Flash Drive: 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

Opinion

Rugged But Civil

The people at Subaru have been taking their development direction from Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel as they “turn it up to eleven” to exploit the utmost limits when designing the all-new 2022 Forester Wilderness. The newest addition to the Subaru SUV family, smallest to largest, Crosstrek, Forester, Outback and Ascent, the compact Forester Wilderness is a beefed-up version of the already popular Forester, offering more off-road capability with an extra splash of rugged demeanor.

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness
Ready to take on tougher trails

The 2022 Forester Wilderness isn’t just an appearance package. Far from it. Upgrades from the standard Forester touch the engine, transmission, suspension, towing capacity, ground clearance, tires and even the seat coverings. In other words, there is no mistaking the Forester Wilderness from its more street-wise sibling.

In this Flash Drive review, Clean Fleet Report will only begin to touch on the capabilities and features of the 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness. Look for a more detailed Road Test review in the coming months.

Propulsion

The 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness has a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer engine putting out 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. The EPA has rated fuel economy for the 2022 Forester Wilderness at 25 mpg city/28 highway/26 combined, just missing the coveted AWD 30 MPG Club. We’ll see if we can change that when we get to spend a week with this new model.

The Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) has driver-selectable drive modes and paddle shifters that allow you to manually go through the eight simulated gear ratios. Subaru’s Symmetrical All-wheel Drive system includes the driver-selectable dual-function X-Mode, which optimizes engine performance and CVT gear ratios based on off-road driving needs. More on X-Mode below.

Driving Experience: On Road

SUVs made for highway cruising and off-roading need to find a ride and handling compromise. The Forester Wilderness is pleasantly smooth and easy to drive on the open highway, with acceptable wind and road noise for a compact SUV. When the road became a series of moderate speed sweepers, the suspension and Yokohama Geolander all-terrain 225/60 tires on 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels required very small steering wheel corrections to find and keep the apex.

When encountering tighter twisties, the active torque vectoring helped put needed power to the correct wheel at the correct time. On the fastest corners body roll was noticeable, but manageable, so there were no issues feeling planted.

The 3,620-pound Forester Wilderness never felt heavy or unbalanced, and the electric power steering wasn’t dumbed-down, so there was a loss of road feel and connection.

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness
Wheels up!

Driving Experience: Off Road

Clean Fleet Report spent a few hours recently on the loose rocks and gravel, washboard roads and deep ruts of the beautiful Deschutes National Forest in Oregon. While not designed or built for hard-core rock crawling, everything we encountered was easily handled by the Forester Wilderness. When selecting the X-Mode setting with drive settings of Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud, we had confidence in any surface we encountered. The added reassurance of engaging hill descent control made dropping down a steep hill a breeze. The Forester Wilderness has a 3,000-pound tow rating that comes with a transmission cooler and trailer stability assist.

If you live in an area where snow covers your roads, or you are the more adventuresome type that treks into the outback, the Forester Wilderness will handle most of your rough road driving needs. To assist in the off-pavement driving, the Forester Wilderness comes with a roll-angle indicator that shows the vehicle’s pitch, and a 180-degree front view monitor that gives a wide view of the road surface, rocks and other obstacles.

Driving Experience: Exterior

With 9.2-inches of ground clearance, an approach angle of 23.5-degrees, a departure angle of 25.4-degrees and a ramp breakover angle of 21.0-inches, the Forester Wilderness looks off-road capable just standing still. The over-wheel brush guard body cladding, also found along the lower body, is joined by a skid plate to protect the engine, and new front and rear bumpers. Subaru is serious about keeping the paint free from scratches. The anodized copper accents, an anti-glare matte-black hood insert, black A and B pillars, and the bespoke badges set the style for the Forester Wilderness.

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness
Extending the brand up and out

The roof rails have been moved outward to accommodate a three person roof-mounted tent that can hold up-to 800 pounds when parked. Whether camping, kayaking, skiing, SUP or just backroad adventuring, the Forester Wilderness is designed to get you there.

Driving Experience: Interior

Thin A-pillars and tall windows provide excellent forward and side visibility. The fully optioned Forester Wilderness has an exclusive interior design featuring water-repelling StarTex trimmed upholstery. Along with the rubber rear cargo mat, cleaning-up after a dirty outing to the mountains or the beach will be easy. Other interior details include aluminum alloy pedal covers, gunmetal metallic finish and anodized copper interior accents, copper stitching on dash, door panel armrests, console and simulated leather shift lever boot.

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness
Functional and well-done

The power adjustable and heated front seats (with the Subaru Wilderness logo embossed in the headrests) get a thumbs-up for providing welcome support when driving fast on washboard forest roads or digging-and-grinding through rutted trails. The rear seating area is comfortable for two adults–three in a pinch–and can easily accommodate child safety seats when the most dangerous task is driving the kids to school. The power moonroof was a welcome option as was that removable rubber mat in the rear cargo area.

We suspect most people will drop the 60/40 second row heated rear seats to increase the cargo space from 28.9 cubic feet to 74.2 cubic feet. Cargo needs for two will be easily met. With a roof-mounted tent not taking any space, that cargo capacity becomes even more bountiful, and the full-size spare that’s neatly tucked under the cargo floor is a space saver too.

Entertainment and Safety

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness
Second floor accommodations

The optional Harmon Kardon nine-speaker premium audio system, with a 576-watt amp, really rocked the cabin. The 8.0-inch, high-resolution touchscreen houses the StarLink in-vehicle technology with voice-activated Tom Tom navigation, and multimedia systems of SiriusXM/AM/FM HD radio/CD with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. USB ports and 12V outlets front and rear complete the connectivity options.

The 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness comes with front, seat-mounted and full side airbags, along with curtain airbags with a rollover sensor, and a driver-side knee airbag. The EyeSight Driver Assist system is part of the advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) that includes adaptive cruise control with lane centering, automatic pre-collision braking and throttle management, lane departure prevention, reverse automatic braking, blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert.

Additional safety and convenience features include automatic climate control, rear vision camera, push button start/stop, remote keyless entry, LED headlights, power exterior mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and Bluetooth control switches, a tire pressure monitoring system and four-wheel disc anti-lock brakes.

Pricing and Warranties

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness
There’s a new badge in town

The 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness has a base price of $33,945, including the $1,125 destination and delivery charge. Foresters without the Wilderness package start at $25,195 plus destination and delivery.

All 2022 Foresters come with these warranties.

Basic – Three years/36,000 miles

Powertrain – Five years/60,000 miles

Rust Perforation – Five years/Unlimited miles

Observations: 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness
Ready for more time on- and off-road

As a sub-brand, the Wilderness package was previously found only on the Outback, but the Forester joins in with what Subaru says is “the most rugged and trail-capable Forester ever.” So the challenge is on!

If you are the adventurous type, are single or a married couple, maybe even with small kids, the 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness should be high on your shopping list. While at your Subaru dealer make sure to check-out the Outback Wilderness edition as it too offers a unique adventure option compared to the regular 9-to-5 crossover commuter.

Make sure to opt-in to the Clean Fleet Report newsletter (top right of page) to be notified of all new stories and vehicle reviews.

Story by John Faulkner. Photos by John Faulkner, Tanya Gazdik, and Jill Ciminillo.

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Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

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