Is the 2022 Subaru Forester a Good SUV? 4 Pros and 2 Cons

subaru forester wilderness 2022 01 exterior front angle suv white scaled jpg 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness | photo by Joe Bruzek

The Subaru Forester has long been a solid choice among SUVs, finishing close to the top in our Compact SUV Challenges. The addition of the new Wilderness trim for 2022 brings improvements that make the Forester an even more appealing pick.

Related: 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness Review: More Capable On- and Off-Road

In any trim, the Forester has broad appeal thanks to a spacious and well-finished cabin, good cargo room, easygoing road manners and solid fuel economy. It also packs a fair bit of value and is one of few choices in the category with standard all-wheel drive.

The Wilderness trim adds to all those desirable qualities with added off-road capability and increased towing capacity. More than badging and cladding, opting for the Wilderness trim brings real mechanical upgrades to back up its rugged looks. And thanks to revised gearing with peppier acceleration, the upgrades help make the Wilderness trim a better choice for on-road use.

Other trims get more minor upgrades this year, which — combined with the Wilderness trim — should help ensure the Forester retains its spot near the top of its class. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t still room for improvement. Here are four things we like about the 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness, and two we don’t.

Things We Like

1. Increased Punch

subaru forester wilderness 2022 09 exterior rear angle suv white scaled jpg 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness | photo by Joe Bruzek

The Wilderness trim gets the same 182-horsepower, 2.5-liter flat-four-cylinder engine used in other Foresters, but a shorter final drive ratio and revised transmission tuning give the Wilderness quicker throttle response and snappier acceleration. The result is easier highway merging and passing and a big difference in acceleration from a standstill. The Wilderness chopped about a second off the last Forester Touring we tested, recording an 8.6-second run from 0-60 mph. The Touring required 9.57 seconds.

2. Taller in the Saddle

Longer springs and shock absorbers give the Wilderness even more ground clearance than the already notable 8.7 inches with other Forester trims, bringing 9.2 inches of comfort zone to clear off-road obstacles or deep ruts and snow on back roads. The retuned suspension soaks up high-speed bumps and imperfections with minimal disturbance in the cabin.

3. Meaty Tires and a Real Spare

subaru forester wilderness 2022 02 badge exterior front grille headlights suv white scaled jpg 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness | photo by Joe Bruzek

Wilderness trims get 17-inch Yokohama Geolandar A/T (all-terrain) tires in place of the 17-inch all-season rubber on other Foresters, with a knobbier tread pattern for better off-road grip. While not the most aggressive off-road tire, the Geolandars strike a good compromise between traction on dirt and gravel and a civilized ride on pavement. Better still, they do that without much increased road noise. As a bonus, Subaru includes a matching full-size spare.

4. Added Pulling Power

Towing capacity gets a big boost with the Wilderness trim, going from 1,500 pounds to twice that at a more competitive 3,000 pounds. The revised gearing plays a big part, along with an external transmission oil cooler, reinforced transfer case and a more robust radiator fan to help keep the engine cool.

Things We Don’t Like

1. Disappointing MPG


subaru forester wilderness 2022 03 badge exterior front angle grille headlights suv white scaled jpg 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness | photo by Joe Bruzek

The penalty for the Wilderness’ increased throttle response and acceleration is a big loss in fuel economy compared to a conventional Forester. Wilderness trims get an EPA-estimated 28 mpg on the highway, 5 mpg less than other trims. The combined EPA rating drops by 3 mpg, going from 29 mpg to 26 mpg. Urban explorers will suffer the least, with a 1 mpg drop in city driving. Still, the combined fuel mileage is better than competitors: The Ford Bronco Sport Badlands gets 23 mpg combined and the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk has a 21 mpg rating, respectively.

2. Same Old Forester Downsides

As much as we like the improvements brought with the Wilderness package, the newest Forester remains saddled with some of the same drawbacks we’ve griped about with other Foresters. Those include limited cabin storage and an awkward information display on top of the dashboard.

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