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. Mon, 27 Jul 2015 22:00:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 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 » Subaru http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Subaru of America COO: BRZ Needs ‘More Performance’ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/subaru-america-coo-brz-needs-performance/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/subaru-america-coo-brz-needs-performance/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 22:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1115433 It seems enthusiasts aren’t the only folks looking for a little more performance from the rear-wheel drive Subaru BRZ. Subaru of America COO Tom Doll would also like a little more performance — in terms of sales — from the sports car co-developed with Toyota. Thankfully, he sees the best way to increase interest in […]

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Subaru BRZ STI Performance Concept

It seems enthusiasts aren’t the only folks looking for a little more performance from the rear-wheel drive Subaru BRZ. Subaru of America COO Tom Doll would also like a little more performance — in terms of sales — from the sports car co-developed with Toyota.

Thankfully, he sees the best way to increase interest in the BRZ is to give us what we want.

Maybe.

Speaking on Autoline Detroit (via AutoGuide), Doll said: “We may have to do some things to (the BRZ) to enhance the driving performance a little more; take it up a little bit. Because I think that’s one of the learnings we’ve seen out of that vehicle, if it had a little bit more performance to it, it could really take up the sales level even more.”

Earlier this year, officials at Subaru confirmed a STI-branded BRZ would go on sale in the United States, but didn’t reveal specs or additions beyond the current car.

In addition to admitting the BRZ needs more performance — whether that means bumping up the power or giving the car some other tweaks — Doll also mentioned a second generation of the BRZ is still up in the air and wholly dependent on the intentions of executives in Japan.

A second-generation BRZ may also depend on Toyota. It’s been rumored the larger Japanese manufacturer is envious of the new Mazda MX-5 Miata — so much so that they’d be willing to use the architecture for the next Toyota GT86 and Scion FR-S. If that’s the case, don’t expect Subaru to follow suit.

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Subaru’s 2015 Sales Already Surpass All of 2011 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/subarus-2015-sales-already-surpass-2011/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/subarus-2015-sales-already-surpass-2011/#comments Wed, 08 Jul 2015 20:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1109321 Subaru has already sold as many cars in 2015 as they did in all of 2011, according to the company. Last month, Subaru recorded its 16th-consecutive month of increasing sales, selling more than 44,000 cars in the U.S. The Forester and Outback were Subaru’s best-selling models. In 2011, Subaru sold 266,989 cars according to the automaker. […]

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2015 Subaru Outback

Subaru has already sold as many cars in 2015 as they did in all of 2011, according to the company.

Last month, Subaru recorded its 16th-consecutive month of increasing sales, selling more than 44,000 cars in the U.S. The Forester and Outback were Subaru’s best-selling models.

In 2011, Subaru sold 266,989 cars according to the automaker. At the end of June 2015, they had already sold 272,418.

Emerging out of the recession, Subaru’s growing pace could easily be described as meteoric. The small Japanese company outsold Volkswagen in the U.S. last year, and so far the company is on pace to sell more than 500,000 cars in the states this year.

According to Michael McHale, director of communications for Subaru, the company is targeting 545,000 U.S. sales this year, which is partially limited due to production capacity.

Subaru’s portfolio in the U.S. is relatively small compared their sales. The Impreza-based XV Crosstrek, WRX, Forester and Impreza are imported from Japan and Subaru builds the Legacy and Outback in Indiana. Subaru will build the Impreza in Indiana next year. The BRZ is jointly produced with Toyota.

The company is widely expected to announce a three-row crossover soon, and Subaru recently announced it would sell the Levorg in Australia because we can’t have nice things.

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Piston Slap: Saabaru Takata Airbag Recall Kerfuffle? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/piston-slap-saabaru-takata-airbag-recall-kerfuffle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/piston-slap-saabaru-takata-airbag-recall-kerfuffle/#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 11:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1107521   Ron writes: Sajeev, I’ve what should be a straightforward question, but before I go down the rabbit hole with Subaru and GM, I thought I would get some advice. My girlfriend bought a ’05 Saab 9-2X recently. She loves the car and has been making plans for modifying the interior (she’s a lead electronics tech). Anyway, […]

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They didn't make compromises, they made Saabs?

They didn’t make compromises, they made Saabs?

Ron writes:

Sajeev, I’ve what should be a straightforward question, but before I go down the rabbit hole with Subaru and GM, I thought I would get some advice. My girlfriend bought a ’05 Saab 9-2X recently. She loves the car and has been making plans for modifying the interior (she’s a lead electronics tech). Anyway, Subaru broadened their Takata airbag recall to include ’05 WRXs…which is essentially what her car is, under the skin.

You can see the question coming, of course.

As Saab is dead, who does she talk to about getting the recall work done? Is there some skeleton crew left keeping the lights on at Saab specifically for safety issues? Does Saabs’ former owner/assassin, GM, handle them? Or should we talk to Subaru, the company that actually built the car and certainly knows best how to work on them? Searching online gets conflicting information; the NHTSA website says that GM will handle 9-2X recalls, virtually everyone else says that Subaru handles them.

Thanks for any light you can shed on this.

Sajeev answers:

Virtually everyone else? Remember who owned Saab and is legally responsible for their products. Who would go against NHTSA on this? Perhaps you should call this 1-800 number. Or, after a little more Googling, the NHTSA link you mentioned is a resounding endorsement for GM:

Subaru will notify their owners and General Motors will notify Saab owners. Dealers will replace the passenger air bag inflator, free of charge. The recall began on June 17, 2015. Owners may contact Subaru customer service at 1-800-782-2783. Owners of Saab vehicles may call 1-800-955-9007. Subaru’s number for this recall is WQR-53. Note: This recall partially supersedes recall 14V-763 in that model year 2004 through 2005 Subaru Impreza and model year 2005 Saab 9-2x vehicles are now only part of this campaign.

I would contact your most favorite, highest rated, local GM dealership for advice. Why? Because they are the ones tasked with getting parts, installing them and being compensated for their trouble. Odds are they’ll be overwhelmed with airbag-related queries, but you’ll be the most memorable of the flock — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as they are likely underwhelmed with replacement stock for any unique GM vehicle.

If Ford made new airbags for the rare Ford GT, your girlfriend’s Saabaru will be just fine. Eventually.

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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Consumer Reports Reveals New Cars’ Dirty Secret http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/consumer-reports-reveals-new-cars-dirty-secret/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/consumer-reports-reveals-new-cars-dirty-secret/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 20:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1106329 Engines burn oil, but how much oil burn is normal is at the heart of a Consumer Reports study that examined nearly 500,000 new cars for how much oil they have to replace in their new car’s engine. It’s a dirty, dirty business. The report defined excessive oil consumption as adding more than one quart between recommended […]

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impp-1210-02-o+question-it+burning-oil-exhaust

Engines burn oil, but how much oil burn is normal is at the heart of a Consumer Reports study that examined nearly 500,000 new cars for how much oil they have to replace in their new car’s engine.

It’s a dirty, dirty business.

The report defined excessive oil consumption as adding more than one quart between recommended oil changes. The biggest offenders: BMW’s 4.8-liter and 4.4-liter twin turbocharged V8’s, Audi’s 2.0-liter turbo four and 3.0-liter V6. The report also said Subaru’s 2.0- and 2.5-liter fours and 3.6-liter flat six were lesser offenders.

According to Consumer Reports, the engines comprise only 2 percent of vehicles on the road, but that small sliver of the segment accounted for nearly 1.5 million cars. The offenders were particularly heinous in their oil consumption, as well — a new BMW 5-Series was 27 times more likely to need oil than an average new car.

Many new cars shouldn’t need additional oil between oil changes, the consumer group said, and oil consumption on vehicles with fewer than 100,000 miles should be the exception — not the rule.

Nonetheless, representatives from manufacturers such as BMW and Subaru said oil consumption for their engines isn’t out of the ordinary and could be dependent on temperature, driving style and transmission type.

The report highlighted the experience of one New York woman who said Subaru offered her $500 to offset the cost of new oil after she complained that her 2012 Impreza was burning too much.

Subaru’s Director of Communications Michael McHale said in a emailed statement that Subaru “doesn’t have a program in place but we do review each case on an individual basis.”

Out of court, some manufacturers have authorized repairing or even replacing an engine if it’s burning too much oil. In court, both Audi and Subaru are defendants in class-action suits regarding the problem.

