Just a few months after testing out the 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness in Oregon, we had the opportunity to drive this all-new model at home in Tampa. The small SUV has undergone several design and mechanical changes so it can navigate and dodge even the toughest of terrain, especially off-road. Modified transmission gear ratios and final drive further boost the handling, balance and response. Partial credit, of course, goes to the standard symmetrical all wheel-drive system and X-Mode with snow/dirt and deep snow/mud options.
Under the hood sits a 2.5-liter horizontally-opposed, four-cylinder engine that develops 182 horsepower @ 5800 rpm and 176 pounds-feet of torque @ 4400 rpm. The continuous variable transmission with eight-speed manual-shift capabilities contributes to a compelling performance while ensuring gas savings. Tow capacity doubles to 3,000 pounds while the revised fixed roof ladder-type rack touts a dynamic load capacity of 220 pounds (vs. previous 176) and parked capacity at 800 (up by 100) pounds.
Oval-shaped LED headlights flank a bold hexagonal grille with new front bumper and front skid plate, bigger wheel arch cladding. Also visible are hexagonal-designed fog lamps and anti-glare hood decal in black-matte finish along with Wilderness emblems on front fenders and rear gate. Step into the roomy cabin and you can’t miss the Wilderness logo on the front headrests. Body copper-colored contrast stitching matches anodized copper-finish accents on shifter, gauge meter rings and the leather steering wheel. A twin cockpit with electroluminescent analog gauge displays for speedometer, tachometer, fuel and coolant temperature give the cabin a rich feel. An eight-inch touch screen to control navigation, audio and phone along with circular control knobs is easy to use.
Standard safety features include dual front and side airbags, side curtain airbag for both rows, driver knee airbag, four-wheel antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, vehicle dynamic control, stability and traction system, rearview camera, blind-spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert, tire pressure monitoring system and daytime running lights. The Eyesight assist monitor, which features lane departure warning and active cruise control, ensures that the driver maintains a straight path while the DriverFocus distraction mitigation system sounds a warning if its camera and facial recognition software finds tiredness signs or driver diversion.
Available in six trims, the Forester Wilderness trim will be a huge draw with off-road enthusiasts. Simultaneously, it will serve to cruise the highway or for daily driving. Plus, the nicely done and generous cabin make the compact SUV a tempting ride.
Tires: 225/60R17 all-terrain
Wheelbase: 104.9 inches
Length: 182.7 inches
Height: 68.9 inches
Width: 72.2 inches
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, double wishbone rear
Steering: rack-and-pinion power assist
Fuel capacity: 16.6 gallons
City: 25 mpg
Highway: 28 mpg
Base price: $32,820
Price as tested: $36,015
Web site: www.subaru.com