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Sunday Drive: 2022 Subaru Forester gets back to the ‘Wilderness’

By Craig and Deanne Conover - Daily Herald | Jan 15, 2022
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The exterior of the new 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness.
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The exterior of the new 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness.
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The exterior of the new 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness.
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The interior of the new 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness.
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The interior of the new 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness.
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The interior of the new 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness.
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The interior of the new 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness.

Back in 2019, in what seems like a different timeline way back before all the crazy happenings in our world, Subaru introduced an all-new Forester model that was to be one of the first models built on their all-new Global Platform.

Most of us common folk have to ask: What is a Global Platform, and why would that make any difference? In a nutshell, having this Global Platform allows Subaru to build different cars on the same assembly line at plants in both America and Japan. These cars will still hold true to all the Subaru safety standards and abilities they have become famous for.

All this new global advantage aside, the new Forester, in our opinion, is the best-looking Forester to date. The boxy look of the past has been smoothed over with more rounded modern edges, yet Subaru has kept the identity of its best-selling model intact.

To that end, there is now even more space in the vehicle, with the rear seats folded down adding 1 cubic foot. Even more importantly, the class-leading rear opening has been increased by 5.3 inches from last year’s model. This gives the Forester the largest opening available for getting your stuff into the back, and with a higher stance than most mid-sized SUVs, we found it even easier to load and unload our items.

Now, fast forward past a couple of years that most of us would rather not remember and Subaru has added even more reasons for getting out in a Forester with the Wilderness trim. The car manufacturer has upped the ante all around with this design. Ground clearance as well as approach and departure angles have been improved along with the addition of a higher breakover angle.

So, getting into the wilderness will be just that much better in the now-improved version of the Forester! We immediately fell in love with the new look, especially the golden accents that came in the Wilderness edition of this unique SUV.

The new Subaru Eyesight Driver Assist package is one of the best of these types of safety features on the market today. It consists of literally two eyes (cameras) located on each side of the rear-view mirror that look ahead of the Forester and warn the driver of an impending collision. If no action is taken, it will apply the brakes to avoid a collision. It will also provide a warning when the vehicle starts to drift out of the lane lines and regulate the cruise control, keeping the Forester at a set distance behind the other traffic. It will also apply the brakes or accelerator based on how traffic is reacting in front of the car.

Subaru has also introduced a new service called Starlink that is somewhat similar to the OnStar service available in General Motors vehicles. If involved in an accident where an airbag is deployed, a customer care representative will communicate with the occupants through the speakers in the Subaru and can dispatch police and emergency personnel if necessary while providing the exact location of the Subaru on a map. It really is a great peace-of-mind system.

The Forester equipped with this system will also email monthly reports to the owner about how things are looking such as oil usage and other systems. It can do simple diagnostics with push of a button, and there is an app available that will tell the user where the Subaru is, unlock the doors and honk the horn along with other things.

Along with all this great technology comes a new 8-inch touch screen that has a very sleek look, adding just the right amount of luxurious accent to the interior of the cabin. We found this new system worked much better than infotainment systems that have come in previous Subarus we have driven. Hooking up the phones took about 20 seconds, and managing other systems was very easy because of the intuitive design of the touch screen.

Another great tech from Subaru is called DriverFocus, which is available on top trim levels of the Forester. This system uses a near-infrared camera to focus on the driver’s eyes and head positions to detect distracted or drowsy driving. It can be programmed to recognize up to five different users.

It will alert the driver if he looks down or takes his eyes off the road for too long, thus not allowing him to sneak in a text or read or send an email. It can be turned off after starting the Forester, but we consider it a great lifesaving technology, even if it is kind of a nanny-type tech.

This year, the only engine offering in the Forester is a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder horizontal boxer engine that has a 12% increase this year in horsepower — up to 182 ponies and 176 foot-pounds of torque.

Coupled with the continuously variable transmission (CVT), it did quite well. It wasn’t like a race car, but it did well enough keeping up in freeway traffic and very well while getting around town. This SUV is going to be a family-and-their-stuff hauler that is safe and reliable for years to come — just what the designers at Subaru ordered.

For the week, we netted a very nice 29.5 mpg, which we felt was really good for the mix of driving we did throughout the week. The sport version was very comfortable and has a trim level that would be perfect for a growing family.

We thoroughly enjoyed our week with the new Forester and continue to recommend Subaru and the lifestyle that comes with it for anyone looking for a rugged yet refined family vehicle.

Base price: $32,820

Destination charge: $1,125

Price as driven: $36,015


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