Representatives from BMW did not immediately return requests for comment.

In some cases, automakers have settled the suits or extended powertrain warranties to cover any excessive oil consumption. In California, as part of a settlement, Toyota extended its powertrain warranties in some Camrys and Corollas to cover 10 years or 150,000 miles. Honda extended its warranty to 8 years on some of its 6-cylinder cars in 2013, after settling a class-action suit where hundreds complained about oil consumption.

BMW spokesman Hector Arellano-Belloc is quoted in the Consumer Reports story saying:

“BMW vehicles have long intervals between oil changes (10,000 miles). BMW engines (excluding the BMW M) may consume up to one quart of engine oil per 750 miles under certain driving conditions.”

Which sucks for me because my own personal 3 Series’ oil capacity is around 7 quarts — or about bone-dry halfway between regularly scheduled changes.

The report also underscores a small, but not insignificant, problem that manufacturers must do everything they can to combat the perception that cars are inefficient, environmentally irresponsible machines. Constantly pumping a car full of dead dinosaur juice may not help.

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Don’t Expect Subaru To Follow Toyota To Mazda For BRZ RWD Platform http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/dont-expect-subaru-to-follow-toyota-to-mazda-for-brz-rwd-platform/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/dont-expect-subaru-to-follow-toyota-to-mazda-for-brz-rwd-platform/#comments Sun, 28 Jun 2015 18:32:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1101193 According to Car & Driver, the folks in Toyota City are smitten with the new Mazda MX-5 Miata. So much so they’re considering using the platform for the next Toyota GT86, sold as the Scion FR-S in North America. The rumor states what goes for Toyota goes for Subaru’s sports car – the BRZ – as […]

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2016 Mazda MX-5

According to Car & Driver, the folks in Toyota City are smitten with the new Mazda MX-5 Miata. So much so they’re considering using the platform for the next Toyota GT86, sold as the Scion FR-S in North America.

The rumor states what goes for Toyota goes for Subaru’s sports car – the BRZ – as well. I’m not so sure about that.

“If Toyota were to employ the MX-5’s chassis, it would be on the next-generation FT86,” Car & Driver was told by a source.

The source says nothing specifically about the BRZ, though the magazine infers the Miata platform will also be used on the next sporty Subaru. However, Subaru may be smart to forego a second generation BRZ altogether.

Currently, the Toyobaru triplets are produced by Subaru in Ōta, Japan. The company is currently capacity constrained. Subaru will stop producing Camrys for Toyota at their Indiana facility in 2016 in order to claw back some of its own capacity to build the Legacy and Outback, the most popular model at Subaru. This shift to the Mazda platform could be a way for Subaru to get out of the RWD platform business and focus more on core models or variations thereof.

Mazda is building the MX-5 at their own facility in Japan and will build the forthcoming Fiat 124 Spider upon its debut. Considering Mazda and Toyota have been getting cozier as of late with a new facility in Mexico building the new Mazda2 along with the Scion iA/Toyota Yaris Sedan, Toyota could also move RWD sports car production to Mazda’s facility in Japan alongside the new Miata.

This would free up capacity for Subaru at their Ōta plant to build other models currently in demand.

So, if Toyota does see the MX-5 Miata platform as a solution for the next generation GT86 and Scion FR-S, don’t expect Subaru to follow suit.

[Photo credit: AutoGuide/Adam Wood]

 

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Bark’s Bites: The (Imaginary) National Automakers Association Draft, Part One http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/barks-bites-imaginary-national-automakers-association-draft-part-one/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/barks-bites-imaginary-national-automakers-association-draft-part-one/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 12:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1100193 Warning: What you are about to read is NOT REAL. It is the product of the warped mind of your friendly neighborhood editorialist, Bark M., who wonders: What if automakers had to “draft” new products, just like the NBA does?  Talking Head #1: Greetings, and welcome to Detroit, the host city for the 2015 National Automakers […]

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Obama+Announces+New+Automobile+Fuel+Efficiency+h36L8Fl4eLpx

Warning: What you are about to read is NOT REAL. It is the product of the warped mind of your friendly neighborhood editorialist, Bark M., who wonders: What if automakers had to “draft” new products, just like the NBA does? 

Talking Head #1: Greetings, and welcome to Detroit, the host city for the 2015 National Automakers Association Draft! Tonight, we’ll see the future of automakers unfold, as they get the chance to select a new model for their existing lineup.

Talking Head #2: That’s right, and the excitement has been building ever since the end of last model year. Some big questions will be answered this evening: What will Subaru do with their pick? Will Ford finally have a full-sized sedan worth talking about? And will FCA’s Sergio Marchionne finally find a trade partner for their spot in the draft?

TH1: Word has it that Sergio has been burning up the phone lines trying to find somebody to help him move out of the first round, but my sources say that he hasn’t had any takers so far. As you know, though, there’s invariably a surprise or two on NAA Draft Night!

TH2: That there is! As always, the automakers will be drafting in reverse order of current U.S. market share. That means that first up on the clock is a fan favorite, Mazda.

TH1: Well, Mazda has a good, quality lineup, full of young star players, but for some reason they’ve had a hard time breaking through in America. Will this be the pick that finally gets them over the hump and positions them as a real player in the U.S. market?

TH2: We’re about to find out, as it looks like we are getting this 2015 NAA Draft underway! Here comes the commissioner to the podium with the card. Let’s listen.

Commissioner: With the first pick in the 2015 NAA draft, Mazda selects… a New CX-9, from Hiroshima, Japan!

TH1: Well, we can’t be too surprised with this one, can we?

TH2: No, not at all. The CX-9 has been getting long in the tooth and Mazda needed something new and fresh to be competitive in this segment. The Mazda fans have got to be happy with this selection.

TH1: Indeed, they are. While some fans here were hoping for a new Mazda 2 to be brought to the U.S., it’s hard to ignore that Mazda is missing out on a key segment with the current CX-9. Great pick.

TH2: All right, that was a solid, if not necessary climactic beginning to our evening. Next up is one of the more glamorous names in our industry: Mercedes-Benz. What have you been hearing about Mercedes?

TH1: It’s hard to know exactly which direction Mercedes might go in here. Their fans are still a little confused about the recent shakeup of their lineup – there are a lot of familiar faces with new names. Plus, they’ve had a few recent refreshes of their biggest sellers – the C Class is selling better than ever, and they’ve already signed a new E-Class for 2016.

TH2: We’ll know soon enough – here’s the commish!

Commissioner: With the second pick in the 2015 NAA draft, Mercedes-Benz selects…the W246 B Class, from Stuttgart, Germany!

TH1: I think it’s safe to say that we’ve had our first surprise of the evening!

TH2: No question. The B Class has been a solid performer in both the EU and in Japan since it launched back in 2011, but I’ve gotta say, I’m surprised that they’re trying it in America. However, with the growth that MINI is seeing in America this year, perhaps Mercedes thinks there’s an opportunity for a luxury entry into the subcompact market.

TH1: It’s all part of the excitement that we’ve come to expect from the NAA Draft! Next on the clock with the third pick is another German automaker, BMW.

TH2: BMW has sort of lost their…

TH1: Whoa, whoa, whoa, I have to blow the whistle on you there, partner. I’m sure you weren’t about to say that they’ve “lost their way,” like every other talking head hack, were you?

TH1: Um, no. Not at all. I was about to say that they’ve lost their…okay, fine. You got me.

TH2: Considering that BMW is up about 7 percent in sales year over year, I think they’re doing just fine. But there is one segment where they’ve lost some market share, and that’s the small luxury SUV segment.

TH1: Let’s see if they address that tonight. Over to you, Commissioner!

Commissioner: With the third pick in the 2015 NAA draft, BMW selects…a new X3, from Spartanburg, South Carolina!

TH1: That’s the obvious choice here, isn’t it?

TH2: Certainly is. The X4…well, I mean, what the heck is the X4, anyway? It’s not selling in any great numbers, and the X3 has been down big time as of late. A new model seems to be just what Herr Doctor ordered.

TH1: Subaru is next up on the clock, partner. There’s been a lot of discussion lately about Subaru’s recent success in the American market, but how will that impact their draft pick tonight?

TH2: That’s a great question. They’re missing a lot of the key segments for American market success in their lineup – mid-sized SUV, subcompact – and the Impreza is sold in numbers that don’t impress anybody. But can they take on more capacity right now?

TH1: Let’s see what they decide to do. Here’s the commissioner with the pick.

Commissioner: Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a trade. Subaru has traded their pick to Toyota, along with all remaining BRZs on dealer lots, for cash considerations and a car to be named later. With the fourth pick in the 2015 NAA draft, Toyota selects…an Avalon replacement, from Georgetown, Kentucky!

TH2: Not a huge surprise here, is it?

TH1: No, not particularly. I think Subaru did the right thing – they’re already at maximum capacity at most of their plants, and adding more models would just make it even worse. Also, killing the BRZ makes a ton of sense. They barely sell, and they are occupying floorplan space that could be used for other, more profitable models.

TH2: And Toyota needed a new full-sized sedan. The whole segment is dying quickly, yes, but maybe Toyota sees that as an opportunity to seize some market share from their aging competitors. Perhaps they can use the platform to update the Lexus ES, too.

TH1: This evening is moving along quickly, as we move to the fifth pick, which belongs to Volkswagen Auto Group. VW and Audi have a few holes to fill in their American lineup, to say the least.

TH2: Truer words were never spoken, my friend. The Jetta, the Passat, the A4…all of them are aging and relatively unpopular in their segments. The lights are flickering a bit at VW stores. Can tonight’s pick help keep them on?

TH1: The pick is in, so let’s turn things over to the commissioner.

Commissioner: With the fifth pick in the NAA draft, Volkswagen Auto Group selects…a Jetta with actual content, from Wolfsburg, Germany!

TH2: I think they didn’t really have much of a choice here. The Jetta is losing market share faster than any other compact car – they had to get competitive.

TH1: I don’t know…the Passat isn’t doing any better, and that’s a bigger segment, overall.

TH2: Yes, but the Jetta name still means something in America. The Jetta is the top-selling VW model of all time. I think VW knows that they’re climbing an uphill battle in the mid-sized segment with the Passat – maybe they figure it’s better to fight a battle that they actually have a shot at winning. And they’ve proven that they can make an excellent small car with the Golf and its performance derivatives.

TH1: Good point. VW fans have to be pleased with this pick.

TH2: Well, we’ve got Hyundai/Kia up next. Is there a faster rising team in the league than these guys?

TH1: I don’t think so, my friend. While the current Sonata hasn’t been everything that they hoped it would be, they’ve got some real hits on their hands with their crossover lineup. And the new Sedona is doing quite well, too. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t trouble spots.

TH2: You’re absolutely right. The Rio is falling well behind the competition in the Subcompact category, and even the Soul isn’t selling like it once was. What inside scoop do you have about H&K’s next move?

TH1: I don’t think there’s any question that they’d like to have a real, legitimate sporting car in their lineup. But can they justify it?

TH2: Well, the pick is in, so let’s go to the commissioner.

Commissioner: With the sixth pick in the NAA draft, Hyundai/Kia selects…an all-new, 5.0 liter Hyundai Genesis Coupe, from Seoul, South Korea!

TH1&2 (simultaneously): WHOOOOOOA!

TH1: That’s a big swing.

TH2: Is it ever! The Genesis Coupe has been tired for a while. Not only are they revamping it, they’re shoving in the big V8 from the sedan. Do you like it?

TH1: I love it! They’ve already got, in my opinion, the best RWD sedan for the money on the market. Now, they’re taking aim at the Mustang and Camaro. It’s bold, it’s brash – great pick!

TH2: Don’t go anywhere, folks! When we come back from commercial (tomorrow –Bark), we’ll find out what the big boys from Nissan, Honda, Toyota, FCA, Ford, and GM have in store for us.

All right, have at it, B&B – what would you have “drafted” for these manufacturers?

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Subaru Launches Impreza Sport Hybrid In Japan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/subaru-launches-impreza-sport-hybrid-in-japan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/subaru-launches-impreza-sport-hybrid-in-japan/#comments Fri, 19 Jun 2015 15:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1095785 Consumers in Japan will soon be able to purchase a new hybrid from Subaru, in the form of the Impreza Sport Hybrid. Power for the newest Impreza variant comes from a 2.0-liter DOHC flat-four paired with an electric motor, and is sent to all corners through a CVT. Fuel economy is expected to hit 20.4 […]

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IMPREZA SPORT HYBRID 2.0i-S EyeSight low

Consumers in Japan will soon be able to purchase a new hybrid from Subaru, in the form of the Impreza Sport Hybrid.

Power for the newest Impreza variant comes from a 2.0-liter DOHC flat-four paired with an electric motor, and is sent to all corners through a CVT. Fuel economy is expected to hit 20.4 km/liter; range and power figures weren’t made available.

The Impreza Sport Hybrid comes standard with Subaru’s EyeSight camera system, which works with the hybrid system’s Eco-Cruise Control to “make the maximum use of electric vehicle driving and regenerative braking when Adaptive Cruise Control is operating, thereby improving fuel consumption under everyday conditions.”

Other features include: enhanced aero; larger and wider wheels for better grip and fuel economy; hydraulic engine mounts; and a range of colors, including a pair of blue pearl paints and crystal black silica.

Price of admission starts at ¥2,505,600 ($20,366 USD) with consumption tax for the standard model, ¥2,635,200 ($21,418) for the 2.0i-S. Both come with Japan’s Eco-Car tax incentives, reducing acquisition and tonnage taxes to 80 percent and 75 percent respectively.

The newest Impreza variant is only the second hybrid launched by the automaker, coming two years after the XV Hybrid. Subaru expects to sell 500/month once sales begin July 10.

(Photo credit: Subaru)

IMPREZA SPORT HYBRID 2.0i-S EyeSight low Subaru Impreza Sport Hybrid Subaru Impreza Sport Hybrid Boxer Subaru Impreza Sport Hybrid Transmission Subaru Impreza Sport Hybrid powertrain Subaru Impreza Sport Hybrid Powertrain Overhead

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QOTD: What OEM Wheel Designs Make Their Respective Cars Look Cheap? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/qotd-which-oem-wheel-designs-completely-ruin-the-look-of-their-respective-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/qotd-which-oem-wheel-designs-completely-ruin-the-look-of-their-respective-cars/#comments Wed, 10 Jun 2015 16:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1089081 Regulation. It dictates the majority of modern car design. Whether it be for pedestrian safety, crash worthiness, economies of scale, or fuel efficiency, the basic building blocks of modern cars are decided well before pencil is met with freshly-bleached paper (or, these days, before stylus meets tablet). That last item – fuel efficiency – is […]

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06 - 2013 Scion FR-S - Picture courtesy of Phil 'Murilee Martin' Greden

Regulation. It dictates the majority of modern car design. Whether it be for pedestrian safety, crash worthiness, economies of scale, or fuel efficiency, the basic building blocks of modern cars are decided well before pencil is met with freshly-bleached paper (or, these days, before stylus meets tablet).

That last item – fuel efficiency – is as much a matter of aerodynamics as it is what’s under the hood, and aerodynamic efficiency isn’t just about fenders and trunk lids.

Which brings me to wheels – specifically, OEM wheels – and how absolutely ugly they’ve gotten the last few years.

Honda-Accord-Coupe-2000-1680x1050-001

Back in 2000, the Accord Coupe rocked some simple, stylish, but decidedly less flat-faced wheels. Assuming you can find a set that hasn’t been oxidized to the point of resembling Brittany Spears’ pre-Proactiv face, be prepared to pay dearly as they still command over $100 a corner on eBay.

2015 Honda Accord EX-L V-6 Coupe

Even the latest Accord Coupe, official subject of many a Jack Baruth editorial, has some of the most handsome wheels on the market today fitted to a car priced significantly less than a Vanderbilt nut. They give the Accord an upscale appearance without relying too much on what’s fashionable now but won’t be this fall. Hopefully, like their predecessors, these dubs will age well with time.

Also, knowing Honda, the wheel design probably exceeds any aerodynamic specs given to the Engineer in Charge of Precision Circular Metallic Tire Mounting Apparatuses.

Unfortunately, this kind of design foresight isn’t always the case.

