Select Page

Subaru WRX Review

Let’s get back to the basics of love, the love of driving: the new 2022 Subaru WRX

An exterior front three quarter view of a white 2022 Subaru WRX

The new 2022 Subaru WRX compact sport sedan is the fifth generation of this rally-bred icon. (Photos courtesy of Subaru or as credited)

Table of Contents

2022 Subaru WRX Overview
Pricing
Weight-Saving Designs
Powertrain and Fuel Economy
Ride and Handling
Interior Function
Why Buy the 2022 Subaru WRX Premium?
Specifications

BY MARK MAYNARD

There is a simple mantra to driving the 2022 Subaru WRX six-speed manual: Rev, Engage, Shift, Smile, Repeat. Let those horizontally opposed pistons thrum.

And when the cornering gets tight, stab a heel-toe downshift, steady the wheel, look through the turn, power on, smile, grab a gear. And repeat.

The 2022 Subaru WRX is an all-wheel-drive, turbocharged four-cylinder compact-class sport sedan. It is a stealth S-snake hunter with impressive car control, sport-tuned transmission, and modest fuel economy.

This rowdy little “World Rally eXperimental” car was battle-tested in the World Rally Championships of the 1990s and early 2000s. I liked this unassuming all-wheel-drive performer from its first generation in the U.S., 1992-2000. It was distinctive in its Rally Blue hue and gold-painted wheels. The WRX has always been built tough and could be pumped up for 400 horsepower, and more.

Mainstream competitors of the Subaru WRX include the Honda Civic Si, Hyundai Elantra N, and the VW Golf GTI and Jetta GLI.

The driver area of the 2022 WRX

The driver area is simple and succinct.

2022 Subaru WRX Overview

For the first time, the 2022 WRX is built on the Subaru Global Platform. Subaru says it is a solid architecture for improved dynamics and reductions in noise, vibration, and harshness.

It also was given a new powertrain. The FA24F 2.4-liter turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder engine continues with “boxer” horizontally opposed pistons. The engine spools up 271 hp and 258 foot-pounds of torque from 2,000 to 5,200 rpm. Engine updates this year included larger pistons, an electronically controlled wastegate, and air bypass valves.

WRX transmission choices are a new CVT, called the Subaru Performance Transmission, or a six-speed manual. The SPT all-wheel-drive system has variable torque distribution, while the manual transmission uses a center differential and viscous coupling.

The best news for the manual transmission is that there is no more rev-hang between shifts.

Large metal-and-rubber trimmed pedals

Big-foot metal-and-rubber trimmed pedals.

Models with the “Drive Mode Select System” get electronically controlled adaptive dampers, a first for the WRX.

Because of ever-increasing emissions regulations, Subaru says it will not offer a second-generation WRX STI high-performance model. At least not yet, and not with an internal-combustion engine.

But there is still STI attitude in the new 2022 WRX GT, the top trim level.

2022 Subaru WRX Pricing

For 2022, the Subaru WRX is sold in four trims of Base, Premium, Limited and GT.

Starting prices range from $30,600 for the Base model to $43,390 for the GT. MSRPs include the $995 freight charge from Gunma, Japan.

Add $1,850 to $2,050 (depending on trim level) for the Subaru Performance Transmission, a continuously variable transmission. The option also adds EyeSight Driver Assist Technology with advanced adaptive cruise control, auto vehicle hold, steering wheel paddle shifters, SI-Drive, and an electronic parking brake.

Standard Base model features include power windows, door locks, and side mirrors; dual USB input ports in the front center console; welcome lighting; remote keyless entry; combination gauge array with color display; roof rack mounting brackets; and 60/40 split fold-down rear seats.

Also included are 17-inch alloy wheels with summer performance tires, multi-mode vehicle dynamics control with track mode, and incline start assist.

Standard on WRX is a new center information display with dual 7-inch high-resolution touch screens. The top screen controls smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, Bluetooth phone and audio, a rearview camera, and satellite radio and Travel Link. The bottom screen manages HVAC and vehicle settings.

No factory upgrade option packages are available for the Base model. But there are lots of accessories (for all trim levels). Among them are:

  • STI Duracon (manual) shift knob, $99.95
  • STI performance mufflers, $1,200
  • Stainless steel exhaust tips, $299.95
  • And a cool-looking cherry-red STI starter button, $249.95

Find current pricing and available incentives here.

The fabric seats in the WRX premium are grippy but not overly bolstered

The fabric seats are grippy without extreme bolstering.

The Pricing Sweet Spot

Many WRX enthusiasts will find all the grip and grin they need in the Base model. But the WRX Premium, $31,605, is the sweet spot for added conveniences at a modest price.

Today’s tester is the WRX Premium, starting at $33,100. The tester included the Harman Kardon audio system (11 speakers) and power moonroof, $1,875. As tested, it cost $34,975.

Standard WRX Premium features include an upgrade to 18-inch alloy wheels in a dark gray finish, LED fog lights, a low-profile rear spoiler in body color, and automatic headlights with on and off when using the windshield wipers.

The Premium model also has standard keyless locking and push-button ignition. The premium black seat fabric is trimmed in red stitching. Other conveniences include dual automatic climate control with voice activation and dual USB charging ports in the rear center console. The standard All Weather Package adds heated front seats, side mirrors, and a windshield wiper deicer.

