Subaru’s Forester and Outback have been known for decades as street-focused yet decidedly rugged vehicles. What first debuted a few months ago as a trim level of Outback is now found on a second Subaru model – the 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness.

I recently traveled to the Troutbeck, a historic hotel in Amenia, New York, to spend a day going full-send in the 2022 Subaru BRZ. While Subaru had a captive audience, they unveiled the 2022 Forester Wilderness and gave us time for a little walk-around.

We took two old Subarus on our cheap all-wheel-drive off-road trip a few years ago, and the $1,200 Forester was the “billy goat” of the group, climbing over everything and pulling others out when they got stuck. It did all of this at factory ride height on awful no-name highway tires. If that ancient Forester was so good, just imagine how a new Forester could be with some factory support. That thought has been brought to life with the Wilderness lineup for 2022, doubly so with the 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness.

Think of “Wilderness” as Subaru’s overland-oriented trim level. While every Forester is relatively capable when the going gets gravelly, Subaru took the 2022 Forester Wilderness up a small notch, literally. The 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness rides half an inch taller than the standard Forester, offering 9.2 inches of ground clearance. Different bumpers afford better approach and departure angles, and a front skid plate is standard if you find yourself needing 9.3 inches of clearance on accident.

Wheels are unique to Forester Wilderness and kept to a reasonable 17″ size, wrapped in Yokohama Geolandar AT tires with a welcome 60-series sidewall. Subaru includes a full-size spare, using the same wheel and tire and TPMS sensor as the regular set of four. If you get a flat in the middle of nowhere, you’ll have as much ability on the spare tire as you would otherwise.

Power comes from the same 2.5 liter boxer four that powers other Foresters, which produces 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque. Subaru has revised the continuously-variable transmission to use a shorter final drive gear (pulled from the Outback Wilderness) for more low-end grunt. This has the added benefit of twice the towing capacity of other 2022 Foresters, with the Forester Wilderness rated to pull 3,000 pounds. Knowing how off-road driving can add extra load to the engine and build heat in fluids, Subaru fitted an oil cooler and rear differential temperature sensor to the Forester Wilderness as well.

Up top, the roof rack rails were moved roughly twenty millimeters outward, which added more support for static weight. Apparently enough people are throwing rooftop tents on their Foresters, and the 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness can support up to 800 pounds of static weight, 100 more than the street-focused Forester. Subaru claims this is enough for a three-person tent and the requisite three people inside.

Inside, seats are covered in a unique “StarTex” material that is water-resistant, if a bit dour in color. Subaru kept the color scheme to a gray and black palate as it hides dirt and scuffs. This includes the headliner, which is gray on “normal” Foresters. Some pops of color are found in the Wilderness-signature copper accents on the steering wheel, shift knob, X-Mode dial, and seat stitching. Don’t miss the standard all-weather floor mats, either.

Pricing on the 2022 Forester Wilderness starts at $33,945 (including destination) and there’s just one options package available. Spending another $1,850 will give you Harman/Kardon sound, navigation software on the 8″ StarLink touchscreen, and a power-operated tailgate. The 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness is set to go on sale in mid-October.

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