2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness gives SUV an off-road upgrade

Subaru has added a new, more off-road friendly version of its most popular SUV, with the 2022 Forester Wilderness getting the specs to match its upgraded looks. Part of the refreshed 2022 Forester range, which Subaru says will be headed to US dealerships in October, it's the second outing for the new Wilderness trim level.

The automaker applied it first to the 2022 Outback Wilderness, back in March. Then, as with this new Forester Wilderness, the promise is the same standard all-wheel drive and functionality as the regular SUV, but with a number of enhancements for those drivers who actually take their vehicles off-road.

So, the 2022 Forester Wilderness has 9.2-inches of ground clearance, raised half an inch over the rest of the Forester line-up. Subaru used longer coil springs and shock absorbers for that, and then paired them with Yokohama GEOLANDAR all-terrain tires on exclusive 17-inch wheels. A fully-sized spare tire is under the cargo area, rather than the increasingly-commonplace inflator kit.

The 2.5-liter Boxer engine and CVT are carried over from the rest of the Forester range. That gets 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque, and has a towing capacity of up to 3,000 pounds. Subaru is estimating up to 25 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 26 mpg combined on the EPA's ratings; that's short of the regular Forester's 26/33/29 mpg respectively.

What you get instead is an exclusive Dual-mode X-MODE system for the Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. That adds modes like Snow/Dirt, Deep Snow/Mud mode for under 25 mph, a Deep Snow/Mud mode for above 25 mph, and Low Speed / Low Ratio Gradient Control. The latter can automatically spot when you're driving on steep gradients, and switch the CTV to a low ratio comprised of a lower first ratio and a lower transfer gear ratio. Hill Descent Control is included, too.

Subaru's EyeSight Driver Assist Technology gets an upgrade for the 2022 model year, with automatic emergency steering added. That works with the pre-collision braking system to help avoid collisions at speeds under 50 mph.

On the outside, there's a new fascia with a hexagonal front grille, chunkier wheel arch cladding, and hexagonal LED fog lights. A front skid plate and matte black wheels are standard, too, as is a matte black hood decal. The roof rack has a dynamic load capacity of 220 pounds, and up to 800 pounds when parked for use with bigger roof tents.

Inside, there's StarTex water-resistant seating, heated front seats with power adjustment for the driver, dual front USB pots, and a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. A $1,850 option adds the 8-inch screen, a Harmon Kardon audio system, and a power tailgate.

The 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness kicks off at $32,820, plus $1,125 destination. As for the rest of the 2022 Forester range, that starts at $25,195 plus destination.