Expect Subaru to add the Wilderness getup to the 2025 Forester later in the year, hopefully as a 2025 model-year trim, but possibly as a 2026.
The Wilderness should retain the 180-hp four-cylinder engine that powers all other Foresters.
Additional ground clearance, distinct styling, and shorter gearing are all but certain to separate the new Wilderness from the rest of the next-generation Forester model line.
Officially, the 2025 Subaru Forester will come in base, Premium, Sport, Touring, and Limited trims once it goes on sale in the first half of 2024. Unofficially, the new compact SUV will almost certainly add an off-road-focused Wilderness guise to its trim-level hierarchy within a year of its debut. It's as inevitable as the changing tides of the ocean.
How eager are we to see this more rugged version of the Forester? Eager enough to commission a rendering of what the latest Forester could look like in Wilderness form. Since we're letting our imaginations run wild, we might as well pretend our imagined Forester Wilderness packs the WRX's 271-hp turbo 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Now, that's how you put the wild in Wilderness.
Alas, we think the next Forester Wilderness will follow in the same blocky treadmarks as the current one and will use the same 180-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine as all other 2025 Forester models. A continuously variable automatic transmission is a given, though it, like today's Wilderness, will likely incorporate a wider ratio spread. Expect a shorter final-drive ratio, too, which ought to make the Wilderness leave the line with a bit more oomph—not to mention, make it easier for the boxy SUV to crawl through mucky terra firma—than other Forester trims. The shorter gearing, as well as the Wilderness-specific All-Terrain tires, will almost certainly make this the least efficient Forester variant. That said, we expect it to maintain—if not slightly improve upon—its predecessor's EPA-estimated fuel economy figures of 25 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 26 mpg combined figures.
It goes without saying the Wilderness will surely get a trim-specific raised suspension. Given the new Forester's 8.7 inches of ground clearance matches that of the outgoing Forester in non-Wilderness form, we wager the current Wilderness's 9.2-inch figure will carry over to the new one.
Subaru's mum on towing capabilities when it comes to the next-generation Forester, but we guess that the Wilderness will offer a bit of extra capability compared with the standard models. The 2024 Wilderness, for instance, can tow up to 3000 pounds, twice that of other Foresters, thanks in part to the addition of an auxiliary oil cooler.
Arguably, the most unexpected enhancement we could see Subaru doing to the next Forester Wilderness is supplementing the model's already standard front skid plate with some additional underbody cladding to even better protect the likes of the SUV's rear differential and gas tank. We know, wild stuff.
But Subaru's predictable nature is surely part of what draws consumers to the automaker's vehicles. That's why we doubt Subaru plans to tinker much with the Wilderness's basic style. Yes, the next Wilderness will look a good deal different than today's due to the redesigned body panels of the latest generation Forester, but the basic decor will almost certainly carry over. This includes redesigned front and rear fascias to further improve the approach and/or departure angles, chunkier wheel arch trim, distinct wheels, a matte-black hood decal, and orange trim.
Subaru's Wilderness trim may be formulaic, but it's also appealing as a dynamic upgrade for customers looking to take their Forester further off the beaten path and for consumers who simply prefer a vehicle that channels the more traditional SUV look of yore. And who knows, maybe Subaru will surprise us by adding a turbocharged Wilderness WRX (WildernessRX?) trim to the Forester line. We can dream, right?
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