By on September 6, 2017

2018 Subaru Crosstrek - Image: SubaruSubaru’s eight-month-old U.S. monthly sales record of 63,177 units, reported in December 2016, fell by the wayside as Subaru of America posted its 69th consecutive year-over-year sales increase in August 2017.

Subaru sales last month jumped 5 percent over August 2016 to 63,215 units, breaking the brand’s all-time record by a scant 38 units.

Why is Subaru’s August growth and record achievement so important? There are four key reasons.

First, Subaru made major headway with a balanced approach of success from new and old models alike. While the Subaru Crosstrek, newly launched for the 2018 model year, reported by far its best month ever with 12,823 sales — a 46-percent improvement — its big brother, the Outback, climbed to a record August result of more than 20,000 sales. In fact, the Outback is now entering its fourth model year, yet sales just jumped over the 20K mark for only the second time ever.

Second, “Given the overall auto industry conditions,” Subaru of America president Tom Doll says, “these sales results point to the continued strength of the Subaru brand.” Subaru’s record results accompanied the U.S. auto industry’s eighth consecutive month of decline. August volume was down 2 percent (and would likely have fallen 1 percent if not for Hurricane Harvey’s southeast Texas impact) across the market.

Decreased volume was reported at Acura, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Jeep, Kia, Lexus, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Nissan, Porsche, Ram, and Smart. In other words, most auto brands failed to match August 2016’s output.2018 Subaru Outback - Image: SubaruThird, Subaru’s consistent growth — the brand hasn’t reported a U.S. decline since November 2011 — occurred with what persists as a limited product lineup. Subaru offers a niche market sports car that’s overshadowed by its Toyota sibling, a compact sedan/hatch, that car’s sports sedan offshoot, a fast-flagging midsize sedan, an oversized subcompact crossover competitor, a compact utility vehicle, and the Outback, a vehicle most deserving of crossover designation. The Ascent, Subaru’s first three-row vehicle since the failed Tribeca, won’t arrive until 2019.

Yet with this tidy lineup, Subaru is outselling Volkswagen by nearly two-to-one, Mazda by more than two-to-one, and Mitsubishi by a six-to-one margin.

Finally, Subaru’s accomplishments are noteworthy because the company’s sales figures reflect true demand. Subaru’s incentive programs are more significant now than they were a year — Subaru’s Yasuyuki Yoshinaga said that would happen — but it’s still the only major automaker that cuts prices by less than $2,000.

Subaru Aug. 2017 Aug. 2016 % Change 2017 YTD 2016 YTD % Change
Outback 20,327 17,358 17.1% 124,161 109,448 13.4%
Forester 15,528 19,658 -21.0% 118,768 114,769 3.5%
Crosstrek 12,823 8,787 45.9% 64,323 60,549 6.2%
Impreza 7,462 5,319 40.3% 58,265 40,284 44.6%
Legacy 4,210 5,800 -27.4% 33,559 41,369 -18.9%
WRX/STI 2,528 3,194 -20.9% 21,646 22,488 -3.7%
BRZ 337 302 11.6% 3,006 3,062 -1.8%
Subaru Total 63,215 60,418 4.6% 423,728 391,969 8.1%

In August 2017, for instance, ALG says Subaru’s average per vehicle incentive spend was just $1,170. That was up 20 percent compared with August 2016 (the industry’s average per vehicle incentive spend was up 13 percent) but still 69-percent lower than the industry average of $3,799.

Moreover, the next-lowest incentive spend per vehicle, at American Honda, was twice as costly as Subaru’s, according to ALG. As a percentage of its average transaction prices, while the industry cut prices by 12 percent, incentives translated to just 4 percent of the average Subaru transaction price.

[Image: Subaru]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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76 Comments on “As U.S. Auto Industry Declines Again, Subaru Reports All-time Record Sales in August 2017...”


  • avatar

    That green one is such a unique color. ;)

  • avatar
    VW4motion

    Subaru increased sales is not a surprise. Subaru is marketing to the smarter end of the population that have the cash to purchase automobiles. They are building safe and well put together vehicles that people want.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Kind of like Tesla, but a *different* cult.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      “Subaru is marketing to the smarter end of the population”

      they think, they are smarter. In reality, they don’t know difference between bolt and nut, they couldn’t assemble IKEA furniture…

      “They are building safe and well put together vehicles that people want.”

