The 2024 Subaru Outback Wilderness is basically what any automotive journalist would qualify as the perfect car. It’s a wagon. It’s all-wheel drive. It’s lifted off the ground, and in the case of the one I was driving, it’s brown! That color is actually called Autumn Green, but that’s close enough to brown, right? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Subaru Canada’s media relations specialist for the Quebec region – Sebastien Lajoie – is an ex-automotive journalist. He knows what we like. Or maybe it’s because Subaru has finally accepted its reputation for building weird and quirky machines. No matter the reasons for the existence of this brownish apparatus on wheels, I got to say, the Outback Wilderness is cool as fuck. This is by far one of the smartest creations a carmaker has come up with in years.
2024 Subaru Outback Wilderness Review: This Is Serious Shit Kids
The Wilderness trim – now also available on the Forester and the Crosstrek – was first introduced on the Outback for the 2022 model year. It’s what happens when Subaru fully embraces its go anywhere promise, better suited for people that are more comfortable wearing a pair of Merrells rather than Dr Martens. Subaru has also been paying attention to what its customers have been doing with their cars, i.e. modifying them for improved off-road capability or fitting them with extra outdoor gear so they can partake in #overlanding adventures on Instagram.The 2024 Subaru Outback Wilderness, then, is the most potent version of the lineup. Subaru isn’t messing around with this thing as the modifications are substantial. Yes, there’s more body cladding, tow hooks, model-specific foglamps and a reinforced roof rack than can sustain up to 700 pounds, or enough strength to support two physically fit people, a small tent and their gear. But it doesn’t end there.Front and rear bumpers were redesigned (it’s not very attractive now, is it?) to improve the Outback’s approach and departure angles, from 18.4 to 19.6 degrees, and from 21.7 to 18.4 degrees respectively. Skid plates were then installed underneath the car to protect the engine, the transmission and the rear differential. The car’s suspension dampers were replaced for sturdier units and the entire ride height was lifted 25 millimeters. Yokohama Geolander G015 dirt tires come as standard equipment, while the rear differential sees a revised ratio, from 4,111:1 to 4,444:1.Subaru also says that the continuously variable transmission (CVT) – the sole transmission option for the Wilderness – was reprogrammed for improved response, but also to allow the electronic X-Mode feature to perform better during off-road driving.The Wilderness also comes out of the box with the Outback’s most powerful engine option, Subaru’s now familiar turbocharged 2.4-liter flat-four. It’s good for 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. Of course, Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel drive system is included. The rig kicks off at $47,311. It comes fifth in a series of seven available flavors for the current Outback.
Not A Handler, But Will Take On Anything
The 2023 Subaru Outback Wilderness handles basically the way it looks: like something high off the ground with a ton of body roll. Don’t expect this thing to carve apexes like you would in a WRX, but the fact that the Outback is basically a lifted Legacy, and that Subaru’s obsession with Boxer engines that are set low in the car’s engine bay – further improving weight distribution – means that there’s a constant buttoned down, carlike feel from behind the wheel.Grip is of course never an issue, no matter the surface, and my gosh do those upgraded dampers make a difference on beaten up tarmac. This is actually the second time I drive the Outback Wilderness. My first experience with the car was during a controlled off-road course that Subaru had set up for us journalists. It is, in fact, impressive what you can do with these things out there in a beaten trail. I mean, it’s no Ford Bronco, but the Wilderness’ long suspension travel and lifted ride height will allow it to claw its way out of the slippery stuff. Hell, I even jumped the damn thing during the event!There’s never a lack of power nor torque from the turbocharged engine, making you quickly forget the old H6 engine. It’s a grunty engine this, one that doesn’t solely rely on boost to get up and go. That’s not to say turbocharging doesn’t give it a hand, but the fact that it’s a large displacement engine gives it a nice linear powerband, remaining smooth and stress-free during the entire process, even while the turbo is doing its thing.The CVT, on the other hand, remains a problem. Yes, Subaru builds one of the best CVTs in the business and this one doesn’t get in your way when you’re looking for horsepower. The problem is that, by design, its slippery nature and tendency to throw the engine up high in the RPM gauge as it hunts for power blemish this otherwise refined drivetrain. It just always sounds loud. Oh, and do expect to burn more fuel due to the lifted ride height and beefier tires. I had trouble staying under the 11L/100 km mark.Subaru says that it is ready to deal with hoonigans that dare push this machine to the limits of its capabilities. What the carmaker told me during the launch event is that the entire service and warranty compliance departments have been trained and prepared to deal with broken axles or blown shock absorbers, which should, according to the carmaker, remain covered under the standard warranty as long as the vehicle was operated in an “acceptable” manner. I know, that’s a vague legal term that basically doesn’t mean anything, but at least Subaru is well aware that owners will put these cars through their paces.The beauty of the Wilderness model is that at the end of the day, it’s just another Outback, meaning it’s one of the last true lifted station wagons you can currently buy. The Outback has always been one of my favorite models within Subaru’s lineup thanks to its carlike driving experience and SUV-like practicality wrapped up in wagon form.Because of its size and shape, rear leg and head room is on par with several midsize SUVs. Its available 2,140 liters of total cargo space (with the rear seatbacks folded flat) proves that a station wagon remains a tried and true formula to carry a full family and its gear.The 2024 Subaru Outback Wilderness may appear to be yet another adventure-ready machine designed to lure more people into the dealership, but it’s done in a flavor that only Subaru could have pulled off. I mean, if you’re going to commit to preparing a car for taking on everything the world can throw at it, it might as well be a large, brown station wagon.
Review of the 2024 Subaru Outback Wilderness by William Clavey
- Serious off-road capability.
- Potent turbocharged engine.
- Spacious and practical.
- Higher fuel consumption than normal model.
- CVT remains…a CVT.
- Not a very pretty car.
8.5 / 10
Clavey’s Corner is located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Prices and trim levels discussed in this article reflect the Canadian car market.
Special thanks: Subaru Canada
Photography: Guillaume Fournier
Contact the author: [email protected]