More Than Just a Trim Package With Some Bold New Graphics
The Subaru Outback first arrived in the mid-1990s as a practical station wagon with the all-wheel-drive, able to take your family on a wide variety of adventures. Over the years, and despite now insisting it’s really an SUV, they’ve built upon that theme with ever-increasing capabilities. Now for 2022, Subaru goes wild ‘n out.
The Subaru Outback prides itself in being a go-anywhere family adventure vehicle; and has truly played a big role in the almost universal appeal of all-wheel-drive today. But, buyers are always looking for that next level of capabilities, and there are plenty of engineers getting paid to search for it. So, we have the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness; a next-level Outback built for those that want to venture further into the wild for their family fun time.
Thankfully, it’s far more than just a trim package and bold new graphics. Wilderness starts with a suspension lift, as all macho makeovers should; just shy of an inch has been added, courtesy of longer shocks and springs both front and rear. That boosts ground clearance to a respectable 9 and a half inches. Then, 17-inch matte black alloy wheels get Yokohama A/Ts.
All Outbacks are all-wheel-drive, of course, and the Wilderness gets the upgraded X-MODE version, but they’ve also done some tweaking here, as revised software allows for smoother switching in and out of low speed mode.
The rear differential has a new 4.44:1 ratio, and Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT is also revised to improve low-end torque delivery to the front wheels. The Wilderness uses the Outback XT’s turbocharged 2.4-liter Boxer-4 engine with the same 260-horsepower and 277 lb-ft. of torque; sorry, no flat-6. But, the fact that the combo is rated to tow 3,500-lbs. does give some credence to Subaru’s SUV claim.
Both front and rear bumpers have been beefed up to handle a little more abuse and, yes, look cooler too. There’s also a new skid plate up front, a different grille, copper-tone accents, unique wheel arch cladding, and a black anti-glare hood sticker. Up top, there’s a substantial roof rack perfect for mounting that overlanding tent you’ve had your eye on.
The interior features durable and stylish Star-Tex upholstery with new Wilderness logos and copper-contrast stitching. That copper finish is mirrored throughout the space; and both gunmetal grey and brushed aluminum replace the typical chrome accents. Naturally, all-weather floor mats are standard.
At our test track, the Wilderness’ ¼-mile experience started off with a soft opening, but the full show arrived when the tach hit 4,000 rpm. At that point, you’re off to the races, and to 60 in a brisk 5.8-seconds. The CVT is what it is at this point. We’ve come to terms with its extended high rpm nature, but at least the engine sounds pretty decent and pulls strongly. We finished the quarter-mile in 14.4-seconds at 98 miles-per-hour.
Higher ground clearance generally translates to more roll at the track; and we did experience plenty of it in the Wilderness, but not to unsettling levels. At times the stability system seemed totally onboard with hammering through here and let us get away with some oversteer. And at other times, it shut down our momentum at the first hint of understeer.
Through it all, steering was very responsive, and once we found a speed we could all agree upon, it was even a little on-pavement fun.
Brakes felt strong initially, with a good 113-foot average stopping distance from 60, but we did begin to notice some fade after 5 or 6 runs.
All of the revisions have taken a toll on Government Fuel Economy Ratings, falling just a bit to 22-City, 26-Highway, and 24-Combined.
Surprisingly, the Wilderness falls not at the top, but in the middle of the Outback lineup, with a starting price of $38,120.
It’s amazing how little changes can make big differences. Much like when Subaru toughened up the Impreza wagon, called it the XV Crosstrek, and it instantly became our favorite Subaru utility. Well, move over Crosstrek, the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness is here looking to take you and your family where no other Outback has. Even better news, the Wilderness theme and name are set to spread throughout the Subaru lineup. Crosstrek Wilderness? Yes, please!
Engine: 2.4L Turbo Boxer-4
Torque: 277 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 5.8 seconds
1/4 Mile: 14.4 seconds at 98 mph
EPA: 22 City / 26 Highway / 24 Combined