SUV Review: 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness

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Oct 092022

By Andy Stonehouse

I have marveled during the past few years about the number of SUV and crossover owners who’ve made the option to go full macho when it comes to adding overly rugged off-road tires to bring some versatility to their often relatively benign automobiles.

That DIY spirit has now made it back to auto manufacturers and Subaru’s range of Wilderness editions reflects  the trend. The company has several models, the newest variation is the 2022 Forester Wilderness. It takes on both a series of rugged appearance tweaks and some actual suspension upgrades, like a half inch of extra clearance, giving it 9.2 inches of rock-hopping ability.

Most prominently, it features factory-issued Yokohama Geolandar all-terrain tires on 17-inch blacked-out alloy wheels, a chunky set of treads that’s far better suited for rocky summertime trails, creek beds, or sandy beaches. The roof rails—highlighted with prominent metallic-colored inserts—have also been upgraded to support 220 pounds of carried equipment or as much as 800 pounds of you, your friends, and your rooftop tent.

Forester’s current power hasn’t changed, but the 2.5-liter four-cylinder Boxer engine chugs along with 182 horsepower and 176 lb.–ft. of torque, which you will likely find adequate for highway excursions. They also remapped the one-speed CVT transmission to offer a little more flexibility in both off-road driving and highway journeys, with 28 miles per gallon on the road.

Design certainly gets some big changes from the existing base, Premium, or Sport models, including a unique front fascia and grille, a front skid plate and a large matte black anti-glare decal in the middle of the hood. You’ll also notice the wheel arches have been expanded and the vehicle has a much stockier look, with darkened window arches and those ultra-chunky cladding details at the bottom of the doors.

You’ll have to sit down in the Wilderness before you buy one to see if you’re a fan of the synthetic, water-resistant StarTex seating, which may feel a little Body Glove-like, but damp kayakers, river rafters and paddleboarders may dig that.

The Forester’s already-accomplished X-Mode system for off-road or challenging conditions has been upgraded, as well, featuring brightly-colored controls and special traction settings for snow, dirt, and perhaps dirty snow (I think this is deep snow, actually, but dirty snow sounds great).

I would not say that this all turns it into the Subaru rendition of a Wrangler Rubicon or Land Rover Defender (spoiler alert: absolutely not), but the upgrades are all functional and will certainly help as you go out and explore in the summertime.

I like the vertically-oriented Starlink multimedia screen better than the horizonal one found in a new WRX; you can add it, plus a premium Harmon Kardon sound system and a power rear liftgate as an $1,850 option. That brought the total price to $36,015, which seems to be literally half as much as many Wranglers nowadays.

I have to admit I have never quite understood Forester’s overall appeal, especially in its more awkward and boxy earlier days, but this one looks cool and drives comfortably. The suspension work means it is not that much taller and tippier on highway drives, and the absolutely gigantic side and front windows guarantee visibility you won’t find in many other vehicles.

They certainly went to town with the texturized plastic on almost every external surface, including the side mirror caps (even part of the instrument cluster, as well); you also get ultra-texturized floor mats throughout.

The cabin also borders on the giddy with aluminum pedals, more metallic-colored inserts on the steering wheel, shift knob and off-road controls, plus custom badging and labels on the seats.

Si: Wilderness is indeed a way to separate yourself from the Subaru crowd, especially if you live in a 10-on-every-block spot like Colorado or the Northeast.

No: While Wilderness’s looks are rugged, the upgrades do not turn this Forester into a 4×4 with the agility of a quad. It’s still a car, so rock-crawling is probably not advisable.

Andy Stonehouse is a guest contributor to Latino Traffic Report and a freelance automotive journalist based in Lakewood, Colorado. All photos are stock, not as-tested, and feature European models.


Car review: Subaru Impreza 2.0i Sport

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Dec 312017

Sales figures affirm Subaru’s appeal to car buyers—December marked the seventy-third consecutive month of yearly month-over-month growth for the company. So what does Subaru offer that others don’t? Perhaps it’s the standard symmetrical all-wheel-drive (AWD)? Or the consistent high marks in consumer publications? Or could it be those Subaru ads about love? On a recent test drive for Latino Traffic Report, the Impreza 2.0i Sport sedan offered clues by living up to its name with impressive new technology and performance.

According to the automaker, 2017 was the ninth consecutive year of record sales for Subaru of America and the tenth consecutive year of sales increases, assisted in part by the Impreza’s popularity. For 2017, the manufacturer redesigned its stalwart compact sedan and hatchback, and to mark the occasion moved Impreza production to the United States, specifically, its Lafayette, IN plant.

On the outside, the Impreza sports Subaru’s new design DNA, namely, the hexagonal grille and hawk-eye headlights. Black cloth seats with red accent stitching, simulated carbon fiber trim, aluminum pedals, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, shift handle, and a CVT shift boot, accentuated the interior on the this trim.

