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Perhaps the biggest name in rally racing, Subaru has earned a reputation for building long-lasting, fun to drive cars. Like BMW, Subaru has its roots in aviation - building planes for Japan in World War II. After the war, the company turned its attention to automobiles and in 1954 the Subaru 1500 (also known as the P-1) was introduced. Over the years Subaru produced such notable models as the Legacy, the Impreza and the Forester.
In 2005, Toyota bought around half of GM’s stake in Subaru. As ToMoCo never bought Saab, they never bothered with a Saabaru. Instead, Toyota decided to go for a return on their investment. How? By broadening the WRX’s appeal. That’s right, the WRX, Subaru’s de facto all-wheel drive, turbocharged, deformed-looking halo vehicle was going to bring home the bacon by appealing to moms. Ha ha ha. As such, the 2008 WRX was an abject failure. There’s no better proof/pudding than the fact that I spent a week with an all new 2009 WRX. Not since the 1950s has a redesign happened so fast. But big questions remain. Like just how much better is this new-for-‘09 Rex?
Review: 2009 Subaru WRX Car Review Rating
At some point in our recent automotive history, all wheel-drive (AWD) replaced front wheel-drive as the paranoid consumer's drivetrain of choice. The safety advantages of high quality snow tires (as needed) and a low center of gravity (in all cases) got lost in translation. Ready to capitalize on the AWD's popularity: the economy-oriented Toyota Matrix and the Subaru Impreza. Both diminutive scramblers aren't nearly as cheap or efficient as their front-wheel-drive cousins, and they won't off-road, tow a boat or carry seven passengers. Still, both cars offer a [potential] extra safety margin and [potentially] better handling. So if you had to choose one…
Subarus are supposed to be the Birkenstock sandal of the automotive world; simple, robust cars with a certain sense of style that doesn't care about current fads. Alternatively, you could say a Subie used to be what a VW used to be (before Ferdinand Piech started messing with the brand) plus a boxer engine (once a key VW characteristic) and standard all-wheel-drive. In recent years, Subaru's image has become less and less clear. The automaker's desire to escape the granola ghetto first gave us the Tribeca, and then the new Impreza. And now we have a new Forester; an answer the question that in the past didn't have to be asked: what is a Subaru?
2009 Subaru Forester L.L. Bean Edition Review Car Review Rating
Station wagons with manual transmissions are quickly going the way of the fedora. In fact, there are more gas-electric hybrids for sale stateside than row-your-boat wagons. If you want an all-wheel-drive model, the number plummets. Which makes me wonder: what's the point of the Subaru Outback five-speed?
2008 Subaru Outback Review Car Review Rating
When I bought my second Rex, I nearly bit the bullet and went STI. But I like to haul more than ass. So I sacrificed balls-out speed for cargo capacity and bought the five-door WRX (again). The good news: starting now, Subaru's hottest rally-bred machine is available only as a hatch. The bad news: the new STI costs $14k more than the WRX. Is it worth it?
2008 Subaru Impreza STI Review Car Review Rating
The 2008 Subaru WRX is the U.S. pistonhead's cheap thrills with no frills poster child. Meanwhile, the Impreza. Yes, I know: a Subaru without a turbo is like a Mercedes without automatic climate control, but hey, normal people drive cars too. When you move away from turbo-nutter wastegate wonderland, the word “thrills” takes on a different meaning. Or does it? Sans blower, does the new entry level Impreza have what it takes to tickle the fancy of a wider audience?
Subaru Impreza 2.5i Review Car Review Rating
When the redesigned 2008 Impreza WRX made its New York debut, you could hear the collective creak from the upturned conks of the cognoscenti. What’s with the Camry clone? Somehow Subie thwacked a dart-full of its patented anti-fun serum into the styling of one of the world’s most “enigmatic” designs. But just how bad is the damage? Have Subaru’s efforts to re-brand the rockstar ‘Rex as a kinder, gentler, pop-idol created a yawnster? More importantly: is it possible to be a bad Subaru, but a good car?
Subaru WRX Review Car Review Rating
According to psychologists, the middle child fights an endless, depressing battle for parental attention. So pity the poor Legacy 2.5i Special Edition, sitting between the WRX and Outback. The WRX is the pistonheads' golden child. Older brother Outback is largely credited with the family's success– despite the fact that the Legacy was Subaru's sales leader in May. The shrinks say lavishing praise on the neglected sib is the best way to cure middle child syndrome. Ah, but is the Legacy 2.5i Special Edition (SE) special enough to deserve it?
