Subaru today announced a new Wilderness trim level for its Outback crossover that aims to take this station-wagon-on-stilts a notch closer to true off-roader status.

The Outback Wilderness starts out with a 2.4L turbocharged four-cylinder engine (260 hp/277 lb-ft of torque) and continuously variable transmission (CVT) combination that’s available elsewhere in the Outback lineup.

Key among what sets the Wilderness apart from other Outback trim levels is its suspension, which adds nearly an inch of ground clearance for what Subaru calls a class-leading total of 9.5 inches. Longer shocks and springs add suspension travel, too.

The extra height improves the Outback’s breakover angle from 19.4 to 21.2 degrees. There are also trim-specific bumpers designed to better stay out of the way of obstacles, allowing for approach and departure angles of 20 and 23.6 degrees front and rear, up from 18.6 and 21.7 respectively in other Outback trims.

Subaru also modified the Outback’s all-wheel drivetrain for Wilderness duty. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) and rear differential get shorter final drive gearing to boost torque at low speeds, which the company says allows this mid-size SUV to climb a 40 per cent grade on gravel.

A dual-function X-Mode system is standard and lets the driver choose snow/dirt and deep snow/mud modes for better torque management when traction is limited. An X-Mode display includes a roll angle indicator to help avoid getting into precarious situations.

The Outback Wilderness puts power down via Yokohama Geolandar tires all-terrain tires with raised white letters, which come wrapped around 17-inch matte black wheels. Also included is a full-size spare tire.

Subaru’s Wilderness treatment makes the Outback the latest model to move into the considerable gap between crossovers and more off-road-capable SUVs. It follows the lead of the Toyota RAV4 Trail, but it sounds to us like Subaru has gone farther into that largely unexplored territory.

Other Wilderness trim-specific items include a number of cosmetic touches. There’s a hexagonal grille, larger wheel-arch cladding, a front skid plate, hex-design LED fog lights, a matte black hood, and an anodized copper finish for the tow hooks and roof rail tie-downs.

Subaru says the Outback Wilderness will also offer an exclusive Geyser Blue paint inspired by the company’s rally heritage.

Inside, the Outback Wilderness is standard with Subaru’s 11.6-inch infotainment display. The seats are done in water-repellant material, and copper-coloured stitching matches accents on the steering wheel, shifter, and gauge cluster. The rear seatback and cargo tray are waterproof, too.

Subaru has also expanded its accessories catalog to include skid plates for the Outback Wilderness’s engine, transmission and fuel tank, and a rear differential protector.

Watch for the Outback Wilderness to arrive in Canada later this spring, with pricing to announced closer to that time.