2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness
We all know that station wagons are not popular here in North America. After 1990s, wagons are vanished from our roads unlike Europe. Today, it has less than 2% of total automobile sales, which is way behind SUVs. Wagons usually offer a better balance of practicality and performance, as they still offer quite cargo and passenger accommodation without compromising driving dynamics.
This is why we still have the Subaru Outback. The Outback has the majority of market share in that tiny “wagon” segment in North America. It should not be considered as a pure station wagon, but it is a hybrid wagon and crossover that combines advantages of both body types.
This week we have had a chance to test drive the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness. It replaces the Outdoor trim from 2021 model year. Outdoor trim was nice, but Subaru decided to take it to next level with the Wilderness trim. Now it is not just more rugged looking trim, but off-road ready right off the bat.
Exterior and Interior
Current generation Outback may not be the newest kid on the block, but the Wilderness trim spices the things up and offers different alternative to typical SUV buyers who are looking for more adventure and off-road capability. You still get traditional Outback design, fairly long body type with less vertical space than traditional SUV, as expected from a station wagon.
Compared to other Outback trims, Wilderness offers extra 0.8 inch of ground clearance, a total of 9.5 inches which is quite impressive for a crossover. As expected from a off-road oriented vehicle, it has off-road capable Yokohama Geolander tires with black rims, more unpainted plastic trims and skid plate underneath for additional protection.
While having impressive 9.5 inch ground clearance, Outback still has lower roof compared to traditional SUVs and Crossovers. Though it does still offer good amount of headroom for both driver and passengers, it allows you to access roof-top much easier.
Typical Subaru fashion, the interior looks traditionally Subaru. If you are coming from another Subaru model from the last 10 years, this would feel like home from the first second. There are some common parts used in pretty much all other Subarus. Though it has a huge screen, volume knob and other essential features have physical button.
If you are shopping for a crossover and in case if you are on the fence, Outback would change your mind if you prioritize rear seat legroom. Compared to a traditional SUV like the Forester, Outback gives you additional depth, as the car is significantly longer than the Forester.
Subaru Outback has a very loyal customer baseline, and there is a reason why. One of the most significant feature that makes the Outback popular is the overall cargo space that it offers. It comes with 32.5 cubic feet (920 lt) of cargo space behind the rear seats, and 75.7 cubic feet (2143 lt) with these seats folded.
The numbers are impressive, especially if you have longer items that you have to carry constantly. As this is significantly taller than an average 2-row SUV, it offers significantly more depth especially when you fold down the rear seats. However, if you have tall items that you have to put vertically, it lacks a little bit of vertical cargo space as this is essentially a station wagon. You need to go with the Forester if you need more vertical space.
Engine and Drivetrain
2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness comes with only one engine and transmission option. It has 2.4 liter turbocharged 4 cylinder boxer engine that produces 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. If you go with lower trims, it still comes with naturally aspirated 2.5 liter engine. In our tests, we were averaging around 10.5 L / 100 km, which is acceptable for this type of vehicle.
The Continuously Variable Transmission is very sensitive to throttle inputs, and it still mimics the shifting points like traditional automatic transmission. As Wilderness trim is more off-road oriented version, it comes with shorter final drive ratio for better climbing, meaning that it accelerates faster than other Outback trims, at an expense of slightly higher rpms on the highway.
Like other Subaru models, Outback Wilderness comes with Subaru’s Symmetrical All Wheel Drive system that is quite capable in every type of terrain. There is still no mechanical limited slip differential in the back, but it comes with Dual X-Mode that you can choose the terrain type and it adjusts AWD system accordingly.
Driving Impressions and Features
Outback is also known as the “driver’s choice” as it feels more like a car behind the steering wheel, compared to other SUVs and Crossovers. As Outback Wilderness comes with off-road suspension and wheel setup, it has slightly more road noise and body roll. It would still be the driver’s choice, but for those who like to take their cars off-road.
Speaking of off-road, as you expect it is quite capable despite having open differential in the rear. However, Subaru’s X-Mode makes the things very easy for you. You don’t have to do anything except choosing the right X-Mode, and step on the gas pedal. You can choose Snow & Dirt for light duty off road, and Deep Snow & Mud for harder conditions.
Despite having off-road setup, it surprisingly have good handling characteristics. Thanks to the symmetrical AWD system, the car is very predictable and it feels solid in every type of terrain. You get absolutely no torque steering even on loose surface. Since it has slightly shorter gear ratio, 2.4 liter turbo engine has pretty good roll on power, it is quite peppy on and off-road.
The biggest difference compared to other Subaru models is the infotainment system that is used exclusively in Outback models including the Wilderness trim. It comes with 11.6 inch huge screen that has a decent resolution and touch sensitivity. Lower trims come with dual 7-inch screen.
Wilderness trim comes with the bigger 11.6 inch screen. As it’s vertically placed, it divides the screen digitally into three different portions. All trims get the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard, but Apple CarPlay integration is much smoother than the Android Auto.
Pricing and the Verdict
The Subaru Outback has a special formula that no other manufacturer was able to replicate, and that’s the main reason why it dominates the wagon market. It still keeps its wagon silhouette, while combining SUV features such as standard AWD system, decent ground clearance, 3500 lbs towing capability and car-like driving dynamics.
With the new 2.4 liter turbo engine and off-road oriented Wilderness trim, Subaru took it to next level to make it more special. Unless you go to luxury entries, there is currently no competition in Outback’s territory. 2022 Subaru Outback starts at $33,449 and the Wilderness trim sets you back $44,249 for additional features, better engine and much better off-road capability.
For more details – please visit www.subaru.ca