Subaru Legacy 2.5i SE Review Car Review Rating
Readers may recall that my previous review of the Subaru Tribeca described the SUV’s front end as a flying vagina. Shortly after this aesthetic assessment hit the web, the San Francisco Chronicle canceled my regular reviews. Both Subaru and BMW banned The Truth About Cars from their press cars. While the column is history and the ban remains, Subaru got the message. The new Tribeca’s front end looks nothing like airborne pudenda, and everything like a Chrysler Pacifica.
Subaru Tribeca Review Car Review Rating
Let’s face it: Subaru isn’t known for building physically attractive automobiles. Their products are the automotive equivalent of the “butter face” girl: everything is great “but her” face. Fortunately, the new Legacy GT (LGT) avoids the brand’s heavy-handed airplane-inspired refreshes, or the new Tribeca’s po-faced Pacifica pandering. The Legacy GT’s not-so-B9 makeover puts the model in prime position for the legions of more mature automotive enthusiasts desperately seeking Subie.
Subaru Legacy GT Limited Review Car Review Rating
Back in the day, Subaru couldn’t afford to build a new vehicle to compete in the smoking hot SUV sector. So they took an Impreza, jacked it up a couple of inches, raised the roof and reskinned the body. The result was a hit, and helped define the modern small CUV. Ten years later, the Subaru Forester battles on, facing its third gen competitors (Honda CRV and Toyota RAV4) with nothing more than a few questionable sheet metal creases, a spiffed up interior, and the addition of the turbocharged XT model. The CUV pool’s getting more crowded by the day, and, compared to the Subie’s well-worn REI fleece, the competition looks like its wearing designer duds. We checked out an XT to answer a simple question: is it a classic or a relic?
I don’t get veggie-burgers. If something didn’t actually die for my dinner, I reckon it should at least have been pretty severely inconvenienced. What’s more, a good burger is always bad for you (arterial distress on a sesame-seed bun). So it is with the Subaru Impreza 2.5i Sport Wagon. Why would anyone buy such an entirely sensible vehicle when they could drive away in a full-fat, hormone-injected WRX Sport Wagon? Why indeed. It’s time for a serious sampling of Fuji Heavy Industries Lite.
A preppy soccer mom wearing steel-toed boots and work gloves. That's the look copped by most wagon-based crossovers. And while grafting raised white letter tires and frightening quantities of ribbed cladding to the family transporter hardly qualifies today's genre-benders for MOMA's parking lot (let alone their exhibition hall), virtually every manufacturer in the segment uses the recipe. Unsurprisingly, all of Subaru's previous efforts became ensnared in the very clichéd design trap that they helped originate. Until now…
The athletic contours of Subaru's attractive Legacy are a welcome departure from the norm. Its tapering greenhouse, sloping backlight and interesting harp-shaped taillamps are inherently attractive. Fortunately, the team at Subaru charged with transforming the Legacy's basic form into an Outback didn't violate that trust. Yes, there's still lower cladding and a vestigial spear of door-ding armor, but both have been smoothly baked into the vehicle's form (available in body-color on certain hues). So even if the 2005 Outback it isn't a picture of modern maternal magnetism, it's still a second-look MILF. The design works particularly well up front, where eagle-eyed headlamps no longer appear malnourished (in comparison to the bumper's elephantine fogs). Handsome, broad-spoke alloys draped in 17" mud-and-snow rated Bridgestone Potenzas mark out their territory convincingly. A wisp of roof rack topside completes the picture.
Without any prompting whatsoever, my 11-year-old daughter took one look at the new Subaru B9 Tribeca and said 'ew'. And there you have it. Scooby's first-ever SUV is an irredeemably gruesome beast whose design should have been aborted a femtosecond after conception. While Subaru would like to convince us that "ugly ass" and "dynamic styling" are synonymous, even a pre-teen knows that repulsive is not, and never will be, the new cool. In the race for SUV buyers' affections, the horrific B9 sets off a mile behind the starting line.
Not to belabor the point, but who in their right mind would put a vagina on the nose of an SUV, and then accentuate the effect with wings and hood strakes AND make the shape stand proud of the grill? Yes, I know: the design reflects Fuji Heavy Industries' past as an airplane manufacturer. But they don't make airplanes anymore, and the ones they DID make attacked Pearl Harbor. While we're at it, the B9's rear resembles the face of a gigantic alien– which is only fitting. Other than its side profile, the B9's best viewing angle is high Earth orbit.