New Wagon

2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness debuts adding more off-road capability to the popular wagon

The 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness is coming to a dealership near you.

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The first member of Subaru's new Wilderness family of vehicles has arrived. The 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness broke cover this morning delivering more ground clearance, a freshly tuned drivetrain, and recalibrated safety features.

Buyers will be able to tell their Wilderness model apart from the other Outbacks on the lot by its hexagonal front grille, larger wheel arch cladding, front skid plate, unique hex-designed LED fog lights, and an anti-glare hood decal in matte-black finish. Window trim and exterior badges have a black finish and Subaru Wilderness badges are featured on the front fenders and rear gate.

The exterior is highlighted with high-contrast Anodized Copper accents. Up top is a fixed ladder-type roof rack system with a 700-pound load limit.

Subaru back end Wilderness is a new brand from Subaru.Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

Subaru back end

A new paint color, Geyser Blue, is available exclusively on the wagon. It's inspired by Subaru's rally heritage and the scenery found in the U.S. National Parks.

The 2022 Outback Wilderness offers 9.5 inches of ground clearance, a 0.8-inch upgrade over the 2021 Outback. Redesigned front and rear bumpers give the wagon better approach angles than its traditional Outback counterpart extending from 18.6 degrees to 20.0, with ramp breakover angle shifts up from 19.4 degrees to 21.2 degrees, and departure angle extends from 21.7 degrees to 23.6 degrees.

Its suspension has been tuned to improve stability over rough terrain while still delivering traditional Subaru comfort and handling on the open road. Front and rear shock absorbers have been lengthened to allow for more suspension travel.

2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness: Exterior

2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness: Exterior trail driving

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

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The wagon's revised rear differential has a final drive ration of 4.44:1 and works with the car's continuously variable transmission (CVT) to deliver equivalent ratios at the front and rear wheels. The combination allows for more low-end torque at the wheels allowing the car to climb grades of up to 40 percent on a gravel surface.

A pressure sensor improves low speed control. Standard dual-function X-Mode includes Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud modes. Exclusive to the model, a new feature allows X-Mode to switch from low speed to managed speeds over 25 mph without the interruption of power or performance.

The car rides on exclusive 17-inch alloy wheels that feature a matte black finish and are wrapped in Yokohama Geolander all-terrain tires. The tires are embossed with raised white letters as a nod to the original Outback. A full-size spare tire is stored under the cargo area.

Each Outback Wilderness has Subaru's turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine under the hood that produces 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. There's an eight-speed manual mode shifter with steering wheel paddle shifters for convenience. The turbo gets an EPA-rated 22 mpg int he city and and 26 mpg on the highway. The car is rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds.

2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness: Interior

2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness: Interior floor mats close

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

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The Outback Wilderness also offers features from other Outback grades including a front view camera, LED rear gate light, and a hands-free power liftgate.

Like the Outback Onyx Edition, the interior of the Outback Wilderness features Subaru StarTex water-replant upholstery that's designed to be easy to clean and wear hard. Anodized Copper-finish accents make their way into the cabin as well. Touch points usually finished in chrome have been switched over to Gunmetal Gray in the new model.

Under the driver's feet are brushed aluminum pedals and all-weather floor mats with the Subaru Wilderness logo. In the cargo area, the rear seatback is wrapped in a waterproof material, and a waterproof rear cargo tray protects the load floor.

Each model comes standard with the largest infotainment touch screen available in a Subaru today. The 11.6-inch screen features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, multimedia and climate control functionalities, the ability to control X-Mode settings, a rearview camera, satellite radio, and more. Navigation is available, along with a power moonroof and reverse automatic braking tech as part of an add-on package.

A variety of accessories have been added to the Subaru catalogue for the Outback Wilderness including aluminum or steel skid plates, a rear differential protector, and roof racks.

Pricing for the 2022 Outback Wilderness will be announced later this year.

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The CX-50 is surpsingly capable off-road.

Mazda

I have driven all of the Mazda vehicles that have been sold in the US market over the past three decades. On everyday roads and on racetracks. I’ve appreciated their “zoom-zoom”. Good power. Punchy torque just where it was needed. Well-balanced and sporty handling. A bit of growl for the versions that called for it. Plus, tasteful-but-modest styling and more or less elbow room, depending on the model. Mazda’s have been made for sports-car enthusiasts and to ferry families. But, I had never known a Mazda called an “overlander”. Until now.

2023 Mazda CX-50Towing capacity extends to 2,000 pounds.Mazda

The 2023 Mazda CX-50 moves this traction-sophisticated automaker into the lands where the pavement ends and now takes the brand ‘off-track’. Although it’s not a new thing for many of today’s carmakers to add a backcountry model or two to their lineup, it’s new for Mazda. I traveled to Santa Barbara, California to check out this all-new crossover built on Mazda’s seventh-generation small SUV platform that is shared with the smaller CX-30. This 5-passenger utility is longer, lower and wider than the CX-5 that rides on the previous generation’s underpinnings. The CX-50 has been crafted with a roomier second row and more cargo room for the goods and gear that weekend warriors and adventurers want to carry.

