Having taken a milder approach with the Forester compared to the Outback Wilderness, Subaru has situated the SUV below its wagon brother and above the rumored Crosstrek Wilderness in their lineup. In order to position it as the mid-tier SUV offering, the Forester Wilderness is powered by the same 2.5-liter boxer that comes standard in all other Forester trims (182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque mated to a Lineartronic CVT). This is in stark contrast to the upgraded 2.4-liter turbo flat-four in the Outback Wilderness, which makes 260hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. We figure this is due to the price difference and tiering of Subaru’s lineup – as the Forester Wilderness starts at $32,820, whereas the Outback Wilderness comes in over $4,000 more at $36,995 starting.

Here at Drift Merch, we’re big fans of what Subaru is doing with their new Wilderness Edition cars. Seeing teaser footage of the new 2022 WRX and its Wilderness-esque wheel arch cladding, it looks like Subaru is taking their rugged and adventure-focused image to the next level – and we’re all for it.

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