      We’ll see in 6 years how well they put them together this time. Every previous “last time” it didn’t work all that well. Subaru long term reliability sucks

      • 0 avatar
        VW4motion

        @slav,
        Your biased ignorance does not apply to the steady increase in Subaru sales over the past 10 years. Try and type something based on facts rather than your emotions.

        • 0 avatar
          deanst

          I’d be interested in seeing proof of the claim that suburu buyers have cash.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          “Your biased ignorance does not apply to the steady increase in Subaru sales over the past 10 years. Try and type something based on facts rather than your emotions.”

          All I said about Subaru is one fat fact. By the way, supported by consumer reports, which places Subarus over 6 years in “do not buy” category. But even without CR, I know from personal experiences that Subarus eventually run into expensive engine repairs. Also, watch some youtube videos where mechanics are unable to separate rusted parts in Subaru and repairs end up more expensive.

          Remember, sales have nothing to do with goodness. Ford Taurus for awhile was best seller but it was one of the most unreliable cars at the same time.

          Wait, was it Subaru CEO less than a year ago promising to improve quality? Or, was it Subaru recalling engine blocks? Do you want to own a car with replaced engine block?

      • 0 avatar
        djsyndrome

        “In reality, they don’t know difference between bolt and nut, they couldn’t assemble IKEA furniture…”

        Judging by the number of Outbacks at our local IKEA, I’d say you’ve got this (poor) stereotype exactly backwards.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          I think, I was right on it. They buy Ikea and then call a handyman to assemble it

          • 0 avatar
            VW4motion

            Slav,
            “I think, I was right on it. They buy Ikea and then call a handyman to assemble it”

            Does this have anything to do with Subaru sales increasing year after year, or using dogs for advertising? Obviously, no.

            Again, try typing something based on facts and not your emotions. And try using this site before hitting Submit Comment. I’m no master of the English language. But, come on man.

            https://www.grammarcheck.net/editor/

  • avatar
    Eggshen2013

    My wife drives a 2009 Impreza, bought new.
    She loves it and is ready for a new one.
    It has been a very good car.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Have you checked your gaskets lately? Or oil level? I guess, first I have to ask, how many miles did she drove in it?

      • 0 avatar
        orangefruitbat

        I drive a 2004 Impreza. Gaskets fine, oil fine…

      • 0 avatar
        onyxtape

        I had an 08 Outback, 100+k miles when I sold it last year. The only repairs were a bad clock LED and the rear light wiring harness needed to be replaced. Plus the Takata airbag recall.

        8 other Subarus in the extended family of varying vintages between 50k-150k currently. Not a single case of gasket issues. One Forester had the rear-view mirror fall off all of the sudden and one CV boot replacement on a Legacy.

    • 0 avatar
      56BelAire

      @eggshen…..My wife had a 2008 Forester Sports we bought new for $21K OTD. Replaced it a year ago. I sold the old one myself with 100,000 miles for $9,700. Great car.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        100K is not enough for ’08. I want to see it @140K

        • 0 avatar
          VW4motion

          140k miles in a many Subaru is just a start. On the other hand its hard to find any decent looking Mazda’s with 140k or more miles. Which are basically throw away cars at 140k miles.

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            “On the other hand its hard to find any decent looking Mazda’s with 140k or more miles.”

            Ok dude. Now you are on it. Just check autotrader. My brother sold his Protege @ >170K and I sold my @195K. Let me tell you list of repairs: alternator, 2 parts of exhaust. Never replaced CVBoots that Subaru loves so much. You are lying through your teeth: “Which are basically throw away cars at 140k miles”. This is so false. As you see, both of us sold ours with many more miles.

          • 0 avatar
            VW4motion

            Subaru has that uniqueness, spending a couple grand “cv boots, wheel bearings” at 140-150K miles to keep it going another 150k miles says something.

            You won’t ever see a Mazda owner talking about how many miles are odometer. They just trade it in for another Mazda. Well maybe a Miata owner. They can be sweet little track cars.

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            My jaw just keep falling down with every word you write. Because non of it supported by a fact. Your basis from beginning is that Subaru sells well because they are well-built. But then how you explain other markets where Mazda sells better than Subaru, like Australia, where they double on Subbies ?(Outback eh?) Fact – everyone I know personally, and who owned Outback had gaskets issues.

