In the mid-1990s, Subaru designers and engineers gave the Legacy Wagon some rugged styling and a raised suspension to create the Outback — a model that would eventually be labeled one of the original crossovers between an SUV and a car. Over the years Outback has not only grown in popularity but also in size and capability. And now the Japan-based automaker takes the Outback to a new level with the introduction of a 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness — the most rugged, capable Outback the company has ever built.
The 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness possesses 9.5 inches of ground clearance — almost an inch higher than the standard Outback. To complement the raised ground clearance, Subaru equips the Outback Wilderness with Yokohama GEOLANDER all-terrain tires designed to improve performance on muddy, slippery, unpaved roads. The tires are mounted on excusive 17-inch matte-black alloy wheels. A full-size spare tire is standard equipment.
Suspension tuning for the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness provides improved stability on rough terrain without forfeiting ride comfort or handling on pavement. Updated front and rear shocks and springs enable more ground clearance and suspension travel. The additional ground clearance means the Outback Wilderness improves approach and departure angles to 20 degrees and 23.6 degrees, respectively
Beyond the larger tires and raised ride height, the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness is easily recognizable as something special in the Outback lineup thanks to a bold, new grille — larger than the standard Outback — that features a hexagonal pattern. Other equipment unique to the Outback Wilderness is an all-new front bumper, front skidplate, hexagonal LED fog lights and a matte-black hood decal.
Cladding on the larger wheel arches of the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness gives this special vehicle a tougher look that fits well with the larger all-terrain tires. Window trim and exterior badges have a black finish that completes the rugged look.
Splashes of Color
To add a bit more differentiation, designers also gave the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness some highlights via a bit of Anodized Copper trim. Tow hook anchor points as well as roof rail tie-down points stand out thanks to this bright color — especially against the Outback’s new exclusive Geyser Blue exterior color.
The 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness gets a new fixed ladder-type roof rack that has a static load limit of 700 pounds. A rack this stout lets adventurous types install a rooftop tent or other outdoor-oriented accessories requiring a rugged rack.
Under the Hood
Powering the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness is a 2.4-liter turbocharged Boxer engine that produces 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque at a low 2000 rpm. Subaru added this optional engine when the current-generation Outback arrived in 2019, replacing the 6-cylinder unit. According to the U.S. EPA, the Outback Wilderness is rated at 22 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. This turbo powerplant also gives the Outback a 3,500-pound towing capacity.
The turbo engine of the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness gets teamed with automaker’s Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission featuring an 8-speed manual mode that can be actuated via paddle shifters on the steering column. The final-drive ratio of the CVT has been increased to 4.44:1, which improves low-end torque at the wheels and should provide improve hill-climbing capability as well.
The 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness comes with dual-function X-MODE, which sets up the vehicle for improved performance via modes for Snow / Dirt or Deep Snow / Mud. A new feature exclusive to the Outback Wilderness: the X-MODE can switch automatically from low-speed managed driving to exceeding 25 mph without any interruption in performance.
Still an Outback
One of the hallmarks of the Outback is its ability to handle rough terrain while still providing a comfortable, carlike ride during daily driving — happily, this hasn’t changed with the Outback Wilderness. Active Torque Vectoring and Vehicle Dynamics Control are standard equipment designed to improve driver control in slick conditions.
When it underwent a redesign in 2019, the Outback’s interior received significant updates. Those improvements continue in the 2022 Outback Wilderness, including a large, configurable 11.6-inch vertical display screen that integrates well with the instrument panel; the system features Apple CarPlay as well as Android Auto. In keeping with the exterior color highlights, the cabin of the Outback Wilderness gets trimmed in Anodized Copper accents as well as copper-colored contrasting stitching. Brushed-aluminum pedals add to the sporty look.
Seats in the Outback Wilderness are trimmed in Subaru proprietary StarTex — a water-repellant material that feels a bit like neoprene. A Subaru Wilderness logo gets embossed on the head restraints; the logo can also be found on the standard all-weather floor mats. A waterproof cargo tray protects the load floor in the cargo area as well.
In support of the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness, the automaker also adds to its extensive aftermarket accessories catalog with a few features specific to the new vehicle. These goodies include aluminum or steel skidplates to protect the engine, transmission and fuel tank.
Other Wilderness Models?
The badging on the front and rear of this 2022 Outback variant reads Subaru Wilderness, separate from the Outback nameplate — perhaps a hint that the automaker will bring to market additional models wearing the Subaru Wilderness moniker. This outdoorsy treatment would be appropriate for the Crosstrek, Forester or Ascent; however, it would likely seem off book for the sporty BRZ.
Coming This Spring
The brand-new 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness will arrive later in spring 2021. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date.