Subaru Australia has been keen to introduce more rugged Wilderness versions of its SUVs, but they’re still some way off from reaching our shores.

    “We are still working on Wilderness. The challenges with some of the lead times through last year, and needing to prioritise [the] outstanding customer order bank… has meant the timeframes we would have liked to achieve with Wilderness have had to be pushed back,” Subaru Australia managing director Blair Read told CarExpert.

    “[We’re] still working towards it, and I think what you’ll see is those time frames will be more aligned with next generation of model updates.”

    He indicated that rules out the Wilderness version of the current-generation Forester, so Subaru Australia would instead be waiting for the sixth-generation Forester – due here sometime in 2025 – to launch a Wilderness variant here.

    The next-generation Forester has been revealed and is going on sale in the US within the next few months, but a Wilderness version has yet to be revealed.

    As for the Outback, the Wilderness version won’t launch until a mid-life update of the popular crossover. Given the current generation went on sale in the US in 2019, such an update is likely nearing.

    Subaru also launched a Wilderness version of its small Crosstrek last year in the US, which it has previously confirmed is on its wish list.

    The Wilderness formula is simple: Subaru takes one of its regular SUVs, raises the ride height, applies some visual changes like more aggressive black plastic cladding, and tweaks components such as the transmission and suspension for improved off-road and towing performance.

    The Outback Wilderness, for example, sits 20mm higher than a regular Outback with 241mm of ground clearance.

    In concert with redesigned front and rear bumpers, the Outback Wilderness has a 20.0-degree approach angle (up 1.4 degrees), a 21.2-degree breakover angle (up 1.8 degrees), and a 23.6-degree departure angle (up 1.9 degrees).

    There’s also a new rear differential with a final drive ratio of 4.44:1. The front axle sports the same final drive ratio thanks to changes to the CVT automatic. Together these updates are said to improve the availability of low-end torque and allow the car to climb grades up to 40 per cent on gravel tracks.

    Other changes to improve off-road ability include a front bash plate, all-season Yokohama Geolandar tyres on 17-inch alloy wheels, and revised shocks and springs.

    The Crosstrek Wilderness also features a retuned CVT, upgraded suspension, 13mm of extra ground clearance, and a raft of aesthetic changes to give it a more butch look.

    All Wilderness models are currently built in the US. No Subarus sold in Australia are currently sourced from this country, which suggests we would need to wait for production to begin in Japan.

    There’s precedent for previously left-hand drive-specific models eventually coming to Australia. The current Outback, for example, launched here early in 2021 exclusively with a naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine and missed out on a turbo option offered in the US, until this was added locally late in 2022.

    Subaru’s local division needed to campaign its global parent to have the Japanese plant tooled to produce the drivetrain in right-hand drive.

    MORE: Everything Subaru ForesterOutbackCrosstrek

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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