          • 0 avatar
            bullnuke

            @VW4motion – You are the master at tossing pieces of red meat over the fence. I salute you. LOL!

          • 0 avatar
            VW4motion

            @bullnuke,
            Thank you, and thank you. Honestly I wasn’t even trying this time.

          • 0 avatar
            Lex

            I just clocked 142,000 miles on my 2010 Mazda 6 GT. Everything works as it should. It eats brakes, yes, but zero issues. Fluids and serpentine belt changes. That’s it

        • 0 avatar
          JerseyRon

          “But then how you explain other markets where Mazda sells better than Subaru, like Australia, where they double on Subbies?”

          Slavuta, how do you explain the fact that Mitsubishi far outsells Honda in Australia? Does that mean they are better vehicles?

          I would say that different markets simply have different tastes, needs, and priorities.

          • 0 avatar

            That’s correct, take that even further with an example like Suzuki. Major player in many markets, couldn’t hack it in the US.

            The US and North America is a difficult market in general. We’ve got lots of regulation and competition, and it’s a huge geographical area. Most other places don’t have all those problems at the same time.

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            JerseyRon,

            no. And this is exactly the point if you follow the thread. I mean, the whole thread, not just this comment follow up

  • avatar
    Fred

    I looked at a Impreza 5 door a week ago. It was much nicer than what I saw 3 years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Very nice. But back seat is too short

    • 0 avatar
      stuntmonkey

      The current-gen Impreza is an amazingly underrated car by the internet; a few reviewers get it right and understand what it’s purpose is, but the rest are just 20 year olds looking for horsepower kicks.

      It doesn’t do any one thing particularly well, but it fills the Venn Diagram for safety / practicality / ride / handling. I think it’s perfectly fine for everyday driving; it’s going to be a great platform for the next-gen Levorg and WRX.

      • 0 avatar
        VW4motion

        Levorg, personally I think this vehicle would sell well in the U.S. Could see it taking some sales away from Audi.

        • 0 avatar
          JerseyRon

          Curious. Does anyone know why SOA has opted not to import the Levorg to the U.S.?

          • 0 avatar
            bullnuke

            A Levorg is pretty close to an Impreza in size. It would be pretty pricey if the standard trim pieces of the JDM Levorg were imported on it – more so than the somewhat larger USDM Legacy. The Levorg engines are turbos – would encroach on the WRX. The styling is pretty nice, though. Just my thoughts on it.

          • 0 avatar
            JerseyRon

            Thanks bullnuke

            I suppose they don’t see a large enough market for it but I would think lots of enthusiasts would be interested in what sounds like a WRX hatchback

  • avatar
    gottacook

    Why the marked decline in Forester sales?

    We were disenchanted by an Impreza (5-speed) test drive 2 days ago. I know Subaru is making good choices in terms of attracting new customers, but why can’t they make a car resembling the original-shape (1997-2008) Forester? The current Forester is too tall – a necessary trade-off for a more spacious rear seat. The length, seat height, overall height, weight, etc. of the new Crosstrek are quite close to those of our ’06 Forester 5-speed, but we would miss the big greenhouse and sunroof, not to mention the extra power and torque of the 2.5.

  • avatar
    JerseyRon

    Subaru’s aren’t for everyone but Subaru is smart enough not to try to be.

    As their sales increase in parts of the United States where they were previously an oddity, Subaru will continue to grow. Car buyers in non-snow states will see them more often on the road, in their neighbor’s driveway, or carpool with a coworker in one and as a result, add Subaru to their list of cars to consider when shopping.

  • avatar
    JerseyRon

    And they’re not resting on their laurels. Have you seen they are offering 0% financing (up to 48 months) on all 2018 Legacy, Forester, and Outback models?

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      I’ve seen that on 2017, not the 2018 models. Could be an offer only in your territory.

      • 0 avatar
        JerseyRon

        Good point VW4motion
        I saw that on the Subaru.com website and since it never asked for my ZIP Code, I failed to consider that it was showing me location specific rates. Forgot that the Web knows all, including where you are accessing from (or at least the general proximity).