Also new for upper trim levels is a tablet-style high-definition center information display. The 11.6-inch Starlink Multimedia Plus system has direct-touch controls for multimedia, heat and AC, and vehicle settings. As with a smartphone, app icons on the touchscreen can be moved and configured based on personal preference. The new multimedia system also offers a split-screen display that can simultaneously show two types of information such as navigation and audio.

Weight-Saving Designs

The new wide-body WRX design strikes a powerful stance without being overhyped by a big rear wing or other fan-racer add-ons.

Aerodynamic improvements include an air outlet at the trailing edge of the front wheel opening. The outlet allows air to exit from the wheel well more freely, which reduces lift on the front tires for more grip and stability.

A white example of the aluminum WRX hood

The aluminum hood with integrated scoop.

Aluminum front fenders reduce the overall vehicle weight by 5 pounds, Subaru says. The hood, too, is aluminum, which helps lower the center of gravity.

With a curb weight of 3,320 pounds, the WRX manual is a relative lightweight when factoring its all-wheel drive. (Opting for the CVT adds just 137 pounds.) The usual sport-compact competitors of the WRX are front-wheel drive. For example, the Honda Civic Si weighs 2,952 lbs., the Hyundai Elantra N weighs 3,186 lbs., and the VW Jetta GLI is 3,272 lbs.

Other aero tricks include:

  • Another air outlet at each side of the rear bumper to reduce body sway due to air trapped behind the bumper;
  • Molded wheel arches and lower body trim have an aerodynamic texture to reduce air resistance;
  • An engine undercover also has an aerodynamic texture to help channel airflow and increase downforce at the front of the car.
The gauge array has bold features for optimum presentation under horsepower pressure

The gauge array has bold features for optimum presentation.

WRX Powertrain and Fuel Economy

The Subaru WRX is a visceral performer but not muscle-bound. The FA24F 2.4-liter turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder engine has a clenched-teeth resolve to achieve the driver’s intent.

WRX performance can be lap-dog friendly or turn vicious with a big rev and downshift. And even the stock exhaust has a well-muscled and deep tone.

With peak torque of 258 lb.-ft., Car and Driver cite 0-60 mph acceleration in 5.5 seconds and the quarter-mile in 13.9 seconds at 101 mph.

The manual gearbox has a rewarding, rifle-bolt engagement with a comfortably sprung clutch. And Subaru’s hill-start assist brakes the WRX for a few seconds while the driver engages a gear. If all stick-shift cars had this simple tech, there would be many more manual-transmission users today.

Fuel economy ratings are 19 mpg city, 26 highway, and 22 mpg combined. Premium fuel is recommended for peak performance. My test week’s average mileage ranged from 18.1 to 22.5 mpg. But for a small car, it has a big gas tank of 16.6-gallons.

For my modest mileage numbers, I blame — and praise — the manual transmission.

There is so much low-end pull that there is no need to rush the shifts. It’s a great second- and third-gear speedster. Roll on the power at 15 to 20 mph in second gear, and the engine will get up to speed quickly.

The 271 horsepower turbocharged 2.4-liter 4 cylinder WRX engine

The FA24F 2.4-liter turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder ‘boxer’ engine.

WRX Ride and Handling

The sport-tuned four-wheel independent suspension is engineered for total car control. There is no front-end push and no rear rotational inertia. The car just sticks where the driver points it, within the bounds of physics.

At speed, the WRX runs flat and steady, but the ride quality of its stiff dampers can become monotonous on a long daily commute. And at 65 mph, the engine is spinning loudly at about 2,500 rpm.

The 18-inch Dunlop Sport Maxx GT 600 A (245/40) tires are a razor’s-edge match to the suspension. But enjoy these soft black erasers because they have a very low treadwear rating (UTQG) of 200. Low means better road adhesion. But these tires might not last a year of driving for the win — and replacements run $350 a pop.

Four-wheel disc braking gives an absolute response without nosedive. The front rotors have 12.4-inch ventilated discs and dual-piston calipers. At the rear are 11.4-inch ventilated discs with a single-piston caliper.

Quick-ratio electric power-assisted steering has light weight but precise resolve, with 2.5 turns lock-to-lock. The turning circle is a trim 36.7 feet, which compares to, or is better than, the front-drive competitors.

18-inch Dunlop Sport Maxx GT 600 A (245/40) tires

18-inch Dunlop Sport Maxx GT 600 A (245/40) tires. (Mark Maynard photo)

WRX Interior Function

The driver area is simple and succinct. The gauge array has bold and functional features for optimum presentation when pushing the redline.

The cabin is handsomely dressed in black with contrast red stitching and legitimate-looking carbon-fiber-pattern trim. The fabric front buckets are grippy in cornering, without extreme side bolstering. The driver’s seat is six-way manually adjustable and heated.

I especially enjoyed the flat-bottom steering wheel, the handbrake at driver’s right, and the big-foot metal-and-rubber trimmed pedals.

The Premium model’s 11.6-inch touchscreen infotainment system is big and bold but has limitations. While the tablet does have some physical controls for the climate system and stereo, selecting other functions is a two-touch process that sometimes takes eyes from the road. The tablet measures 9 inches across, but the viewable screen is just 6 inches wide, which makes for a narrow rear camera view.

The back seat is roomy enough for the kids, with max legroom of 36.5 inches.

The WRX back seats

With max legroom of 36.5 inches, the back seat is roomy enough for the kids.

Why Buy the 2022 Subaru WRX Premium?

There is a naked honesty to the stick-shift Subaru WRX Premium. There is plenty of power to feel the weight transitions and to coax a little more. There is no semi-autonomous drive mode, wireless charging, or advanced cruise control. But it has all the essentials for driving.

Let’s get back to the basics of love, the love of driving, in the 2022 Subaru WRX.

The new 2022 Subaru WRX is built on the Subaru Global Platform

The new 2022 Subaru WRX is built on the Subaru Global Platform.

2022 Subaru WRX Specifications

Body style: compact, 5-seat, 4-door AWD sedan with aluminum
hood and front fenders

Engine: 271-hp, turbocharged and direct injected 2.4-liter 4-cylinder; 258 lb.-ft. torque from 2,000-5,200 rpm

Maximum turbo boost: 12 psi

Transmission: 6-speed manual, with hill-start assist and SI-DRIVE
performance management

AWD system: Continuous all-wheel drive with viscous-coupling locking center differential and 50:50 torque split (transfers more torque to wheels with the best traction)

Fuel economy: 19/26/22 mpg; premium fuel recommended for peak performance

Suspension: sport-tuned 4-wheel independent; front, MacPherson-type struts with coil springs and stabilizer bar; rear, double wishbone with coil springs and stabilizer bar

Braking: 4-wheel discs; dual diagonal system with electronic brake-force distribution, 4-channel 4-sensor ABS, brake assist and brake override; front, 12.4-inch ventilated discs dual-piston calipers; rear, 11.4-inch ventilated discs, single-piston calipers (11.8-inch discs with EyeSight option)

Steering: Quick-ratio electric power-assisted rack and dual pinion

0-60 mph acceleration: 5.5 seconds; quarter-mile in 13.9 seconds at 101 mph (Car and Driver)

BY THE NUMBERS

Fuel tank: 16.6 gallons

Trunk space: 12.5 cubic feet

Front head/leg room: 38.8*/43.1 inches *39.8 w/o sunroof

Rear head/leg room: 36.7/36.5 inches

Length/wheelbase: 183.3/105.2 inches

Curb weight: 3,320 pounds

Turning circle: 36.7 feet

FEATURES

Standard Premium model equipment includes: Keyless entry with push-button start and PIN-code vehicle access, Starlink 11.6-inch Multimedia Plus, rearview camera, 6-way manually adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats, leather-wrapped flat-bottomed steering wheel with red stitching, leather-wrapped shifter handle, aluminum-alloy pedal covers, analog speedometer, tachometer, coolant temperature and fuel gauges, 6-speaker audio system, auto on/off headlights, power windows with auto up/down, electronic cruise control, steering wheel controls, dual front USB input ports, dual rear USB charge ports, tilt-telescoping steering column, dual cup holders in center console, single bottle holder in each door panel, rear center armrest with dual can holders, sun visors with dual-illuminated vanity mirrors, center console with LED-illuminated storage tray and 12-volt power outlet, dual-zone automatic climate control system, 60/40-split flat-folding rear seatback, LED headlights and fog lights, heated side mirrors, windshield wiper deicer

WRX performance equipment: 18-by-8.5-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with a dark gray finish, 245/40 97Y summer-performance tires, performance-design front seats, fabric upholstery with red trim, sport-design electroluminescent gauges, front and rear underspoilers, rear bumper with integrated diffuser, trunk spoiler, exhaust system with quad stainless-steel outlets

Safety features include: 7 air bags, Vehicle Dynamics Control with active torque vectoring, disc brakes, hill-start assist, and brake assist

PRICING

WRX Premium base price: $33,100, including $995 freight charge; price as tested $34,975

Options on test vehicle: Harman Kardon audio system (with 11 speakers) and power moonroof, $1,875

Where assembled: Gunma, Japan.

Warranty: 3-years/36,000-miles bumper to bumper; 5-years/60,000-miles powertrain

Read more

Subaru Outback Wilderness Review

The 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness is the thinking driver’s passport to comfortably get out, get it, and get home

A blue 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness model on a dirt trail

The 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness ($38,870) is adventure-ready with a raised suspension, low-ratio gearing, and advanced terrain control. (Photos courtesy of Subaru)

Table of Contents

5 Cool Things
Pricing
Outback Wilderness Upgrades
Safety Features
Symmetrical All Wheel Drive
Performance and Fuel Economy
Ride and Handling
Interior Function
Back Seats and Cargo
2023 Outback Updates
Why Buy the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness?
Specifications

BY MARK MAYNARD

Subaru has pushed farther afield with its new-for-2022 Outback Wilderness model. It marks the eighth trim level for the sixth generation of this raised all-wheel-drive wagon.

Subaru has long worn a burnished badge for all-wheel-drive back-to-nature rambling. The brand’s vehicles are family-oriented, steeped in safety, small(er), and efficient. Such capable vehicles have been an answer to the pandemic-induced call for “Don’t tread on me, let me tread lightly on a dirt trail.”

Breathe deep the independence of an all-wheel-drive escape vehicle.

Many traditional carmakers have come to market with specialized off-road-themed models to capitalize on adventure travel. To cut through some of that noise, the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness stakes out newfound capability. The Wilderness model is not a rock crawler, nor will it steal the thunder from a Jeep Wrangler, but it is the thinking driver’s passport to comfortably get out, get it, and get home.