2013 Subaru BRZ. Photo courtesy Subaru.

I’ve never seen a wheel design that’s so unnecessarily fashion-driven while still being utterly yawn-worthy as the wheel used on the Toyobaru twins with its H&M painted pockets and overall Overstock.com cheapness.

For starters – and this isn’t the fault of the wheel design, but – on a sports car, the last thing I want is a wheel to sit way inside the fender. If the wheel face isn’t flush with the fender, I want it to be damn close to it. The rear wheel on the Toyobaru twins look like a cowering dog hiding in the corner after eating the entire thanksgiving turkey.

Secondly, this wheel design makes the twins look like they’re riding on casters, no doubt accentuated by rubber that’s seemingly narrower than the wheel itself.

And, to top it all off, why – WHY – couldn’t Toyota and Subaru design One. More. Wheel? Looking at a BRZ and FR-S from a side profile perspective, one can only differentiate the two by their center caps. And if you’re going to pick just a single wheel design, why go with one that makes the rest of the car look cheap?

Every single time I see a BRZ or FR-S from the front, I think, “Hrrmmm, why haven’t I bought one of these?” And after realizing it’s because I’m poor but I could still, probably, maybe, possibly justify living in automotive enthusiast indentured servitude, I look at the side of one of these cars and go, “Nope. This is cheap. Cheap. Cheap. Cheap.”

Same goes for the new Scion iM, from concept to reality…

2014_LAAS_Scion_iM_Concept_015

EXPENSIVE!

2015_NYIAS_Scion_iM_003

CHEAP!

What wheel do you think completely ruins the overall design of its respective automobile?

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Bloomberg: Subaru “has to decide what kind of company it wants to be” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/bloomberg-subaru-has-to-decide-what-kind-of-company-it-wants-to-be/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/bloomberg-subaru-has-to-decide-what-kind-of-company-it-wants-to-be/#comments Mon, 08 Jun 2015 16:47:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1087729 Subaru has a problem, though it’s a problem many other automakers would love to have. The small Japanese automaker is growing at a rapid rate and it’s fully expected to run out of capacity to fulfill demand sooner rather than later. Most automakers would simply expand and flood the market with more units to feed the […]

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2015-Subaru-Outback-01

Subaru has a problem, though it’s a problem many other automakers would love to have. The small Japanese automaker is growing at a rapid rate and it’s fully expected to run out of capacity to fulfill demand sooner rather than later. Most automakers would simply expand and flood the market with more units to feed the sales rush, but for Subaru it might mean becoming the opposite of the market position and perception they’ve taken years to cultivate.

As Bloomberg‘s Kyle Stock puts it, “Being small, though, is the reason Subaru has become such a big deal. With manufacturing capacity maxed out, it now has to decide what kind of company it wants to be.”

The article, published today, paints Subaru between a rock and a hard place with two options: stay small and negate future growth or expand and possibly alienate all those customers who bought into the brand under the promise “Love. It’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru.”

Subaru’s recent growth isn’t driven purely by marketing, but also because the small manufacturer was positioned in the right place at the right time with the Outback and Forester, both of which sit squarely in the currently hot crossover segment. In fact, even the lowest selling crossover in Subaru’s lineup, the Impreza-based XV Crosstrek, outsold their top selling passenger car, the Impreza, by over 14,000 units in 2014.

That makes what Subaru doesn’t do right now of particular interest. From Bloomberg:

It doesn’t have a luxury brand like Honda’s Acura or Toyota’s Lexus. It still doesn’t make a giant SUV, or a truck, or a super-expensive “halo car” designed to drum up interest from teenagers and the Top Gear crowd. Its sedans aren’t particularly popular and the company doesn’t make much of an effort to sell cars in Europe, the Middle East, or South America, like Nissan or Ford does. Kansas is the closest thing it has to an emerging market. Subaru still can’t meet demand. By the end of next year, Subaru’s factories in the U.S. and Japan won’t be able to produce more vehicles.

Currently, Subaru is enjoying a sky high 9 percent profit. However, if it does choose to expand and the crossover boom goes bust, it could leave Subaru vulnerable as it will need to discount their way into driveways to keep operations afloat. With incentives comes lower resale values, in turn driving consumers to competitors – the same customers that appreciate Subaru’s smallness.

What will Subaru do? We’ll see. But, mass market is not what has made Subaru a successful Subaru to date.

 

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While You Were Sleeping: BMW M3 Touring Render, Ferrari Dino Returning and Takata’s Quality Chief Gets More Power http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/while-you-were-sleeping-bmw-m3-touring-render-ferrari-dino-returning-and-takatas-quality-chief-gets-more-power/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/while-you-were-sleeping-bmw-m3-touring-render-ferrari-dino-returning-and-takatas-quality-chief-gets-more-power/#comments Fri, 05 Jun 2015 13:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1085281 As rumors swirl about the eventual release of the BMW M3 Touring, Theophilus Chin has put a couple of renders together of Bavaria’s hot D-pillared automobile. Here’s what happened overnight (and stories we’ve missed over the last few days). BMW M3 Touring (Theophilus Chin) Knowng Theophilus’ wonderful insight, it wouldn’t surprise me if the M3 Touring […]

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BMW M3 Touring Render

As rumors swirl about the eventual release of the BMW M3 Touring, Theophilus Chin has put a couple of renders together of Bavaria’s hot D-pillared automobile.

Here’s what happened overnight (and stories we’ve missed over the last few days).

BMW M3 Touring RenderBMW M3 Touring (Theophilus Chin)
Knowng Theophilus’ wonderful insight, it wouldn’t surprise me if the M3 Touring looks exactly like this when the sheet is pulled off in Frankfurt.

Ferrari DinoFerrari might bring back the Dino, says Sergio (AutoBlog)
…but it likely won’t be marketed as a Ferrari. Instead, Sergio is keen to build a sub-brand around the idea of a resurrected Dino. So far, that’s worked in Sergio’s favor.

1Takata will give quality chief more authority with board role (Automotive News)
Takata will put their quality chief on the board of directors, effectively giving him a louder voice within the company. It only took them seven years.

pst1002-100k-1_23394248Motor Mouth: Why no one drives like a saint all the time (Driving.ca)
“There’s a good reason nobody drives like a saint all-year round: it’s not practical.”

1282948112939395876You Probably Want To Watch Chris Harris Drive The Ferrari 488 GTB (Jalopnik)
I think the 488 GTB is an ugly ducking that grew up to be an ugly duck. But whatever. Here’s Chris Harris getting it sideways.

15TDI_StarlinkKiosk002-300x204Subaru Starlink services priced, packaged (Technology Tell)
It’s kind of like OnStar, but for people who have a higher chance of driving off a cliff near Kings Canyon.

Speedhunters_Keith_Charvonia_Hilux-2Minitruckin’ All Grown Up (Speedhunters)
This is not your grandfather’s Hilux. Actually, this is your grandfather’s Hilux.

Lotus-Elise-frontJaguar Designer Planning Super Lotus Elise (GTspirit)
Jaaaaaag designer Julian Thomson, responsible for the Series 1 Elise, wants to build this “Super” Elise.

car-wash-girls-china-1a-660x546Underdressed Chinese Girls open a Car Wash in Urumqi (CarNewsChina)
Chinese auto show models have resorted to washing cars to make a living, maybe.

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Subaru Funding Crash Tests Of Pet Carriers, Crates http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/subaru-funding-crash-tests-of-pet-carriers-crates/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/subaru-funding-crash-tests-of-pet-carriers-crates/#comments Thu, 04 Jun 2015 19:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1084473 As part of its effort to keep pets safe on the road, Subaru is funding crash tests of pet carriers and crates. The funding will be directed to the Center for Pet Safety in Reston, Va. according to AutoGuide, who will use the funds to determine structural integrity of every crate and carrier put through […]

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Subaru Impreza Wagon Dog Circa March 2008

As part of its effort to keep pets safe on the road, Subaru is funding crash tests of pet carriers and crates.

The funding will be directed to the Center for Pet Safety in Reston, Va. according to AutoGuide, who will use the funds to determine structural integrity of every crate and carrier put through testing, as well as looking over safer methods to connect crates and carriers to the vehicle.

Subaru’s ongoing partnership with the CPS has thus far resulted in a pet harness crashworthiness test, which put several harnesses through the gauntlet, with few performing as hoped.

