Is It Cheaper to DIY Your Own Subaru Outback Wilderness or Buy a New One?

  • You can make your own Subaru Outback Wilderness for under $3K
  • Subaru upgraded the rear diff in the Wilderness, something the aftermarket can’t replicate
  • It’s possible to find any number of near-new Outbacks under the Wilderness’ MSRP

Subaru is charging a pretty penny for a brand new 2022 Subaru Outback. As journalist Matt Farah put it, “it’s the ‘outback’ Outback.” Meaning, the Japanese brand has taken everything that people do to soup up their Subies and given it to buyers from the factory. Obviously, that all comes at a price, to the tune of $38,000. Should you just do it yourself for less? Time to find out.

A blue 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness shot from the front 3/4 on a trail
The Outback Wilderness gets a re-worked rear diff | Subaru

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Is modifying a Subaru Outback worth it?

First, let’s discuss some potential pitfalls. Modifying your car can have some consequences, especially if not done properly. Any number of these mods can change the way your nice clean Outback drives for better or worse. The same goes for your fuel economy. On to the rest. For the purposes of this little thought experiment, let’s just say you’ve got the wrenches and savvy to make all this happen yourself.

Let’s start with the changes Subaru made to make the Outback Wilderness. It’s a pretty short yet effective list, per the brand’s press materials. First and most obvious, there’s a lift. The new Wilderness now has 9.5 in of ground clearance, new bumpers help with breakover and approach angles, and plenty of tow hooks. Subaru also added an upgraded diff, roof rails that’ll hold up to 700 lbs, and Yokohama A/T tires to help with grip off-road. Finally, you can also add in an optional skid plate. In total, you’re spending $38,120 on the 2022 Outback Wilderness.

Can an Outback hold a roof tent?

A white Outback with a roof basket in the desert
The Outback’s roof rails can hold up to 700 lbs | Subaru

I decided to start with the hardest thing to replicate: technology. It’s a simple fact that the tech is going to be difficult and expensive, if not impossible to add. That limits us to any number of 2015+ Subaru Outback models. Thankfully, plenty of used Outbacks can be had for under the Wilderness’ MSRP. I found a 2019 model for a hair under $32K with 36,000 miles. So, that takes care of tech. Apple Carplay and Android Auto are standard, and some will have numerous cameras available.

Now for the mods. First, there’s the most important part: a lift kit. I found a number of basic lift kits that take the 2019 Outback’s ride height from its 8-inch base up to around 9-10 inches, with the cheapest and most simple costing $429.95. As for the roof rails, Yakima will happily sell you one for $700 installed. Yokohama A/T tires ($815.96 at TireRack) and a skid plate ($495) complete things. In all, “outbacking” your used Subaru Outback will cost you $2,438.91. So, it’s easily possible to simply DIY your own Wilderness, sans diff upgrade.

The 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness still has plenty going for it

A blue 2022 Outback Wilderness shot from the front 3/4
The Wilderness is selling like hotcakes | Subaru

Really, Subaru’s upgraded rear differential is the kicker. There’s simply not a lot of aftermarket options out there for newer Outbacks. Subaru says it helps the Outback to climb steeper surfaces, so you’ll have to judge whether that’s worth the extra cash or not. In all, your very own Wilderness Outback can be yours for under the 2022 model’s MSRP. There’s even some room left in the budget for a roof tent.

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