I am testing the 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness right now. Coming off the 2022 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE 53 review, I expected the Subaru to feel pedestrian and course compared to the Benz. Not only was that not the case at all, but the 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness is better than I ever thought, both on-road and off.
Can the 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness handle going off-road?
First of all, people have been throwing around the term “overland” when discussing the new Forester. Despite that being a pretty serious stretch, it was truly, shockingly good when I let it rip on a trail in the Hudson Valley. And, I do mean shockingly good.
Ever since I got my first Jeep Wrangler in 2007, I have been a baptized member of the Wrangler congregation. I only say that to say I have done 90 percent of my off-roading in a rough, ugly, worked-over, 2000 Jeep Wrangler with the 4.0-liter straight-six. I have never had to worry much about trail riding. Going from off-roading in a Wrangler to hitting an unknown snowy/muddy trail in the fog in a short little compact SUV had my confidence a bit lacking. Only now, I am forced to ask forgiveness for my lack of 4×4 faith in the little soob.
What makes the Subaru Wilderness Edition special?
The Forester Wilderness Edition takes the safe, reliable, but overall boring Subaru Forester and gives it a lovely dash of style and excitement. The exterior styling is certainly a part of that with the added body cladding, hot-yellow badging, Yokohama Geolandar A/T tires, black wheels, and even some gold accents.
But more important than the improved looks, the 2022 Subaru Forester got some hardware that actually makes it better off-road. Many automakers have jumped on board the trend of giving trucks and SUVs an off-road package. Gladly, in the Subaru’s case, the Wilderness package makes a major difference in appearance, value, and performance.
The Subaru Forester Wilderness comes with independent suspension all around, but now thanks to the longer dampers and taller springs, the Forester sits a half-inch taller. These new suspension bits make the ground clearance of the Forester Wilderness up to 9.2 inches. According to Car and Driver, this also contributes to an improved break angle of 21 degrees.
Hardware isn’t the only upgrade present in the Forester Wilderness Editon. The suspension hardware felt more noticeable on-road than it did on the trail – however, the Wilderness-specific Dual-Mode X system stole the show in mud. This system’s biggest benefit is an ultra-low 4.07:1 “first gear” that gives the Forester Wilderness a better low-speed crawl ratio when the exclusive Dual-mode X-Mode detects conditions that call for hill-descent control.
How did it actually drive on the trail?
The 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness was a joy to drive on the road. However, the biggest surprise comes when you turn off the main road and turn onto the rough track.
The trail I followed meandered up and around the foothills of the Catskill mountains. It was foggy and snowy and wet from start to finish. The entrance of the trail required a fairly harrowing charge up a steep, snowy hill. All the Subaru needed to top the hill was a little gusto from its driver. Once it had some of that, the Forester completely lived up to its namesake.
We marched through the snowy wood without a single moment of drama. We picked up the rear passenger-side wheel on a craggy bit at one point. It wasn’t until we cleared that part of the trail that I realized what had happened. Once we turned around and came back down the trail, we picked up the same wheel, but we were looking for it this time.
Is the 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness worth the price?
Yes. The 2022 Subaru Wilderness Edition starts at around $33,000. However, as tested, our unit stretched up to a touch over $35,000. Even still, the wilderness package is worth it. I have nothing bad to say about the current batch of Subarus objectively. However, for as good as the current lineup is, they are a little boring. The Wilderness package elevates the Forester from practical but boring to practical and nearly cool. Then once you factor in its impressive off-road ability, the Forester falls fully into the cool camp.