Expert Reviews

2024 Subaru Outback Wilderness Review

AutoTrader SCORE
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
  • Safety

After taking the win for Best Overall SUV in this year’s AutoTrader Awards, the five-passenger 2024 Subaru Outback gets a few updates to complement what could be the perfect package for the average outdoors person. Finished here in rugged Wilderness trim, it’s ready and able to provide safe passage for you and your family when adventure calls.

Styling: 9/10

For this year, the Outback Wilderness receives a few styling updates. There’s more honeycomb treatment on the front bumper, a new grille, and revised hexagonal-patterned fog lights. These changes give the Wilderness a little more aggression and road presence over the regular Outback without getting too tacky. They combine well with the anodized copper accents spread across the interior and exterior.

The Wilderness version also gets a few new Easter eggs: at the bottom of the grille, there’s an imprint of mountains, and hiking boot footprints are in the honeycombs on the driver-side corner of the bumper.

Inside, the anodized copper treatment continues on the steering wheel, gear selector, seat stitching, gauge cluster bezels, and all-weather floor mats. The extra colour perfectly breaks up the otherwise monotonous black and grey interior. The accents pair well with the Autumn Green Metallic paint pictured here, as well as with the Wilderness-exclusive Geyser Blue.

Safety: 9.5/10

The Outback sets the standard for its competition when it comes to safety. It gets top marks thanks to its multitude of airbags and excellent crash-test ratings, while advanced safety ranks high thanks to Subaru’s fourth-generation EyeSight driver assist system. It features forward-collision detection and automatic braking, lane departure warning with lane-centring assist, pedestrian detection, and adaptive cruise control.

The suite is improved over previous iterations and is smoother and less intrusive in everyday driving. All trims but the base model also get a blind-spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, and reverse automatic braking.

Visibility from the driver’s seat is very good thanks to a big greenhouse that boasts plenty of glass and few natural blind spots. Adaptive LED headlights greatly assist nighttime driving, too. The Outback also has one of the most user-friendly child-seat anchor setups around.

Features: 9/10

Beyond the cosmetic enhancements, the 2024 Subaru Outback Wilderness gets an off-road oriented suspension and a more powerful turbocharged engine borrowed from higher XT trims. Ground clearance increases to 241 mm (9.5 in) overall, but the skid plates protecting the underbody have been deleted for 2024 due to supply chain constraints. Yokohama all-terrain tires on 17-inch matte-black alloy wheels are part of the package, too.

Interior features include all-weather seating surfaces, a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear outboard seats, a power driver’s seat (with no memory; the front passenger seat is manually adjustable), an 11.6-inch portrait-orientation infotainment touch screen, 12-speaker stereo, wireless phone charging, and a power sunroof. As is typical for Subaru, no individual options or packages are available at each trim level.

User-Friendliness: 9/10

Even with the extra ride height, the Outback Wilderness is easy to get in and out of. Manoeuvrability remains good even with exterior dimensions that straddle the line between compact and midsize SUVs. Getting in and out of tight parking spaces is more graceful than it is in three-row behemoths that grace the road today. It’s a vehicle that integrates into your life seamlessly and without too much thought.

With a relatively large cargo area behind the back seats, the Outback is an ideal do-everything vehicle for small- to medium-sized families or for outdoorsy types who like to pack some extra gear and supplies. The split-folding rear seats are lowered by pulling at a pair of handles in the rear cargo area, and the privacy cover can be extended to two different positions to access or accommodate bulkier cargo.

All that’s holding the Subaru back from a perfect score in this category is the user interface for the 11.6-inch infotainment screen. While it has received some updates that improve ergonomics, too many functions are embedded in the touchscreen, taking away too much driver focus from the road. Beyond just temperature and the front defroster, more hard buttons for heating and air conditioning operation would go a long way.

Practicality: 10/10

Five adults can sit comfortably in the Outback. Forward or rear-facing child seats have plenty of space for installation, and only the tallest people will feel the crunch with someone sitting behind them. There’s a little less headroom than the boxier Forester offers, but there’s more hiproom, which helps when sitting three abreast in the rear.

