The Subaru Outback is the most-identifiable “wagon crossover” on the market. It’s the vehicle most people think of when ideas of cars as sport utilities are mentioned. The current-generation Outback was introduced in 2020 as the sixth-generation of the car with a host of updates and changes, including more interior room and better infotainment. For 2022, Subaru introduced the Wilderness edition.
The Wilderness adds some off-road upgrades to the Outback, including almost an inch of suspension lift and more aggressive all-terrain tires. We expect the Wilderness name to be used as the “off-road-ready” branding on other Subaru products in the future.
Swerve Autos Score: 87/100
The 2022 Outback is a good-looking, but not exceptionally beautiful car. It has a distinctive station wagon style that’s all Subaru and body lines that are both simple and attractive. Somewhat bulkier than the average wagon, the Outback has a higher stance, a heavy taper to the rear windows, and a wider tailgate.
The Wilderness model adds thicker wheel well covers, protective plastic rocker panels, larger front and rear bumper coverings, a front skid plate, and an even higher stance at 9.5 inches of clearance (versus the 8.9 of the standard Outback).
Standard on the Outback Wilderness are upgraded, functional roof racks (capable of up to 700 pounds) as well. Wilderness badging and aesthetics are also added to the car, including black and copper trim. Options like the front glare stripe are available to enhance the off-road look of the Wilderness.
Outside of the added Wilderness badging and stitching, the interior of the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness is identical to that of the second-tier Premium model. This means heated and power-folding side mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer, LED fog lamps, heated front seating, dual-zone climate, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, and the large 11.6-inch vertical touchscreen display are standard.
The interior of the 2022 Outback Wilderness is spacious and comfortable, offering plenty of headroom and legroom in all four main seating positions and a decent middle seat in the back. Cargo space is good, though not as good as some full crossover-SUVs with boxier designs. But the roof rack is more easily accessible.The water repellent simulated leather upholstery is a nice touch for the Wilderness model.
On the road, the interior of the Outback Wilderness is quiet enough for most, though not to luxury vehicle levels. On the highway, some road noise is present, though relatively faint, due to the more aggressive tire tread on the Wilderness model.
One of the high points of the 2022 Outback Wilderness is its engine upgrade. Most Outback models include a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with just enough umph to make the car go, but not enough to feel confident or exciting while doing so. The Wilderness comes standard with Subaru’s new 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with about 80 more horsepower than the standard engine. And without much fuel economy sacrifice to get that.
The Wilderness also has an exclusive, upgraded all-wheel drive system that adds a low-ratio gear setting for lower-speed mudding and crawling when things get tough. This is controlled through the terrain control selector with an added Rock mode choice.
The lifted suspension adds more ground clearance to make it 9.5 inches and a front skid plate protects from those things that might be higher than that. The 17-inch wheels come with all-terrain tires, in our test model’s case Yokohama Geolanders.
On the road, the Outback Wilderness feels confident and capable and off the road, its capabilities are among the best of the vehicles we’ve tried in this size category. While things with Jeep and Trailhawk on them are probably more capable than this Subaru, the gap is smaller than one might think.
Like any Outback model, the Wilderness is a practical day-to-day vehicle with very few downsides. Cargo space at 32.5 cubic feet is not as plentiful as might be found in a crossover-SUV in traditional styling and the higher ground clearance of the Outback Wilderness means a little more difficulty in accessing rooftop storage for some users. But the Wilderness’ upgraded rack with its 700 pound capacity is a big upside.
On the whole, however, the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness is one of the more practical options in its market. Fuel economy is good at 22 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway (real world highway is closer to 27-28). Add in Subaru’s legendary all-wheel drive for all-weather and light off-road and the Outback Wilderness looks even more practical.
In terms of interior roominess and ergonomics, the Outback scores high with more space than its size might suggest.
The 2022 Outback Wilderness is one of the more comfortable vehicles in its size class. It’s roominess in the seating area is a big plus and ride quality is good. The Wilderness, with its turbocharged engine, is confident in drive as well, which adds to the likeability of the car. Road noise is a big higher with the Wilderness edition when compared to the standard Outback models, mostly due to the more aggressive tires, but still within the quiet quality expected of a vehicle of this caliber.
Our only complaint for comfort is in the steering, which while precise, is also a bit mushy and lacking in driver feedback.
Subaru’s new infotainment system is top shelf and very well done. There are some nuances to learn, of course, and response times aren’t always as quick as might be hoped, but the large screen (standard in the Wilderness) and crispness of graphics are better than most. Most of the standard uses, such as channel changing, phone connections, and the like are easily done and require no hunting or learning curve.
Safety technology in the 2022 Subaru Outback is also some of the best in the business. Subaru’s Eyesight system is standard in all Outback models, offering adaptive cruise control and other nice driver’s aids.
Connected Services 7/10
Connected services in the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness are limited unless upgrades are made to the packaging. Most are added with the Navigation system option, which brings some limited concierge additions to the mix.
The Subaru app for controlling the connected services is limited, but useful and easy to understand. Added services with the Navigation upgrade mean real-time traffic and weather are built-in.
Active Safety 10/10
Few manufacturers are as expert in active safety systems as is Subaru. The Eyesight system is mostly camera-based and works in 3D, measuring both distance and severity accurately. The system can also sense brake lights and other traffic indicators to help it understand what is going on around the Outback.
Few to no false positives are a result of this excellent setup. The Outback in all trims comes standard with forward collision mitigation/braking and lane keeping assistance. Rear cross-traffic alerts and blind-spot management are an addition that’s worth getting ala carte as upgrades for the Wilderness model.
Few vehicles have a perfect value proposition. The Subaru Outback is one of them. With a very high resale value, good reliability expectation, and high customer retention rate, Subaru enjoys a reputation few can rival in automotive. The Outback is one of Subaru’s most popular models and the new Wilderness may be one of its most popular trim points.
The price paid for the Outback Wilderness is fair and its capabilities are well rounded. We think that buy or lease, this model is a great choice.
Editors Influence 9/10
The 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness is one of the better vehicles in its class. It offers good ergonomics, great daily use metrics, and a strong capability set that sets a new bar for the class to meet. There aren’t many things to count as downsides to this new Outback model. For the adventurous type who doesn’t need Moab-ready rock crawling and the terrible highway ride and fuel economy that comes with that, the Outback Wilderness is a near-perfect choice.