The Truth About Cars » Subaru http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 02 Aug 2014 03:20:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Subaru http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Piston Slap: New CV Boots? A Split Decision! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-new-cv-boots-a-split-decision/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-new-cv-boots-a-split-decision/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 12:53:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=860313 TTAC Commentator Detroit Iron writes: Long time no talk (I sound like a native American an Indian).  (Yeah, not so much. – SM) I have an 09 Outback with ~65k miles.  I had noticed a bit of a burning smell after running it for a while and it was pretty strong after a recent trip.  […]

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TTAC Commentator Detroit Iron writes:

Long time no talk (I sound like a native American an Indian).  (Yeah, not so much. – SM)

I have an 09 Outback with ~65k miles.  I had noticed a bit of a burning smell after running it for a while and it was pretty strong after a recent trip.  I thought it smelled like a belt slipping but when I popped the hood the two belts looked fine.  After looking around for a minute I realized that the passenger side CV boot had torn and was dripping grease on to the cat.  Checking the other side revealed that the driver’s side boot was also torn.  Apparently this is a pretty common failure for scoobies.  The Internet says I should be concerned if I hear a “popping” sound or the clunk associated with failing bearings.  Luckily I am hearing neither.  The dealer had a set price of $370 per boot for replacing the boots that the service manager somewhat disconcertingly blurted out almost before I finished describing the problem.  The independent shop thought they could do both for less than $500 if the axles weren’t bad, but if they were bad then it would be another $450 per.

My question is this:  Can I just get split boots from JC Whitney and pack them with grease or do I really need to have the pros fix it?

Sajeev answers:

The split boots are probably a great idea, Dorman makes good stuff for old cars when the OEMs can or will not. That said, I’ve never used split boots on my rides as I roll RWD only.  But here’s the real problem: armchair analysis.

  • Do you think road dirt/debris lodged inside the boot will eventually eat the axle bearings?
  • Do you have any doubts to that question?
  • Is that your final answer?

Only you can answer that and decide what’s worth your time/money.  The $20-something for split boots is a cheap fix that’ll probably work, as you mentioned the axles are neither clunking nor popping: now try it from a standstill with the steering wheel turned at full lock (i.e. full left AND full right) and listen for the clunk.

If that test works out, well, go ahead and use the split boots.  They will probably extend the life of the axle long enough to justify their expense.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Subaru Behind Jeep, Ram As Most Off-Roaded Automaker http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/subaru-behind-jeep-ram-as-most-off-roaded-automaker/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/subaru-behind-jeep-ram-as-most-off-roaded-automaker/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 10:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=857073 Jeep may be the first thing to come to mind when the idea of going off-road comes up in conversation, but when taking a trip from Los Angeles to that secret pool/art installation in the middle of the desert, you might find a Subaru waiting nearby. Autoblog reports the automaker’s vehicles are the third most […]

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green subaru xv crosstrek hybrid

Jeep may be the first thing to come to mind when the idea of going off-road comes up in conversation, but when taking a trip from Los Angeles to that secret pool/art installation in the middle of the desert, you might find a Subaru waiting nearby.

Autoblog reports the automaker’s vehicles are the third most off-roaded in a 2013 J.D. Power study, where 29.5 percent can be found departing the highway for the trail; only Ram and Jeep bested Subaru at 30.2 percent and 31 percent, respectively. Subaru’s director of corporate communications, Michael McHale, added that owners of his company’s offerings were “190 percent more likely to do outdoor activities than other brands,” meriting those treks off the beaten path.

Regarding individual vehicles, the Outback sees the highest use in the dust and mud at 34.7 percent. Meanwhile, most Jeep Grand Cherokee owners prefer the high street over high peaks, with only 21.1 percent deciding to experience just how “trail-rated” their SUVs are. The Outback is also among Subaru’s top three best-selling vehicles in 2013, sandwiched between the Forester and the XV Crosstek as the automaker celebrated its sixth consecutive year of record sales; 424,683 units were sold in the United States alone that year.

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Toyobaru Might Only Last For One Generation As Partnership Under Evaluation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/toyobaru-might-only-last-for-one-generation-as-partnership-under-evaluation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/toyobaru-might-only-last-for-one-generation-as-partnership-under-evaluation/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 15:07:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=850962 The Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ may only exist for one generation, as comments by the car’s chief engineer suggest a dissolution of the partnership between Toyota and Subaru. Speaking to an Australian outlet, chief engineer Tetsuya Tada was cryptic about whether a next-generation sports car would have Subaru’s involvement. Tada left open the possibility that the […]

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The Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ may only exist for one generation, as comments by the car’s chief engineer suggest a dissolution of the partnership between Toyota and Subaru.

Speaking to an Australian outlet, chief engineer Tetsuya Tada was cryptic about whether a next-generation sports car would have Subaru’s involvement. Tada left open the possibility that the future alliance with BMW could yield an entirely new product, one that abandons the boxer layout for an inline engine or alternative powertrains.

Tada suggested that supercapacitors, like those used in Toyota’s LeMans effort, would provide a new solution for adding hybrid technology to a next-generation sports car. But Tada was adamant that turbocharging is not an avenue he wanted to pursue, stating

The trend of powertrains is of course downsizing and turbo charging, but my opinion is to retain natural aspiration in the future.”

Adding hybrid technology would allow the future sports car to keep its N/A engine while adding power and reducing its emissions and fuel consumption. But in the near-term, Tada’s team is exploring ways to improve performance of the current car, including more displacement, better intake and exhausts and even a revised final drive ratio.

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Junkyard Find: 1987 Subaru XT GL http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/junkyard-find-1987-subaru-xt-gl/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/junkyard-find-1987-subaru-xt-gl/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=844169 The Subaru XT is a car you won’t see often in most parts of the country, but Denver junkyards have tremendous quantities of old Subarus and so I see them on a regular basis here. So far, this series has had this ’85 XT Turbo, this ’91 XT, this ’91 XT6, and now today’s ’87 […]

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10 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin
The Subaru XT is a car you won’t see often in most parts of the country, but Denver junkyards have tremendous quantities of old Subarus and so I see them on a regular basis here. So far, this series has had this ’85 XT Turbo, this ’91 XT, this ’91 XT6, and now today’s ’87 XT.

I shot a bit of video of the tilt wheel/instrument cluster in action. Since I have developed an unhealthy obsession with 1980s Japanese digital instrument clusters, I bought the one out of the ’85 XT Turbo. Today’s XT had the regular analog cluster, so I left it in the car.
01 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIf you like 1980s design, this car is full of good examples. I was in college in 1987, and I remember thinking very clearly at the time that nobody will ever be capable of feeling nostalgia for this era. Now that Tears For Fears plays in supermarkets and Members Only jackets are making a comeback, I have been proved wrong about that embarrassing decade once again.
20 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMulti Point FI!
18 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese cars were full of weird little touches like these door-latch cover panels. Sure, more stuff to go wrong (and with 1980s Subarus, much did go wrong), but it was still cool stuff.
09 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis example is the ordinary front-wheel-drive version.
16 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSomeday I will be unable to resist the lure of the Alcyone, and I will buy a nice XT Turbo or XT6.

01 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1987 Subaru XT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Capsule Review: 2014 Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/capsule-review-2014-subaru-crosstrek-hybrid/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/capsule-review-2014-subaru-crosstrek-hybrid/#comments Mon, 09 Jun 2014 12:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=835961 Subarus shine when the sun does not. That reputation has been built on the back of Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive so that in places that freeze, Subarus are everywhere. Given the concerns of the customer base and a corporate commitment to sustainability, a hybrid Subaru seems like an obvious slam dunk. That’s why it’s surprising it […]

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Subarus shine when the sun does not. That reputation has been built on the back of Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive so that in places that freeze, Subarus are everywhere. Given the concerns of the customer base and a corporate commitment to sustainability, a hybrid Subaru seems like an obvious slam dunk. That’s why it’s surprising it took so long to get one, even with some ties to Toyota. The XV Crosstrek is the first Subaru to go hybrid. It’s definitely the Subaru of hybrids.

