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2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness Edition Comes With a MPG Penalty

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 4/7/2021 Alex Kierstein,Manufacturer
a car driving down a dirt road: 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness 61 1 © Motor Trend Staff 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness 61 1

Subaru Outbacks have always promised adventure, but at times it has required a spin through an aftermarket outfitter's inventory to build the rig these rugged wagons' owners actually want. With the 2022 Outback Wilderness Edition, Subaru is making it easier for Outback enthusiasts to drive one right off the dealership floor and to the nearest rutted forest service road. There is, of course, a trade-off for the Wilderness model's beefy upgrades, as anyone who's tracked fuel economy after fitting knobby tires can tell you: The fuel economy suffers a bit.

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The EPA estimates for the Wilderness are out, and the 2.4-liter turbocharged H-4 (the only engine offered, backed up exclusively by a continuously-variable transmission) swills gasoline a bit quicker than it does in the non-Wilderness Outback turbo. We'll get to the numbers in a second, but why the disparity? In addition to all-terrain tires, the Wilderness Edition sports a numerically higher (so, shorter) final drive ratio (4.44:1 vs. 4.11:1), which increases wheel torque and acceleration at the expense of fuel economy at higher speeds. And that's exactly what the numbers reveal.

The 2022 Outback Wilderness manages 22 mpg in the city, just 1 mpg less than the regular Outback Turbo. But in the highway estimate, the disparity yawns wider. The Wilderness only manages 26 mpg, compared to 30 mpg for the regular Outback. The combined rating is 24 mpg, compared to 26 mpg for the regular turbocharged Outback.

For comparison's sake, a non-turbocharged 2022 Subaru Outback gets 26 city, 33 highway, and 29 combined—more efficient, actually, than the average EPA-tested vehicle. Subaru isn't planning on offering a non-turbo Wilderness, at least for now, so it'll be up to buyers as to whether they'll want to take the fuel economy hit for the extra off-road chops.

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