2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness Wants to Take You Higher

Subaru’s new upmarket Forester Wilderness joins the 2022 Forester lineup, with drivetrain and suspension mods

  • Subaru’s new upmarket Forester Wilderness joins the 2022 Forester lineup, with drivetrain and suspension mods to improve off-road capability and bringing the total to six Forester models.
  • The Forester Wilderness doubles the crossover’s tow load limit to 3000 pounds, while the roof rack’s static load limit is upped to better accommodate rooftop tents.
  • The Wilderness is distinctive because of its raised height, exclusive Geyser Blue paint option, anodized copper trim, optional skid plates, raised-white-letter tires, and copious model logos.

    There’s only one way to go in the car business if things are going well, and that’s up. So enter the 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness, which follows the successful Outback variant of the same name. The special edition features useful revisions that make the strong-selling Forester an even more potent tool for dedicated back-to-nature types, with an upgraded drivetrain, a raised suspension, and a higher price, starting at $33,945 versus the base model’s $26,320 sticker. But there are still two models above the Wilderness in price, with the top-end trim, the Touring, priced at $36,420 for the 2022 model year.

    Viewed from the outside, the Forester Wilderness stands 1.4 inches taller, with an additional half-inch of ground clearance added to the standard Forester’s already excellent figure, for a total of 9.2 inches. In turn, this increases angle of approach (from 20.0 degrees to 23.5 degrees) and departure (from 24.6 to 25.4 degrees), while improving ramp breakover angle (19.6 to 21.0 degrees), helping to make the Wilderness the most capable Forester off-road. Longer travel for its specially tuned dampers improve ride quality on the rugged stuff.

    In the engine room, the Wilderness edition forges ahead with revised final-drive (4.11:1 in place of the Forester’s standard 3.70:1) and a slightly wider ratio spread for its continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Its 182-hp 2.5-liter flat-four features direct injection and pumps out 176 pound-feet, allowing it to better dispatch hills and muddy trails.

    The model’s CVT, here with eight simulated ratios from the standard model’s seven controlled by paddle shifters, ups the Wilderness model’s game when climbing and descending simply by the 22 percent shorter gearing in its lowest available ratio. Subaru’s driver-selectable X-Mode offers snow/dirt and deep snow/mud modes, trimming torque and adjusting CVT ratios as needed. X-Mode will detect steep inclines and automatically enable the Wilderness’s low-ratio gradient control. It will shift the CVT to its lowest ratio, creating a sort of low range for climbing. Standard Hill Descent Control automatically engages braking when the Forester heads down steep hills.

    An oil cooler for the engine and a rear differential temperature sensor further indicate the new model’s serious off-road intent. And speaking of tents, a revised fixed-ladder-type roof rack increases dynamic load capacity to 220 pounds from 176 pounds, while static load limit rises by 100 pounds to 800 pounds, making the use of larger rooftop tents more viable, while also rolling out the welcome mat for heftier campers. The fourth generaiton of Subaru’s EyeSight driver-assist technology, an on-road safety boon, comes standard and features pre-collision braking and automatic emergency steering.

    Visually, the Forester Wilderness will stand out not just for its high-riding ways but also for its black pillars and copper-colored roof rack posts, matte black 17-inch alloy wheels, and Yokohama Geolandar tires with raised white lettering. Geyser Blue paint is a striking new Wilderness-specific color option, while water-repellent seating is embossed with the Wilderness logo, as are floor mats and even the side of the car, a vaguely garish touch that recalls the increasingly huge badges seen on many Ferraris these days. Aluminum or steel skid plates to protect the engine and differential are separately available as options, the former also making the car stand out along with the overly large badges, so you can truly see this Forester through the trees.

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