Subaru wants in on the sweet, sweet profit margins that upgraded models of current production cars bring, so it’s going ahead with the strategy by forming a new sub-brand for the Outback and Forester.
The Japanese carmaker is no longer oblivious to the upsell. It will launch a sub-brand called Wilderness, per Automotive News. The report calls it an off-road sub-brand, which is kind of like when Dodge Ram pickups spun off into their own brand. Or even something like VW’s Chinese brand Jetta.
The new Subaru models, which are set to launch along with the 2022 Outback, will sport off-road upgrades like higher ground clearance and off-road tires straight from the dealer.
But it’s not exactly clear whether this is going to be a distinct brand or if it’s an edition of the Outback and Forester that will sit atop the trim levels. If it is set to be a whole brand, I think they could have come up with something better than Wilderness. Maybe something with a space theme, or something space adjacent, since Subaru is known for its Pleiades badge.
Sure, Wilderness is in line with the theme Subaru is going for, but the two nameplates already have that covered. And it’s a going to feel a little strange referring to a souped-up Subie as a Wilderness Forester or Wilderness Outback. Or if it’s just a trim, then maybe Wilderness will be tacked on at the end, like a Wrangler Rubicon.
But I find it odd, because wilderness is a region among nature. And a forest is a wooded area outdoors. Uh, I think there’s some overlap there. Same thing with the Outback, though to a lesser degree. The Outback refers to the remote region of Australia. So a Wilderness Outback sounds conflicting. The naming scheme with this sub-brand (or edition) sounds silly.
But the dealers were clamoring for it and the chairman of the Subaru National Retailer Advisory Board, Patrick Wergin, said the new sub-brand is meant to satisfy consumer demand. Wergin said the following, per Automotive News:
“We’re hoping that the Wilderness edition will attract consumers that are active lifestyle families and that do like to go out and maybe do a little bit more off-roading. We’re excited about the opportunity to have this vehicle capture new clients in the segment.”
Wally Sommer, president of a Subaru dealership in Mequon, Wisconsin, backed up Wergin, saying:
“We’ve had customers asking for, and retailers have identified the demand for, these more capable off-road-type vehicles[.] Subaru has responded, and people are going to be very pleased with the product when they see it.”
I’m still a little suspicious of the move, but if it gets drivers excited about the beefier station wagons people insist on calling CUVs (in the case of the Outback) then by all means Subaru, go wild.