An under view of the chassis with front skid plate

The Wilderness is upgraded with a front skid plate.

5 Cool Things About the Outback Wilderness

  • 17-inch Yokohama Geolandar A/T raised white letter tires, and matte black-finish alloy wheels have a 48mm offset for a wider track.
  • Full-size spare wheel and tire — a requirement for off-roading safety.
  • StarTex upholstery with copper-color stitching. It is more supple than leather and water resistant.
  • 180-degree front view monitor, an asset for trail riding or parking in the city.
  • Ladder-type roof rack. This rack system will support up to 700 pounds; most roof racks are rated 125 to 250 pounds. And the Subaru rack is strong enough to support a roof-top tent.
and the full-size spare tired and wheel.

A full-size spare tire and wheel are essential for trail riding.

Assets of the 2022 Outback

Among the nine carlines by Subaru, the Outback is usually its top monthly seller. The compact-class Crosstrek SUV is usually a few thousand sales behind in second place.

A test drive of the Outback is compelling. It greets the driver with a flannel-warm sense of security and all-wheel-drive confidence. The steering weight has a light and steady touch. Four-wheel-disc braking engages with absolute refinement. And the suspension is the great equalizer of smoothness over the fractured pavement of the city or washboard-rippled dirt tracks.

As a midsize vehicle, the interior is roomy with good elbow room and a long stretch of back-seat legroom. Cargo space is generous, with length for car camping when the back seat is folded. The cabin feels snug, the doors close with satisfying security. Sightlines are unhindered. And its small turning circle of 36.1 feet is enabling on the trail or in the parking lot.

The finisher might be Subaru’s reputation for safety. The Outback earns a top five star overall ranking by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. But there have been growing pains for the Outback as documented at NHTSA.gov, but more on that below.

The driver area and steering wheel of the Outback Wilderness

The driver area is smartly arranged with unobstructed sightlines.

2022 Subaru Outback Pricing

There are eight trim levels of Subaru Outback, with two engine choices, one automatic Lineartronic CVT and standard all-wheel drive.

The entry-level engine is a 182-hp, 2.5-liter nonturbocharged “flat” four-cylinder. This engine has fuel economy ratings of 26 mpg city, 33 highway and 29 mpg combined.

Upper Outback trim levels get the 260-hp, 2.4-liter turbocharged engine, also a “flat” four-cylinder. It has mileage ratings of 22/26/25 mpg. Regular unleaded fuel is recommended for both engines.

Starting prices range from $28,820 for the Base model with entry engine to $41,820 for the Touring XT with the turbo engine. Pricing includes the $1,175 freight charge from Lafayette, Ind.

Today’s tester is the 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness with the 260-hp engine. It starts at $38,870 and finished at $40,715. It had the only factory option package offered, the Subaru Starlink 11.6-inch Multimedia Plus system, $1,845, and includes a power moonroof and reverse automatic braking system.

The Wilderness is well equipped with such standard features as smart-key entry and push-button ignition, StarTex water-repellent upholstery, 11.6-inch Starlink infotainment system (with a free 3-year subscription), 180-degree front view monitor, and a rearview camera with guidance lines, 10-way power-adjustable driver seat and an eight-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, all-weather floor mats with the Wilderness logo. The front and rear (window) seats are heated.

Find current Subaru Outback pricing here. And check for special offers here.

Front headroom with the sunroof is 37.7 inches; legroom is long at 42.8 inches.

Front headroom with the sunroof is 37.7 inches, and legroom is long at 42.8 inches.

Outback Wilderness Upgrades

The Subaru Wilderness has some unique styling treatments. Among them:

Yokohama Geolandar A/T 225/65 17-inch all-season, raised white letter tires. Matte black-finish alloy wheels have a 48mm offset for wider track. Included is a full-size matching spare wheel and tire.

Wilderness-spec suspension. The ride is raised about an inch for 9.5-inches of ground clearance and increased approach, departure and breakover angles.

Anodized copper finish accent elements. These identify contact points for tow hook anchor points and roof rail tie-down points.

Hexagon-pattern LED fog lights, with and covers.

  • Anodized copper front bumper tow points.
  • All-weather floor mats with Wilderness logo on front mats.
  • PVC rear seatback material, waterproof and durable.
  • 8-way power front passenger seat.
  • Black inner headlight bezel and black inner extension.
  • LED rear gate light.
Unique hex-designed LED fog lights on the Outback Wilderness

Unique hex-designed LED fog lights.

Subaru Outback Safety Features

Subaru packs an electronic brain trust of safety features and driver-assist technologies into all Outback models. Not the least are eight air bags, including a driver’s knee bag and front passenger seat cushion bags.

Standard across the lineup is Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist Technology, which includes advanced adaptive cruise control with lane centering. The system will provide steering assist when the vehicle veers outside its lane.

Subaru’s semi-autonomous driver-assist system keeps the Outback well centered and gives more fluid steering corrections than some. Drivers, however, should always use two hands on the wheel. Variable daylight and road conditions can cause random but brief shutdowns, in my experience. The Subaru system dutifully informs the driver of approaching or passing vehicles with chirps and chimes.

DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System uses an infrared camera and facial recognition technology to monitor driver fatigue or distraction signs. You’ll know it is working when you hear the pings and see a warning light on the driver info screen.

