Pricing for the 2022 Subaru Outback starts at $31,195 in Canada, $26,945 in the US.
The new Wilderness trim is the big news story for the 2022 Outback.
Is it the coolest SUV-non-SUV on the market?
I believe, with rosy-coloured glasses, that had Subaru introduced the Wilderness trim for the Outback upon its initial introduction in 1995, we wouldn’t have transitioned over to SUVs.
Think about it. In the mid-90s, SUVs were crude and limited to, more or less, the Ford Explorer (one of the rollover editions), Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chevrolet Blazer (GMC Jimmy), Nissan Pathfinder, and Toyota 4Runner. And among these “buggies” came a jacked-up Legacy Outback station wagon that, with the exception of ground clearance at first, did everything the SUVs did at least as well or better.
In my opinion, had a Wilderness-like trim been offered at the time, the Outback’s nice interior, more comfortable ride, better fuel efficiency, and rugged good looks would have swayed many thousands of families away from unreliable Jeeps, questionably-built Fords, and heavily rust-prone Nissans and Toyotas (Subies rust bad too…).
The Wilderness trim combines all the goodies into one package. Visually, it gains unique front and rear bumpers with four included tow hook points, black and anodized copper trim and accents, larger more prominent fender moldings, Yokohama Geolandar all-terrain tires with exclusive 17-inch black-painted wheels, a special roof rack, and some specific colours. Unlike the Forester Wilderness, the Outback is great-looking.
The 6th generation Outback is more luxurious and better appointed than ever. Unless you select the base Convenience with its dual 7-inch touchscreens (SUBARU STARLINK Multimedia with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto included), you will get an 11.6-inch tablet-like screen. The size of the screen leaves precious little room for physical controls which poses a problem. The display is often laggy, unresponsive and for many commands, the UX is poor. Apple CarPlay was unreliable even when cabled (never mind wireless) and both front and the rear camera resolution is bad.
Beyond the infotainment system, the 2022 Subaru Outback’s cabin is wonderful. It’s supremely spacious, beautifully appointed, and comfortable. The truck holds a massive 920 litres (32.5 cubic feet) of stuff and the second row will accommodate three occupants across with ease. Up front, seats are supportive and durable thanks to the all-weather soft-touch upholstery.
For $41,995, the 2022 Wilderness trim is the first to be equipped with Subaru’s turbocharged 2.4-litre boxer 4-cylinder engine that is good for 260 horsepower and 277 lb.-ft. of torque. Although the naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre boxer 4-cylinder engine, with its 182 horsepower and 176 lb.-ft. of torque offers enough get-up-and-go, it’s tough to argue against the boost.
Subaru has made efforts to ensure that the Wilderness will live up to owners’ potential expectations. Among the upgrades, the standard-for-all Lineartronic CVT has an overall shorter ratio as do the transfer case and rear differential gearings. This, combined with the enhanced Dual-Function X-MODE means that the Wilderness can now crawl up and through serious terrains without ending up short on power or capability. And given its new abilities, Subaru’s fitted the wagon with plenty of aluminum and steel skid plates underneath.
Finally, to the Subaru Global Platform, longer springs were fitted to increase the Outback’s ground clearance from 8.6 inches to a solid SUV-besting 9.5 inches. The added clearance enables the Wilderness to go deep and far off-road and best of all, ride quality is unaffected. In fact, the Outback Wilderness drives as good or better than all of its would-be competitors.
The powertrain is refined and responsive. The dead-horse that is the CVT has nearly been beaten enough as it works delightfully well in this application. It keeps the 2.4T in the happiest part of its torque-band meaning that the Outback is quick if a little thirsty. All in all, it’s a really good and satisfying car, sorry station wagon, to drive.
The quarter-century success story continues
The Outback continues to march to the sound of its own drum. The Wilderness trim brings an answer from the factory for those who are really into the safari-all-the-things movement that is quite trendy at the moment.
The Outback dabbles between compact and midsize SUVs such as the Honda CR-V and Passport (now available with a TrailSport trim), and both the Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee. The latter is all-new for 2022 and may very well be the most appealing SUV on sale today.
In the rare event that you don’t want an SUV, the only option is the Subaru Outback. That would be my case. Alternatively, the new Grand Cherokee is mighty good. Back in 1995-96, this dilemma could have been faced by countless consumers. I’m convinced there would be fewer conventional SUVs on the road today and that more automakers would be selling Outback/Crosstrek, Alltrack, Allroad, and All-Terrain-like vehicles. I think the world would be a better place for it…