Mike sent in his and his wife’s experience with the Subaru Outback Wilderness over the first week of ownership.
We deeply appreciate Mike giving us so much detail about his family’s experience, both in terms of the rationale behind his purchase as well as how it’s going so far and what he’s planning to do. Below is a detailed take on how it’s all gone in his own words.
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“Thanks so much for getting back with me. We took possession of our 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness last week to be the new family hauler. We replaced my wife’s 2018 JL Rubicon. She loved the Jeep. Jeep life and culture were an absolute blast, but as you have noted many times on the various channels… the seats… We found ourselves tired and sore after 2-3 hours of driving. This combined with a pretty real rollover scare when someone pulled out in front of her and our son driving at highway speed, meant it was time to start shopping.
We would miss the Jeep, but we rarely used its full capability. We’re a road trip family. Getting something more fuel efficient while still off-roadable and with some character were on the list of wants. I was leaning towards getting another 4runner (we had one several years ago), but my beloved was enamored with the idea of getting a wagon. So, we got a wagon. We looked at the V90cc, empirically one of the most beautiful family haulers on the road, but they are so scarce on the used market, and new was more than we wanted to spend. So, that left the Subaru.
We didn’t go into this necessarily looking at the Wilderness or even a new Outback per se, but the inflation of the used market meant our Wrangler was worth and small fortune. And, if we could find the right new car, we could maximize our situation—not paying the penalty used for used.
Buying the Outback:
Shopping went as you might expect. I didn’t care which trim she got, but we would certainly get the larger engine. She has a lead foot, and I figured this would minimize some of the potential drone of the CVT. At the end of the day, the Wilderness was just different from the others that seemed to blend together, and what made it different was some of the things we like to do as a family anyway—it was an easy choice.
After shopping around, I quickly found out that if you could get a Wilderness around MSRP, you did well. There was a grand total of one, Geiser Blue Outback on the ground in the state of Texas. I confirmed this by calling Dallas, Houston, and Austin and having them check the present and in-bound inventory within a 400-mile radius. I immediately called the dealer, which happened to be only an hour away, and told them they had the only one, that I wanted it, but I wasn’t willing to pay more than MSRP for it. They didn’t love the idea of me not paying for their add-ons, they tried to explain to that there would be someone tomorrow or the next day that might be willing to pay more. I certainly agreed that there might, but I wasn’t willing to negotiate with myself. There wasn’t anything wrong with my beautiful Jeep… that is very popular right now… and would be worth just as much to Joe Schmo Subaru of Dallas who has my name on an inbound for August 12. We made the deal.
I was glad too. We wanted to buy immediately to take the Subie on a family road trip from ETX to the Smokies. My Tundra would have handed the trip just fine, but it would have been a lot more expensive. 1850 miles of going with the flow of traffic, idling at lunch and bathroom stops and 200ish miles of driving around Gatlinburg and in the national park, was accomplished at 25.5 mpg—no complaints there!
There is a lot to love about the Wilderness. It comes with Subaru’s synthetic, leather-like material that is completely waterproof. Road tripping, even without a rambunctious 5-year-old, with this material would a game changer. Not to mention, the seats themselves are very comfortable and supportive. They didn’t quite have the cushion and adjustability to compete with the V90, but they were great. These combined with the rubberized, tray-like, branded mats throughout the car, meant there was nothing to worry about.
The 2.4-liter Turbo was a welcomed addition. The extra power when you put your foot in it made you almost believe the CVT was dropping a gear to make a pass. It was efficient enough to not hurt at the pump, but then again, we were comparing this to a Jeep and a Tundra, but powerful enough to put a smile on our face. I couldn’t help but think this engine deserves gears in some form, it seemed to cause the CVT a little grief at times dealing with the burst of acceleration, and come on, how great would a modern, manual Outback be!
I was also shocked at how much junk we could actually take with us. Subaru does some great witchcraft in maximizing their cargo space. We packed for 5 days in a cabin with food, etc. Our family of 3 had plenty of room.
As far as the Wilderness side of the Wilderness, the cladding and protection along with increased clearance made me not even think about anything we drove over. Admittedly, the couple of forest roads we drove on could have been handled by a standard Outback but knowing there was more there to make sure all was well was a welcomed security blanket. As many understand, when you off-road in the vehicle you arrived in, there always a little more consideration.
Life with the Subie was not all roses. I made it all of 200 miles before I turned lane keep warnings completely off. I have this habit of turning my blinker on as I’m changing lanes when passing someone and there is no one behind me. If this happened before I got within 6 inches of the line it was fine, less than—the Wilderness was certain I had drifted off and our family was about to meet its certain doom.
Likewise, the large infotainment screen that runs everything took some getting used to. It is fine, but I don’t think it is quite as good as the Uconnect that was in the Jeep. I also wish it had real buttons for the climate control.
Let’s be honest, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. We didn’t buy the Wilderness package because it was prettier than a standard Outback, but because we thought it was a little more rugged and had more personality. The Copper accents, cladding, branding, beefier tires, and more robust roof rack add a fun factor to a machine that would certainly be more boring without them, especially when you compare it to the JL that we traded. And honestly, I think these elements help the Subaru closer embody the marketing they already use for their range. However, you guys will have to judge a little more about the edge of performance.”
Thanks again to Mike, and check out our recent video below if you’re looking into the Outback Wilderness: