Subaru’s mid-size SUV heads off road, with a new Wilderness model offering more ground clearance, all-terrain tyres, lower transmission ratios and chunkier styling.
The 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness has been revealed, as the most hardcore version of Subaru’s popular mid-size SUV, but it isn’t expected to come to Australia – for now.
The second member of the Subaru Wilderness family – following the Outback Wilderness revealed earlier this year – the new Forester Wilderness treats the mid-size SUV to a slew of off-road upgrades to improve its capabilities off the beaten track.
Headlining the updates is an overhauled suspension package, with a 12.7mm ride height increase delivering a total of 233.7mm of ground clearance – less than 2mm shy of the new Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series, and around 20mm down on a Jeep Wrangler four-wheel-drive.
Longer coil springs and dampers make the ride height increase possible, along with new 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 225/60 Yokohama Geolandar all-terrain tyres with extruded white lettering and a full-size spare wheel.
Off-road measurements increase to a 23.5-degree approach angle (versus 20 degrees for the standard US-market 2022 Forester), 21-degree breakover angle (versus 19.6 degrees) and a 25.4-degree departure angle (versus 24.6 degrees)
Aiding off-road capability is a revised final drive ratio (at 4.11:1 versus 3.70:1) and tweaked ‘ratios’ for the CVT automatic transmission, plus an upgraded ‘X-Mode’ off-road system with Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud settings, hill-descent control, and a simulated low-range mode that detects a steep incline and ‘shifts’ the CVT into a Wilderness-specific lower transmission ratio for easier crawling.
Other changes include a new engine oil cooler, rear differential temperature sensor, and a ladder-style roof rack capable of supporting 100kg of dynamic (moving) load (up from 80kg), or 363kg of static load (up from 318kg) – the latter optimised for a roof-mounted tent.
Powering the Wilderness is the same 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder ‘boxer’ petrol engine as the standard Forester, sending 136kW and 239Nm to all four wheels through a revised CVT automatic transmission. The 2.4-litre turbo engine in the Outback Wilderness continues to be off-limits for the Forester.
Joining the chassis and mechanical upgrades is an off-road-themed styling update, with new front and rear bumpers featuring enlarged black plastic sections, plus a front skid plate, larger wheel arch cladding, hexagonal front fog lights, black bonnet decal, and copper accents on the badging and roof racks.
Inside, water-resistant StarTex upholstery is used to trim the seats, joined by aluminium alloy pedals, gunmetal and copper interior accents, and copper contrast stitching on the dashboard, seats, armrest, gear selector and steering wheel.
The 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness will go on sale in the US in October, priced from $US33,945 drive-away ($AU46,900).
However, a Australian launch is yet to be confirmed – though a spokesperson for Subaru Australia told Drive last month that the brand is watching the reception to the Wilderness brand in the US, and is in discussions with its Japanese head office regarding local launches for the hardcore Forester and/or Outback. Stay tuned to Drive for all the latest.