2014 subaru xv crosstrek hybrid

What that means is that you’ll find a familiar 2.0 liter boxer four and all-wheel drive in the Crosstrek Hybrid. Added to that is a 100.8 volt, 13.5 kW battery pack that tucks .55 kWh of stamina under the cargo area floor. You lose just 1.7 cubic feet of cargo space behind the seats, which is a nice trick compared to what happens in some other hybrid-ized cars. The combination of 2.0 liter boxer with compression bumped to 10.8:1 (from the standard 10.5:1) and electric motor makes the hybrid the most powerful Crosstrek there is. Total combined output is 160 hp vs. 148 hp for the gas-only model. More significantly, the total system torque is 163 lb-ft and you’ve got it all at 2,000 rpm. That beats the heck out of making those opposed pistons flail to 4,200 rpm for  the 145 lb-ft of the non-hybrid. The electric motor is cleverly integrated into the AWD system, a move that keeps the center of gravity the same as the gas model and doesn’t cut into passenger space.

The best Subarus are niche Subarus. The rowdy WRX and Crosstrek Hybrid are the gold and silver medalists on the lot. It says something about the Impreza platform’s versatility and quality. I haven’t forgotten the BRZ, it’s just not as good as the other two. The coupe gets a bronze because it’s not as versatile as the other two and still lacks the power it really deserves. Sales have increased every month since January 2014, when Subaru started keeping  track of Crosstrek hybrid sales. The model cracked 1,000 in May, and the total sits at 2,700 so far.

rear view of 2014 subaru xv crosstrek hybrid

The $27,000 price for the the XV Crosstrek Hybrid I drove is close to reasonable. The entry price is $25,995, and with $825 of destination you’ve got the $26,820 bottom line. That’s for a car with cloth seats, no sunroof, and Subaru’s typically half-dismal audio system. If you want the nice stuff like leather and navigation, you’re looking at the $29,295 Hybrid Touring.

The more basic car has got it where it counts, though. It’s not stripped by any means, and the audio head unit easily connects to devices with Bluetooth and streams audio while allowing the steering-wheel audio buttons to control playback. This without stabbing at a touchscreen or dealing with voice prompts. The hands-free isn’t perfect – people I called asked me to repeat a lot of stuff because of audio quality. Three knurled dials give easy control over the HVAC and automatic climate control is standard for the hybrid. The steering column tilts and telescopes, and a rear view camera is also standard. The hatchback layout is useful, with a liftover height that’s easily managed even if you’re shorter, and that’s despite the 8.7” of ground clearance. That’s only 1/10″ shy of an F150 4×4. Other cars this size trading for this price carry more amenities, but none of them are all-wheel drive hybrids.

side view of 2014 subaru xv crosstrek hybrid

Interior materials don’t feel $27K nice, but the design and ergonomics of the Crosstrek cabin present well. Visibility out is what now passes for good, and the controls are all easy to operate. Some, like the shifter, feel a little flimsy (wiggle that silvery piece of trim!), but the Crosstrek Hybrid is not a hard car to use, and that’s a happy thing.

Practical matters aside, this is the best driving Crosstrek, and all the changes made to the Hybrid should be mirrored across the range. The suspension has been retuned, which explains its good wheel control and buttoned-down feel in corners. It works well with the quick electric power steering, which is good on weight and direct feel. Other changes include thicker floor sections and increased sound insulation, both measures that increase the feeling of refinement.

2014 subaru xv crosstrek seats

The Crosstrek Hybrid is unique in that you’re getting all-wheel drive as part of the deal, and the improvement over gas-only Crosstreks is a bump to 29/33 mpg city/highway from 25/33. Pardon me for feeling like that’s a miniscule increase and that the 30 mpg average I observed is what all Crosstreks should be returning already. There are very few other all-wheeler hybrids, and they’re all more expensive. Luxe options like the Lexus RX 400h and Audi Q5 hybrid or the significantly larger Toyota Highlander hybrid aren’t directly comparable. A used second-generation Ford Escape Hybrid (or Mercury Mariner) is likely the closest actual competitor.

The rest of the Crosstrek Hybrid is bang on with the desires of its target customers. The batteries and motor don’t cut into the usefulness of the hatchback layout. There’s a good-sized cargo area behind the rear seats, and since those seats also fold, you’ve got one useful little tadpole on your hands. Moreover, the space inside the Crosstrek is comfortable for four, a bit squeezy for five. The rear seat legroom is probably the biggest sticking point. A quintet of tallies isn’t going to like it very much, but the Crosstrek is great for three or four average grown-ups. It’s even better for one or two smaller-statured folks with a big ol’ dog fogging the windows.

2014 subaru xv crosstrek hybrid cargo area

Another happy thing is the way the electric motor bolsters the 2.0 liter engine’s torque delivery and flattens out bandy feeling you often get from CVTs. The presence of paddle shifters to toggle between fake ratios feels really out of place. That’s money that could have gone into making the door panels padded so your elbow doesn’t fall asleep. At least with torque to go, the Crosstrek doesn’t have to wind up the engine so much to make forward progress. It’s a more relaxed way to get to speed, and it makes for a more refined Subaru. One annoyance, a major one, is the momentary hesitation upon taking off as the system fires the engine. It makes the car feel slow-witted, and it doesn’t build confidence when you’re trying to make a quick move in heavy traffic.

The hybrid system makes distinct shudders when the flame is blown out or fired up. You won’t get very far on electric-only, which generally seems to only operate in traffic jams. Subaru says the hybrid will crawl in an electric-only mode, but I found that the engine fired almost all the time when I wanted to move even a few feet. The Crosstrek hybrid is a few software tweaks away from greatness, but that doesn’t stop it from being good. The chassis feels solid, the steering is well-weighted, and the braking transitions from regen to friction very smoothly.

I was surprised to come away from the Crosstrek Hybrid so impressed with it. I’m not generally a fan of hybrids, and one that’s so obvious about what it’s doing SHOULD have put me off. Instead, it was charming. Clearly, I’m not the only one who’s been taken in by this car’s talents. If only all Crosstreks were this good.

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QOTD: Bring Back the Unibody Pickup? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/qotd-bring-back-the-unibody-pickup/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/qotd-bring-back-the-unibody-pickup/#comments Thu, 05 Jun 2014 13:35:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=837665 For decades, the formula for a successful pickup design in America has been pretty much the same. Design a simple ladder-frame chassis, drop in the biggest engine you can find, give it a front-engine rear-drive layout with an optional transfer case, and start raking in the money. From time to time, however, manufacturers have tried […]

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For decades, the formula for a successful pickup design in America has been pretty much the same. Design a simple ladder-frame chassis, drop in the biggest engine you can find, give it a front-engine rear-drive layout with an optional transfer case, and start raking in the money. From time to time, however, manufacturers have tried to swim against the current.

The last true unibody pickup (one without any type of traditional ladder frame) sold in the United States was the Subaru Baja, which ended production in 2006. A derivative of the Legacy/Outback platform, the Baja was Subaru’s attempt to cash in on the mid-2000s vogue for “sport utility trucks:” part-SUV hybrids like the Ford Explorer Sport Trac and the Chevrolet Avalanche. While those more successful models were selling well over 50,000 a year at their peak, the Subie barely managed to shift 30,000 examples in a four year run. With its funky body cladding, exposed rollbars, and limited utility compared to those other truck-based SUTs with traditional ladder-frame chassis, the Baja never managed to become anything but a niche product. Even so, it followed in a long lineage of experiments with unibody construction for pickups.