The tests will be carried out by MGA Research Corporation’s lab in nearby Manassas, Va., with results and recommendations to come by later this summer.

[Photo credit: Katie Brady/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

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Subaru Sees US Production Boost Five Years Early Due To Rising Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/subaru-sees-us-production-boost-five-years-early-due-rising-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/subaru-sees-us-production-boost-five-years-early-due-rising-sales/#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 18:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1065874 Fuji Heavy Industries announced it would increase production at its Lafayette, Ind. plant as Subaru hits its North American sales target five years early. Fuji Heavy president Yasuyuki Yoshinaga said last week Subaru would reach 600,000 units sold in the United States and Canada per year by the end of March 2016, a milestone originally […]

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2015 subaru wrx (9)

Fuji Heavy Industries announced it would increase production at its Lafayette, Ind. plant as Subaru hits its North American sales target five years early.

Fuji Heavy president Yasuyuki Yoshinaga said last week Subaru would reach 600,000 units sold in the United States and Canada per year by the end of March 2016, a milestone originally set for 2021 Automotive News reports.

The U.S. market alone accounts for 62 percent of the automaker’s global sales, with Q1 2015 sales rising 12 percent to 128,900 units. Meanwhile, 570,000 units left for North American showrooms during FY 2014, surpassing a target of 540,000 models projected for the U.S. alone by the end of 2015. The current forecast points to 554,000 sold in the U.S. by next March.

Thus, Yoshinaga proclaimed production in Indiana would climb to 394,000 units annually by the end of 2016. Fuji Heavy originally planned to boost said production to 328,000 by the end of said period, then to 400,000 by the end of FY 2020.

The Indiana plant is set to assemble the next-gen Impreza, which will hit showrooms in 2016 upon the new modular Subaru Global Platform, and with direct injection for its boxer engine onboard.

[Photo credit: Kamil Kaluski/The Truth About Cars]

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Old Hat? April 2015 Reveals Another Subaru U.S. Sales Record http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/old-hat-april-2015-reveals-another-subaru-u-s-sales-record/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/old-hat-april-2015-reveals-another-subaru-u-s-sales-record/#comments Sun, 10 May 2015 14:42:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1064218 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 […]

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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.

The XV has proven so far this year to be significantly more popular than the Impreza sedan and hatch combined (excluding the WRX/STi that Subaru sees as a unique model). XV sales are up 20% to 27,017 through the first four months of 2015; Impreza sales are up 2% to 20,597. The XV led the Impreza by only 2,390 units at this stage a year ago.

Subaru USA sales chart

The Outback fell 2238 units shy of matching last December’s best Outback month ever but exceeded the nameplate’s previous best April by 1,871 units, an 18% improvement.

Forester sales, say Subaru, have risen beyond 10,000 units in each of the last 21 months. In comparison with the category’s top-selling CR-V, Equinox, Escape, and RAV4, Forester sales aren’t terribly high. Those four nameplates averaged nearly 27,000 April sales. But the Forester’s steady march forward is unmistakable. Between 2007 and 2012, Subaru averaged fewer than 6000 Forester sales per month.

Subaru XV Crosstrek

By the standards of top-tier midsize contenders, Legacy sales are a pittance. Yet by Legacy standards, Subaru’s midsize sedan is booming. April sales shot up 69% to 5,276; year-to-date volume is up 68% to 19,647.

The numbers are small, but the Legacy is proving tremendously helpful for Subaru in the United States, where the majority of midsize cars – and the midsize segment as a whole – are failing to match last year’s sales pace. The Legacy has added nearly 8,000 sales to the Subaru tally over the span of just four months, nearly on par with the volume added by the Outback.

2015 Subaru Forester

With growth across much of the lineup, where does this position Subaru? We’ve stated previously that the brand is clearly now among the mainstream players, as declared by what is now a 14-month-long streak of 40K+ sales months. Subaru’s U.S. market share increased to 3.2% in April 2015, up from 2.9% at this time a year ago, 2.6% in April 2013, and 2.2% in April 2012.

The likelihood that a successor to the discontinued Tribeca will be far more successful than the Tribeca will provide further expansion.

Subaru
April 2015
April 2014
% Change
2015 YTD
2014 YTD
% Change
Forester 13,977 11,547 21.0% 51,613 46,937 9.9%
Outback 12,534 10,663 17.6% 48,021 39,589 21.3%
XV Crosstrek 6,936 5,678 22.2% 27,017 22,553 19.8%
Legacy 5,276 3,126 68.8% 19,647 11,670 68.4%
Impreza 5,311 5,444 -2.4% 20,597 20,163 2.2%
WRX/STi 2,713 2,698 0.6% 9,974 8,213 21.4%
BRZ 494 820 -39.8% 1,653 2,886 -42.7%
Total
47,241 40,083 17.9% 178,522 152,471 17.1%

Subaru was the ninth-best-selling auto brand in America over the first four months of 2015, 10,000 sales ahead of Dodge; 16,000 sales back of Kia.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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Junkyard Find: 1993 Subaru Justy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/junkyard-find-1993-subaru-justy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/junkyard-find-1993-subaru-justy/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 13:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1042570 I don’t use the Miserable Econoboxes tag as much as I should, but I’m using it here fore shore, because you’d be hard-pressed to find a more genuinely punitive commuter appliance than the wretched Subaru Justy (the two-wheel-drive version, that is; the four-wheel-drive Justy, particularly when dressed in a weird early-90s paint color, is a […]

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08 - 1993 Subaru Justy Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinI don’t use the Miserable Econoboxes tag as much as I should, but I’m using it here fore shore, because you’d be hard-pressed to find a more genuinely punitive commuter appliance than the wretched Subaru Justy (the two-wheel-drive version, that is; the four-wheel-drive Justy, particularly when dressed in a weird early-90s paint color, is a lot of fun for mud/snow hoonage). As incredibly cheap, disposable subcompacts, just about all the 2WD Justys (Justies?) got scrapped at least a decade ago, so I don’t see many in wrecking yards now. Here’s one!
11 - 1993 Subaru Justy Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinI know that there will be those who claim that they got 400,000 maintenance-free miles out of a Justy, and those who claim that some other miserable econobox (the Ford Festiva? Yugo GV? Pontiac (Daewoo) LeMans?) was worse, but it’s hard to argue with the Justy’s combination of washing-machine-box interior, three-cylinder engine, and not-quite-ready-for-real-world-use CVT transmission.
14 - 1993 Subaru Justy Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinAt least this one has a proper 5-speed manual transmission.
05 - 1993 Subaru Justy Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s hard to pin this down, but it is possible that the Justy was the last car sold new in the United States with a carburetor (another candidate is the early-90s LTD Police Interceptor with 351W engine). By 1993, though, even the lowly Justy (or at least this one) came with EFI.
13 - 1993 Subaru Justy Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinNo way of telling how many miles are on the clock, since Subaru took a page from Detroit’s book and used a five-digit odometer in this car.
12 - 1993 Subaru Justy Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinBad as the Justy was, you could get one for $7,463 in 1993. Yes, if you just had to drive a new car in 1993 and you were too skinflinty for the (still miserable but much better) $7,858 Toyota Tercel or the $7,995 Mazda 323, and for some reason the Suzuki Swift ($7,299), Geo Metro ($6,710), and Ford Festiva ($6,991) didn’t seem right, you could get a Justy. Even the ’93 Hyundai Excel— still pretty vile at that point but nowhere near as hateful as the earlier versions— could be purchased for just $6,899.
07 - 1993 Subaru Justy Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee MartinStill, bad as the Justy 2WD was, it was a car. That meant that it beat the hell out of public transportation, and it meant that a working stiff could get afford a shiny new commuter (with warranty) on a modest salary. I mention this because I’m still getting shit for having written that the ’14 Mitsubishi Mirage was perfectly tolerable by Miserable Econobox standards, while John Pearley Huffman believes it is worse than taking the bus (Jason Torchinsky, one of the only writers to agree with me that the Mirage wasn’t so bad, tore Mr. Huffman a new one over that). Terrible little entry-level econoboxes today are so much better than their counterparts 20 years ago that everybody who reviews one today should be forced to spend a week in a ’93 Justy prior to driving the new car.


Such a smart boy!

