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2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness Highlights:

  • 2022 Subaru Forester: ($25,395 – $35,495)
  • Five Star Saftey Rating from the NHTSA
  • Pros: incredibly practical both on-road and off
  • Cons: The only engine option is pretty underpowered
2022 Subaru forester Wilderness Edition off-roading on a snowy trail
2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness Edition | MotorBiscuit: Peter Corn

As soon as I heard about the new Subaru Wilderness trim, I knew that it was going to be a game-changer for the brand. The Subaru Outback got the Wilderness treatment first. Within months rumors surfaced of the trim expanding to other models. I spent a week In our 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness review unit, which has opened my eyes to what Subaru is capable of. 

What is the Subaru Wilderness trim? 

The 2022 Subaru Forester is fine on its own. Its a safe, reliable, and efficient little SUV. However, it is boring. This isn’t a dig; it’s just true. I only say that to give context to my thoughts on the Wilderness trim, in particular. 

The beefy body cladding, bash plate, black wheels, knobby tires, upgraded suspension, and stylish gold logos and stitching of the Wilderness trim are just enough to push it from boring but good to pretty cool and good. This subtle change in appearance and performance elevates the Forrester from a sensible commuter to a near enthusiast car – I mean, not quite, but really close. 

What’s new for the 2022 Subaru Forester? 

Geyser Blue 2022 Subaru Forester driving through a forest
2022 Subaru Forester | Subaru

The biggest update for the 2022 Subaru Forester is the addition of the Wilderness package. One of the Forester changes that often gets overlooked is that the CVT “gearbox” goes from a simulated seven-speed to a simulated eight-speed automatic for the Wilderness trim. 

The biggest change comes for the off-roaders by way of a new version of Subaru’s AWD X-Mode. A key new feature for the X-Mode is that, previously, if you drove over 25 mph, the system would shut off, and you’d have to manually turn it back on. Now, X-Mode will merely pause if you pass 25 mph, then reactivate once in the proper speed range. 

Which Subaru Forester trim is the best? 

The Wilderness is the best Forester trim, period. This is definitive. As I mentioned earlier, the Forester is an objectively great little SUV, but it is really tough to get excited about. Like white rice – an irreplaceable and fantastic culinary staple – it needs some dressing up in order to be enjoyable. The Forester is similarly challenged, that is, until the Wilderness trim. 

2022 Subaru Forester TrimsPrice

The only downside of the Wilderness package is that it is the second to the top model, which means you will pay a premium. According to Car and Driver, the Wilderness trim costs $4625 more than the Limited trim. That brings our 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness review unit’s price to $35,959 after fees and the optional $1,125 Starlink package. 

The Subaru Forester Wilderness, somehow, looks great!

2022 Subaru Forester: Consumer Reports finds 1 problem
2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness | Subaru of America, Inc

The regular Forester is no great piece of aesthetic design. However, the beefed-up Wilderness suspension, wheels, tires, and gold accents, elevate the entire look of the SUV. 

Our 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness review unit came dressed in a very strong looking Autumn Green Metallic, with gobs of dark grey cladding, splashed with anodized gold hardware and badging. The same themes continue inside too. The interior is fairly plain but still looks good. Small details and multiple different materials make the interior feel distinctly intentional and considered. 

It’s amazing to me how far just a few pieces of exterior gear like cladding and roof rails paired with the right color combo can completely transform how we feel about a car. 

The 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness offers real performance, not flash

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness in the woods
2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness Edition | MotorBiscuit: Peter Corn

Throughout our week with the 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness review unit, I noticed some fond feelings for the slow yet somehow enjoyable 182-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder. 

Look, if you like driving fast or, at least, a bit of torquey snap off the line, the Forester might not be the one for you. It isn’t fast. That being said, that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it. The power, however, the little there is, comes smoothly and directly when you kick the right pedal. Aside from the speed, everything about the power delivery felt positive. I don’t know else to explain it. It felt like the Forester was always happy to give what I asked for once I learned how to ask for the right things. 

As far as handling, steering, and braking are concerned, the Forester WIlderness was a dream. Every movement felt natural and connected. The driving position was comfortable and commanding, while the smaller footprint of the chassis and the AWD system made off-roading feel almost alarmingly easy. 

We knocked around a snowy trail in the Hudson Valley, just outside of NYC, and within seconds, the Forester and I felt right at home in the Pollock-esque mixture of snow and mud. Before long, the Green Metallic paint began to match the speckled forest floor. At one point, the trail got uneven and rutted. The Forester never hesitated. In fact, on the worst bit, the Soob was so kind as to calmly lift the rear passenger-side wheel, its friends took over the work until it rested back into the muddy snow. 

The downsides of the powertrain are few, but they are tough to miss. The most noticeable is the sluggish acceleration. The 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness does 0-60 mph in a laborious 9.2 seconds. Despite the lack of power, it never felt like a hindrance on the highways. 

The other part that is a common complaint about this engine is the raspy yet cutting sounds. This isn’t a problem per se, but it can be annoying. I always have music playing when I drive. The only times I noticed the rough engine sounds was if I got higher in the rev range and cut the music down to hear it myself. This is a common complaint, so I knew to listen for it, and still, it wasn’t too big of a deal. 

Lastly, the 2.5-liter engine isn’t quite as fuel-efficient as we would hope. Under normal conditions, the Forester’s 28 mpg combined (26 mpg for the Wilderness) is pretty great given the size and capability. However, now with $5 per gallon for gas had the 26 mpg hurting a bit more than we would like. 

Is the Subaru Forester Wilderness comfortable? 

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness interior cabin seating and upholstery
2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness interior | Subaru of America, Inc

Surprisingly, yes, very. When I picked up my 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness review unit, I was wrapping up a review for a $101,000 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE 53. Excluding the fantastic seat massagers of the Merc, the Soob matching, if not surpassed, the Merc in ride comfort. 

I was worried the off-road suspension in the Subaru would make driving around a city so lousy with potholes, would be torture. I’ll tell you this as a fact; the Subaru Forester Wilderness took those same craggy streets better than the GLE did. Even when I couldn’t avoid some of the more aggressive Manhattan potholes, the Forester ate them up and asked for seconds, thirds, and more. This is one of the few SUVs I’ve ever driven that felt nearly as at home on-road as it did off-road. The seats themselves weren’t overly plush, but they do look good. Overall, I really enjoyed every minute spent inside the modest SUV.  

How safe is the Subaru Forester? 

A 2022 Subaru Forester compact crossover SUV with a green paint color driving through snow near a forest
2022 Subaru Forester | Subaru of America, Inc

Is the 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness Actually Any Good Off-Road?

Subaru is one of the safest car company’s on the road today. In fact, famous comedian and comedy writer, Tina Fey, bought a Forester because of safety alone. 

The NHSTA gave the 2022 Forester five stars across the board, with one exception. On the roll-over test, the Forester got four out of five stars. The IIHS also gave it a ” good ” score in every category. 

Subaru is also an industry leader in terms of driver assistance features and safety tech. The Subaru EyeSight safety system includes forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assistance, and adaptive cruise control. 

How much does it cost to maintain a Subaru Forester? 

Maintenance for the 2022 Outback is fairly inexpensive. According to Edmunds, it can cost an average of around $5k to maintain an Outback for the first five years of its life. As for repairs, Edmunds estimates that regular maintenance should stay below $1,000 for the first year.

Fortunately, any new Forester buyers won’t need to worry about repairs as it’s covered by the brand’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. 

The 2022 Subaru Forester WIlderness is simply too good to ignore

From the first moments with the Subaru Forester Wilderness until I was forced to give the keys back, I loved every second of driving the Forester. It was perfectly in the middle on everything. It was comfortable and nice on the road while still maintaining modesty and affordability. It is a proper off-roader while still being composed and efficient. It looked tough and commanding without making me feel like I was overcompensating. 

The Forester gave me everything I needed without fail from start to finish. Sure, I wanted more power, a manual transmission, maybe a better-sounding engine, but I never needed any of those things. 

MotorBiscuit Gives the 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness an expert score of 8.7 out of 10 

There are so few things you can say that are objectively bad about the Subaru Forester. Once you step up to the Wilderness Edition trim, there are even fewer things to dislike. Because of its overwhelming goodness and the modest price point, there is no course forward for me where the Forester Wilderness Edition isn’t on my shortlist.