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2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness - Review by Larry Nutson

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More adventure for the adventuresome

By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Chicago Bureau

Over a decade ago my wife and I spent a couple years living in the suburbs outside of Hartford, Connecticut. In those days Subaru was selling in the range of 200,00 to 260,000 vehicles a year across the U.S.

New England was good selling territory for Subaru. Snowy winter weather, hilly terrain and many outdoor enthusiasts helped make Subaru popular. A usual occurrence while stopped at a traffic light was for me to be surrounded by a number of Subaru vehicles.

Today, the Subaru brand has become vastly more popular. Subaru vehicles are selling in record numbers with total U.S. sales now in the range of 650,000 to 700,000 vehicles---this in the pre-pandemic and pre-supply chain shortage years.

To keep things fresh Subaru has introduced a Wilderness trim on its two biggest selling models, the Outback and the Forester.

I recently spent time driving the new 2022 Forester Wilderness. Compared to other Forester trims the Wilderness has longer coil springs and shock absorbers that give it a half inch more ground clearance….9.2 inches compared to 8.7 inches. This also increases the approach, departure and breakover angles for better negotiating off-road terrain. Yokohama GEOLANDAR raised white letter all-terrain tires are fitted for increased traction on muddy or gravel roads.  Exclusive 17-inch alloy wheels in matte black finish complete the package.

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The new front fascia features a bold hexagonal front grille. Unique front and rear bumpers, larger wheel arch cladding, a front skid plate, unique hexagonal LED fog lights and an anti-glare hood decal in matte-black finish provide exterior distinction. Badging on the front doors and rear hatch call out the Wilderness name.

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The ladder-type roof rack has a dynamic load capacity to 220 lb., and can support up to 800 lb. when parked, allowing for sleeping up high in a larger roof tents.

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In the cabin, water resistant StarTex seating surfaces are suited to carrying wet and muddy outdoor gear. Brushed aluminum pedals and anodized copper-finish accents, both in and out, add some uniqueness.

Like all Forester trims, the Wilderness has a 182-hp 2.5-L horizontally opposed, four cylinder engine under the hood. It’s mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) driving an all-wheel drive (AWD) system. The Wilderness features a driver-selectable 8-speed manual shift mode and steering wheel shift paddles. EPA fuel economy ratings are 25 city mpg and 28 highway mpg.

A Wilderness exclusive for the AWD system is a Dual-mode X-MODE that features selectable Snow/Dirt mode, Deep Snow/Mud mode (under 25 mph); Deep Snow/Mud mode (above 25 mph); and, Low Speed/Low Ratio Gradient Control that can automatically detect vehicle travel on steep gradients and shift the CVT to a low ratio.

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The 2022 Forester Wilderness is priced at $32,820 to start, plus a $1,125 destination fee. The Wilderness I drove was equipped with an accessory aluminum engine under guard which cost $220.

A single option package is available for the 2022 Wilderness that includes Subaru STARLINK 8.0-inch Multimedia Navigation system, Harman Kardon premium sound system, and a Power Rear hatch. The option package has a MSRP of $1,850.

More details on the new Forester can be found at In addition to the Wilderness, the Forester is available in Base, Premium, Sport, Limited and Touring trims priced from $25,195 to $35,295.

The only wilderness I drove the Forester in was the wilds around my Chicago home. Dynamically the Forester is nicely balanced and performs well. At 182.7 inches its compact length makes for easy maneuvering. The front 180-degree monitor that lets you view what’s on a trail immediately in front of you also comes in handy even in the city for tight maneuvering.

Rear cargo volume is 28.9 cu.ft. behind the rear seat which is plenty roomy for weekend suitcases, a load of groceries. or a trip to your favorite greenhouse or household supply store. We made use of the roof rails to haul home a Christmas tree.

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Some of the switchgear is a bit dated, but may suite the outdoor-types just fine. I enjoyed the heated seats but would have liked a heated steering wheel—that comes with the Limited and Touring trims. CVTs being what they are requires acceptance of the engine spinning at a constant 3000 to 4000 RPM as you accelerate. I expected the Geolander tires to be a bit noisy with their more aggressive tread pattern. They were, but only on concrete road surfaces at highway cruising speeds—that’s the tradeoff for better off-road traction.

Driver assist safety features in the standard EyeSight Driver Assist Technology include adaptive cruise control with lane centering, blind spot monitor, lane keep assist, pre-collision braking and throttle management, and lead vehicle start alert.

Driving the Forester also reminded me of when I lived in Connecticut and saw many a Subaru with a kayak or a bicycle on the roof. Subaru folks are outdoors folks and many go right from their workplace to an early evening outdoor adventure. The Forester Wilderness is a great vehicle to get you to that adventure which is often down some unpaved trail.

Happy Motoring!

© 2021 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy