Review: Outback Wilderness provides the perfect vehicle for more localized adventures

The 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness.

Matt Bubbers / The Globe and Mail

The trick to driving in deep water, in case you were wondering, is to drive slowly enough to avoid creating a wave in front of the car that could flood the engine, but fast enough the car doesn’t stop at midpoint. -path. While you’re doing this, it helps maintain a stern expression, channeling your inner Indiana Jones or any other big screen adventurer into a way that at least looks like you know what you’re doing. Unless you want to take a sudden bath, never open the door to check the water level.

If this tip is useful to you – or, if you hope it will eventually come in handy, someday – then Subaru would like to introduce you to its new Outback Wilderness. It’s the latest in a series of new vehicles with an ambitious exterior branding, like Ford’s new Badlands and Wildtrak Bronco, Jeep’s latest Trailhawk SUVs, and Toyota’s TRD all-terrain package, which is now available. even on popular commuter tanks like the RAV4 SUV.

Such rugged-looking machines look especially appealing these days, as Canadians travel locally again this summer, perhaps exploring national parks or finding secluded and deserted beaches.

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Subaru created this new Wilderness model, in part because customers were already modifying their Outbacks for more style and off-road capability, says Ted Lalka, senior advisor at Subaru Canada.

It is lifted 20 millimeters on a higher suspension, has a shorter gearing, scratch-resistant black coating on redesigned bumpers, four skid plates protecting the car’s undercarriage, soft all-terrain tires and roof rails that can support a tent. Copper covers on the front and rear hide the towing points. A good garage could add most of these modifications as well, but the factory-built Wilderness has the added benefit of recalibrated electronic security systems and a full warranty.

Despite the higher suspension, it handles well, feeling stuck in the corners without rolling too much. The 260 horsepower engine is gruff but very powerful.

The Outback isn’t quite like other slightly adventurous crossovers, namely the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk or the Ford Bronco Sport Badlands. In 1994, the Outback began life as a raised Subaru Legacy station wagon and has been a staple in the Subaru lineup ever since. “I remember the engineers at Subaru back then being like, ‘Wait a second, you take a perfectly capable station wagon that’s lower to the ground and has great handling, and you want to increase the suspension? Lalka remembers. It was the early days of the SUV boom and such things were heresy; today they are called crossovers and they are everywhere. “[The Outback] turned out to be a huge success, ”he says.

In focus groups, people consistently say they don’t see the Outback as a station wagon or as a traditional SUV, Lalka says. Nonetheless, it has certainly become a lot more SUV-like over the years, which is probably why its sales have remained strong rather than falling like other wagons. Volkswagen recently ditched its Golf Alltrack, leaving only more expensive luxury alternatives like the Audi A4 Allroad, the Mercedes E 450 All-Terrain Wagon and the Volvo V60 Cross Country.

No matter how you rank the Outback Wilderness, it’s shocking what this thrown Subaru can do if you’re willing to mess it up. It climbs up rocky hills and fords deep water and goes places that, frankly, you never imagined an Outback could. This means the Wilderness is overkill for a typical camping trip and won’t be troubled by even the most rugged cottage roads – but the same could be said of the regular Outback. Those who want a bit more off-road capability than regular Outback offerings could upgrade to a Jeep Wrangler or Ford Bronco for a similar price, both of which will surprise the Wilderness. So, what is it for ? It’s all about fashion, just like your Gore-Tex sneakers and your big diver’s watch.

“He can do more now, but more importantly he looks like the game,” Lalka says of the Wilderness.

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Slightly adventurous crossovers like this Subaru are cosplay cars, disguising themselves as the equivalent vehicle of Hollywood adventurers like Crocodile Dundee or Laura Croft. And, that’s great; Wilderness’s upgrades certainly make the Outback more rugged and useful, but Subaru could have taken the idea further to get the full effect. Where’s the bumper-mounted winch, or the rows of headlamps, or the properly knotty off-road tires? The latter would have compromised handling slightly, but compromising on styling is something most people are used to.

And remember, when you do, inevitably you get stuck in the car trying to climb a steep rocky hill, have a friend jump and guide you. The car can get scuffed and scratched, but at least you’ll have a good story to tell.

Technical specifications

The Outback Wilderness comes with all-wheel drive.

Matt Bubbers / The Globe and Mail

Subaru Outback Wilderness 2022

Base price / as tested: $ 41,995 / $ 50,001

Engine: 2.4-liter turbo flat-four

Transmission / drive: continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) / all-wheel drive

Fuel economy (liters / 100 kilometers): 10.9 / 8.9

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Alternatives: Toyota RAV4 TRD Off Road, Ford Bronco Sport Badlands, Honda CRV Black Edition, Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, Mazda CX-5 Kuro


Oddly proportioned but sturdy. He looks naked with no kayak on the roof and a few muddy mountain bikes in the back.


The Outback Wilderness comes with water resistant seats.

Matt Bubbers / The Globe and Mail

Deep rubber floor mats and water-resistant seats accommodate dirt and mud. Several “Subaru Wilderness” badges are constant reminders to get out more.


The Outback’s car-like handling is a strength, and while the Wilderness compromises it slightly, it’s so marginal that no one will care. The CVT gearbox is good, not a problem like the agricultural CVTs of old.


Blind spot detection will help avoid those unnecessary hits.

Matt Bubbers / The Globe and Mail

An 11.6-inch vertical touchscreen is standard, but navigation isn’t. The screen is responsive, but the graphic design is messy and looks cheap. Adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert and lane centering assistance are all standard.

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The upgraded roof racks can take much more weight, up to 318 kg when the car is stationary, which is more than enough for a roof-mounted tent.


An even more capable Outback for those who don’t want a real body-on-chassis SUV

The writer was the guest of the automaker. The content was not subject to approval.

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