2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness – Refreshed Upfitted Re-Driven Review

2022 Subaru Forester 2.5L Wilderness AWD: factory upfitted road to Wilder Forests runs $9k dearer = $36k

BACK TO WILD OUTDOORS: or Out to Wild Backyard is where the already active lifestyle focused Subaru automotive brand is branching. This year’s new Subie “Wilderness” trim, trickling down from an initial offering in the Outback sport wagon, joins a growing grid of Off-Road enhanced compact crossover SUVs. In this current Re-Drive Review Roadblazing.com editors dig into the greater grit differentiating the newest 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness from the last sampled 2021 Forester Sport.

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness Driving Hits: (differences from 2021 Subaru Forester Sport in parentheses)

  • 2.5L 16V DOHC gas H-4 = 182 horsepower, 176 pound-feet torque @ 2000 rpm; Start/ Stop idle

    2022 Subaru Forester 2.5L Wilderness AWD: naturally aspirated gas flat-4 = less powerful than Outback’s turbo H-4, but sips less regular unleaded
  • Continuously variable transaxle w/ 8-step manumatic shifting & steering wheel dorsal shift paddles
  • Shorter 4.11:1 final drive ratio for slower descent crawl and improved acceleration (vs. Forester Sport 3.70:1)
  • Low S gradient control
  • More than adequate highway chugging
  • Standard viscous center clutch full-time all-wheel drive, w/ brake torque vectoring
  • Drive modes x 3; ♦ Dual X-Mode: Snow & Dirt, Deep Snow & Mud [ASC disengaged] off road modes (under 25 mph); ABS downhill assist cruise control

    2022 Subaru Forester 2.5L Wilderness AWD: off road X-Mode accessible via twist center console knob
  • 26 combined miles per gallon, 464 miles highway range
  • Fully independent suspension, firmed up for the off-road lift but without much added harshness; More compliant ride than some competing off-road aimed crossovers
  • Firmed up, electric assist power steering, but with inert road feel; Numb but linear disc brake input reaction
  • WILDERNESS specific:
    • Stiffer bushing and damping rates
    • Front skid plate
    • 9.2″ ground clearance (+0.5″ vs. 2021 Forester Sport)
    • -0.2″ / -0.4″ inches F/R wheel track vs. 2021 Forester Sport
    • Yokohoma Geolandar G015 T-speed rated all-terrain tires on 17″ wheel diameter (-1.0″ vs. 2021 Forester Sport)

      2022 Subaru Forester 2.5L Wilderness AWD: all-terrain rubber on 17″ dark alloys hum slightly on an utterly compliant independent suspension
    • Full sized spare tire mounted on OEM Enkei alloy wheel, stored sub cargo floor
    • +3.5°/ +0.8°/ +1.4° approach/ departure/ breakover angles vs. 2021 Forester Sport
    • Little wind highway wind buffeting, cabin immune to wind or road noise
    • 3500 pounds tow rated; 700 lb. roof rack rating
    • Rigid hot stamped high tensile steel body

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness Driving Misses:

  • Less powerful than 2.5 turbo motor exclusive in Outback Wilderness
  • Farm implement engine noise upon acceleration
  • CVT engine speed to acceleration disconnect
  • 10% poorer fuel economy vs. 2021 Forester Sport due to weight, tire tread & aerodynamics
  • ADAS lane keep assist constantly de- and re- activates, emitting audible beep each time

What the 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness Has Got:

  • Pricing: from $27,445 (incl. destination) for an CVT automatic 2022 Subaru Forester CVT all-wheel drive.
    • As tested top Crystal Pearl White 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness 2.5L CVT all-wheel drive trim priced at $36,015
    • $2000 < than the next least expensive Wildneress upfitted Subaru, the Outback Wilderness, owing to the Forester’s less powerful engine
  • a Crossover SUV bearing a more traditional upright cubic shape and truck-like character lines
    • NEW FOR ’22: thinner grille, more hooked boomerang headlaps

      2022 Subaru Forester 2.5L Wilderness AWD: goes to town on aggressive dark body cladding, adds lower front bash plate, includes distinctive multi-segmented driving lights
  • WILDERNESS trim specific: Darkened grille, unique bumper covers, larger wheel arch & body cladding and “WILDERNESS” badging

    2022 Subaru Forester 2.5L Wilderness AWD: enhanced roof rack supports up to 700 pounds
  • 0.8″ inches taller, 0.7″ inches wider vs. 2021 Forester Sport
  • 5 generously sized adult, 2-Row seating
  • 42.0 to 75 cubic feet cargo capacity via 60/40% split reclining & folding 2nd Row seatbacks + dual cargo bay wall cable release handles

