2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness
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First Drive: 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness Review

With the Wilderness trim, Subaru proves that it understands precisely what the Forester’s target buyers want. Canada Drives heads to Quebec’s beautiful Outaouais region to put this rugged compact SUV to the test.

Key Features:

  • Convincing off-road capability
  • Proven drivetrain
  • Spacious and comfortable cabin

Direct Competitors:

  • Ford Bronco Sport
  • Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk

Off-road and adventure-seeking vehicles are a big hit these days, with virtually every carmaker now offering some form of fortified vehicle that’s ready to take on nature’s toughest elements. For a brand like Subaru, which already appeals to the outdoorsy type, it was only inevitable that it hopped onto that bandwagon as well.

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness | Photo: Subaru 

Just like the Outback Wilderness we reviewed here and that came before it, the Forester Wilderness brings to the table a slew of serious off-roading gear that allow the humble little Forester to punch well above its weight.

Forester Wilderness pricing and rivals

Subaru slots the Wilderness between a Forester Sport and Limited. Pricing kicks off at $38,905, before freight, and there aren’t that many options available, except for a third skid plate and a full plethora of outdoor-seeking accessories.

While the standard Forester sits in the compact crossover segment, facing a wide range of competitors that vary between a Honda CR-V and a Mazda CX-5, the Wilderness package is mostly aimed at off-road-capable models like the Ford Bronco Sport and the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk. 

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness interior

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness | Photo: Subaru 

Just like its distinctive body accents, the Wilderness’ cabin sets itself apart with some subtle golden elements visible on the shift lever, the steering wheel, the X-MODE rotary knob, rubber, waterproof floormats and yellow stitching on the seats. 

Those seats are also made of a material that’s easier to clean, Subaru says. There’s a subtle Wilderness logo in the headrest, as well as Subaru Wilderness tags on the seats and inside the door inserts. 

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness | Photo: Subaru 

Still a Forester at heart

The rest is all traditional Forester. The massive greenhouse gives way to a well-lit cabin and impeccable all-around visibility. The slightly lifted seating position means you always have a commanding view on the road, and while the Forester’s infotainment system isn’t the Outback’s gigantic 11.6-inch vertical tablet, its 8-inch (6 inches on lesser trims) screen still encapsulates a quick and easy to use interface. 

Rear seat room in a Forester is also ample thanks to a high roofline. Leg clearance is excellent, even if a tall person is sitting up front. The Forester continues to rank among the most practical crossovers in its class, with up to 1,953 liters of available cargo space when the rear seat is folded flat.

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness | Photo: Subaru 

Performance and driving impressions

While the Wilderness doesn’t change anything underneath the hood, it includes enough hardware to allow it to go places a normal Forester can’t. Power comes from Subaru’s tried and proven 2.5-liter Boxer-type flat four. It’s good for 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque. It channels that power through a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel drive system.

Some serious off-road upgrades with double the towing capacity

The Wilderness gets a 15 mm suspension lift, as well as upgraded dampers that are unique to the package. Along with redesigned front and rear bumpers, the new suspension improves both approach and departure angles to 3.5 degrees (23.5 degrees total) and 0.8 degrees (25.4 degrees total) respectively. 

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness | Photo: Subaru 

The rear differential’s ratio goes from 3.70:1 to 4.11:1 for improved crawling. The CVT’s mapping was reprogrammed, a new transmission oil cooler ups the towing rating from 1,500 to 3,000 pounds, and the car comes standard with Yokohama Geolander G015 off-road tires.

Finally, the Wilderness gets an upgraded roof rack that can withstand up to 800 pounds of static load, and 200 pounds during movement. 

How does the rugged 2022 Forester handle?

We drove the Forester Wilderness during its Canadian launch in Quebec’s beautiful Outaouais region. Subaru prepared us a rather complex off-road circuit complete with snow, ice, mud, and rocks. The Wilderness not only proved how effective Subaru’s all-wheel drive system remains, but that the vehicle is capable enough to bring you to areas a normal Forester can’t. 

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness | Photo: Subaru 

The upgraded suspension did a fantastic job of taking in the hits at higher-than-average speeds, and we were glad to have skid plates when we heard them scraping against a few rocky passes.

Missing that 2.4L turbo powering the Outback

Subaru’s 2.5-liter Boxer four was always adequate for the task, and the CVT managed the torque curve rather well. However, we feel the Wilderness deserves the Outback’s turbocharged 2.4-liter unit. Subaru says that for assembly line reasons, it’s currently impossible to bring it to the lineup.

Verdict: is the 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness worth it?

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness | Photo: Subaru 

With the Wilderness, Subaru simply gives its target buyers the hardware they need to carry on their beloved outdoor activities. Here’s a carmaker that perfectly understands its consumer base and simply capitalizes on it. 

Well priced, well packaged, roomy, practical, and highly capable, the Forester Wilderness is a no brainer purchase that’ll follow you in your crazy adventures without breaking the bank. 

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