The warning sounds can sometimes seem like too much input in heavy traffic. In my first few days of driving, the tones had me checking the mirrors and driver-info screen to determine the cause of concern; some of my head and eye movement might have triggered more pings. But the added electronic eyes in heavy traffic are when EyeSight is at its best.

The EyeSight system is comprised of:

AEB: Automatic emergency braking;

LDW: Lane departure and sway warning;

BSD: Blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert;

VDC: Vehicle dynamics control with electronic traction control; and

  • Active torque vectoring (using brakes);
  • Auto vehicle hold;
  • Hill descent control;
  • Brake-force distribution, brake assist, and brake override.
The black-finish alloy wheels have a 48mm offset for a wider track.

The black-finish alloy wheels have a 48mm offset for a wider track.

Safety Stars

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — NHTSA.gov — gives the Subaru Outback a top five-star overall safety rating, as expected. The government website also documents other safety-related topics relating to recalls: owner Complaints, Investigations, and Manufacturer Communications.

What I did not expect to learn from the NHTSA ranking are the many official complaints from Outback owners. Most of the issues were severe windshield cracking, with no known impacts, and numerous battery-drain issues. Learn more about the Subaru Outback (or your current vehicle) here.

Symmetrical All Wheel Drive

The fortified Outback Wilderness is a pinnacle of simplicity and usability. The foundation of its traction is Subaru’s full-time symmetrical all-wheel-drive. All the wheels are turning all the time, unlike an on-demand AWD system.

Subaru’s AWD system is usually a 60/40 power split between the front and rear axles. When sensors in the Subaru system detect a slipping wheel (in less than a revolution of that wheel, Subaru says), the power is redirected from the slipping wheel to wheels that still have traction. It is an invisible action and requires no driver action.

The Outback Wilderness model builds on that traction foundation with revised lower gear ratios, an active torque split to the AWD system, and an Advanced X-Mode for terrain control.

Advanced X-Mode is a unique control logic in the vehicle dynamics control system. It reduces individual wheel spin for more control on slippery road surfaces and inclines.

The system has driver-selectable modes of :

  • Snow/Dirt,
  • Deep Snow/Mud under 25 mph,
  • Deep Snow/Mud above 25 mph.
  • Low Speed/Low Ratio Gradient Control. This mode seems to replicate 4WD low-range gearing. It automatically detects travel on steep grades and shifts the CVT to a lower gear ratio and lower first ratio.
The Wilderness model's engine

The 260-hp, 2.4-liter turbocharged “flat” four-cylinder engine.

Outback Wilderness Performance

The 260-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder is a sophisticated design with horizontally opposed pistons, a twin-scroll turbocharger, and direct injection.

But the Outback Wilderness has a full-bodied curb weight of 3,929 pounds. Add travel gear and a partner, and the engine is hefting 4,200 pounds or more.

Turbocharged power is welcome, but acceleration force can range from relaxed to aggressive, all in a mile of driving.

The engine’s 277 foot-pounds of torque dig into its peak power from 2,000-4,800 rpm. Off-the-line acceleration is not brisk as the continuously variable transmission hooks up and the turbo spools boost. But bury the pedal and the engine rallies and the transmission clicks off a downshift or two for a rush of power.

Because of the lower gear ratios and the curb weight, fuel mileage is challenged. The best I achieved was an average of 21.8 mpg. The 18.5-gallon tank is a benefit for travel, however, off-road or on.

The Outback Wilderness A 700-pound-rated roof-rack system.

A 700-pound-rated roof-rack system.

Outback Wilderness Ride and Handling

Built on Subaru’s global platform, the Outback feels robust and solid. Its ride quality is comfortably compliant but capable enough for tooling through backcountry curves. The four-wheel independent (steel-spring) suspension performs better ride control than pricier electronic systems.

There’s also a cushioning effect from the substantial sidewall of the Yokohama Geolandar tires, which is an asset on pavement or off. And the Wilderness model has a full-size spare wheel and tire — a requirement for off-roading safety.

Braking is by power-assisted and ventilated four-wheel discs. The 12.4-inch front rotors have dual-piston calipers, and the rear 11.8-inch rotors have single-piston calipers.

The Outback has a hefty tow capacity of 3,500 pounds with a 350-pound trailer tongue weight.

The 11.6-inch-long tablet-like infotainment system in the Wilderness

The Subaru Starlink 11.6-inch Multimedia Plus system, $1,845.

Outback Interior Function

Inside, the Outback cabin is well soundproofed with a sound-insulated windshield and side glass. But the raised ride height, substantial roof rack, and off-road tires generate noise at highway speeds.

The driver area is smartly arranged with unobstructed sightlines at the side mirrors and over the shoulder. The white-on-black, dual-gauge array has a driver-info panel between the dials for the digital speedometer, radio-media, fuel economy, etc.

The step-in height is hip-high and easy to maneuver. The seats are not over-bolstered at the sides or bottoms to slide across, and there is long thigh support.

The two-tone gray-black interior treatment is appealing with reserved use of satin metallic and chrome trim.

Base models have fabric upholstery while the upper trims have leather. But the Wilderness model has Subaru’s water-repellent StarTex upholstery. The synthetic plastic material is softer than leather and is supposed to be water resistant and easy to clean. (StarTex is made without polyvinyl chloride (PVC), Subaru says.)

