We’ll have to test it to see how much further into the wilderness this new variant can actually go, but it certainly looks the part. Large Wilderness badging, copper accents, extra cladding around the wheels, and a matte black decal on the hood to deflect glare enhance the ruggedness quotient. The copper pieces are all used to cover usable contact points on the exterior, like tow hook anchors and roof rack tie down points. A front skid plate comes standard, with two more additional plates available as a factory option for about $600.
Critical to upgrading the Outback’s adventuring capabilities is a new ladder roof rack system. It has been beefed up so that it can support up to 700 pounds, a significant increase over the 150 pound capacity of the standard roof rack. The jump is enough to handle a roof-top tent, or carry more cargo to sustain you for extended periods in the great outdoors.
Larger front and rear springs offer more ground clearance and suspension travel, giving the Wilderness 9.5 inches of ground clearance compared to the already generous 8.7 inches of clearance on the standard Outback. This lift, along with modified front and rear bumpers, raises the approach angle to 20 degrees (1.4 degrees more), departure angle to 23.6 degrees (1.9 degrees more), and a breakover angle of 21.2 degrees (1.8 degrees more). A set of Yokohama Geolandar all-terrain tires (with a full-size spare) also come standard, with raised white lettering and 17-inch matte black alloy wheels.
The Wilderness sticks with the turbocharged 2.4-liter flat-4 that produces 260 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque on higher spec Outbacks and the Subaru Ascent three-row SUV. The transmission, a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) with eight simulated gears, gets a higher final drive ratio (from 4.11:1 to 4.44:1) that is intended to increase low-end torque and allow the Wilderness to climb steeper grades, and do so with more dexterity.
All-wheel drive is standard (of course) and it can tow up to 3,500 pounds, same as the top Onyx trim with the uprated turbo flat-4. On the Wilderness, Subaru enhanced the Outback’s regular X-Mode, which previously only worked at low speeds. When the system exceeds 25 mph, it will disable, then once you slow down again the system will re-engage X-Mode automatically. If this sounds like a change that should be implemented on the regular Outback you’d be right, but Subaru was non-committal if this would be the case.
Inside, there are more Wilderness badges to be found on the seats and all-weather floor mats, along with copper accents and stitching to match those found on the exterior. The seats are covered in water-repellant material for easier cleaning, and the rear seat backs and cargo floor feature waterproof materials. Apart from that, the interior is the same as a normal Outback. The larger 11.6-inch vertically oriented screen comes standard. Subaru only mentioned one available options package, which adds navigation, a power moonroof, and rear automatic emergency braking. No word yet on pricing for that package, or for the Wilderness overall though we’re guessing it will cost a few thousand more than the similarly equipped Outback Onyx Edition XT’s starting price of $36,195 (including destination).
Though this is the first of Subaru’s Wilderness models, it likely won’t be the last, especially if the Outback Wilderness proves to be popular. The Wilderness is targeted towards those who like what the Outback already offers and just needed smaller tweaks to make it more suitable for sustained adventuring.