  • avatar
    rkflitcraft

    I started my quest for a SUV/Crossover vehicle eight weeks ago (no more sedans) – I wanted a six cylinder engine, an automatic, being able to sit up higher, and AWD . I test drove Toyotas, Hondas, Mazdas, Jeeps, Infinity’s, Buick’s, and finally Subaru’s. I don’t like four cylinder engines for a variety of reasons, however, I kept coming back to the Subaru Outback : Because of the 3.6L Flat-six availability…Subaru’s famous AWD system, the many safety features, the cargo area is huge, the view of the road is amazing, the CVT (!), the smooth delivery of power, quality of construction , and all the features that make the Outback, well, an Outback!!! Went ahead and factory ordered a new 2018 Outback Limited 3.6R – it will be my first Subaru ever, should show up at the dealership in late September, thrilled by the aspect of this vehicle !!!

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      I’m also considering an Outback and have them very high on my list of potential vehicles to purchase (especially the 3.6). I’ve test driven a lot of vehicles over the last few months and really enjoyed the Outback (and the 2018 Crosstrek is a fine little vehicle as well). I like the car-like drive, it’s ease of entry and exit (I’m not getting any younger), and was actually impressed by the CVT that was paired with the 3.6 (the 2.5 was fine, but not as enjoyable as the 3.6). I think it’s a great vehicle for my likes and needs (I tend to prefer utility and function over features and gimmicks, as a general rule).

      Also high on my list are an Acura RDX (2016 or newer–I like the drivetrain a lot), a CR-V (very good at what it does but not very interesting otherwise), and a Honda Crosstour (2014 or 15–which I also really like, but it lacks some of the safety features of the others). I liked each of these for different reasons, but I would say the Outback and the Crosstour are at the top of my list.

      • 0 avatar
        rkflitcraft

        It’s a no-brainer : Go for the Outback! The wife drives a new 2017 Acura RDX and loves it – it has the Honda 3.5L V6, which is a sweet, powerful engine in it’s own right, and I have absolutely nothing against the RDX, but it’s her car – I on the other hand, wanted something different, and the more I read and researched the Outback, the more the engineering convinced me that it has the best of all the others vehicles combined – Subaru made the most sense for me, for it has everything I was looking for in a new vehicle, and I think the sale numbers speak for themselves – it clearly has no equal!

        • 0 avatar
          56BelAire

          I love how Subaru sells loads of Outback “Wagons”……..but nobody in America wants station wagons. LOL

          • 0 avatar
            rkflitcraft

            That’s because they are not wagons…they are crossovers…however the Ford Flex to me is a wagon and not a crossover – that’s my perception. To each his own.

          • 0 avatar
            Fred

            Yea as soon as you put that plastic trim around it and jack it up 1″ it’s no longer a wagon.

          • 0 avatar

            Now you say an inch, but check the figures.

            Ground clearance on the 2009 Legacy Wagon, 5.9″
            2017 Outback, 8.7″

            That’s a substantial difference in clearance.

          • 0 avatar
            Fred

            at least an inch

          • 0 avatar
            gottacook

            Corey Lewis: “2009 Legacy wagon”? In the U.S., sadly, there was no Legacy wagon after 2007. Possibly they were still made here for sale in Canada through ’09.

            Our 1990 Legacy SE AWD wagon had variable ground clearance, but the air suspension that allowed this was failure-prone and wasn’t offered past the first-generation cars.

  • avatar
    TOTitan

    The one thing Subarus are missing is that they are not fun to drive. In 2016 some good friends bought a new Outback and I bought a new Golf Sportwagen. The Outback is better at hauling large amounts of people and things but the sportwagen can run rings around it on a twisty road, has better brakes, and is more nimble in the city for running errands. Neither of them has had any mechanical issues. My friends are happy with the Outback but they are not car people and rarely exceed the speed limit. Im a car guy who enjoys driving so the Sportwagen is a much better fit for me.

    • 0 avatar
      Stanley Steamer

      Try a sedan, like the Legacy or Impreza. They handle quite well, but it is true that the older ones were more fun to drive.

      • 0 avatar
        TOTitan

        No Subies for me. I have the ’16 Sportwagen for in town errand running and a BMW 335d torque beast for high speed 30+mpg road trips. Best of both worlds

        • 0 avatar
          Philosophil

          My wife had a 2014 VW wagon TDI. It was a lot of fun to drive, no question about that, but I found it a little tight and somewhat difficult to get In and out of (especially when compared to my Element). While I still like VW’s, the TDI thing also left a bad taste in my mouth. I did test drive the new 2018 Tiguan but it’s definitely not to my taste.

          I also like the Volvo V60 but find it a bit pricey.

