First Drive: 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness Review

The new raised-and-cladded wagon warrior is adventure-ready and looks the part - but how does it actually perform on the unpaved roads? Here's a closer look.

Kingston, ON – The Subaru Outback is a popular choice for those wanting both utility and agility. For 2022, Subaru is launching the new Outback Wilderness which will provide even more capability for those adventure seekers wanting to travel even more off the beaten path in a mid-size SUV.

Here’s a full look at 17 major changes that set this ramped-up Outback apart from the lineup.

Designed for proper off-roading

The Wilderness starts with new front and rear bumpers that maximize approach and departure angles. Anodized copper accents and Wilderness badging throughout the body makes this new trim really stand out.

Along with the synonymous cladding, the new trim gets larger Wilderness designed wheel arches and the top now sports a ladder style roof rail with higher dynamic (moving 100kg/220 lb.) and static load (318 kg/700 lb) capacities which is enough for one of those trendy rooftop tents.

The Wilderness rests on 17” matte black Wilderness wheels wrapped in Yokohama Geolander A/T tires with a full size spare and matching rim in the rear. 

Inside the new Outback Wilderness

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The inside also gets copper accents and is pretty well loaded with standard all weather heated front and rear seats , heated steering wheel, wireless charging, power sunroof, and 11.6” centre screen with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Along with a standard back-up camera, the Wilderness includes a front camera which is extremely handy for off-road use. Subaru’s Starlink Service and Eyesight is also standard equipment for this trim.

Power and performance

Subaru’s goal when creating the Wilderness was not to make a mud slinging, rock crawling 4×4 machine that would see pavement as the enemy but to find that perfect balance and not compromise the comfort and on-road manners of the already excellent Outback.

2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness review
2022 Outback Wilderness. Photo: Subaru

Press the accelerator on the pavement and the 260 horsepower 2.4L Turbo-charged engine comes to life putting down the power through a continuously variable transmission and then to all 4 wheels with Subaru’s full time symmetrical All wheel Drive system. If you haven’t tried this CVT in the Outback, it’s one of the best in the business and most will think its a conventional automatic as it has sharp programmed shift points and is very responsive with little delay.

This transmission’s ratio is 8% lower allowing for better performance for climbing but didn’t seem to have any effect on the street. The chunky Yokohama’s are surprising quiet on all street surfaces and combined with the retuned suspension, the Wilderness provides an extremely plush and dampened ride.

So, how does the 2022 Outback Wilderness perform off-road?

We were able to put this Outback to the test on a 1.86 mile / 3 km off-road trek a couple of hours out of Kingston Ontario. The trail was full of large exposed rocks and boulders that we drove right over. The Xmode in Snow/Dirt reacted very quickly to apply power and traction to where it was needed and the suspension on the Wilderness provided 241mm or 9.5” of ground clearance over the rough stuff and if it wasn’t quite enough, the 4 metal skid plates provided a little insurance (these are standard on Canadian models).

What’s really surprising is how quiet the suspension and the interior is when off road, whether you’re bouncing off rocks or flying down a washboard gravel road. The ride is just as plush off or on road.

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What’s really surprising is how quiet the suspension and the interior is when off road, whether you’re bouncing off rocks or flying down a washboard gravel road. The ride is just as plush off or on road.

The approach, breaker and departure angle are all significantly improved over the standard Outback and were tested heading into large watering holes with sudden drop offs.  At one point the initial wave of water came right over the hood momentarily and then dropped down to just over the front bumper. Here’s a quick looks at the numbers:

(in degrees)2022 Outback Wilderness2022 Outback
Approach Angle:20.018.6
Ramp Breakover:21.219.4
Departure Angle:23.621.7

There were burps and bubbles but no water ever entered, thank goodness. If it hadn’t been tested prior, I would never have attempted to drive an Outback through such a deep water crossing.

The last challenge was to climb a 300m hill that looked pretty well vertical with big rocks and boulders. For this we switched the Xmode into Deepsnow/Mud for the ability to spin the wheels a little more and bounce and roll off some of the loose dirt and rock. This was the biggest eye opener and I’m convinced that most people would never attempt this hill after seeing it. I did have some coaching from some spotters on the hill but the Wilderness did it without a hitch the very first time.

The Subaru Outback Wilderness is on sale now at local Subaru dealerships and is the perfect choice if you’re looking for the most capable Subaru Outback to date. Check out these other new family SUVs with off-roading in mind.

Interior and exterior 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness pictures:

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