By on November 11, 2016

2016 Subaru Outback 25i LimitedIs it still a cult following if only six, undeniably mainstream utility vehicles are more popular?

Honda, Toyota, Ford, Nissan, Chevrolet, Ford…

Subaru? While the U.S. auto industry dropped 6 percent in October 2016, losing nearly 90,000 sales compared with October 2015, the Subaru Outback soared to new heights.

If the Subaru Outback is the leader of a cult, as Dan Neil wrote in the Wall Street Journal earlier this fall, the cult is now big enough that we ought to call it a mainstream religion. (Read More…)

By on November 4, 2016

2017 Audi A4 Allroad white

Compared with Audi’s new, fifth-generation 2017 Audi A4 sedan, the 2017 Audi A4 Allroad is nine-tenths of an inch higher. Ground clearance grows from 5.2 inches to 6.5.

It’s not exactly Rubicon ready.

But wait. Audi added four inches of black cladding above the front wheel arches; four-and-a-half above the rear wheels. Jeep Jamboree, here we come. (Read More…)

By on September 2, 2016

2017 Subaru Forester

Sales of new vehicles declined by nearly 4 percent in the United States in August 2016, a year-over-year drop which followed flatlining sales over the previous three months. Bucking the trend to no small degree in August was capacity-constrained Subaru, which earned 4 percent of the market by selling more than 60,000 new vehicles for the first time in the company’s history.

Making Subaru’s achievements even more impressive: according to TrueCar, discounts in Subaru showrooms in August were 78-percent below the industry average. (Read More…)

By on August 16, 2016

2007 Honda Element EX, Image: American Honda

“About twice a week, I’ll come out to the parking lot and see that somebody’s left a note asking to buy it,” Peter said, chuckling. “But the only reason I’d sell it would be to get a newer one. And the prices on those are even crazier. So I’ll keep it. Forever. It’s my car for life, no matter what else I buy or own or whatever.”

A devoted ultra-marathoner and trail-runner who thought nothing of running 30 kilometers on Saturday and then doing it again on Sunday, Peter was the photographer assigned to me on a recent project for another media outlet. He was (obviously) hugely fit, extremely disciplined, and very much in love with his car.

But what kind of car could inspire that kind of affection from a guy like Peter, to say nothing of all the parking-lot stalkers who keep trying to buy his car? Is it a Boss 302? A 458 Speciale? A pristine MkIV Toyota Supra Turbo? I’m afraid not. The belle of Peter’s ball is a homely little box of a car that, when it was new, rarely left a showroom without the assistance of a massive trade allowance, a flatbed tow truck, or possibly both.

(Read More…)

By on June 28, 2016

Golf Alltrack Subaru Outback combo

We don’t yet know the exact price of Volkswagen USA’s 2017 Golf Alltrack.

We are certain, however, that Volkswagen, a company with a brand image severely tarnished in the United States, will be able to do no better than slightly undercut the basic price of the Subaru Outback.

And that might be a problem. (Read More…)

By on May 17, 2016

lincoln town car cartier

Adam writes:

Hey Bark,

I’m currently driving a car that’s outlasted jobs, girlfriends, friendships, an Obama presidency and a Harper administration. I am rolling in a 1998 Lincoln Town Car Cartier — and boy do I love my ride!

From my pic, you can see “Mitzi” is a well taken care of lady. 446,000 kms later, I still love her as much as I did when I bought her. However, after 18 years, the undercarriage (despite yearly rust proofing, thanks southern Ontario winters) is becoming brittle and I feel like I’m getting repairs on a bi-weekly basis. If not for this being my first car, I would have moved on a long time ago. Aside from heated seats, a gold dash analog clock, a six-CD changer in the trunk and an unmistakable ride, it offers little else (aside from being insanely dependable for most its life).

My question: What should I get next?

(Read More…)

By on May 10, 2015

2015 Subaru Outback

Subaru reported the brand’s 41st consecutive month of year-over-year U.S. sales improvement last month and in so doing produced the brand’s highest-volume April in the history of Subaru of America.

47,241 Subarus were sold in the United States last month, an 18% increase compared with April 2014. The 7,158-unit increase was powered by gains from the Forester, Outback, Legacy, XV Crosstrek, and the WRX/STi.

High-riders – the Forester, Outback, and XV – accounted for 71% of Subaru’s volume last month. (Read More…)

By on September 2, 2014

2015 Subaru OutbackOf all the things that struck me during my week with the 2015 Subaru Outback at the end of August, it was the realization that this nameplate has been around for two decades which shocked me most.

Is this because I’m getting old, that when I think something occurred recently, I find out it actually happened 20 years ago? Subaru first showed North Americans a Legacy Outback at the New York Auto Show in 1994. In other words, there are people who have been driving for four years who never knew a world without the Subaru Outback.

Yet during this long period in which the Outback, and Subaru as a whole, became increasingly successful, there have never been any properly direct Outback rivals, at least none that have made real hay off the Outback’s format. And yes, by the Outback’s format, I really mean the AMC Eagle’s format. (Read More…)

By on August 5, 2013

AR-308059950

VW, whose growth in the U.S. market has not gone quite according to their optimistic plans, may take a page from booming Subaru’s playbook and introduce an all-wheel-drive station wagon to compete with the Subaru Outback, Fuji Heavy Industries’ best seller in North America.

(Read More…)

By on April 5, 2013

In 1995, Subaru rolled out the Outback, which was tremendously successful at fooling New Englanders into believing that they were driving an SUV. Seriously: Subaru took a Legacy wagon, raised it an inch, painted the bottom part gold, and – for the first time in its history – became incredibly popular, even among people who don’t consider “granola” acceptable for a restaurant menu. (Let the record reflect I have now completed an entire paragraph about Subaru without making a lesbian joke.)

In 1998, the Subaru Outback range added a sedan model, called the “SUS” for “Sport Utility Sedan.” Unfortunately, the presence of a trunk meant New Englanders were no longer fooled, though some people from Colorado apparently were. Nonetheless, sales were dismal no matter how many times Subaru tried to remind shoppers that driving on a dirt road doesn’t mean you need to carry a lot of stuff. Eventually, they gave up and cancelled the Outback sedan, then redesigned the wagon to compete with a milk truck. (Seriously, why is it so big?)

(Read More…)

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