BUKKEYE, Ariz. – In the late 1990’s, when I was ready to get my driving license, I was obsessed with the first generation Subaru Outback. I already had a thing for wagons, it appeared and an all-wheel-drive wagon just seemed cool. I ended up with my sister’s S-10 blazer and later an XJ Cherokee, but my heart skipped a beat when I saw those big windows sitting on top of a layer of cake with sheet metal and plastic cladding. It was love.
I finally got my Subaru Fix in 2004 WRX format, which I bought new in 2003. I reluctantly owned it for almost a decade and a half before selling it. I’m crazy Loved it That car, and although I was tempted to update my garage with later WRX models, it had everything I needed. But I grew up, and my family population grew from me and a few cats to add a wife, a baby, and a constant number of pets (which now include a large dog that could actually be part of a horse). In the meantime, Subaru’s product lineup has evolved, with the launch of the incredibly fun BRZ as well as a surprise hit for my brand’s fascination. A few years after our first child, I had Sarah Michelle Geller (yes, WRX had a name, and That It was). Towards the end, that car was mostly unused, as the fun but growing age and to me the impractical-compact sports sedan took the back seat of the cars I needed to review for my work.
The other Subaras I drove in the interim did not give me the same spark. I just loved them, and there were moments when I got a glimpse of what I had experienced before – an exceptionally exciting angle of thermal in STI type RA, capturing a huge flow with tires fixed in a frozen lake in a BRZ, 2020 outback The first quarter mile after the sidewalk ends. I can get a jolt of that feeling while driving my WRX or walking a lot of lots as a teenager. The lineup of the last 10 years has not given me a fancy start like then.
Then, this spring, I drove the 2023 Subaru Solitaire, and really felt that, despite having Toyota baked in it, what the Subaru brand was, matched my previous outlook. The electric motor’s instant torque was the remedy for any grief caused by the loss of the turbocharger from the Forrester lineup, and its all-wheel drive and light off-roading capabilities are still what I expect from anything other than the BRZ. That drive stuck with me, and brought back the memories I had of trying out the old Subaras and doing stupid, happy things on my WRX.
A week and a half later, I was back in Arizona with Forrester Wilderness for a week, and it was like a really good first date after that second date. I didn’t want to end it. I’m excited from the moment I see it. The color was great, for one (good to see Subaras in blue), but its nubi tires, extra ground clearance, anti-glare hood, prominent badges and delicious accents made it seem like I would do something if I bought a Forrester or Outback. A WRX sedan in 2003. Those striking looks carry on the inside, and the yellow accents and stitching, as well as the wilderness logos I saw in the choices, looked significantly more exciting and cohesive than the weird mashups of color and texture. Forrester Sport.
The extra ground clearance was a treat, too. When Subaru called the Outback “the world’s first sport utility wagon”, this Forrester Wilderness seems to be spiritually closer to the AMC Eagle than the original Outback (and, yes, I still hope I can try the Outback Wilderness with my family soon). Most of the time I was a Forrester Wilderness in Arizona, I spent some time alone visiting some of the rural highways and their branches around Bukei. The sidewalk is paved, then rocky, then the authentic, flat desert trail that leads to the secret target shooting spots and who knows what else. I didn’t take the Forrester so far that I had to use a skid plate, but the all-terrain tires made it possible to adventure a little further forward, extending how long I could before getting the car. Where are you? “Phone call.
Although Forrester Wilderness is quite noisy. Back on the highway, the roar of the tires – and the tires of the cars around you – make their way into the cabin. A car where character is a big part of why you love it, a fault like that is just more character. My WRX – and every car of my choice has flaws that I not only overlooked, but perceived as part of the car’s personality. If it were me, I already had plans for when it would retire from daily driving duty and enter the project stage of its life. Could there be a suspension lift and big tires? Heck, maybe shut the door on it and do something really stupid.
Ever since Soltera and Forrester Wilderness have practically run behind, I’ve been thinking about them and the other Subaras for a long time, and with an affection that I haven’t felt for ages. The pain in my heart where I used to hold a place for Sarah Michelle has intensified, and as I walk down the street my vision is following the more decent Subaras. What it took for two people to drive in some brand new, awesome car … which indicates where Subaru is going and where it seems to come from. It’s only going to get worse (for me) when Solterra Ann Arbor starts making its inevitable path on the driveway.
If Subaru decides to do wilderness, I will be in trouble.
On the one hand, I ask you, dear reader: did you have a similar relationship with a brand or even a model? Is there a car or car maker that you like that has fallen off your radar, just to boomerang back to your heart? If so, I’d love to hear about it, if only to know I’m not alone.