The golden age of the unibody pickup was the 60s, when every major manufacturer offered at least one. Ford had the Falcon-derived Ranchero, as well as a pickup based on the Econoline van. (The 1961-63 full-size F100 is often cited as an example of a unibody pickup design, but as Mike Levine explains here, this is technically incorrect. The ‘61-63 still had a ladder frame underneath its single-piece body.) Chevrolet had a similar offering in the Corvair Greenbrier pickup, although the more popular El Camino utilized a ladder frame. Dodge got in the unibody game with the pickup version of its A100 van. The pickup version of the Type 2 Volkswagen Transporter was increasingly popular in the burgeoning small truck segment before it became a target of the infamous Chicken Tax. That tariff also kept out the Japanese, who might otherwise have attempted to sell car-based pickups such as the Toyota Corona PU. The most popular of all these unibody pickups was the Falcon Ranchero. It offered meaningful size and economy advantages over the full-size trucks of the time, and was available with a greater number of creature comforts.

Many of these unibody pickups disappeared in the 70s, as compact, conventionally engineered Japanese pickups became more widely available. Many of these were captive imports sold by the Big 3, who utilized tricks like importing cab-chassis units separately to avoid the Chicken Tax. Unibody pickups didn’t reappear again until the 1980s. The Subaru BRAT was the first of these, followed by the Rabbit-based Volkswagen Pick-Up. The Volkswagen PU was an attempt to squeeze more volume out of the disappointingly slow-selling Rabbit; the Dodge Rampage and Plymouth Scamp were similar attempts to expand the use of Chrysler’s L Platform. Neither of those was particularly successful, with both the Volkswagen and Rampage/Scamp cancelled after only three years. The BRAT was reasonably popular, lasting in the US market until 1987. The Jeep Comanche was based on the unibody XJ Cherokee, but used a ladder frame to strengthen the superstructure. Around 190,000 units were produced before new Jeep owner Chrysler called it quits in 1992; the company didn’t want the Comanche cannibalizing Dodge’s truck offerings. After that, there were no more unibody trucks in the United States until the introduction of the Baja. Cheap gas and a slew of competitive ladder-frame pickups meant that the incentive to develop a unibody pickup was limited.

Like Subaru, Honda tried to cash in on the SUT trend with the Ridgeline. Although based off the unibody Odyssey minivan, the Ridgeline utilizes a hybrid chassis setup that incorporates a box frame. Sales have been disappointing, with the model scheduled to go out of production this month, although a sequel has been promised by Honda. The Ridgeline is often cited by midsize truck pessimists as emblematic of the reasons the segment has gone into decline. The truck offers no serious fuel economy advantage over a full-sizer. It also has a smaller bed, a lower tow rating, and less power, all in a footprint not much smaller than that of a full-size. Attempting to straddle segments was the Ridgeline’s doom. Buyers who wanted power, room, towing and hauling capability, and who didn’t care about mileage bought Avalanches, Sport Tracs, and full-sizers. Economy-minded individuals went for the cheaper, more utilitarian options like the Frontier and Tacoma. None of these alternatives were particularly great on gas, but neither was the Ridgeline; and they all offered price and/or capability advantages that the Ridgeline didn’t have. That doesn’t mean, however, that the unibody truck should necessarily go the way of the dodo.

The greatest argument against a renaissance in the small-to-midsize truck segment is profitability. Small trucks often have thin margins, and it’s hard to justify separate development programs for unique platforms. That’s ultimately what killed the Ranger in the United States, as well as the Dakota. GM is spreading out the development cost of the new Colorado/Canyon by making it a world market vehicle, but it remains to be seen if this strategy will work. Only the Tacoma has proven to be a consistent winner in the US market, and it also has the advantage of being globally sold; the same is true of the new Frontier. A US-only compact truck platform is a mistake. Repealing the Chicken Tax might open up the market to more imports, but ideally a compact truck would be developed from a platform already in use in the US. This would lower the cost of federalization, while at the same time increasing the margin derived from already existing platforms. That’s where unibody design comes in.

America is awash in unibody CUVs, whose platforms could be utilized to make compact and midsize trucks. The Chevrolet Montana/Tornado has been mentioned by small-truck aficionados as a possible import, but the cost of certifying it for American sale would probably be prohibitive. Instead, it would make more sense for GM to develop a small truck from either the Theta or Epsilon architectures, both of which have already been adapted for the American market. A small truck based on the Equinox, for example, might be profitably produced for the American market. If a small truck can offer significant price or fuel economy advantages over full-sizers, it can justify its existence against highly competitive full-size offerings. Even so, doubts remain about the segment’s overall viability. FCA chairman Sergio Marchionne recently alluded to this when discussing possible plans for a future compact pickup in the United States. Could a unibody truck be the savior of the compact truck segment?

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Reader Ride Review: 2015 Subaru WRX http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/reader-ride-review-2015-subaru-wrx/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/reader-ride-review-2015-subaru-wrx/#comments Thu, 05 Jun 2014 13:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=837689 When Eric pulled up in his properly blue WRX, I could see that he wasn’t entirely sure about the idea of letting me drive his car. To begin with, I’d changed the location of the meet three times in the past twenty minutes. Admittedly, that was because I hadn’t been to the Easton Town Center […]

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When Eric pulled up in his properly blue WRX, I could see that he wasn’t entirely sure about the idea of letting me drive his car. To begin with, I’d changed the location of the meet three times in the past twenty minutes. Admittedly, that was because I hadn’t been to the Easton Town Center in a few years and the first few places I could think of to meet had been closed or moved — but attentive readers will also remember that this is how Jeremy Irons tormented Bruce Willis in the third Die Hard movie. I was wearing bleach-spotted shorts and, I think, a One Lap Of America T-shirt. Furthermore, I was muttering to myself and shaking my head like a poleaxed goat. I’d just discovered that my wallet had gone missing during an airport run I’d made for a friend. In short, I looked and sounded like a crazy person, and I appeared to have a very strong desire to take Eric’s WRX to the airport for no legitimate reason — which, attentive readers will recall, is what happened to Bruce Willis in the second Die Hard movie.

With a visible effort, Eric smiled and stuck out his hand. “I’m Eric.”

“I’m Jack,” I replied. “We need to take your WRX to the airport.”

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Two hours later, I found my wallet under my Accord’s passenger seat.

Thanks for reading.

Just kidding! Yes, I did find my wallet later — but after a few minutes behind the wheel of Eric’s recently-broken-in “Rex”, I was ready to stop thinking about that and give my full attention to the car. Having driven the new Mk7 GTI just two weeks before this, I was eager to see how the two cars, natural enemies in the marketplace, would compare. Luckily for me, we truly do have the best and brightest among our readers. Eric, a successful young man with an understanding and manual-transmission-capable wife, is an outstanding example. What would Jalopnik do in a situation like this? Test-drive their readers’ “Forza 360″ cars while the far-from-MILFy single parents of said readers serve snacks like the Pin’s mom in Brick?

I’ll assume you’ve read Kamil’s recent press car review of a WRX Premium. This one, too, was a Premium, I think. (Eric will pop in and correct me if I’m wrong, but I am pretty sure this had a sunroof and didn’t have leather seats, which makes it a Premium.) Let’s go immediately to the meat of the matter: the dynamic capabilities of the WRX in the context of the competition.

The Subaru and the Volkswagen were very different cars twelve years ago but now, in 2014, they are united by an approach to ride, handling, and demeanor that can best be described as “adult”. As with the GTI, this new WRX is surprisingly quiet and thick-feeling, its sodden “thump” over every pothole betraying a very modern obsession with the lowest possible natural resonant frequency. The bugeye WRX had thin doors and rattled on the showroom floor, but this sedan might as well be an Audi for all the extraneous noise you get. Since the original Japanese Post Office Leones, badged simply “DL” and “GL” here, and possibly before, every Subaru has had a sort of inherent crappiness, a loose-jointed feeling that there just weren’t a lot of welds in the unibody. If you liked that, and a lot of people did, too bad. Little Rex is all grown up now.