          I find the Outback and Crosstour very comfortable with enough grunt to move when called upon. Unlike most people I really liked the Outback’s CVT when paired with the 3.6. It had a nice linear response which I enjoy and much prefer compared to most of the turbos I’ve driven. I like the same feel in the RDX and the Crosstour.

    • 0 avatar
      56BelAire

      We had an ’08 Forester Sports 5-speed and it was way more fun to drive than my daughters ’06 Honda CRV 5-speed.

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    I’ve had or have 3 Subarus; a 94 SVX ls with the faulty wheel bearing option, a 2005 Legacy sedan limited, and a 2017 Forester limited. I still have the Legacy, and the Forester is for the wife and new baby. The Legacy, paid off 8 years ago, is in the shop as I speak getting new head gaskets at 125k. The work will be $1,700.00, so worth it as I expect to get at least another 50k out if it. Before these I had an old Grand Am, 300zx, Altima, an Audi 90. What originally steered me in the Subaru direction was what seemed like unusually low costs for parts and labor. For example, timing belt on the Subaru was 1/10th the cost of the Audi. What kept me with Subaru is that I have NEVER been left stranded by them, whether it be because of mechanical issue or weather. Can’t say that for the other cars for both reasons. And I’ve never been hurt in one despite being battered by distracted drivers. Also can’t say that about the other cars. The Forester hasn’t been hit but I expect it will perform just as well. One other thing that I think is important to Subaru’s success; I nor anyone else I know who bought one has ever felt “buyer’s regret”.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      “For example, timing belt on the Subaru was 1/10th the cost of the Audi.”

      Huh? How much were you paying for an Audi t-belt service, and how much for the Subaru?

      I fully understand the overall sentiment though. People like to get down on Subaru on TTAC, I’ve certainly seen their foibles up close myself, but I too see the appeal. Incredible value for money IMO in terms of the utility and features (excellent AWD, roomy and airy interiors, well tuned suspensions, things like roof racks with crossbars stock). They have their well known and well studied pattern failures, but even with a full headgasket job somewhere north of 100k miles, they are still reasonable long term propositions. Pay your $1500-1800ish and continue on your way. Yes the other smaller pattern issues (wheel bearings, CV boots) are annoying and cost some money to fix, but they too are relatively inconsequential in the long term ownership scheme of things. The whole time, you’re enjoying that utility. My wife really likes the new Outbacks, I think the $26.5k ish that 2.5i Premiums go for is entirely reasonable for what you get. I especially like the interiors in the newest Outbacks, there was a bit of a low point with the ’09-’13 Forester (and arguably ’10-’14 Outback, depending on trim).

  • avatar
    xtoyota

    People like the dog commercials …that helped Subaru sales :=)
    Very smart marketing
    Most car commercial are STUPID showing how fast they can go or racing around
    ….Advertising to a small market area

  • avatar
    scottsawyer

    Try a WRX or STi. I had a WRX, and while there are more powerful cars, turbo, all wheel drive and three pedals makes for a fun trip.

    Now I have something of a unicorn, ’10 Legacy 2.5GT 6sp. While it doesn’t have that crazy 3500 rpm power band the WRX had, it’s plenty peppy, room for kids, much more refined, and I would say it handles better.

    Does VW have anything comparable to an STi? R32 maybe? But you are talking a lot more money. Not really fair to compare a Subaru to a car that costs twice as much (335d).

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      Golf r is extremely fast , but it lacks the rawness of the STi.

      You do have a unicorn. Rare seeing a 2010 Legacy GT.
      I’ve seen a few 2005-2009Legacy GT wagons around town. Love to have one of those, hard to find under +120k miles. And when I do they are around $12,000

  • avatar
    Akiva Shapero

    I have owned (between my wife and I) 6 Audi’s, 2 BMW’s, and 5 Subaru’s. Love those Germs, but with Subaru’s, no repair visits. None. IMHO that’s why the sales keep rising. Reliability. 185,000 miles on mine and wife has new Forester after 145,000 miles on her Outback. ’nuff said.

  • avatar
    HahnZahn

    They’ve got a stranglehold on us – Forester and Impreza. I can’t speak to other manufacturers’ driver assist systems, but EyeSight is wonderful and actually available in reasonably priced models. Provided they prove more reliable than the outgoing VWs, they’ve likely got a couple long-term customers at my house.


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