Having done a first look review on the new off-roadier 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness just last spring I was excited to actually spend some time in one and see how well it works with its more robust suspension and upgraded interior fixtures just to name a few of its improvements.
Upon arrival, its lifted suspension of nearly an inch was most noticable, giving it a more SUV-like stance than garden variety Outbacks. With the lift, Subaru tells of a class-leading 9.5-inch ground clearance. The 17-inch matte black wheels white-letter Geolandar off-road tires really seal the deal though visually.
Other items of the more rugged theme include a revised front fascia with a bolder grille and sharp LED hex fog lights. The hood sports a matte black applique and underneath a healthy front skid plate beef up its off-road bonfides.
The Wilderness also had brawnier looking wheel arch trims and lots of gold copper accents all around. On the roof is a more substantial fixed ladder-type roof rack system that can hold up to 700 pounds and anodized copper-finish tow hook anchor point covers.
Inside is where I was most pleased with a redesigned dash center stack that now as a more contemporary tablet style human interface touch screen that replaces the dated layout from the 1990’s. The 11.6-inch portrait style infotainment system integrates controls for multimedia, HVAC, X-MODE, and many other vehicle settings. With its extra size you can summon multiple camera views including a front-view. There’s also an X-Mode display features a roll-angle graphic and others to assist when off-roading.
I liked the plethora of upgrades for the Wilderness edition including lots of logos and anodized copper-finish accents. These were spread around generously to places like the steering wheel, shifter and instrument cluster. Copper colored accent stitching is also seen throughout. Seat upholstery is what Subaru calls StarTex – a water-repellant material that reminds me of the sporting good store. Under foot are rubber floor liners and one for the cargo floor too.
Driving the Outback Wilderness you are keenly aware of its longer shocks and springs front and rear that give it nearly 1-inch additional ground clearance and suspension travel. You can feel the difference in the steering and roll taking corners and on the highway. It feels more substantial though with a higher center of gravity to be sure.
For off-roading it has a lower final drive ratio of 4.44:1 and recalibrated the Lineartronic CVT (continuously variable transmission) help to improve low speed climbing abilities. An expanded array of X-Mode software programs is along for the ride as well to manage its active torque vectoring and vehicle dynamics control.
Power from its 2.4-liter turbocharged “boxer” engine was adequate at 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. The long proven CVT features an 8-speed manual mode function with steering wheel paddle shifters that can give you software induces simulated “shifts” in case you miss the old days and need an extra bump or two. Otherwise this is a shiftless experience. I has an EPA fuel economy rating of 22 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.
In our time with it we did not get to measure fuel economy because our week was cut short by a red light runner at an intersection in our hometown. We were hit pretty severely at the passenger side rear wheel which spun us around and to a stop straight into a traffic light pole. While the accident was not severe enough to trigger the airbags, the restraints and structure performed well to keep us safe and just a little sore walking away. Good job Subaru.
Unfortunately the Outback is likely a total loss due to its underlying chassis, powertrain and structural damage and as a result of the crash we didn’t get to shoot our own video with it for the test drive review. So if you are wondering why we are using stock video, now you know.