Like the Volkswagen 2.0T direct-injected inline-four, the Subaru turbo boxer uses a small turbo and active wastegate control to keep torque at a consistent plateau through most of the rev range. Unlike the VW, the Subaru retains a fair amount of laggy turbo behavior despite what you see on a dyno curve. It’s much less aggressive on part-throttle than the GTI and a full-throttle run through the gears reveals a laggy hole in the delivery after each shift. Eric’s car is, thankfully, a six-speed manual. Intellectually, I accept the idea that a CVT of sufficient stoutness might be the perfect partner to this stumble-prone boxer, but I also intellectually accept the idea that I could probably manage to copulate with Lena Dunham under circumstances of sufficient provocation, such as danger to my child or an Aventador-sized cash bonus, and that does not stop me from finding both propositions repugnant to the extreme.
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So there’s a little bit of old-school to this car. Throttle-whoosh-shift-stumble-pause-whoosh and let’s do it all over again for the next gear. The GTI has this thing whipped for power delivery, even if the numbers aren’t as good. Eric’s curious about my Accord V6, so I offer to let him drive it. He’s obviously appalled by the fact that the dinged-up coupe contains the remnants of no fewer than four Kid’s Meals, plus a half-eaten bag of cheese puffs, and requests that I just tell him how the Honda compares. Well, it’s got nothing for either of the turbo cars down low, but it has a rush to the top that these tiny puffers can’t match. When the Accord gets going, well, that’s about the same time that the Subaru and Volkswagen are asthmatically blowing through the unimpressive space after the torque plateaus.
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After visiting the airport Departures area and quizzing the service personnel there about the likelihood of their having recently found any missing Couch Jet Age wallets, I decide to misuse the roundabouts and short two-lane couplers between the various parking lots as an impromptu autocross course. This is mostly second-gear work, with brief excursions to third. Here, the turbo is strong and the rush to the next corner is remarkably satisfying. The Subaru’s imperfect power delivery feels a bit more characterful than the electric-motor torque of the GTI. Shifting is no slower despite the four driven wheels, but you still don’t want to rush the synchros the way you would in a Mustang or Viper.
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The brakes are adequate but this is clearly a place where Subaru wants you to spend some extra STi money. Just three or four hard slowdowns from about 70mph to 30mph is enough to lengthen the pedal a bit. Remember, folks, this is a sub-$30,000 vehicle, not an AMG CLS. I’m also not pleased with their lack of ability to stand the WRX on its nose with hard application. Here, too, the Phaeton-ish brakes in the GTI Performance Pack are simply better, more reassuring.

In max-lat-g cornering around a roundabout, the Subaru pushes early and often, with plenty of progressive warning and behavior from the 235-width SportMaxx tires. It’s so predictable that I have no trouble immediately eyeballing the slip zone at approximately 80mph on a freeway ramp, letting the nose wander than rein in with pogo motions of the throttle. Think of a Focus ST, which can step right out on you in a corner if the throttle action is abrupt. Then restrain that to just a suggestion of motion, and you have the GTI. Now dial it back the same amount again, and you have the WRX. I can’t see getting this car to oversteer in any conditions short of a wet racetrack. The driveline feels relentlessly front-biased in all dry-road operation.

This extremely dignified default cornering attitude means that once again the Fiesta ST is going to be a more entertaining drive. Even my Accord feels considerably lighter on its feet and more tossable, due in part to narrower rubber, a lower beltline, less insulation, and a greater degree of power assistance for both steering and brakes. Still, it’s worth noting that this car is perhaps too quick to be tricky by default.

During our drive, I ask Eric why he bought this car. His answer is extremely self-effacing, referring to an old Sentra owned previous to this, the desire to have a little more power, and a preference for manual transmissions. He keeps noting that the vast majority of his experience has been in slower cars, and that perhaps that renders his opinion of his WRX less than credible. To the contrary, I think. I might have been behind the wheel of a Viper TA and Camaro Z/28 a few weeks before driving these four-cylinder model rockets, but the average buyer for a car like this is coming from a Sentra or a Civic or his parents’ old Camry. To satisfy that buyer, the WRX needs to be both fast enough and upscale enough to justify spending what feels like a long ton of money.

When you look at the Subaru that way — as a vehicle that should satisfy aspirational and dynamic desires — I think it succeeds admirably. Between this and the GTI, I’d take, um, the Mustang 5.0. Or possibly an Accord Coupe! But if you are going to spend a lot of your own money on a car that will be your daily transportation, your track rat, and your sanctuary during long trips, it’s hard to offer much argument against the WRX. The Volkswagen is considerably more upscale, more tasteful, more responsive, and probably economical. Against that, the Subaru offers a sedan form factor and all-wheel-drive. On the streets of San Francisco, it just has to be the Mexi-German hatch, but for the snow states, the WRX is the easy winner.
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(Disclaimer: This vehicle was provided to us by a TTAC reader who failed to come up with any flights, any five-star hotels, or any free half-bottles of Ketel One. I shouldn’t have to live like this. Thanks, Eric! — JB)

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Capsule Review: 2015 Subaru WRX Premium http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/capsule-review-2015-subaru-wrx-premium/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/capsule-review-2015-subaru-wrx-premium/#comments Thu, 22 May 2014 12:30:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=828394 Please welcome Hooniverse editor Kamil Kaluski for his first review for TTAC. Like much of the Playstation Generation, I spent much of the 90’s ogling over the forbidden fruit from the Land of the Rising Sun: Type Rs, EVOs, WRXs  – fun, reasonably priced, reliable, econobox-based sports cars with great potential. Naturally, I bought a […]

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Please welcome Hooniverse editor Kamil Kaluski for his first review for TTAC.

Like much of the Playstation Generation, I spent much of the 90’s ogling over the forbidden fruit from the Land of the Rising Sun: Type Rs, EVOs, WRXs  – fun, reasonably priced, reliable, econobox-based sports cars with great potential. Naturally, I bought a WRX as one as soon they debuted in 2002. Six months later I promptly sold it.

I didn’t hate the original bug-eyed WRX – I was just disappointed by it. The chassis, even with a set of Eibach springs, still rolled and yawed in every direction. The engine had no power below 3500rpm, and then, out of nowhere, burst to life in a boost-filled fury. The gear ratios of the five speed manual transmission made accelerating fun, at the expense of any highway comfort.  The fuel economy would have been poor for a V8 – for an economy car four-cylinder (even a boosted one) it was abysmal.

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If you were to blindfold a past owner and put them behind the wheel of the newest WRX, they’d immediately know what car they were in. Little cues, like the seating position, the shift knob and of course, the unmistakable, off-beat boxer hum, all remind you that underneath the much improved skin, beats the same rambunctious heart. Then again, the window switches seem to be carried over from the year 2002.

Outside of its Corolla-on-steroids looks, the biggest difference in the WRX is the engine. The displacement is back to two thousand cc’s, but there’s now variable valve timing and direct injection. The result is 268hp, which in the days of 300hp+ V6 Mustangs does not sound like much.The real news is the 258lb.-ft. that is available between 2,000-5,200rpm. Now that there’s some torque being made as low as 1000 rpm, daily driving is a lot more pleasant, while cruising on the highway isn’t going to drive you into madness. And it still screams all the way from 3000 rpm up to redline.

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But wait! There is more! For the first time ever, the WRX also manages to get decent gas mileage. With a 6-speed manual transmission, the 2015 WRX  is EPA rated at 21mpg in the city and 28mpg on the highway. My real-world heavy-footed trip down the New Jersey Turnpike resulted in a dash-computer calculated average of 27.7mpg, which I would say is pretty darn good. A CVT is a $1200 option, but really, why bother?

With the exception of a ride that is slightly rough over the worst of northeast’s post apocalyptic winter roads, Subaru has removed any objectionable behavior from the WRX that may be encountered during daily operation. Some may find it to be sprung too softly for serious at-the-limit driving, but Subaru really needed something more than a few horsepower and a big wing to justify the existence of the STI. Overall it’s a nice compromise for the enthusiasts and that incidental WRX buyer who just wanted an Impreza with more power.