The CX-50 comes with a choice of two engines: a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine with cylinder deactivation that gets 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque, and Mazda’s Skyactiv-G 2.5-liter turbo-charged powerplant with 256 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque; both shift through a six-speed automatic transmission. The sport ute can tow up to 2,000 lbs. with the naturally aspirated motor and up to 3,500 lbs. with the turbo-charged mill and Intelligent Drive Select (Mi-Drive) that brings a tow mode as well as Normal, Sport and Off-Road. The newest Mazda model has been made for North America only and is built in Alabama. It is the first Mazda vehicle with auto start/stop that can be deactivated.

2023 Mazda CX-50Mazda is a master of upscale interiors. Mazda

The new crossover starts at $26,800 and comes in S, S Select, S Preferred, S Preferred Plus, S Premium, and S Premium Plus with the base motor. Turb-charged versions come in Turbo, Turbo Premium, and Turbo Premium Plus that tops out at close to $42,000. A long list of technology and safety features are standard or available. Mazda says that Meridian, a fourth turbo trim will arrive soon with even more off-road cred; it will be set up with 18-inch black wheels AT, hood graphics and other backcountry goodies.

When you look at the CX-50, the first thing you’ll notice is exterior styling that speaks to its adventure-ready mission. Muscular bodywork, such as extra cladding, wide fender flairs and larger, more aggressive tires mean that this crossover has been designed not only to give a nod to the looks of a rugged crossover but to provide enhanced traction and a tad more suspension stretch for motoring over uneven terrain and along bumpy dirt roads. Planted on its haunches with functional air vents, it eschews minivan styling with a low and wide footprint that allows owners to have easy access to high-strength roof rails for loading gear on top; the roof has been made stronger than other Mazda crossovers to accommodate heavier loads, such as a roof-top tent. A panoramic moonroof- a first for Mazda- and attractive antiglare hood graphics and are tasteful additions.

The interior is attractive and roomy, with horizontal lines and “cleanable” surfaces as a nod to outdoor endeavors. Our Turbo Premium Plus model had bright orange reverse stitching that popped the cabin that has been crafted with uplevel trims and materials and brought heads-up display. A 7-inch infotainment screen is standard, while the top models get a 10.25-inch version. A wireless charging pad and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all trims. Of note, is the rear power and programmable liftgate to the wide and deep rear cargo compartment, with a load floor that flush with the liftgate opening to help slide heavy items in and out of the back. An available line of cargo accessories makes stowage easier.

2023 Mazda CX-50The CX-50 is family roadtrip ready.Mazda

How did it handle over the 200-plus miles of our ride and drive? The Turbo Premium Plus CX-50 offers a lot like; many of its driving attributes are consistent with Mazda’s tuning and handling priorities across its product line. Traveling along coastal highways, carving mountainous twisties with tight turns and accelerating on flat and straight well-graded pavement, it has great Mazda manners: i.e., there is enough power and torque in the right bandwidth to move it well; precise steering with a slightly heavily-weighted leather-wrapped steering wheel and well-modulated brakes, especially with towing a 3,500-lb. load. We enjoyed using Sport mode for carving corners, as it brings elongated shifts from the six-speed automatic; a crisp response comes when sport shifting in “manual mode” and provides a quick throttle response.

We tried out the Off-Road mode on a course that included flat and uneven dirt roads, as well as hill climb and descent. Although there is no downhill descent control system, the brakes worked well, along with manual gearing. Of note, Mazda would be wide to add downhill descent engineering for steeper and slicker terrain. We were able to test the difference between Normal and Off-Road over a special section of the course with sandy corners and a winding track at a speed of 30 mph showing the improved traction in the Off-Road programming and the aid of Mazda’s G-Vectoring Control that brings a bit of magic to transfer torque to the wheels where it is needed to keep the intended track-think of it like an enhanced traction control program that helps with steering and yaw control.

2023 Mazda CX-50The CX-50 comes with off-road driving modes. Mazda

Other aids for off-road and backcountry travel are: the i-Activ All-Wheel Drive system that is standard equipment on all CX-50s, with a 50/50ish power transfer front to back; 8.6 inches of ground clearance; an 18-degree approach angle and a 24-degree departure angle; and an optional 360-degree camera system.

*EPA reports: base motor fuel economy 24 city/30 highway mpg, while the turbo option gets 23/29 mpg and can run on regular or premium fuel.

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New electric SUV

Honda teases its first EV

The Prologue will go on sale as a 2024 model.

Honda

Honda is nearing the unveiling of its first electric vehicle, the Prologue, and today the automaker gave us our first glimps of the new vehicle. It's just a sketch, but Honda did share some production details and information on its product roadmap.

Honda DealerHonda plans to sell half a million EVs by the end of the decade. Honda

Honda says the Prologue will be an adventure-ready SUV "capable of satisfying everyday driving and weekend getaways with a strong hint of the well-received Honda e in the front fascia." The SUV was developed in Honda's Design Studio in Los Angeles, and was designed with an eye on Honda's global EV models. Honda said it focused on aerodynamics and fine-tuning the body to reducelines and improve range.

The Japanese automaker developed the Prologue alongside GM, but it has other EVs coming to market by 2026. By 2030, Honda says it will release 30 new EVs globally with a production volume of two million units. The co-developed vehicle is the first, but the rest will be built on Honda e:Architecture. In 2027, the automaker will begin building and selling a line of affordable EVs using the architecture developed with General Motors. Honda says it plans to sell half a million EVs in North America by the end of hte decade.

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