01 - 1993 Subaru Justy Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1993 Subaru Justy Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1993 Subaru Justy Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1993 Subaru Justy Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1993 Subaru Justy Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1993 Subaru Justy Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1993 Subaru Justy Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1993 Subaru Justy Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1993 Subaru Justy Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1993 Subaru Justy Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1993 Subaru Justy Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1993 Subaru Justy Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1993 Subaru Justy Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1993 Subaru Justy Down On the Junkyard - Pictures courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Piston Slap: Saabaru, The “Reliable” Subaru? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/piston-slap-saabaru-reliable-subaru/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/piston-slap-saabaru-reliable-subaru/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 22:50:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1036929 Adam writes: Hello Sajeev, I have a classic “keep it or sell it” question for you and the greater TTAC audience. Two years ago I bought my wife a 2005 Saab 9-2X Aero (sadly an automatic, which was a non-negotiable requirement for my wife). You may remember these as being rebadged Subaru WRX wagons, and that […]

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95% Subaru, 5% Saab…100% Awesome?

Adam writes:

Hello Sajeev, I have a classic “keep it or sell it” question for you and the greater TTAC audience.

Two years ago I bought my wife a 2005 Saab 9-2X Aero (sadly an automatic, which was a non-negotiable requirement for my wife). You may remember these as being rebadged Subaru WRX wagons, and that was the main reason I bought the car at the time. I assumed that since the underlying platform was basically a “reliable” Subaru, repairs would be infrequent and parts would be plentiful.

The reality is that I’ve never spent so much money trying to keep a car in good running condition. The car is now at 127,000 miles, and in the past two years we’ve done the following work: valve cover gaskets (twice), rebuilt heads and head gaskets, new power steering pump, replaced valve breather assemblies, new radiator, just to name a few things off the top of my head. None of these pending repairs were brought to light through the very thorough pre-purchase inspection, and the car appeared to be well cared for when we bought it.

The head rebuild alone cost us almost $3000 and kept the car in the shop for almost a month, mostly due to parts availability issues, which really surprised me. Even after all these repairs, we are still dealing with a mystery oil leak that periodically drips onto the exhaust somewhere and fills the cabin with a wonderful burning smell.

My question is one of sustainability. Even though the car is comprised of 95% Subaru parts, it seems that the 5% that was supplied by Saab is becoming increasingly more difficult to come by. Things like plastic body panels (rocker panel covers, bumper covers, etc.) are nearly impossible to find now, and even the struts are specific to the Saab model, having been tuned specifically for the 9-2X. Even if I have taken care of most of the major repairs for the foreseeable future, is it really a great idea to hold onto a car that is losing replacement parts support? Even the Subaru parts seem much more scarce than they should be.

I should note that despite all these issues, the reason we haven’t already replaced the car is that we really enjoy driving it. It’s a fun, powerful car that’s good in Minnesota winters and can haul a decent amount of stuff with the seats down. I have no idea what I would replace it with if I did sell it.

I am open to any and all suggestions and advice!

Thanks,
Adam

Sajeev answers:

The answer is clear by the overall tone of your message: put it on Craigslist, wait for the right buyer because it’s still in good running condition.

You really like the car, but not enough to deal with the crap.  Saabs are hard to live with because of parts/repair costs, Subarus are the same (to a lesser extent).  What’s the benefit of being 95% Subaru when their motor popped the head gasket?  Exit now, before you spend thousands more on a 10-year-old car at the bottom of the depreciation curve.

I can see why you might consider the alternative: all my old cars are in some state of serious disrepair. Only a fanboi fool like me does all this for no good reason. If I was a Saabaru fan, I’d love your car too.

Best of luck, and remember there are plenty of AWD hatchback utilities on the market for you and your wife to consider.  Test drive them all, you have nothing but time!

 

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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New York 2015: Subaru STI Performance Concept Unveiled http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/new-york-2015-subaru-sti-performance-concept-unveiled/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/new-york-2015-subaru-sti-performance-concept-unveiled/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 16:33:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1035681 The BRZ of a few enthusiasts’ dreams, the Subaru STI Performance Concept was revealed at the 2015 New York Auto Show. Power for the performance division’s showcase comes from a 2-liter flat-four made for the Subaru BRZ Super GT race car, pumping out 350 horsepower to the back. Aggressive aero, braking, exhaust and chassis upgrades, […]

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Subaru-STI-Performance-Concept-Front-04

The BRZ of a few enthusiasts’ dreams, the Subaru STI Performance Concept was revealed at the 2015 New York Auto Show.

Power for the performance division’s showcase comes from a 2-liter flat-four made for the Subaru BRZ Super GT race car, pumping out 350 horsepower to the back. Aggressive aero, braking, exhaust and chassis upgrades, and suspension enhancements complete the package.

As for whether or not the BRZ itself will get an STI variant, no word has been officially been given beyond a confirmation that more STI models overall will come into the USDM family.

Subaru-STI-Performance-Concept-Front-04 Subaru-STI-Performance-Concept-Rear-03 Subaru-STI-Performance-Concept-Rear-02 Subaru-STI-Performance-Concept-Wing-01 Subaru-STI-Performance-Concept-Side-01 Subaru-STI-Performance-Concept-Wheel-01 Subaru-STI-Performance-Concept-Suspension-01 Subaru-STI-Performance-Concept-Side-View-Mirror-01 Subaru-STI-Performance-Concept-Door-Handle-01 Subaru-STI-Performance-Concept-Headlight-01 Subaru-STI-Performance-Concept-Interior-01 Subaru-STI-Performance-Concept-Gauges-01 Subaru-STI-Performance-Concept-Interior-02 Subaru-STI-Performance-Concept-Steering-Wheel-01 Subaru-STI-Performance-Concept-Seat-01

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Bark’s Bites: The Good, The Not-As-Good, and The Ugly: Part Two http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/barks-bites-good-not-good-ugly-part-two/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/barks-bites-good-not-good-ugly-part-two/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 14:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033097 In our first installment, we focused on Daimler, Mazda, and the Volkswagen Group. Today, we’ll focus on BMW/Mini, Subaru, and Hyundai/Kia. But first, let me address a couple of the comments about the cars the B&B said I got wrong: I stand by my comments about the Golf. One commenter said the Golf was just […]

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BMW-M235i_mp2_pic_107451

In our first installment, we focused on Daimler, Mazda, and the Volkswagen Group. Today, we’ll focus on BMW/Mini, Subaru, and Hyundai/Kia. But first, let me address a couple of the comments about the cars the B&B said I got wrong:

  • I stand by my comments about the Golf. One commenter said the Golf was just the “GTI with less power, and less handling ability.” Well, duh. That’s like saying the Focus and Fiesta are the same cars as the FoST and the FiST, but with less power, and less handling ability. The power and the handling ability are what make the GTI special. Granted, the VW dealer network is wretched, so one can excuse the poor sales numbers of the Golf overall, but the Golf is actually outsold by the GTI. I can’t think of another example of a higher-cost, performance variant of a car outselling the base model—even the base Impreza, which I virtually never notice out in the wild, outsells the WRX and STI 2:1.
  • I don’t think the C-Class is a bad car at all—I just think it’s fighting an uphill battle against the 3-Series. That being said, I definitely need to get some seat time in the new C-Class, as Mercedes has yet to deliver a press vehicle to my front door. Any readers who have one and would like to have it reviewed, let us know and I’ll get to you.

That being said, I continue to welcome your comments and dissenting opinions. Now, let’s move on.

BMW/MINI

The Good:

Let me be clear: I’m not one of those who thinks that BMW has “lost it’s way.” You know who likes the “good old days?” Two kinds of people: People who forget what life was like before the Internet and young punks who want to seem ironically cool while they lament the loss of the E30 that they’ve never even seen, much less driven, on their Twitter feeds.

Newsflash to any twentysomethings pining for the days when BMW apparently had a roadmap out of Munich: the old days kinda sucked. Zero to sixty to less than eight seconds was considered “fast.” A “hot hatch” made 110 horsepower. Crash test ratings were horrific. Anything that was faster than a 2015 Subaru BRZ was so damned expensive that 90 percent of Americans couldn’t have afforded it. Trust me—you’re better off living through your windshield than your rear-view mirrors when it comes to cars.

