Subaru recently let leak that they would be introducing a new sub brand, Wilderness. Well today the wraps have officially been pulled from the first vehicle to receive that badging: The 2022 Outback Wilderness.
Designed to appeal to Subie fans that want to venture even further off-piste, the Outback Wilderness has been treated to plenty of rub-resilient body cladding at the sills, some nicely flared fenders, beefier bumpers and a unique grill treatment. Thankfully and more importantly, the biggest changes lie beneath the skin.
First and foremost, the Wilderness rides higher with 241mm of ground clearance thanks to a revised suspension — for those keeping score, that’s about 25mm (roughly an inch) more than a Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Wilderness also rides on a beefy set of all-terrain Yokohama Geolanders mounted to a blacked-out set of 17-inch wheels that are model specific. From my eyes though, the fender to rubber gap here should also easily accommodate a set of KO2’s mounted on Method rally wheels. Just sayin’.
The only engine option for the Outback Wilderness is the 260 horsepower, 2.4L turbocharged boxer motor, which is coupled to a shorter-ratio CVT (gears now equate to 4.44:1 from 4.11:1). Combined with an enhanced Dual Function X-Mode drive mode, the claim is that this is the most off-road capable Outback in the model’s history. Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel-drive system is, of course, the only configuration available here.
The interior is swathed in Subaru’s StarTex fabric, which is water repellent and adventure ready. All seats are heated and you can see some copper coloured accents throughout that echo the same pops of colour on the exterior.
Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist system is standard issue here, so lane keep assist and pre-collision braking are baked in. The Outback Wilderness also comes equipped with the tablet-style 11.6” infotainment system that boasts Starlink (no, not Elon’s version) connectivity.
Other notable enhancements come in the form of a roof rack system that can support up to 317kg of mass, which is more than enough to tackle a palatial roof-top tent and then some. There are integrated tow hooks, front and rear, and a full-sized spare hides beneath the floor in back.
As an Outback owner and driver (2011 with a manual transmission!!), the changes I see here all echo what’s been going on in the aftermarket world for years. And to that end, the move for a Wilderness sub brand makes a lot of sense: deliver what a niche market wants and back it with a warranty. It’s certainly a formula that’s worked for Toyota with TRD. Now, how about an STi version of a Wilderness Crosstrek???