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While remaining typical Subaru (that is to say, spartan if we’re being polite), the interior also received some updates. The biggest difference is one that you won’t see: road noise. The 2015 version is orders of magnitude quieter than the boomy, gusty examples previously sold here. More than the crappy fuel economy or the wonky gearing, this was my biggest annoyance when it came to driving long distances in my old WRX.

Head and leg room is abundant for all passengers, even on sunroof-equipped vehicles such as this one, and the manual seats are comfortable and supportive. All controls, with the exception of heated seat buttons, are logically located and easy to use. With small inoperable vent windows, door-mounted mirrors, and thinner than average A-pillars, the visibility all around is excellent.

The radio/infotainment system feels dated. The main display consists of segmented characters, and some information displayed on it may be incomplete. All controls are made via a bunch of small buttons and one knob. There are auxiliary controls on the left side of the steering wheel. There is also a secondary screen higher up on the dash which shares duties with the onboard computer, fuel economy gadget, and a boost gauge. Aux and USB inputs are located in the center console. The climate controls consist of three simple knobs – it might be the most efficient setup on the market, yet everyone else insists on more complex controls. It baffles me.

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Those unimpressed by its lack of evolution should be happy to know that Subaru has managed to refine the coarser elements of past examples, without eliminating any of its character or thrills. With a starting price of just $26,295, the WRX is one of the best performance car deals on the market. And if it looks a bit too sedate or Civic-esque for you, there’s always the hotter, sharper-edged STi.

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Subaru provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

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Fuji Heavy To End Toyota Camry Production http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/fuji-heavy-to-end-toyota-camry-production/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/fuji-heavy-to-end-toyota-camry-production/#comments Fri, 09 May 2014 15:05:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=818570 No, that title is not a misprint. Fuji Heavy Industries, which current builds the Toyota Camry at an Indiana assembly plant, will stop producing the mid-size sedan for Toyota starting in 2016. Fuji Heavy – parent company of Subaru- makes the Camry under contract for Toyota. Production will be absorbed by Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky plant […]

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No, that title is not a misprint. Fuji Heavy Industries, which current builds the Toyota Camry at an Indiana assembly plant, will stop producing the mid-size sedan for Toyota starting in 2016.

Fuji Heavy – parent company of Subaru- makes the Camry under contract for Toyota. Production will be absorbed by Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky plant that already builds the Camry. Automotive News reports that the move will free up an additional 100,000 units of capacity for Fuji Heavy, which builds Subaru cars at the plant. Fuji Heavy had sought to expand capacity sufficiently that it could build 300,000 Subaru vehicles per year at the plant – doing so will allow them to utilize the 100,000 units occupied by the Camry, as well as the 170,000 units allocated to Subaru, in order to reach their overall goal.

Georgetown is currently running flat out at 500,000 units annually, with plans to expand to 550,000 units already in the works. But there was no clarification on how Toyota would absorb a further 100,000 units, and retain the Camry’s position as America’s best-selling passenger car.

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Subaru: No WRX Hatch For U.S. Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/subaru-no-wrx-hatch-for-u-s-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/subaru-no-wrx-hatch-for-u-s-market/#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=808482 For those who want a Subaru WRX or WRX STi, but prefer the utility of the previous hatchback over the current sedan offerings, they should start breathing again, as Subaru will not be bringing such a beast to the United States after all. Motor Trend reports that last month, WRX project manager Masuo Takatsu informed […]

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Subaru Impreza WRX STi Hatchback

For those who want a Subaru WRX or WRX STi, but prefer the utility of the previous hatchback over the current sedan offerings, they should start breathing again, as Subaru will not be bringing such a beast to the United States after all.

Motor Trend reports that last month, WRX project manager Masuo Takatsu informed Motoring.com.au that Subaru “received strong interest from the US” for a hatchback variant, citing the 50 percent uptake by the U.S. market for the previous hatch. The statement came as a surprise to Subaru of America, who weren’t expecting anything more than the sedans:

We do not know about, nor do we have, any plans for a WRX hatch. Takatsu San is the product general manager of the WRX, but this is not something he has discussed with us.

One exchange between Subaru of America and Subaru of Japan later gave the final word: No WRX hatch will be forthcoming to the U.S. market, citing cost issues against producing both sedan and hatchback models.

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New York 2014: 2015 Subaru Outback Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-subaru-outback-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-subaru-outback-revealed/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:21:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=803114 The 2015 Subaru Outback made a stop at the 2014 New York Auto Show as the fifth-generation wagon makes its way to the showroom floor this summer. Under the bonnet, a choice of either a 2.5-liter flat-4 or 3.6-liter flat-6 will send 175 to 256 horsepower through a standard CVT to all four corners. The […]

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The 2015 Subaru Outback made a stop at the 2014 New York Auto Show as the fifth-generation wagon makes its way to the showroom floor this summer.

Under the bonnet, a choice of either a 2.5-liter flat-4 or 3.6-liter flat-6 will send 175 to 256 horsepower through a standard CVT to all four corners. The Legacy-esque Outback should average 28 mpg from the flat-4, 22 with the flat-6.

As for safety, rearview camera, pre-collision braking and adaptive cruise control make up part of the overall driver-protection package on-offer from Subaru.

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Subaru May Revive The WRX Hatchback http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/subaru-may-revive-the-wrx-hatchback/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/subaru-may-revive-the-wrx-hatchback/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 11:10:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=787009 Strong sales of the WRX hatchback in America have led Subaru to re-consider their “sedan only” policy for the current generation WRX. An Australian enthusiast site spoke to WRX Project General Manager Masuo Takatsu, who said that strong demand for the hatch in America (where it accounted for half of WRX sales) has led them […]

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Strong sales of the WRX hatchback in America have led Subaru to re-consider their “sedan only” policy for the current generation WRX.

An Australian enthusiast site spoke to WRX Project General Manager Masuo Takatsu, who said that strong demand for the hatch in America (where it accounted for half of WRX sales) has led them to re-consider their plans

“We have received strong interest from the US, where the hatchback was 50 per cent (of previous-generation WRX sales), so we’re now considering. The main target for WRX is the US…Japan is number two, Australia number three. Basically, we target these three markets.”

Takatsu said that limited resources were behind the lack of a hatch at launch, and interestingly, a two-pedal variant of the STi. Subaru’s Australian arm eventually expects the CVT powered WRX to account for as much as 50 percent of WRX sales, though the hatch has always been a much weaker play.

Oddly, the 90+ percent take rate for the sedan in Australia runs counter to its competitors like the VW Golf GTI, Ford Focus ST and Renaultsport Megane, which are all hatches. On the other hand, Americans are notoriously fond of sedans, but are the biggers buyers of WRX hatchbacks.

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Crapwagon Outtake: The Subaru RX Coupe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/crapwagon-outtake-the-subaru-rx-coupe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/crapwagon-outtake-the-subaru-rx-coupe/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2014 19:48:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=755265 I once read a book abut Subaru’s history in the American market, which I assume makes me an expert on all things Fuji Heavy. That and I came home from the hospital in a GL10 Turbo station wagon, which suffered an ignominious death from rust just months later. But somehow, there was a gap in […]

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I once read a book abut Subaru’s history in the American market, which I assume makes me an expert on all things Fuji Heavy. That and I came home from the hospital in a GL10 Turbo station wagon, which suffered an ignominious death from rust just months later. But somehow, there was a gap in my Subaru knowledge, specifically with their two-door models.

As far as I knew, Subaru’s two door models included the XT, the SVX and the Impreza Coupe. Oh, and the BRAT. But I had no idea that the RX Coupe existed – not that many other people did either. Based on the Leone/GL, only 2600 RX Coupes were imported over a two year period from 1987 to 1989, with an automatic transmission only available in 1989.

Power came from a 1.8L turbocharged boxer-four, making 115 horsepower and 134 lb-ft of torque. Although the RX looked like a sporty coupe, it came with a low-range transmission and a locking center differential, as well as an unusually high ride height. On-road performance may not have been as sharp as some of its competitors, but the grip and handling on loose surfaces made up the difference. In a way, it was the Outback sedan, long before it was a glimmer in the eye of a New England Subaru dealer.