The shifter console is compact and has an e-bin and two 2.1-amp charging USBs. Oddly wireless charging is not included on the Wilderness but is available for $341. Sliding visors have covered and well-lighted mirrors.

One of my favorite features was the front-view camera. It is very handy for trail views or when steering into a parking slot.

The big 11.6-inch vertical tablet seems like a great idea, but the tablet’s width limits the display of camera images.

Except for stand-alone knobs for radio volume and station selection, the remainder of the controls are accessed by a two-tap touch-screen process. This action will take eyes from the road until the format is mastered.

The shifter with copper trim in the Outback Wilderness

The CVT transmission, with steering wheel shifters, can simulate eight speeds.

Back Seat and Cargo Space

There is sedanlike comfort in the back-seat area with adult-size seating and long legroom. The low transmission tunnel eases three-across footroom. And there are a couple inches of seatback recline, which parents value for sleeping youngsters.

Conveniences include the broad fold-down armrest with a pair of can holders and two more 2.1-amp charging USBs.

The square cargo area has eight tie-downs, upper and lower, rather than just four floor-mounted anchor points. The deep space has seatback releases, corner nooks, a 12-volt plug, and bag hooks. The spare tire and tools are stowed below, and there is space for the roller cover when not needed.

The liftgate opening is 44 inches wide by 29 inches tall at the entry opening. Fold the seatbacks for up to almost 7 feet of length.

A cutaway side view of the front and rear seats in the Outback

Back seat legroom is quite long at 39 inches, and the seatback reclines a couple of inches.

2023 Subaru Outback Updates

The 2023 Subaru Outback lineup (except the Wilderness) will debut a new front fascia, more prominent grille, redesigned LED headlights and fog lights, and a more rugged front bumper cover. On the sides, there is expanded wheel-arch cladding for bolder styling and added protection from ice and gravel scouring.

The latest version of EyeSight Driver Assist Technology will have a wider field of view and updated control software. Also added is an electric brake booster.

The top-level Touring trim adds a wide-angle mono camera, which works with the dual-camera EyeSight system. The added camera is intended to recognize pedestrians and bicycles sooner as the vehicle enters an intersection at low speed. When necessary, the new EyeSight system will brake to avoid intersection collisions with bicycles and pedestrians.

Also new for the Touring model is a full LCD smart rearview mirror with auto-dimming, compass, and Homelink garage-gate-lighting system.

EyeSight models with Blind-Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert will add Automatic Emergency Steering. The new feature works with the Pre-Collision Braking System to help avoid a collision at speeds less than 50 mph.

Fold the seatbacks for up to almost 7 feet of length, which means car camping is very doable.

With up to almost 7 feet of cargo-space length, car camping is very doable.

Cargo area features show seatback releases, a storage nook, lights, 8 tiedowns, and bag hooks.

Seatback release levers, bag hooks, 8 tiedowns, and bag hooks. (Mark Maynard photos)

Why Buy the 2022 Outback Wilderness?

The Subaru Outback Wilderness makes an almost irresistible first impression. It looks good, feels secure on the road, and would be a faithful road-trip companion. It has all the good bones for long-term ownership. If the Outback was offered as a hybrid or plug-in hybrid, it would be on my short list to buy.

The NHTSA owner complaints cannot be ignored, however. If you are among the Subaru faithful, and a new Outback is on your short list, consider the extended warranty “Gold Plus Plan.” The dealership can provide pricing.

A three-quarter rear view of the Outback Wilderness trailside.

The Outback’s global platform feels robust and solid. The ride quality is comfortably compliant but capable enough for tooling through backcountry curves.

2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness Specifications

Body style: midsize, 5-seat, 5-door AWD crossover SUV

Engine: 260-hp, twin-scroll turbocharged with direct-injected 2.4-liter flat 4-cylinder; 277 lb.-ft. torque from 2,000-4,800 rpm; auto stop-start at idle

Transmission: high-torque Lineartronic CVT with 8-speed manual function and steering wheel paddle shifters; revised lower ratios exclusive to Wilderness model

Symmetrical AWD: Active Torque Split AWD with electronic variable hydraulic transfer clutch

Fuel economy: 22/26/24 mpg city/hwy/combined; 87 octane

Ground clearance: 9.5 inches

Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds with 350-lb. trailer tongue weight

BY THE NUMBERS

Fuel tank: 18.5 gallons

Cargo space: 32.5-75.7 cubic feet

Front head/leg room: *37.7/42.8 inches *40.1 inches without sunroof

Rear head/leg room: 39.1/39.5 inches

Length/wheelbase: 191.3/108.1 inches

Curb weight: 3,929 pounds, including option package of navigation, moonroof and reverse automatic braking

Turning circle: 36.1 feet

FEATURES

Standard equipment includes: smart-key entry and push-button ignition, advanced adaptive cruise control with lane centering, StarTex water-repellent upholstery, 11.6-inch Starlink infotainment system (3-year free subscription), Apple CarPlay and Android Auto 180-degree front view monitor and rearview camera with guidance lines, 10-way power-adjustable driver and 8-way power-adjustable front passenger seat, all-weather floor mats with Wilderness logo, heated front and rear seats

Wilderness treatment: 17-inch Yokohama Geolandar A/T 225/65 all-season raised white letter tires on matte-black finish alloy wheels, LED headlights and fog lights, ladder-type roof rails with 700-lb. capacity, anti-glare hood graphic, front skid plate, LED rear light

Safety features include: 8 air bags (including driver knee bag and front passenger cushion bag), EyeSight driver-assist system with automatic emergency braking; lane departure and sway warning; blind-spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert; vehicle dynamics control with electronic traction control; active torque vectoring (using brakes); auto vehicle hold; hill descent control; brake-force distribution, brake assist, brake override

PRICING

Base price: $38,870, including $1,175 freight charge; price as tested $40,715

Options on test vehicle: Subaru Starlink 11.6-inch Multimedia Plus system, $1,845, includes power moonroof and reverse automatic braking system

Where assembled: Lafayette, Ind.