As such, the M235i is proof that the boys in Bavaria still know exactly what they’re doing (although most readers here know me as a Ford fanboy, in the interest of full disclosure, let it be known that I once put down a $5K deposit on a 2008 135i, but that’s a story for another time). You think you want an E30 M3? No, you don’t. You want an M235i. It’s the spiritual successor to that legendary 192 horsepower machine, but in addition to being well-balanced, it can also break the five second barrier in the sixty miles per hour dash.

Speaking of the M3, the new M3/M4 combo is skull-crushingly fast.  Yes, it’s bigger and heavier than the E30 and E36 were. So? The new M3 is just flat-out better than any of its predecessors. Yes, it’s probably gotten too expensive—but we’ll talk more about that in a second.

I had the purely effervescent joy of driving the M6 Gran Coupe around Nelson Ledges before it’s official launch to the public. I drove my Boss 302 to the track that day from Kentucky, and before I got into the big Bimmer, I took a few laps around the circuit in the Mustang. Now, keep in mind—the Boss 302 is provably faster around most tracks in America than the E92 M3 was. The Boss was hitting the kink at about 128 MPH, which was downright ass-puckering. The M6 Gran Coupe—the big, fat, unwieldy M6—hit it at…wait for it…141. Even more impressive was the relative ease with which it did so—there was absolutely none of the drama that was associated with the 302. While some people might appreciate a bit of drama on a racetrack, I gotta tell you that when you’re driving somebody else’s $145K car, you appreciate a lack of it.

Meanwhile, you can complain about the turbo 4-bangers all you want (you can still get an inline six, you know). You can complain about the proliferation of models all you want (they still make a 335i sedan). I’m still gonna put the 3-Series in the “Good” category, if only because it’s still the standard bearer for the segment. You don’t like it? What would you rather have? An A4? A C-Class (based on yesterday, maybe)? An IS? A G? Nah. The 3-Series is still the king.

The Not-As-Good:

It’s hard to not appreciate the MINI Cooper Hardtop for what it is. I know that they have wretched reliability. But, damnit, I still find myself trolling Craigslist for well-loved early examples. In many ways, the proliferation of hot hatches available in the USA today has made the MINI Hardtop somewhat irrelevant—is there anybody who’d take a MINI over a GTI/FoST?—which is why I had to drop it down to Not-As-Good. But it’s a fine line.

Now, if you want to complain about the turbo 4 in the 5-Series? All right, I’ll listen to you. In fact, I agree with you. I can’t get behind a $50k+ car that rocks a four-cylinder. The Fiver has never felt like it was the right car for the segment, and this F10 generation is just…meh.

The Ugly:

Every MINI that isn’t the Hardtop. Seriously. Just stop all that nonsense.

The 7-Series has always felt like the big brother who has the little brother who’s the star athlete—it’s the Cooper of the Manning Family. There’s nothing wrong with the Siebener, per se—it’s just not the icon of the brand. The S-Class owns this segment, and it often feels like BMW has given up on competing.

Once there was a car that was so ugly, everybody died. I’m talking about those god-awful GT models. I just don’t get it. Maybe there’s a market segment that this car is filling, but I don’t know what it is.

Here’s the biggest ugly thing about the BMW brand in 2015—the sticker prices. I visit BMW dealers weekly, and I see prices on the window stickers that are just downright mindboggling. With reported lease numbers approaching seventy percent, the astronomical prices barely matter. As such, it’s not uncommon to see as many as three different prices on one car—just last week in Indiana, I saw a 328i in the showroom that had $43k on the sticker, $40k on the stand next to the car, and $37k on a tag hanging from the rearview mirror. Oh, and then it said $359 a month on the windshield. There’s a real push-and-pull between the desire to maintain an upscale brand, yet keep moving 100K 3/4 series a years.

Whew. Okay, let’s move on. Damn, I forgot the X5. Throw it up there in the “Good” for me, would ya? Thanks.

SUBARU

The Good:

The WRX/STI combo has made Subaru relevant to enthusiasts for over a decade, now. I remember driving my 2000 Hyundai Tiburon to a Subaru dealership in 2001, begging them to give me a decent trade value toward one of the original, bug-eyed WRXes. Even if they could have made the numbers work, there’s no way that I could have afforded the insurance. But everybody my age (I was 23) desperately wanted one. Almost fifteen years later, the WRX (and now, STI) are still limited to about 300 HP, so they’re no longer “fast” by today’s standards (which is kinda mind-boggling, if you think about it), but they’ve reinvented themselves as affordable alternatives to the pony car. As the Evo walks the plank, the WRX/STI keeps the Japanese rally car dream alive for kids playing Gran Turismo everywhere.

The Outback and Forester continue to sell in surprising numbers—in fact, if you combined the two of them (and who among the non-Subaru faithful can honestly tell the difference, anyway), they’d be the 8th best selling vehicle in America. You can’t help but love them when you drive them—there’s really nothing else like them. If you want an Outback or a Forester, you probably aren’t really shopping anything else.

The Not-As-Good:

The Legacy. You know, if Subaru could just build a competitive mid-sized sedan, they’d have a shot at some real market share. Unfortunately, they can’t. It’s not that there’s anything particularly wrong about the Legacy—there’s just nothing particularly right about it. The best they can hope to do is compete with the bottom tier of mid-sizers, like the 200 and the Malibu.

The Ugly:

The Emperor’s New Clothes are completely off at this point. The BRZ is selling in numbers that the Lincoln MKS scoffs at. Unfortunately, the BRZ/FR-S combo really are the spiritual successor to the RX-8—underpowered, overhyped, and dead in the water in four years. It’s hard to imagine anybody picking this car over any of its competitors. If you’re still waving the flag for this car, you’re simply delusional.

HYUNDAI/KIA

The Good:

The Hyundai Genesis sedan is remarkable. If you shop the V-6 against the similarly priced competition (Buick Lacrosse, Lincoln MKS, Ford Taurus, Chevy Impala), there’s really no case to be made for anything else. The real competition is the Chrysler 300C—and I would pick the Genesis every time. You can tell I really love a car when I make it the star of a Sunday Story.

The Kia Soul is one of my favorite cars, anywhere, period. I’d gladly roll down Hamsterdam Avenue in a Yellow Soul +. It obviously doesn’t have any sporting intent whatsoever, but who cares? The Soul picked up the ball right where the first-generation Scion xB dropped it, and they’ve been running with it ever since.

The Not-As-Good:

As far as looks go in the midsize category, the Kia Optima is the most attractive option. Unfortunately, at some point, you have to stop admiring it from the outside and actually get in and drive—and that’s where the Optima falls down a bit. The four-cylinder Optima is painfully slow in comparison to the similarly engined Accord or Mazda6. Braking from higher speeds is a bit of an adventure, too. However, the Optima is probably the smoothest riding of any of the midsizers on the market, and tech-savvy people who don’t care much for driving will like it. I can’t quite convince myself to call it “Good,” but neither is it “Bad.”

The 2015 Elantra GT is a decent car, and it’s much better than the 2001 Elantra sedan that Mrs. Bark once owned. I drove it from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Chicago last week, and I was neither inspired to hate it or love it. Which means that it probably belongs right here.

The Ugly:

Oh, Hyundai…what have you done with the Sonata? Four years ago, I used to search for the previous-gen Sonata on rental car row—now I avoid the new one like a crazy ex-girlfriend. It’s pokey. It’s ugly. It doesn’t turn. It costs too much. I hate it.

That’s it for today. I fully intended to get to Honda and Nissan, but here we are at 2000 words. Oh, well. We’ll get to them, and maybe Toyota, too, in our next installment.

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Question Of The Day: How Will Indiana’s “Religious Freedom” Bill Affect Subaru? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/question-day-will-indianas-religious-freedom-bill-affect-subaru/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/question-day-will-indianas-religious-freedom-bill-affect-subaru/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 17:40:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1030561 The state of Indiana has just signed a new bill ostensibly designed to safeguard “religious freedom”. Those opposed to it claim that it will lead to discrimination against LGBT individuals. So what does this mean for Subaru? Subaru’s entire U.S. manufacturing base is based in Lafayette, about 60 miles outside of Indianapolis. The Japanese auto […]

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Subaru Indiana - Picture courtesy mibz.com

The state of Indiana has just signed a new bill ostensibly designed to safeguard “religious freedom”. Those opposed to it claim that it will lead to discrimination against LGBT individuals. So what does this mean for Subaru?