The RX’s limited numbers translate into a scarce supply. The only RX for sale in the country is this beautifully preserved sedan, which has the 5-speed manual/low-range combo and a very period correct color scheme. If I had one, it would look more like this.

 

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QOTD: Choose Your Own Parts-Bin Sporting Coo-Pay http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/qotd-choose-your-own-parts-bin-sporting-coo-pay/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/qotd-choose-your-own-parts-bin-sporting-coo-pay/#comments Fri, 21 Feb 2014 21:21:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=751529 Oh my, this Toyobaru GT86 situation is a shame, isn’t it? QC issues, dealer gouging, controversial tire choices, sundial acceleration, the catastrophically depressing drone of the engine as it asthmatically stumbles to its powerless redline before the injector seals fail and it vomits out its component parts in a single “FehhhrrrrrrrrggggggghhhhPOP.” If only the people […]

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Oh my, this Toyobaru GT86 situation is a shame, isn’t it? QC issues, dealer gouging, controversial tire choices, sundial acceleration, the catastrophically depressing drone of the engine as it asthmatically stumbles to its powerless redline before the injector seals fail and it vomits out its component parts in a single “FehhhrrrrrrrrggggggghhhhPOP.”

If only the people at Subaru and Toyota had asked you instead of letting their own accountants engineers make the decisions. As Andre 3000 once sang, you know what to do-oooooh-ooooh.

All the parts for a great affordable sports Coop are out there, man! You just have to, like, know how to assemble them! How about an RX-8 with the engine from the Mazdaspeed3? Better yet, a Miata Coupe with the engine from the MS3! Or an M228i with roll-up windows! Or, um, a roadster body on the Ford Ranger with an Ecoboost six!

Clearly, my robotic creativity could never come close to what you humans could imagine. So hit me with your best shot. Put the parts together from various bins, come up with an idea for styling and specification. And if we need rules… let’s say an MSRP of $34,999 or less, shall we? Just do me a favor: make sure the Forester’s base motor doesn’t make the scene in your dreams.

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Slow Sales Of Scion FR-S Disappoint Toyota, Jeopardize Engine Upgrades http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/slow-sales-of-scion-fr-s-disappoint-toyota-jeopardize-engine-upgrades/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/slow-sales-of-scion-fr-s-disappoint-toyota-jeopardize-engine-upgrades/#comments Wed, 19 Feb 2014 22:40:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=749001 The Scion FR-S – lightweight, affordable sports car that the world was supposedly waiting for – is reportedly lagging behing its sales targets across the globe, making it difficult for Toyota to justify upgrading the engine or bringing a convertible to market. Speaking to Auto Express, Toyota Europe R&D head Gerald Killman said “A faster version […]

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The Scion FR-S – lightweight, affordable sports car that the world was supposedly waiting for – is reportedly lagging behing its sales targets across the globe, making it difficult for Toyota to justify upgrading the engine or bringing a convertible to market.

Speaking to Auto Express, Toyota Europe R&D head Gerald Killman said

“A faster version of that car would be at the top of most people’s wish lists, but like the cabriolet, it is hard to justify a business case to push either model into production based on the current sales.”

Killman also reportedly expressed befuddlement over the car’s cool reception in the market, depsite enthusiastic reviews, not realizing that this is exactly the problem. Enthusiasts, like automotive journalists, don’t buy new cars. Even though they clamored for a new rear-drive sports car that was relatively affordable, gearheads still found fault with all sorts of things, from the lack of power to the less than impressive numbers it put up and even the sub-$25k pricetag (according to some, it should have been around $20k). If this car suffers an unnaturally short lifespin, there will be plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth from the same people who criticized it and never bought it in the first place.

This is also a particularly tough time for a youth-oriented sports car to exist in the marketplace. Car ownership for the FR-S’ target market has become a faraway dream in Europe, a relic of an idea in Japan and a luxury in North America. Personally, I think the car was a victim of too much hype. The Toyobaru could never measure up to the effusive praise heaped on it by the media, though I have grown to like the car more and more as time goes on.

 

 

 

 

 

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Chicago 2014: Subaru Legacy Goes CVT Only http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/chicago-2014-subaru-legacy-goes-cvt-only/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/chicago-2014-subaru-legacy-goes-cvt-only/#comments Thu, 06 Feb 2014 16:57:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=735153   Since you’ve already seen the 2015 Subaru Legacy, here’s the Cliff’s Notes: the 2.5L 4-cylinder and 3.6L 6-cylinder boxer engines are back, and a CVT is the sole transmission available. A torque-vectoring system, borrowed from the WRX, is also standard. We hear that the next Outback will bow in April at the New York […]

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Since you’ve already seen the 2015 Subaru Legacy, here’s the Cliff’s Notes: the 2.5L 4-cylinder and 3.6L 6-cylinder boxer engines are back, and a CVT is the sole transmission available. A torque-vectoring system, borrowed from the WRX, is also standard. We hear that the next Outback will bow in April at the New York Auto Show.

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Subaru BRAT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/junkyard-find-1982-subaru-brat/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/junkyard-find-1982-subaru-brat/#comments Wed, 05 Feb 2014 14:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=733825 With so many old Subarus in Denver wrecking yards, I do run across the occasional BRAT. We’ve seen this ’79 and this very rare Sawzall Edition ’86 so far in this series, and today we’ll be looking at a well-used ’82 that still has the very rare lawsuit-inducing jumpseats in the back. Yes, those Chicken […]

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15 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWith so many old Subarus in Denver wrecking yards, I do run across the occasional BRAT. We’ve seen this ’79 and this very rare Sawzall Edition ’86 so far in this series, and today we’ll be looking at a well-used ’82 that still has the very rare lawsuit-inducing jumpseats in the back.
14 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYes, those Chicken Tax-skirting jumpseats that made the BRAT, legally speaking, a car instead of a truck were loose in the bed of this Subaru when I found it a couple weeks back.
13 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI thought about buying the seats for my Dodge A100 van, but they’re missing the headrests and one of the grab handles, plus the floor-mounting brackets were beat to hell.
12 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese cars rusted very quickly, though Colorado’s arid climate spared this one from full-on Michigan-grade cancer.
10 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNice BRATs are worth quite a bit these days. Thrashed ones are worth scrap value.
05 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinStrangely, I saw three vehicles with variations on this sticker during this trip to the junkyard. There’s meaning there somewhere.

01 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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2015 Subaru Legacy Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/2015-subaru-legacy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/2015-subaru-legacy/#comments Tue, 04 Feb 2014 07:48:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=732954 The 2015 Subaru Legacy leaked late last night. Not bad, Subie.

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2015 Subaru Legacy 01

The 2015 Subaru Legacy leaked late last night. Not bad, Subie.

2015 Subaru Legacy 01 2015 Subaru Legacy 02 2015 Subaru Legacy 03 2015 Subaru Legacy 04 2015 Subaru Legacy 05 2015 Subaru Legacy 06 2015 Subaru Legacy 07

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Production-Ready Subaru Legacy To Make 2014 Chicago Auto Show Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/production-ready-subaru-legacy-to-make-2014-chicago-auto-show-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/production-ready-subaru-legacy-to-make-2014-chicago-auto-show-debut/#comments Sat, 01 Feb 2014 08:34:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=729042 After its worldwide debut as a concept at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show last November, the Subaru Legacy is ready to show-off its production-ready ensemble at next week’s 2014 Chicago Auto Show. Though the teaser doesn’t offer much — as teasers are wont to do — it does offer glimpses of the sedan’s thin […]

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2015 Subaru Legacy Tease

After its worldwide debut as a concept at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show last November, the Subaru Legacy is ready to show-off its production-ready ensemble at next week’s 2014 Chicago Auto Show.

