The 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness Will Leave You Feeling Rugged, Wild and Free

2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness Side View. Photo: Kim Croisant
2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness side view. Photo: Kim Croisant

That’s what adventure is all about, right?

Sometimes I just need to get away. Far, far away. Someplace where nature’s potholes aren’t as bothersome as those that open up on the highway. Where a creek is something to plow through rather than find a route around. A place where you can feel rugged, wild and free. That is what made me happy about the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness. This is the first vehicle in the Wilderness family, which beefs up the Subaru lineup with more off-road capability and fortifies them with skid plates, higher ground clearance and cameras that show you the road underfoot.
There are two reasons I have wanted to test drive a Subaru. Reason one: I’ve heard so many great things about the brand and that owners of a Subaru claim they will “always be an owner of a Subaru.” It seems Subaru has very loyal customers. Reason two: my husband thought it could be our next vehicle to own. We had a road trip planned and thought it would be the perfect chance to put a Subaru Outback to the family test. Then, to our delight, the Wilderness version with a price tag of about $37,000 showed up in the driveway.

Related: Go Wild With the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness

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Five Things I Like About The 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness

1. Excellent Performance, On and Off the Road

I love how the Subaru Outback drives like a regular comfortable car on the highway while we pursue regular life, but it’s outfitted for the environment it’s designed for — the wilderness. Even though I wasn’t navigating stands of trees or rugged roads, I felt like the Outback Wilderness performed like a champ on the highway.

However, I do have to say, it seemed to have a mind of its own at times. My son in the backseat kept thinking I was putting on the brakes, but it was actually Subaru’s Eyesight driver assist system pre-braking as traffic ahead of us slowed. The system also adjusts for lane position, so if you drift from one side to the other, or change lanes without signaling, the system will attempt to nudge you back into the center of the lane. It can feel as though the car is moving back and forth on its own. Drivers can turn off the Eyesight system by clicking the vehicle icon on the media screen and then disabling the features they don’t want active.

2. Great Ground Clearance

The ground clearance in the Outback Wilderness was awesome. It was really easy to get in and out, but I can also see it handling the road up to my favorite hiking trails with ease. I’m only sad that my test drive was in December and not in the fall, as I know I could have gone to some hard-to-reach places to see some beautiful changing leaves.

3. Beautiful Color Options

You wouldn’t believe how many compliments I received on the Geyser Blue color, available only on the Wilderness. Although my original pick would have been the Autumn Green, the blue definitely grew on me, and now I’d consider that color for my next car.

4. Surprisingly Spacious

Though I’m used to driving a seven-seater, the Outback surprised me with the room we had. I can see why loyal Subaru fans love the Outback. My son was perfectly comfortable in the backseat throughout our trip – something I usually expect in larger cars with lots of interior space.

5. Unique Look and Feel

The Wilderness edition has a very unique look and feel. From the emblems on the side and rear of the car to the matte panel on the hood (designed to reduce glare!), cladding over the wheels along the lower side panels (to deflect rocks and mud) and embossed Wilderness crest on the headrests, little touches let you know its mission.

Related: Safety and Adventure in a 3 Row SUV: The 2019 Subaru Ascent Review

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Subaru Emblem on the floor mat.

It’s More Rugged Than I Imagined

The Outback Wilderness is an all-wheel drive car –Subarus are always all-wheel drive– with a 4-cylinder turbo that delivers 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque that can tow up to 3,500 pounds. That’s plenty of power and a good amount of towing for a small SUV.

All I could think about is, if I were in cold weather with lots of snow or rugged terrain, I would feel better about owning a car like this. However, I live in Texas, where there is little of that. So, even though I found out the Wilderness wasn’t the car for me, I did fall in love with Subaru and am not ruling out a different model.

There are eight trim levels of the Outback, for the record. Prices start at $26,945 for the base model and top out at $39,945 for the Touring XT model. Not just because Subaru has the best commercials (Puppies! Dogs! Kids! Need I go on?) or because I love how they give back to local charities, but if I ever do run into a situation where I need capability, I know a Subaru can deliver.

Also, I wouldn’t feel so guilty getting my car dirty. That just means you had fun using the car the way it was intended.

Related: Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid Review: A Use Less, Give More, Feel Better Car

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Who This Car Is For

  • The rugged, more adventure-focused soul
  • Subaru loyal fans
  • Road trip enthusiasts looking for comfort on the highway and a good off-road adventure when you get there
  • Buyers who want an adventure-ready SUV
  • The family who likes to hike, camp and climb

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Basic Specs Of The 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness SUV

  • Wheelbase 108.1″
  • Length 191.3″
  • 5-door, 5-passenger car
  • Cargo capacity is  32.5 cubic feet with the rear seats up and  75.7 cubic feet when they are folded
  • Curb weight is 3,896 lbs
  • 4-cylinder, 2.4 liter turbocharged BOXER engine with 260 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque
  • Fuel economy 22 city / 26 highway / 24 combined
  • Towing capacity is 3,500 lbs.
  • Price $36,995; there are a few add-ons such as footwell lights ($239), a seat back protector for the cargo area ($122), and you can upgrade the multimedia system and add a power moonroof ($1,845); destination charge is $1,175. The price of the model we test-drove was about $40,376.

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How is the Outback Wilderness Different?

Subaru added some key features to the Wilderness edition to make it even more capable off-road. These include:

  • An upgraded suspension
  • Yokohama Geolandar all-terrain tires
  • Advanced X-MODE that allows you to choose between dirt/snow and deep out/snow
  • Ladder-type roof rack system that can hold up to 700 lbs.
  • StarTex leatherette water-repellant upholstery
  • Front skid plate
  • The Outback’s ground clearance rises to 9.5″ from 8.7″
  • The approach angle, or distance between the lower front bumper and the bottom of the front tire, increases  to 20.0″ from 18.6″
  • The departure angle, or the distance between the bottom of the rear tire and the lower rear bumper, increases to 23.6″ from 21.7″

The Outback Wilderness left me thinking that maybe we should spend more time in the mountains, off road, seeking out creeks and trails. And find more adventure that will leave us feeling rugged, wild, and free.

Disclosure: The Subaru Outback Wilderness was provided for this review but all opinions are my own. 

Travel writer and road trip enthusiast of My Traveling Roads, Kim Croisant, is a proud native Texan passionate about... More about Kim Croisant