Subaru has finally shown us what the hell it meant when it announced a new sub-brand for the Outback. Surprise! For the Japanese carmaker, sub-brand is a synonym for trim. But this new Outback trim could catch the Wrangler Sport Unlimited unawares, with its better breakover angles and road manners.
The Wilderness will sit atop other Outback trims, and will debut as a 2022 model. Its complete model name will be the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness. No pricing has been announced yet, but I suggest looking at current trims and pricing upwards. That will still just be a ballpark figure as prices will likely increase slightly with the next model year.
The new trim will sport the usual upgrades off-road drivers look for, like more ground clearance, better tires, skid plates and a beefier suspension. Subaru breaks down the upgrades in the following:
The 2022 Outback Wilderness boasts a class-leading 9.5-inch ground clearance, a nearly one-inch increase over the already impressive standard model. The suspension has been tuned for improved stability on rough terrain while retaining ride comfort and handling performance on the open road. The front and rear shock absorbers and springs were increased in length to provide more ground clearance and suspension travel.
The increased ground clearance, along with redesigned front and rear bumpers, contribute to the vehicle’s ability to navigate rough or uneven terrain. Approach angles on the SUV have been extended from 18.6 degrees to 20.0, ramp breakover angle shifts from 19.4 degrees to 21.2 degrees, and the departure angle soars from 21.7 degrees to an impressive 23.6 degrees.
The Outback Wilderness has a higher breakover angle than the base four-door Jeep Wrangler, which is 20.3-degrees (Outback: 21.2-degrees.) The rest of the specs between the Outback and Wrangler are not as competitive, but Subaru actually has something here. Humor me.
The Wrangler Sport more than doubles the Outback’s approach angle at 41.4-degrees (Outback: 20.0-degrees) And the departure angle on the Jeep is 36.1-degrees (Outback: 23.6-degrees.) But the Wrangler Sport Unlimited has 9.7 inches of ground clearance. That’s barely more than the 9.5 inches of the Outback.
The Outback also some neat tricks to achieve better traction, with Subaru noting it has a “revised rear differential with a final drive ratio of 4.44:1,” and the Outback’s CVT “was modified to achieve an equivalent final drive ratio at the front wheels.” Subaru claims these two revisions give the Outback more low-end torque and allow it “to climb grades up to 40 percent on a gravel surface.”
Oh, and once you get over that steepish grade, Subaru assumes you’ll be tuckered out from a long day on the trail, and will be pitching a tent on the roof. That’s why the new ladder-frame rack can handle a static load of 700 pounds.
Overall, the new upgrades to the Outback sound good and the new exclusive color is OK. Subaru calls it Geyser Blue. But I don’t blame you if you read that as Geezer Blue; I did, at least.
Just don’t underestimate this old dog with new tricks. The Outback Wilderness seems like it will be a competent off-road machine with good road manners, too. Jeep better watch out. I don’t care how tough the Wrangler is; it’s still not comfortable on the highway.