Though the teaser doesn’t offer much — as teasers are wont to do — it does offer glimpses of the sedan’s thin A-pillar, raked windscreen, and the matching LED lights up front and down back, all part of Subaru’s new design language. Judging by the lightly flared fenders, however, no 21-inch wheels — like those on the concept in LA — will be offered when the Legacy arrives in showrooms this year.

The production Legacy will debut February 6 at the Chicago Auto Show.

Subaru Legacy Concept 01 Subaru Legacy Concept 04 Subaru Legacy Concept 05 Subaru Legacy Concept 02 Subaru Legacy Concept 03

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2015 Subaru WRX STI Photos Leaked http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/2015-subaru-wrx-sti-photos-leaked/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/2015-subaru-wrx-sti-photos-leaked/#comments Wed, 08 Jan 2014 15:55:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=695177 If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Subaru is paying the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo plenty of compliments. No specs have been announced, but it’s clear where the Scooby’s styling cues are from.

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2015-Subaru-WRX-Sti-01

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Subaru is paying the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo plenty of compliments. No specs have been announced, but it’s clear where the Scooby’s styling cues are from.

2015-Subaru-WRX-Sti-01 2015-Subaru-WRX-STI-4 2015-Subaru-WRX-STI-5 2015-Subaru-WRX-STI-dirt-road_001 2015-Subaru-WRX-STI-driving 2015-Subaru-WRX-STI-grille 2015-Subaru-WRX-STI-profile 2015-Subaru-WRX-STI-rear-spoiler 2015-Subaru-WRX-STi-spoiler

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Vellum Venom Vignette: Ovoid Fixation Edition? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/vellum-venom-vignette-ovoid-fixation-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/vellum-venom-vignette-ovoid-fixation-edition/#comments Tue, 24 Dec 2013 13:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=686786 Ryan writes: OK, so the granddaddy of oval car logos must be the Ford blue oval, but they sure do have a lot of imitators. So, how about a Vellum Venom on Comparative Oval Logos in the Automotive Industry? Or if you don’t like this pitch, maybe put Sanjeev on it. I bet he’d do […]

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Ryan writes:

OK, so the granddaddy of oval car logos must be the Ford blue oval, but they sure do have a lot of imitators. So, how about a Vellum Venom on Comparative Oval Logos in the Automotive Industry? Or if you don’t like this pitch, maybe put Sanjeev on it. I bet he’d do this article.

Here’s the logos I can think of right now, all horizontal ovals:

  • Ford
  • Subaru
  • Kia
  • Hyundai
  • Toyota (the modern tri-oval T logo)
  • Daewoo
  • Infiniti
  • Scion
  • (Don’t forget Lexus and Land Rover – SM)

An oval (technically these logos are all ellipse-shaped, but nobody calls it the “blue ellipse”) is a pretty basic shape, but when I think of other corporate logos, I don’t see a lot of horizontal ovals (round logos? Yes, both in and out of the car industry). Even the proportions of these logos all seem pretty close (though Ford looks like the widest of the bunch).

Sajeev answers:

That Sanjeev jerk didn’t spend a year at The College of Creative Studies honing his immense drawing skills into an…ummm…dammit, he gets no airtime in this series!

Now, you have a very valid point: corporations be rippin’ off the Ford logo like whoa.

But it’s wiser to go Ford Oval instead of something potentially displeasing to the buying public, even though I can’t stand the copycat-ism either. Yet I found myself “under the influence” in CCS’ design studios.  The worst was a front fascia I made similar to a GEN I Prius, with a more exaggerated snout.  It was the first rendering of my second semester at CCS. And the result? Scorn? Shame and ostracization?

Nope.  People were kinda quiet, instead of openly critical.  Others, those I considered friends, said, “Whatever you did over Christmas break, it’s working! You are really getting the hang of it now!” Even my normally harsh teacher mentioned my progress.

It was bittersweet, as this wasn’t my best work. Even if it was…

So what’s the problem?  Design studios are all about concept inbreeding: if GM (Harley Earl, Bill Mitchell) does it, why not do the same as their cross-town rival? Fame and fortune await!  Or maybe we’ll hire their design honcho for ourselves (KIA), reaping even more fortune! As Grandmaster Flash said in the link above:

“Cause it’s all about the Money, ain’t a damn thing Funny.

You got to have a con in this land of Milk and Honey.”

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Hammer Time: An Old Pair Of Boots http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/hammer-time-an-old-pair-of-boots/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/hammer-time-an-old-pair-of-boots/#comments Wed, 04 Dec 2013 13:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=669002 Imagine you’re going on a 27 mile hike over the course of three days. It’s a long journey ahead. Hills nearly as big as mountains. Wet and slippery ground everywhere. And the sun? It can beat you down to the point where you feel as ragged as a wore out mop. There will be no […]

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Imagine you’re going on a 27 mile hike over the course of three days.

It’s a long journey ahead. Hills nearly as big as mountains. Wet and slippery ground everywhere.

And the sun? It can beat you down to the point where you feel as ragged as a wore out mop. There will be no hiding from the obstacles ahead. None.

Now imagine if your partner for this journey came up to you, and the first words he blurted out were, “Those are some nice boots you have! But I got a killer deal on mine.””

Would you think they were, well, a schmuck? To put it lightly?

Now consider this…

Every car buying decision can be summed up in four simple words.

Buy

What

You

Like

Deals don’t matter. Really. Take it from a guy who does this for a living. Buying a car, and keeping it, just because you got a good deal for it, is almost always the mother of all future regrets.

As a personal example, I once bought a 1993 Subaru Impreza for $25 that surprisingly ran like a top after I replaced the battery and the shiftlock mechanism. It had been in the inop lane of a nearby public auction with nary a glance of interest from anyone else.

I was inspecting over 10,000 vehicles a year for a finance company, and had the fortune of having the right car in front of me at the right moment. Except the Roo’ had one small issue. I hated driving it.

I hated the thin sheetmetal. The sound of the engine. The cheaper than tupperware interior. It just rang all the wrong notes for me whenever I turned the key.

But that wasn’t true for the man who wound up buying it . The guy who bought it from me on Ebay was a long-time Subaru enthusiast, and knew these cars better than I ever will.

He flew all the way from California to Atlanta, and drove it nearly 2500 miles back to Orange County.

Then he drove it for another 50,000 miles. After which, he likely used it as a parts car since he was a Rally Coordinator for Subaru.

He bought a 9 year old Subaru with 168k miles for all of $1576 (plus the auction fee) on Ebay.

Did he get ripped off? Did he get a killer deal? Does it really matter?

No, nein, and nyet! He bought what he liked, and let the laws of commerce take their course. That’s it. Game over, and everyone involved left with a nice smile on their face.

That’s how car buying decisions should work in the real world… and this story also serves a greater purpose as it relates to the tired old  buy new vs. buy old arguments.

Value, is usually not something you can mathematically calculate when it comes to your passions. If you find yourself bragging about the dollar bills you saved by buying x vechicle over y vehicle, that’s fine.

But you’re not acting like an enthusiast. You’re a frugalist, and very likely a delusional one. Nothing wrong with that. But let’s call things a spade instead of bullshitting about how frugal it is to buy a new or old sports car.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have enjoyed my share of victories serving those who are tried and true enthusiasts. As for my losses, one I can’t forget was a stomach-churning $1500 loss on a SAAB 9000 CSE  that also, thankfully, wound up with the right owner.

No matter what I did to that SOB of a car, it just wouldn’t run right. I began to think that SAABs came out of the factories with blinking check engine lights.

Then it finally found the right caretaker and nearly 12 years later, it’s still running like a top.

God I hate those things!

A lot of folks want advice on buying a car. Heck, I’ve republished a series about it for six years now.

So instead of posting yet another testament to personal victories (and notable incompetence), let me spare you all the false bravado and simply offer ten classic sayings for this holiday season, finely wrapped in a long forgotten Hammer Time of yore.

Hopefully that will help you or your friends buy that next best car.