Warranties: 3-years/36,000-miles bumper to bumper with roadside assistance; 5-years/60,000-miles powertrain

Read more

2019 Subaru Ascent Review

The Subaru Ascent was made for American-sized gear, child seats, and strollers — with 19 cup holders, up to eight USB ports, and huge cargo space

An exterior view of the Ascent on an Oregon beach.

The Subaru Ascent is sold in four all-wheel-drive trim levels — with a no-cost choice for seven or eight seats. (Photos courtesy of Subaru)

BY MARK MAYNARD

Subaru is at the foothills of SUV mountain with its 2019 Ascent, the brand’s largest, three-row SUV. But this enlightened and accommodating newcomer will quickly gain ground among the many choices of large-midsize SUV crossovers.

More carlike than truck-based, this stalwart segment of non-luxury crossovers has at least 11 competing vehicles. Among them, the Chevrolet Traverse, Dodge Durango, Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe, Mazda CX-9, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan Pathfinder Toyota Highlander, and VW Atlas.

Subaru Ascent Overview

But Subaru is no stranger to this climb. It made a run at the mountain from 2005-2014 with its seven-seat B9 Tribeca, a well-done but oddly styled vehicle. And it has five-seat champions in its two-row Forester SUV and beefed-up Outlander and Crosstrek wagons. But Subaru saw that it was losing buyers in their child-bearing years. A larger vehicle, such as Ascent, is what customers told Subaru they wanted; something to be used without fear of getting dirty.

This time around, Subaru made sure Ascent had strong styling and that it was made for American-sized gear, child seats, and strollers — with 19 cup holders and up to eight USB ports.

Subaru Ascent driver area

All models also have Subaru’s EyeSight driver-assist technologies.

Subaru Ascent Pricing

Ascent is sold in four all-wheel-drive trim levels — base, Premium, Limited and Touring — with a no-cost choice for seven or eight seats. Starting prices range from $32,970-$45,670, including the $975 freight charge from Lafayette, Ind.

Ascent standard features include a 6.5-inch multimedia infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, four USB ports, three-zone automatic climate control, power windows-mirrors-locks. Auto Vehicle Hold engages the brakes when stopped stop so the driver does not have to keep a foot on the pedal.

The front passenger-seat view of the Ascent

Standard features include a 6.5-inch multimedia infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Today’s tester is an eight-passenger Subaru Ascent Limited. The as-tested price was $42,920 with one option group ($2,950) for the Harman Kardon audio system, navigation, panoramic power moonroof and cargo cover.

The Limited’s equipment list includes SmartKey entry and push-button ignition, leather-trimmed upholstery, LED steering-responsive headlights with automatic high-beam assist (dimming) and LED fog lights, second-row retractable sunshades, 20-inch aluminum wheels, driver’s seat adjustable thigh support, power liftgate gate with height memory and two more USB ports for a total of six.

Front seats of the Ascent

The Ascent has open sightlines across the hood and over the shoulder.

The loaded, seven-seat Touring model ($45,670) gets such upgrades as (more luxurious) Java Brown leather upholstery and a leather-wrapped and heated steering wheel, woodgrain-pattern matte finish accent trim, three-mode ventilated and heated front seats, a 120-volt power outlet, and eight USB charging ports. It also gets an 8.0-inch multimedia navigation system, 14-speaker Harman Kardon Quantum Logic surround sound audio system, and panoramic power moonroof. Its Smart Rear-View Mirror helps rear visibility through a camera image and there is a very useful 180-degree front-view camera.

Find current Subaru pricing and incentives here.

The large sunroof in the new new SUV

Front headroom is tall at 40.1 inches or 41.3 without the panoramic sunroof.

Subaru Ascent Safety Features

All Ascent models also have Subaru’s EyeSight driver-assist technologies of automatic pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure and sway warnings.

Optional technologies include blind-spot detection with lane change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and reverse automatic braking.

Other Ascent safety features include seven air bags, trailer stability assist, active torque vectoring, and automatic vehicle hold

The turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the Ascent

The Subaru Ascent has a new 260-hp,  twin-scroll turbocharged 2.4-liter “boxer” flat four-cylinder engine.

Subaru Ascent Performance

All Ascent models get the new 260-horsepower, direct-injection and twin-scroll turbocharged 2.4-liter “boxer” flat four-cylinder engine with a continuously variable automatic transmission. The CVT, which integrates X-Mode off-road traction control and hill-descent control, allows little of the typical CVT motorboating (engine-revving) effect. There is no Sport mode, but the eight-speed manual mode with steering wheel shifters will help hold shift points when needed.

