THE American arm of Subaru has unveiled the long-rumoured and recently teased Outback Wilderness, a vehicle being pegged by the brand as its most off-road capable model “ever”.
Marketed Stateside as an MY22 model, the Outback Wilderness has been decked out with a series of off-road and adventure specific modifications including a higher ride height, all-terrain tyres, unique bumpers, underbody skid plates and a recalibrated transmission as well as a heap of rugged visual cues.
The major talking point is the increased ground clearance which has been stepped up from 221mm to a dual-cab ute-rivalling 241mm courtesy of longer shock absorbers and springs which also results in improved suspension reach.
Helping the Wilderness get a foothold in challenging terrain are a set of Yokohama Geolandar all-terrain tyres wrapped around black 17-inch alloy wheels to accommodate a taller sidewall and thereby increase tyre volume for more grip – the standard Outback rolls on 18s.
Complementing the increased ride height are unique front and rear bumpers which have been specifically designed to help improve the approach and departure angles while the extra ground clearance helps improve the Outback’s rampover angle.
When all is said and done, the approach angle has been increased from 18.6 to 20 degrees, the rampover angle is up from 19.4 degrees to 21.2 while the departure angle is the most improved, up from 21.7 to 23.6 degrees.
To ensure the Wilderness can make the most of its extra ground clearance and improved angles, engineers have recalibrated the continuously variable transmission (CVT) and altered the rear differential to have a lower final drive ratio of 4.44:1, allowing the Wilderness to climb a gravel incline of up to 40 per cent.
The standard X-Mode terrain management system has been tweaks as well with a new feature exclusive to the Wilderness that allows it to switch automatically from low speed managed driving to speeds over 40km/h without interruption of power or performance.
Speaking of performance, the Outback Wilderness is motivated exclusively by the turbocharged 2.4-litre four-cylinder ‘boxer’ petrol engine as seen elsewhere in Subaru’s North American portfolio, developing 194kW of power at 5600rpm and 376Nm of torque from a useful 2000rpm.
Symmetrical all-wheel-drive is a given while the braked towing capacity is a surprisingly low 1588kg – the naturally aspirated 2.5-litre Outbacks offer up 2000kg towing here.
Standard equipment highlights on the Wilderness include a front view monitor, LED rear tailgate light, hands-free tailgate, anodised copper-finish exterior and interior trim accents, water-repellent upholstery, dark headliner, 11.6-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, a reversing camera, Bluetooth connectivity and tyre pressure monitoring.
Compared to the standard Outback, the Wilderness flaunts a far more aggressive look and not just because of the aforementioned off-road gear.
Complementing the off-road-friendly bumpers and chunkier wheel/tyre combination, designers have beefed up and extended the rugged black body cladding and adorned the Wilderness with a heap of unique badging and black decals, including a matte black bonnet strip designed to reduce glare.
Underneath all the decals and cladding, the Wilderness will also debut a new ‘Geyser Blue’ hero colour reserved exclusively for itself with designers saying the colour was “inspired by Subaru’s rally heritage and the scenery only found in the US National Parks”.
While only set to available in the North American market, initially at least, Subaru Australia has confirmed it would be following the progress of the Wilderness “with interest” as it continues discussions with the factory to try and secure the turbo powertrain locally.
“At this stage it’s a North America-only model and there are no definite plans for Australia, but we constantly talk to the factory in Japan about possible options for the future,” national corporate affairs manager David Rowley told GoAuto.
“The turbo option isn’t currently available to us, but as per above we’ll be watching the reception to Wilderness in the US and Canada closely.”
More than just a one-off, the Outback Wilderness will be the first member of a whole host of Wilderness-spec variants from Subaru with the Forester and XV (aka Crosstrek) almost guaranteed to get the rugged makeover and build on their own already respectable off-road credentials.
Mr Rowley confirmed the local arm would “certainly be closely evaluating the Wilderness developments” going forward.