Our Rides: A Subaru Made For The Wilderness

Photo by Randy Stern
Photo by Randy Stern

One of favorite vehicles just got an attitude adjustment.

Let’s be honest, we love our Subaru Foresters. They provided us the space to go out on the town, take home the shopping – from the big box stores to small gardening centers – carry our pets – especially big dogs – and head out of town with a cargo hold full of everything we need for a week away. 

Being a favorite vehicle of ours, we often wonder whether we should modify it. Not like an WRX STi, but something more rugged. Perhaps on the cusp of wanting to take it beyond the dirt road to the cabin by the lake. 

Photo by Randy Stern

Well, someone at Subaru have been noticing how their owners have been modifying their Foresters towards making them more off-road ready. They looked at their current Forester and thought “if we raised the ground clearance by 0.5-inches, would that make a difference.”

They not only raised the ground clearance, Subaru went a bit further. They gave it all-terrain tires, a set of smaller 17-inch wheels, an enhanced X-Mode with a lower ratio and additional traction settings, extra cladding everywhere, a skid plate underneath, and water repellent seating. 

Photo by Randy Stern

The sum of all of this is called the 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness. 

What I just described is Subaru’s way to add more ruggedness to their key models – not just the Forester. You can get the Wilderness trim in the Outback, as well. 

The Forester Wilderness might be a better package. Think of why you would choose a Forester over an Outback. I know, it’s a tough decision among loyal LGBTQ Subaru owners. We love them both – and have plenty of reasons to justify what we own. 

The Forester does offer better interior space, as mentioned before. It is roomier and comfortable for four-to-five humans – plus pets. It can take up to 69.1 cubic feet of space with the rear seats down. Although, the 26.9 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats up is more than adequate for weekends away at the cabin – or that run to REI or Cabella’s for goodies to take up there. 

Photo by Randy Stern

For power, Subaru’s 185-horsepower 2.5-liter BOXER (horizontally opposed) four-cylinder engine is quite a strong performer. You do not need a turbocharger to do what most Forester Wilderness owners will do – go somewhere. Combined with the continuously variable transmission and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, the Forester is designed to get through the toughest of winters and the nastiest of storms. 

With the Wilderness, the added dimension of the dual-function X-Mode and its Low Speed/Low Ratio Gradient Control helps to manage a lot more conditions over the average Forester. The X-Mode controller now includes additional traction settings for snow – including deep snow – dirt, and mud. These setting enable the system to allow for additional wheel slip to power through adverse conditions.

To make things more livable in these adverse conditions, the Forester Wilderness rides on a higher ground clearance at 9.2 inches – up from 8.7 inches in normal Foresters. A half-an-inch might not appear to be a huge improvement, but it does matter when you’re traversing rougher road surfaces and washed our trails. The Forester Wilderness adds a front skid plate to protect the engine area from below. 

Subaru also redesigned the front and rear bumpers of the Forester Wilderness by adding additional protective cladding and to improve the angle of approach and departure. To some, it might not be a looker. But, if you care about how your vehicle will perform away from the highway, it might the most beautiful part of the Forester Wilderness. 

Photo by Randy Stern

To finish up the Forester Wilderness exterior and functional package is a set of 17-inch matte black finished alloy wheels. They wear a set of Yokohama GEOLANDAR all-terrain tires. Some may like the look of a larger wheel and a lower sidewall, but one should be cognizant when you scratch them up in some deep rut – or on the curb outside your favorite restaurant. 

This ruggedized Subaru Forester may look like its ready to go anywhere you point it to. But, does it really do the job?

In short, “yes.” 

If you want to see how the Forester Wilderness work, find a dirt or gravel road, and twist the X-Mode knob to either Snow/Dirt or Deep Snow/Mud. Depending on the conditions you are driving in, the X-Mode works. It gets the Forester Wilderness through no matter what you put it on. 

Photo by Randy Stern

If there is a reason why the Subaru Forester is so popular with LGBTQ motorists, take a seat and look out front, back, and all around. While its competitors were designed with sleeker glass area and rakish rear rooflines, the Forester has the best outward all-around vision in its class. The rear window is huge, the blind spots are very visible, and the beltline – the area where the glass meets the side of the body – is lower. All of this makes a world of difference. 

There are a couple of numbers to bounce around here. First, in terms of fuel economy, I averaged 26.3 MPG. 

Photo by Randy Stern

Second is the most important number above all. This 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness came with a sticker of price of $36,015. 

Considering all of this, is the Subaru Forester Wilderness that right upgrade to your current vehicle. As you know, the Forester is a trusty ride. It has done practically everything you asked it to – and then some. 

Yet, this version of the Forester does more – a lot more! It does a lot of things you didn’t even think it could do. Rather, it does them better. 

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