Most enthusiasts will agree that the best versions of the Subaru Forester are the ones with turbo engines. But for markets outside of Japan at least, raw horsepower doesn’t seem to be the priority for the quirky automaker. Instead, it is finding creative ways of injecting some spice into its popular crossover model. Select Asian markets get the GT Edition. But in the United States, there’s the Wilderness.
It would be easy to dismiss the Wilderness as a Forester with some extra plastic bits. But the bodykit will make sense once you start bashing into rocks and other obstacles when you’re going off-road. You’ll be thankful that it’s the cladding that gets damaged and not the metal underneath it. Just like the Outback Wilderness, this Forester gets contrasting yellow exterior trim and silver skid plates just to break up the sea of black.
Allowing the car to confidently go where no other Forester can is the revised suspension system with longer springs and shock absorbers, and Yokohama Geolandar all-terrain tires. Subaru claims that these upgrades give the Wilderness 1.27cm more ground clearance. Of course, the brand’s patented all-wheel-drive technology and X-Mode feature take care of the guesswork when the terrain is less than ideal.
Unlike the Outback Wilderness, the Forester Wilderness makes do with a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter boxer engine. The output of 182hp and the torque of 239Nm are a little underwhelming, but they spare the FB25 unit from the complexity and accelerated wear of a turbocharged motor. Subaru is quite proud of its CVT, and it is the sole transmission choice for the vehicle.
The car invites its occupants to get dirty as the interior is trimmed in a special StarTex material that has some hydrophobic properties. It’s not exactly designed to be hosed down, but it’s far better for the outdoors than leather or fabric. The roof rack has a payload capacity of 363kg. And you can have a Harman Kardon audio system, a bigger infotainment screen, and a power tailgate as optional extras.
It’s also worth noting that the entire Forester catalog in the US now gets the new front fascia that debuted in Japan a few months ago. The Wilderness is positioned in the middle of the lineup, and prices start at $32,820 (P1.64 million).