    2022 Subaru Forester 2.5L Wilderness AWD: 60/40% split folding 2nd Row seatbacks= expansive cargo hold
  • Contrast stitch padded upper and middle dash; Front passenger side dashboard shelf; Satin metallic mid dash, door panel & center console banding; Traditional dual analog dial gauges flanking 7.0″ color TFT multi-function display; Lower center stack wireless device storage cubby; Even & smooth finished switchgear
  • Comprehensive standard feature set
    • Remote keyless entry; 1-zone (optional 2-zone automatic) air-conditioned climate control
    • LED headlights & taillights; Rain sensing windshield wipers
    • Full express power windows x 4; Cup holders x4, Bottle holders x 4
    • Ballistic fabric 6-way driver & 4-way passenger manual adjust seats; Tilt & telescoping leatherette steering wheel
    • Center dash embedded, dual knob controlled, twin upper and lower 7.0″ landscape touch LCD audio & media display w/ wireless voice control; USB-C x 2; 12V x 2; Bluetooth phone connectivity and smart phone SMS
    • Standard 6-speaker, 240 W streaming audio with HD-radio
    • Android Auto, AppleCar Play phone projection; Sirius XM satellite radio (120 days trial);
  • Excellent safety features & ratings
      • +1 IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus; 10 airbags; Full size spare tire on alloy wheel
  • Driver assist tech (standard)
        • Rear camera + predictive grid; Front view parking monitor
        • EYESIGHT ADAS: Pedestrian & vehicle collision avoidance braking; Blind Spot View monitor; Rear cross traffic alert; Full adaptive cruise control; Lane departure warning, trace assist;  Post collision brake lock; Row 2 occupant reminder; Auto high beam LED headlamps

          2022 Subaru Forester 2.5L Wilderness AWD: rear camera view in infotainment screen & front camera view in upper dash MFD display
  • 3 years / 36,000 miles bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years / 60,000 miles powertrain warranty
    • -1 No included maintenance; Short 5 year, unlimited mileage rust perforation warranty

What the 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness Has Not (or Not Preferred):

  • Lacks heated steering wheel
  • Need to open touch infotainment display to activate front seat heating, rather than dedicated physical switches
  • Center stack smart phone pocket too shallow
  • Cabin wall hard plastic graining = coarse

Standout Feature(s) on 2022 SUBARU FORESTER WILDERNESS:

  • Power moonroof
  • Reverse automatic braking
  • 8.0″ Starlink touch LCD infotainment display; HDD cloud GPS voice command, voice guidance navigation (3 yrs. OTA map updates)

    2022 Subaru Forester 2.5L Wilderness AWD: notice how upper dash MFD displays WRX as ead vehicle for EyeSight adaptive cruise control driving
  • Auto dimming rear view mirror + Homelink remote door control; Comfort access; Push button ignition; Approach activated adjustable height power liftgate
  • Startex water repellent leatherette seats + red piping, “WILDERNESS” etched headrest heated front, 10-way power driver, 4-way manual passenger adjust; Rear climate vents & outboard heated seats;

    2022 Subaru Forester 2.5L Wilderness AWD: luxurious feeling StarTex seat covering is waterproof and heated
  • Row 1 seat backs aft tiered pockets x 2
  • Copper colored steering wheel & dashboard accents; Copper colored “WILDERNESS” door panel tags & rocky illustrated all-weather floor & cargo bay mats

    2022 Subaru Forester 2.5L Wilderness AWD: gold accented Wilderness badging, cabin tags and roof rack accents
  • WILDERNESS” copper colored front door and liftgate badging, roof rack,
  • USB-A x 4; 12V x 2 (including cargo bay)
  • Sirius TravelLink (3 yrs. trial); 2 GB trial 4G LTE WiFi subscription by Verizon
  • Harman Kardon 9 speaker, 576 Watt premium sound system
  • Starlink Apps (complimentary): Chimani, Ebird, Eve Connect
  • Starlink Safety Plus & Remote Connect (3 yrs. trial)


Roadblazing.com Says: Factory upfitted Subie compact X-Over forays into “Wilder” forests run dearer.

Contributing Editor: T. Paluch


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WHAT:: 2021 Subaru Forester Sport compact crossover utility vehicle built on the Subaru Global Platform SK, co-opted from the Impreza sedan. It replaces the fourth generation SJ model.

Standard Power: 2.5L DOHC 16V DI gas flat-4 = 182 hp/ 176 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm + continuously variable transmission + asymmetrical all-wheel drive.

WHAT (A) STYLING DIFFERENCE: Always an Impreza compact sportback derivative, and hence relative of the WRX, this compact CUV initially succeeded an SK Outback Sport (series SF),  at a time when regular Outbacks were lifted Legacy wagons. Now supported by the Subaru Global Platform the new Forester wears more athletic attire than ever.

2021 Subaru Forester Sport: Tall greenhouse, low cowl makes Forester a breeze to see outwards from

Rugged -ized Truck -ified: The 2021 Subaru Forester* is firmly a conventional squared off compact SUV, with a tall greenhouse and little body sloping and a vertical liftgate. Major outward differences from the preceding Mk. 4 Forester SJ include prominent eye-brow DRLs, atop the headlamp assemblies, extending further inboard, a taller inverted “U” lower front fascia with larger dark clad pseudo inlets at the corners. Door beltlines are scooped rather than creased flaring near the rocker panels, the latter now clad much as the Subaru Outback. Wheel arches are fully dark plastic clad as well. Emphatic lateral “boomerang” wrap around taillamps bite further inboard of the liftgate. (*2022 MY Forester’s, just announced, will wear a revised front clip.)

2021 Subaru Forester Sport: Trendy inboard directed boomerang rear taillamps add presence.

Sporting Eye-Grabbing New Attire: While bringing no more drivetrain or suspension to the table, the tested 2021 Forester Sport wore a midnight blue hue contrasted by darkened wheels and red piping akin to the NFL’s Denver Bronco’s colors.

WHY: Dedicated to the proposition that outdoor adventures can include taller cargo.

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