1. Buy what you like. Life is too short for cheap boots.

2. Be honest with yourself. Are you a trader? Or a keeper?

3. Traders either specialize, like I did starting out. Or they try to ride the wave of new car fashions.

4. As for the keepers? They usually pay less in the long run.

5. Depreciation kills,  monthly payments stink, and everyone from the tax man to the insurance companies favor the economics of a well kept used car.

6. Want cheap? Buy a Corolla.  A car that is made cheap won’t stay cheap.

7. Before you consider any car, new or used, get feedback from actual owners of that vehicle. The media will only tell you so much.

8. Enthusiast forums in particular can better help you navigate the path of ownership.

9. As for lowering long-term cost? The best recipe is investing in quality parts. Because there is nothing wrong with a quality product

10. That can’t be made right with quality product. 

Now having said that, I now need to get rid of a thrice repoed, 12 year old Dodge Intrepid. Any takers?

 

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Piston Slap: Bennie Bucks on the Winter Beater? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/piston-slap-bennie-bucks-on-the-winter-beater/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/piston-slap-bennie-bucks-on-the-winter-beater/#comments Wed, 27 Nov 2013 13:16:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=662242 TTAC Commentator 28-Cars-Later writes: Sajeev, I’ve got a small conundrum for Piston Slap.  Winter is fast approaching and for those of us in the mid-Atlantic states this is a serious affair. My winter beater has been my trusty (but not rusty) ’98 Saturn SL/auto/164K, which in the spring started showing its age and developed transmission […]

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TTAC Commentator 28-Cars-Later writes:

Sajeev,

I’ve got a small conundrum for Piston Slap.  Winter is fast approaching and for those of us in the mid-Atlantic states this is a serious affair. My winter beater has been my trusty (but not rusty) ’98 Saturn SL/auto/164K, which in the spring started showing its age and developed transmission issues after seven years (and roughly 80K) of ownership. I’ve let her sit most of the summer save starting her up and driving her around the parking lot every 7-12 days but I’ve been trying to put off the inevitable investment of Bennie bucks. This evening I was offered an ’00 Subaru Outback/auto/186K to replace it for $2500 inc four new cheap tires and inspection.

The prospects of an actual [built in Japan] Japanese wagon are intriguing, the Subaru is 7/10 in terms of condition with some dings and several rust spots, it had no issue starting up and is throwing no codes. The catch is I have zero documentation on the car (was a recent trade) and personally I am leery of all AWD systems regardless of make and model, especially without documentation/receipts. Panning over the engine bay I noticed a newer alternator and a battery stickered 3/12 (with old acid all over the cradle) so somebody (sort of) attempted to take care of the car. Oil was a down 1/4 a quart, coolant was dirty but not caked on or anything, but the kicker was the trans fluid is getting to be brown. I figure whomever recently owned this attempted to take care of it to some degree, but neglected all of the fluid changes, which leads to me to suspect none of the Subie specific maint (diff fluid, sensors, etc) has been done either by this owner (and who knows about the head gaskets). I have two days to make up my mind on the Subie before he sends it to auction.

(NOTE: because of my time delay in publishing, this car is already bought or auctioned off – SM)

So I figure my choices are as such:

  1. Spend $1200-1400 to install a used transmission in my Saturn and risk more expensive stuff breaking down the line.
  2. Spend $2500 and buy the Subaru, which for my purposes will probably get me through at least this winter without fireworks, but risk later expensive Subie specific repairs, or total loss if something big breaks.
  3. Not spend any money, junk my Saturn, and just drive one of my other two cars in the winter that I currently baby to some degree.

Sajeev answers:

Well…I guess it kinda depends on your other two vehicles.

#2 is not a sure thing: with zero service history and tired fluids, expecting this Subaru to work all winter is a rather huge leap of faith.  Perhaps if it was something more robust (truck) with less unique parts that are painfully hard to reach, perhaps if it wasn’t a vehicle known for its fragility (bad head gaskets) especially when neglected/abused…

Install a junkyard transmission in the Saturn, coming from a yard that offers a warranty.  Or research to see if a local shop rebuilds these units with quality parts and labor (not always easy to find) for a fair price.  Why?  Because it’s almost always easier to keep the problems you know, not the gigantic rolling question mark that could be even more of a horrid money pit.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Junkyard Find: 1978 Subaru Leone 4WD Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/junkyard-find-1978-subaru-leone-4wd-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/junkyard-find-1978-subaru-leone-4wd-wagon/#comments Fri, 22 Nov 2013 14:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=661010 One thing that makes Colorado wrecking yards different from those in the rest of the country is the large numbers of Subarus in every yard. We’re talking the history of Subaru North America in every yard here. In fact, you’ll see more 1980s and 1990s Leones aka GLs, DLs, and Loyales in a typical Denver-area […]

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01 - 1978 Subaru Wagon Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOne thing that makes Colorado wrecking yards different from those in the rest of the country is the large numbers of Subarus in every yard. We’re talking the history of Subaru North America in every yard here. In fact, you’ll see more 1980s and 1990s Leones aka GLs, DLs, and Loyales in a typical Denver-area self-serve yard than you’ll see Corollas or Civics. You’ll also find lots of more recent Legacies and Imprezas, not to mention XTs, BRATs, SVXs, and even the occasional Justy 4WD. 1970s Subarus, however, are getting pretty rare here; in this series, we’ve seen just this ’79 Leone wagon and this ’79 GL sedan so far. Today, we add this very-much-of-its-time ’78 wagon.
22 - 1978 Subaru Wagon Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBack in 1978, your choices in four-wheel-drive vehicles were very limited; you could get a truck, you could get an AMC Eagle that drove like a truck… or you could get a Subaru.
12 - 1978 Subaru Wagon Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese things were ludicrously underpowered, rusted quickly, and didn’t come close to the reliability standards set by Honda and Toyota, but they got decent fuel economy and were competent in mud and snow.

Subarus were quite rare in the United States back in the Malaise Era, but the marque made it into popular culture with songs like this one.

Or this one.
07 - 1978 Subaru Wagon Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinJudging by the quantity of pine cones and animal nests in this car, it hasn’t run for many, many years.
13 - 1978 Subaru Wagon Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNot many places in Colorado damp enough for moss to grow on cars.
29 - 1978 Subaru Wagon Down On The Junkyard -  Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSold in Colorado, will be crushed in Colorado.

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Los Angeles 2013: 2015 Subaru WRX, A Rex With A CVT? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/los-angeles-2013-2015-subaru-wrx-a-rex-with-a-cvt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/los-angeles-2013-2015-subaru-wrx-a-rex-with-a-cvt/#comments Thu, 21 Nov 2013 14:49:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=658674 Though most of the information on the new 2015 Subaru WRX was leaked in advance of the Los Angeles Auto Show, they still had to give the new car a public introduction. Now that the car’s been introduced, we have more than just a couple of teaser photos and a few more details on the […]

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2015-Subaru-WRX-1

Though most of the information on the new 2015 Subaru WRX was leaked in advance of the Los Angeles Auto Show, they still had to give the new car a public introduction. Now that the car’s been introduced, we have more than just a couple of teaser photos and a few more details on the car.

With a half liter less displacement than the outgoing WRX, the new car’s 2.0 liter turbo four puts out 268 hp, 3 fewer ponies than the outgoing Rex’s 271, with torque up by 14 lb-ft to 258. The biggest news is probably behind that engine, with the gearbox options. The WRX now has a six-speed manual instead of a having only five rations from which to choose and the new gearbox has carbon fiber syncros on the first two gears  to allow quicker shifts and better durability. For those who can’t drive a stick shift, Subaru is moving from a conventional automatic transmission to a continuously variable transmission, which is already being perceived as an odd choice for a sporting automobile. The CVT has three different modes, and paddle shifters which allow the driver to switch between 6 or 8 pre-set gear ratios. Though that actually decreases the CVT’s fabled fuel efficiency, it does give those belt drives something of a sporty feeling. it will be interesting to see if Subaru offers the CVT in the more hardcore STi that will follow the WRX.

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