The Ascent will tow up to 5,000 pounds and includes an electronic trailer stability assist system. Subaru’s “Symmetrical” AWD system is not an on-demand system but powers all four wheels and continually shifts traction to those with more grip to keep the vehicle on course.

Though the Subaru Ascent is on the upper end of the curb-weight scale at almost 4,500 pounds, the new engine has as much power and fuel economy as its V-6-powered competitors. With 277 foot-pounds of torque at a low 2,000-4,000 rpm, the

Ascent will accelerate briskly and will hold that power into the freeway-cruising zone. Braking is almost overengineered with four-wheel ventilated disc brakes with large 13.1-inch rotors front and 13 inches rear.

Fuel economy ratings are 20 mpg city, 26 highway and 22 mpg combined on 87 octane. The 19.3-gallon tank allows a wide range of adventuring.

Making an uphill climb in the SUV.

Subaru’s symmetrical AWD system powers all four wheels and continually shifts traction to those with more grip to keep the vehicle on course.

Ascent Ride and Handling

Whether for young families or established households, the Subaru Ascent is a refined helpmate that drives small and gives big returns. Built of much high-strength steel, the solid chassis helps ensure a compliant suspension and a cabin that is luxury-class quiet over most road surfaces and at all speeds.

There is little head toss of passengers when making sharp turns or stepping over speed bumps. The turning circle seems tighter than its reasonable 38 feet.

Ascent Interior Function

There is complete function to the Ascent’s contemporary interior design with open sightlines across the hood and over the shoulder. Front headroom is minivan tall at 40.1 inches or 41.3 without the panoramic sunroof.

The shifter console has a charging area with two 2.1-amp charging USBs and an audio port.

The cabin has a low step-in height with thoughtful details in the sliding visors, the conversation mirror, bold (readable) graphics and plenty of large and small storage areas. The Limited’s front seats — upholstered in attractive, perforated leather — are gently bolstered and have thigh extenders.

The second row in the Ascent

The second row has generous width for three-across child seats.

The Ascent Back Seats

The Ascent’s second row has generous width for three-across child seats, a flat floor, and long legroom of 38.6 inches. The seats recline and have fore-aft adjustment to allow more third-row legroom or cargo capacity. And there is a simple two-step tip-slide-fold feature to the seats.

Amenities include two 2.1-amp USB ports, a fold-down armrest with cup holders, door panel storage for at least two bottles and overhead air vents, which are so kid-friendly when motion sickness is a concern.

The third row is not overly cramped and the seats, which recline, are some of the most supportive I’ve tested in any three-row SUV. Extras include cup- and juice-box holders and a 2.1 USB port.

Third row seats in the Subaru Ascent

The third row is not overly cramped and the seats, which recline, are some of the most supportive I’ve tested in any three-row SUV

Ascent Cargo Capacity

The cargo space is huge, wide and flat, spanning 17.6 cubic feet behind the third row to 47 cu. ft. with the second row folded. But even with the third-row in place, there is usable space for grocery-getting. There also is some basement storage with room to stash the roller cover.

The open cargo area

The cargo space is huge, wide and flat, spanning 17.6 cubic feet behind the third row to 47 cu. ft. with the second row folded.

There really is no such thing as being late to the hill-climbing party when you bring a vehicle as well presented as the Ascent. It won’t be long before the competition is looking at taillights from this new welcome wagon to the Subaru family.

2019 Subaru Ascent Limited

• Body style: large, 7- or 8-seat AWD SUV

• Engine: 260-hp, direct-injection and twin-scroll turbocharged 2.4-liter 4-cylinder; 277 lb.-ft. torque from 2,000-4,800 rpm

• Transmission: CVT with hill descent control, selectable 8-speed manual shift mode and steering wheel paddle shifters

• Fuel economy: 20/26/22 mpg city/hwy/combined; 87 octane

• Tow capacity: 5,000 lbs.

BY THE NUMBERS

• Fuel tank: 19.3 gallons

• Cargo space: 17.6-47 cu. ft. *86 cu.ft. both rows folded

• Front head/leg room: 40.1*/42.2 in. *41.3 inches without moonroof

• 2nd row head/leg room: 40/38.6 in.

• 3rd row head/leg room: 36.3/31.7 in.

• Length/wheelbase: 196.8/113.8 in.

• Width/height: 86.2*/71.6* inches *w/turn-signal mirrors and roof rails

• Curb weight: 4,499 lbs.

• Turning circle: 38 ft.

FEATURES

• Standard equipment includes: smartkey entry and push-button ignition, leather-trimmed upholstery, LED steering-responsive headlights with automatic high beam assist (dimming), LED fog lights, second-row retractable sunshades, 20-inch aluminum wheels, driver’s seat adjustable thigh support, power liftgate gate with height memory, 6 USB ports

• Safety features include: 7 air bags, trailer stability assist, stability and traction controls, brake assist and brake override, active torque vectoring and auto vehicle hold

PRICING

• Base price: $39,970, including $975 freight charge; price as tested $42,920

• Options on test vehicle: Harman Kardon, navigation, panoramic power moonroof, cargo $2,950

• Where assembled: Lafayette, Ind.

• Warranty: 3-years/36,000-miles bumper to bumper

A rear view of the Subaru SUV on an Oregon Beach

Subaru Ascent starting prices range from $32,970-$45,670, including the $975 freight charge from Lafayette, Ind.

Read more