With the rear seats up, there’s 923 L of cargo room, and the figure grows to 2,141 L with the seats folded. Large strollers or weekend supply runs to your favourite warehouse store are areas the Outback shines, but proper use in the outdoors is good, too. When used with the correct cross rails, the Wilderness’ roof rack can hold up to 317 kg (700 lb) when stationary – more than enough for a rooftop tent. The rack also features four handy rope hooks rated for 80 kg (176 lb) each. When the need to tow arises, the maximum capacity is 1,588 kg (3,500 lb) when equipped with trailer brakes.

Comfort: 10/10

With unique springs and shocks, the Outback Wilderness rides noticeably better than the regular models. The suspension makes short work of bumpy roads and potholes, resulting in ride comfort that might be more at home in a luxury car. There’s more road noise from the all-terrain tires, but the overall comfort boost makes stepping up to the Wilderness worth it over the cheaper Limited trim. The Limited gets more creature comforts but no suspension or cosmetic upgrades, and it doesn’t get the turbo engine.

The all-weather seating surfaces look and feel like vinyl, but the pattern and surprisingly supple feel don’t cheapen the Outback Wilderness at all. Having such material will make it much easier to clean, whether children, pets, or the great outdoors are messing up the seats.

Overall comfort is good, with solid back and thigh support that will reduce fatigue on longer drives. The heated steering wheel is standard in all trims, and while the heated seats work well, ventilated seats are available only in the top-shelf Premier XT trim.

Power: 9/10

Under the hood of the Wilderness and all XT trim levels is a 2.4L turbocharged four-cylinder engine that can also be found in the larger Ascent. Peak output is 260 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque between 2,000 and 4,800 rpm. The extra 78 hp and 101 lb-ft over the base 2.5L engine helps when merging or passing, and power levels go from barely adequate to more than enough. Power is routed through an automatic continuously-variable transmission (CVT) that has been tweaked for improved response on the Wilderness.

For inclement weather and off-road use, the Wilderness’ all-wheel drive system gets an enhanced version of Subaru’s X-Mode off-road drive modes. They automatically adjust engine and transmission output, all-wheel drive torque split, and braking. Snow/dirt and deep snow/mud settings can be selected in adverse conditions.

Driving Feel: 9/10

With the extra ride height affecting the centre of gravity, handling response is sacrificed slightly, but as a crossover, the Outback Wilderness still drives like a car. When combined with the excellent ride quality, the result is a fantastic highway cruiser that can also travel off the beaten path. The steering is well-weighted, brake feel is good, and manoeuvrability is noteworthy thanks to the tight turning circle.

The CVT works well to keep the revs and gear ratios in the sweet spot for the task at hand, but the transmission has a bit of jerkiness at low speeds, and the boxer engine can sometimes be rough sounding. Beyond this, the Subaru Outback Wilderness punches above its weight in terms of premium feel.

Fuel Economy: 8/10

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) rates the 2024 Outback Wilderness at 11.0 L/100km in the city, 9.0 on the highway, and 10.1 combined. That’s a little worse than other turbocharged trims, with the elevated ride height impacting consumption. Real-world testing saw it consume 9.9 L/100 km over 500 km. It runs on regular-grade gas.

Value: 9/10

As one of the upper-middle trims, the Outback Wilderness comes in at $46,990 as-tested, including destination. It’s likely the best value in the Outback range due to the significant cosmetic and mechanical upgrades. The Toyota RAV4 Trail is nearly $4,000 cheaper but doesn’t come with turbo power or many significant mechanical upgrades. When comparing in-house, the 2023 Subaru Forester Wilderness is almost $5,000 more affordable but skips the turbo motor.

The Verdict

With a much cooler look than the conventional version, upgraded suspension with improved ride quality, and a little extra push from a turbocharged engine, the 2024 Subaru Outback Wilderness continues to be a hot commodity for the automaker. The fuel economy could be a bit better, but added capability never comes for free. Either way, the Outback Wilderness knocks it out of the park as one of the best two-row crossovers that money can buy.

Engine Displacement 2.4L
Engine Cylinders Turbo I4
Peak Horsepower 260 hp @ 5,600 rpm
Peak Torque 277 lb-ft @ 2,000–4,800 rpm
Fuel Economy 11.0 / 9.0 / 10.1 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb
Cargo Space 923 / 2,141 L seats up/down
Model Tested 2024 Subaru Outback Wilderness
Base Price $44,795
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $2,195
Price as Tested $47,090
Optional Equipment