What Is Subaru's Wilderness Trim?

These overlanding-focused vehicles can feel more civilized than traditional 4x4 off-roaders.

Subaru Forester Wilderness trim in bright blue in a heavily wooded area on a dirt road Subaru

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Perhaps inspired by the increasing popularity of overlanding, Subaru in 2022 introduced the Wilderness trim level on its Outback midsize wagon. Overlanding, which generally involves adventure camping on public lands, can call for a less-aggressive kind of all-terrain driving that's accessible to people without traditional off-roading vehicles.

Subaru's Outback in its civilian guise is already capable of light off-roading, but with the Wilderness badge, the wagon is intended to tackle more challenging landscapes without being a true off-roader. Since 2022, Subaru has added another two vehicles to its Wilderness lineup.

Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness trim in bright blue parked in front of a white barnSubaru

Which Subaru Vehicles Offer the Wilderness Trim?

Currently, three Subaru models offer a Wilderness version: the original Outback Wilderness, the Forester Wilderness compact SUV, and the most recent addition, the Crosstrek Wilderness subcompact SUV.

Given that Subaru has been quick to roll out Wilderness editions, a similar version of its three-row midsize SUV could be arriving soon, too.

Roof rails on a Subaru Forester Wilderness in bright blueSubaru

What Comprises the Subaru Wilderness Trim?

The Wilderness trim focuses on two main goals: adding extra off-road capability and providing styling tweaks that help distinguish a Wilderness edition from other trim levels.

The primary trail-specific features of the Subaru Wilderness trim are increased ground clearance (up to 9.2 inches for the Forester, 9.3 for the Crosstrek, and 9.5 for the Outback), a front skid plate to protect vulnerable undercarriage components, and a stronger suspension setup better able to tackle rough terrain. An expanded version of Subaru's X-Mode drive-mode system also includes settings for challenging conditions such as deep snow and mud.

Subaru Wilderness trims come with specific colors, wheels, and interiors intended to reflect their more rugged character. It's not all cosmetic, as these additions include functional roof rails and Subaru's StarTex upholstery, which is meant to be easier to clean after a long, muddy day. Front and rear bumpers are also modified on Wilderness models to improve their ability to climb over obstacles.

Each Wilderness is additionally equipped with the most powerful engine in the respective model's lineup. That's a 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder for the Outback and Forester and a 2.5-liter four-cylinder for the Crosstrek.

It's also worth noting that the Wilderness trim includes more aggressive programming for the continuously variable automatic transmission, along with a shorter final-drive ratio to boost low-speed climbing ability.

Mazda CX-50 in front of a body of water and mountainous terrainMazda

Are There Other Automakers Offering Similar Trim Levels?

Several Subaru rivals have created similar sub-brands that can take advantage of overlanding's current popularity.

These include Ford's Timberline (available with the Explorer and Expedition), Toyota's Trailhunter (found on the Tacoma), and Honda's TrailSport (offered with the Pilot and the Passport). Some car companies have also built one-off models explicitly aimed at overlanding fun, such as the Mazda CX-50 and the Toyota RAV4 TRD Off-Road.

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Benjamin Hunting
Benjamin Hunting is a writer and podcast host who contributes to a number of newspapers, automotive magazines, and online publications. More than a decade into his career, he enjoys keeping the shiny side up during track days and always has one too many classic vehicle projects partially disassembled in his garage at any given time. Remember, if it's not leaking, it's probably empty.