Monday, 28 November 2022

2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness strong on tech, comfort, off-road ability Featured

Posted On Tuesday, 25 October 2022 22:27 Written by
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The Subaru Forester Wilderness was designed with an eye for adventure. The Subaru Forester Wilderness was designed with an eye for adventure. Photo courtesy of Subaru

If you’re looking for a compact SUV these days, there is no shortage of options to consider. So to stand out, automakers must take new approaches. 

On that note, let me introduce the 2022 Subaru Forester, and its new Wilderness edition — a vehicle that definitely stands out among its competitors.

This all-wheel drive, 5-passenger vehicle with impressive ground clearance can operate confidently on city streets, but also step up when some light off-roading or rough weather presents itself. For the outdoorsy type of person, it serves as a welcome alternative to the usual suburban family ride, while keeping many of the qualities from those vehicles such as strong tech and safety features.

The WIlderness trim, new for 2022, comes with a redesigned bumper, grille and headlights, plus roof rails that can support more weight.

I recently spent some time behind the wheel of a 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness, and I’m back with a full report.

LOOKS

The boxy and rugged exterior design on the Forester design stands out in a class where most options appear to be near-clones of each other.

The Wilderness edition boasts a lifted suspension with a healthy 9.2-inch ground clearance, LED foglights, exclusive wheels with all-terrain tires and a full-size spare, front skid plate, an anti-glare matte-black hood decal, water-resistant seating surfaces and a roof rack for toting gear.

The ground clearance will come in handy whether you’re tackling an off-road excursion or battling heavy snow in the city. 

The Forester Wilderness also features aluminum alloy pedal covers, privacy glass, panoramic power moonroof, and folding exterior power mirrors.

Moving inside, the Forester is one of the most comfortable vehicles you'll find among the bevy of compact SUV offerings. Seating material was high quality, comfortable even on longer rides.

Head room and leg room are more than adequate in the front seat for driver and passenger. Rear seat room is about what you would expect in a small SUV — not great, but not terrible either. Keep the taller folks up front.

Interior features include a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, StarTex-trimmed water resistant seats, 60/40 folding rear seat with reclining function, and all-weather floor mats. The Forester is not a fancy vehicle, but it’s a very functional one.

Cargo space is decent, coming in around 29 cubic feet with the rear seats up, and just over 74 cubic feet with the rear seats folded down.

HOW’S THE RIDE?

The 2022 Subaru Forester features a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with an automatic CVT transmission, and paddle shifters are included for those who want more control over the gears.

All Forester trim levels come with all-wheel drive, which is a major selling point in this class. Multiple drive modes are offered, specially formulated to help you get out of situations where snow, dirt and mud are in play.

Power is the weakest point of the Forester, as it lacks muscle and takes more than 8 seconds to go from 0-to-60 mph.

This vehicle isn’t about raw speed and power, it’s about versatility and an ability to adapt to various conditions. Handling is quite impressive, braking is also responsive, and it adapts well on bumpy roads.

On the Wilderness trim, towing capacity is enhanced. Instead of the 1,500 pound capacity of other trim levels, the number grows to 3,000 pounds. And its higher ground clearance and upgraded suspension makes for smoother sailing in off-road situations. Those who plan to be on lesser-traveled paths regularly will find few alternatives that can compete with the Forester in this class of SUVs. 

TECHNOLOGY, SAFETY

Diving right into the tech setup, the 2022 Forester comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Other tech features include a tilt/telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, keyless access, push-button start, LED cargo area & rear gate lights.

You can also upgrade to the STARLINK Multimedia Navigation System, which will get you an 8-inch screen with high-resolution display, HD radio, multiple USB ports, SiriusXM Radio, SiriusXM Traffic & Signal Travel Link, Subaru Map Update Program, plus a 9-speaker premium Harman/Kardon audio system.

The infotainment system is extremely easy to use both by voice and by physical controls. It’s not as fancy as some rival systems, but still gets the job done very well, which is all that matters in the end. The only thing that's a little unique is the second screen on top for information, which complements the center screen focus on entertainment. Steering wheel controls are very helpful and easy to master.

Moving on to safety, Subaru delivers a bevy of helpful features on the Forester. They do their job well, and none are overly reactive or impede the driving experience.

The highlight is the suite of offerings that are part of Subaru’s camera-based EyeSight platform, which comes with all trim levels. Through this package, you get Adaptive Cruise Control (adjusts speeds to maintain distance to vehicles in front of you), Forward Collision Mitigation (warns of imminent impact and applies brakes if needed), Lane Departure Warning (alerts driver if the Forester drifts out of its lane), and Lane Keeping Assist (pushes the vehicle back into its proper lane).

The Forester also has a near-perfect government safety rating — coming in at 5 stars overall (with five star ratings for front and side crashes, and four star rating for rollover)

Other safety features include:
— Blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert
— Evasive steering assist
— Driver monitoring system that senses fatigue
— Subaru Advanced Frontal Airbag System
— 4-Wheel anti-lock brakes w/ brake assist
— 180-degree front view monitor
— Rear vision camera with guidelines 

MPG

The official fuel mileage numbers on the 2022 Forester are 25 city/28 highway/26 combined, which translates to more than 450 miles per fill-up if you are driving on the highway.

My real-world mileage in the Forester was lower at 22 mpg, but I was driving mainly in the city. These numbers lag behind some rivals, in part because I ended up pushing the throttle more to make up for the lack of power.

PRICE

The 2022 Subaru Forester that I tested was priced just under $36K; and its base price starts about $27K. Trim levels include Base, Premium, Sport, LImited, Wilderness and Touring.

Warranty offerings include: 3 years/36,000 miles basic warranty; 5 years/60,000 miles powertrain warranty; 5 years/unlimited mileage rust perforation warranty; and 3 Years/36,000 miles 24/7 roadside assistance. There is no coverage for maintenance visits, as some rivals offer.

BOTTOM LINE

The 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness is a rugged looking and off-road friendly alternative for the SUV buying crowd who doesn’t want the usual suspects.

It boasts strong tech and safety features, standard AWD, plus a bold and user-friendly design. Its biggest deficit is a lack of power, but for many families looking for an SUV, the Forester will have enough personality and capability in other areas for that to be forgiven.

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Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2022 Subaru Forester 
  • Price as tested: $35,795 (starts around $27K)
  • Best feature: Rugged design, off-road capability   
  • Rating: 4 out of five stars   
  • Who will want this vehicle?: SUV buyers with an adventurous side     
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

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