The compact segment excels at economy and fuel efficiency, but the Impreza did have fun-to-drive moments as well, assisted in part by 70-percent increased rigidity and a lower center of gravity.

The new and improved 2.0-liter four-cylinder Boxer engine with direct fuel injection that now produces 152 horses and 145 lb.–ft. of torque, also helped. It’s matched to a Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) with a seven-speed manual mode function with steering wheel paddle shifters. While I didn’t test it, I was happy to find that a five-speed manual is standard on the Base and Sport trim levels. The Impreza should achieve an EPA estimated fuel economy of 28 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. The Sport model I tested should achieve a little less. I averaged 29.8 mpg during the weeklong test drive.

Subaru ramps up its competitiveness with standard entertainment features like Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Aha and Pandora, a multi-function display with fuel economy information, the Starlink multimedia system with a 6.5-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth wireless capability, iPod control, and smartphone integration. Standard convenience features include a 60/40-split rear seat, cruise control, keyless access as well as an AM/FM stereo and single disc CD player. The test model added, heated front seats, push-button start and an 8.0-inch touchscreen for the Starlink multimedia system.

Standard safety features include, Vehicle Dynamics Control, symmetrical AWD, 24-hour roadside assistance, and a rear vision camera.
The test model also included the available four-way tire pressure monitoring system, a one-year subscription to STARLINK Safety Plus package, EyeSight driver assist technology ($2,945) with adaptive cruise control, automatic pre-collision braking, blind spot detection, and rear cross traffic alert as well as a moonroof and the Harman/Kardon audio system,

Available in four trim levels—Base, Premium, Sport and Limited—pricing for the 2018 Impreza starts at $19,355. The as-tested pricing came to $26,550.

Sí the Impreza offers a great value in the segment, starting with the standard symmetrical AWD.

No: Acceleration is a little sluggish and I would like more than eighteen presets for the radio.

Feb 172015

2014-11-05 08.subaru.legacy

When you’re the most recommended brand by Consumer Reports and one of very few that showed sales increases when others were still recovering from the recession, you might get big headed. Not so for Subaru. Lambasted for the look of its 2006 Tribeca (not by me), Subaru has struggled to create a unique exterior DNA, making it a bit self-conscious. Perhaps that’s why the new redesign of the Legacy looks inspired by another brand with a blue oval?2014-11-05 09.00.08

Regardless of what’s going on on the outside, what sets Subaru apart is what’s happening under the skin, namely the standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, as well as its stellar reliability. I recently drove the 2015 Legacy 2.5i Premium for a week in Austin, and new technology, improved fuel economy, and interior styling will enhance the sedan’s appeal.

As the second of four trim levels in the new Legacy lineup, the Premium includes a healthy list of standard features, but it’s also nice to know that things like a touch screen display on the infotainment system that includes a CD player, and a high-resolution back-up camera are standard across all trim levels.

My favorite optional feature is the Subaru Rear Vehicle Detection System that adds Blindspot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Lane Change Assist.

2014-11-05 08.58.40Offering a choice between four-cylinder and six-cylinder BOXER engines, the 2015 Subaru Legacy comes standard with the Lineartronic CVT (continuously variable transmission). The EPA estimated fuel economy ratings for the 2.5i come to 26 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 36 mpg on the highway. During my one-week loan, I achieved an average mpg of 29.6

Like the four-cylinder, the fuel economy for the six-cylinder Legacy 3.6R Limited improves by 10 percent for 2015, with new city/highway estimated ratings of 20/29 mpg.

Technology like an Active Grille Shutter, a colorful fuel efficiency or ECO gauge in the instrument cluster, and a 10-percent improvement in aerodynamics help improve fuel efficiency.

The colorful display has two binocular-style gauge pods with a center LCD information display—3.5-inches on cars without the EyeSight driver-assist system and five inches on EyeSight cars. The infotainment system was a little less intuitive than I would like, and while keyless access is available, it isn’t standard on the Premium 2.2014-11-03 19.Subaru.signs5i.

I appreciated the Premium’s blue illumination but I also had the chance to test the 60/40 split rear seats. With more interior volume than its competitors, the roomy trunk (15 cu. ft.) expanded even further to fit the more than 100 campaign signs I needed to deliver to voting precincts in one night. The optional navigation system was also essential that night.

Standard creature comforts on the Legacy Premium include dual-zone air conditioning, heated front seats, an upgraded infotainment system, and a ten-way power driver’s seat.

Options like a moonroof, navigation, and Rear Vehicle Detection added nearly $3,000 to the Premium’s base price.

I like models with a distinct look so I admit that I prefer the outgoing exterior design to the new one, but that doesn’t detract from what the new Subaru Legacy offers overall.

Pricing for the 2015 Legacy starts at $22,490. The as-tested price for the 2015 Legacy Premium 2.5i came to $27,480.