Subaru’s entire U.S. manufacturing base is based in Lafayette, about 60 miles outside of Indianapolis. The Japanese auto maker is expanding their plant to help meet growing demand for their cars in the United States, as the car buying public grows increasingly receptive to the brand’s AWD-centric lineup of cars and SUVs.

But one of Subaru’s core constituencies has been the LGBT community. Jokes about their likelihood of owning a Subaru have become commonplace – and resulted in the downfall of our former EIC. Businesses like Salesforce.com have decided to boycott the state, while the NCAA, which hosts the Final Four in Indianapolis, has expressed its concerns over the bill.

I’ll be curious to see how Subaru responds to the bill. It’s reasonable to expect that a good portion of their customers beyond the LGBT community will be unhappy with it as well.

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Subaru Considering Paths For Upcoming Seven-Passenger Crossover http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/subaru-considering-paths-upcoming-seven-passenger-crossover/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/subaru-considering-paths-upcoming-seven-passenger-crossover/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 12:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1028257 Could there be a Subaru Grand Outback in the future? That’s what the automaker is considering for its seven-passenger crossover due in showrooms in 2017. Automotive News reports the automaker is deciding on either a “big brother” crossover to the Outback, or be its own crossover with styling distinct from said model. Either way, the […]

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2015 Subaru Outback

Could there be a Subaru Grand Outback in the future? That’s what the automaker is considering for its seven-passenger crossover due in showrooms in 2017.

Automotive News reports the automaker is deciding on either a “big brother” crossover to the Outback, or be its own crossover with styling distinct from said model. Either way, the execs don’t want to take it down the same styling road that helped lead to the Tribeca’s demise last year.

Fuji Heavy Industries senior vice president of global marketing Nobuhiko Murakami says the seven-seater being developed mainly for the U.S. domestic market “will be roomier than the Tribeca and have three rows of seats,” though arrangement “is still under discussion.” He adds that the crossover will need to differentiate itself from its competitors, including the Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder and Honda Pilot.

Alas, for those hoping the Levorg wagon would come over, Murakami says the new crossover will keep the wagon away, citing Subaru’s priority toward the Legacy sedan designed for the U.S. No sales forecasts for the upcoming model were mentioned at this time, which leave the automaker’s facility in Indiana in 2017.

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Bark’s Bites: Subaru, We Hardly Knew Ye http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/barks-bites-subaru-hardly-knew-ye/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/barks-bites-subaru-hardly-knew-ye/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 14:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1024529 Those of you who regularly read Bark’s Bites (Hi, Mom!) may remember my tale of acquiring a friend’s 1996 Subaru Legacy Wagon. I posted that article on August 29th, 2014. On March 9th, 2015, the SuBaruth, as it came to be known, died. Here is her story. Over the course of seven months, I put nearly […]

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049

Those of you who regularly read Bark’s Bites (Hi, Mom!) may remember my tale of acquiring a friend’s 1996 Subaru Legacy Wagon. I posted that article on August 29th, 2014.

On March 9th, 2015, the SuBaruth, as it came to be known, died.

Here is her story.

Over the course of seven months, I put nearly seven thousand miles on her.  She occasionally refused to start, but most days, she turned over with a bit of a struggle and let me pilot her wherever I wanted to go. She took trips as far away as Myrtle Beach, SC, about a nine hour drive from my Old Kentucky Home, with nary a complaint. Sure, she made a few weird noises every now and then, but everything worked pretty well.

Until it didn’t.

I took her on a drive to Fort Wayne, Indiana, a few weeks ago. She was performing her regular duties without complaint, making a 480-mile roundtrip without dissent, when we encountered a patch of black ice at about sixty miles per hour. All of a sudden, we were sideways on Interstate 69, sliding without much hope of stopping. Against all natural instincts, I stayed off of the brakes and countersteered slightly, feathering the accelerator and silently praying. Miraculously, she caught grip and I was able to right her again. Over the next mile of highway, I saw no fewer than a dozen cars in the ditch. Our little slide probably lasted five seconds at the most, but it felt like an eternity. I patted her on the dashboard and told her, “Thanks, SuBaruth. I think you just saved our lives.”

That night, however, on the trip back, she started making a mechanical grinding sound. It was coming from the driver’s side front wheel. The car started pulling fairly hard to the right, as well. I pulled off at the next exit, got out of the car in the pouring rain, and did a visual inspection of the car. Everything looked to be okay—the tires were fine, the tie rods seemed to be straight from what I could tell—so I got back in the car and cautiously continued on. For some reason, the sound stopped and the car started tracking normally again. Weird. Then again, this is the magical self-fixing Subaru.

After I got home, I parked her in the driveway for a few days until my trip to the airport the following Monday. When I drove her out of that same driveway, I immediately knew that something was wrong. The grinding sound was much, much worse, and it increased greatly under acceleration. I had made it about a mile when I decided to turn around and go home.

Unfortunately, the last left turn onto my street proved to be too much for the old girl. With a loud bang that was all too familiar from my days of autocrossing S2000s, the car just stopped. I got out and looked at the front left wheel—the tire had blown, but I was pretty sure that wasn’t all that was wrong. I called my insurance company and had them tow it to my local garage. Since the SuBaruth is car number four in the fleet, I called them up and told them that there was no urgency in repairing it.

I received the autopsy call yesterday morning. I felt bad for the lady on the phone—she was clearly under the impression that the little wagon was my only means of transportation, and she was calling with horrific news. First of all, the timing belt was bad—they couldn’t even get the car to start. Secondly, as I feared, the axle had broken. But it hadn’t just broken; it had snapped with such amazing force that it had sent a seven-inch piece of itself spinning into the left front rim, ripping a tremendous hole in it in the process which is what caused the tire to blow. It had also damaged the right front wheel. Both tie rods were destroyed, too. Total repair estimate: at least $1200, including labor.

048

See that massive black hole? Yeah, that’s my front left rim. In the words of the garage tech, “I have NEVER, EVER, seen that before.”

I weighed my options carefully. I could:

  1. Junk the car and be done with it.
  2. Pay the garage more than twice what I had originally paid for the car, and still have a nineteen-year old Subaru that was likely to have some other things break in the near future.
  3. Do what all TTAC commenters would have done, which is break out my impressive array of tools, put the car up on the lift in my garage, and spend thirty minutes repairing all of the issues myself.

Guess which one I did?

Number one, obviously.

The garage offered to junk it for me, saving me the hassle of draining all of the fluids, etc. I probably could have sold it as a parts car for a couple of hundred bucks, but time is money and all that. I  donated the car to the garage as a favor for doing all of the diagnostic work for me—hopefully they’ll be able to get some money out of it. I went to the garage and retrieved my personal items from the car (including three dollars in change, a saxophone stand, a folder of CDs, and a yoga mat) and said goodbye to the old girl. Maybe she’ll be featured in one of Murilee’s junkyard finds in the near future. I hope CrabSpirits is able to spin an eloquent yarn about her. She deserves one.

So, what would I have done differently, if given the chance to do it all over again?

  • I would have done a more thorough mechanical review of the car upon purchase. I had the garage look at it when it wouldn’t start regularly that first week, but in hindsight I would have asked them to put it up on the lift and give it a once over. I’m not sure if that would have prevented this axle issue, but it might have.
  • I would have driven it directly to the garage rather than taking it home. Assuming that they would have just had to fix the axle and the timing issue, that might have only been a $500 repair.
  • That’s about it.

Was buying the Subaru a good financial decision after all was said and done? Let’s see:

  • The car cost me $600
  • The total registration property taxes on it were $86
  • It cost me $38 a month to insure it
  • I drove it about 7,000 miles and averaged 26 MPG on 87 octane fuel. At $2.20 a gallon, that’s about $593 in fuel costs.

What if I had put those seven thousand winter miles on the Boss 302 instead?

  • KBB Very Good value on a Boss with 30,000 miles is $35,969. Changing that value to 37,000 miles makes it worth $35,002
  • The Boss averages about 18 MPG combined on 93 octane fuel. Those 7,000 miles would have cost me about $972 in premium fuel, assuming $2.50 a gallon.
  • I wouldn’t have had any additional insurance costs
  • However, I would have needed to buy winter rims and tires for the Boss. The cheapest winter wheel/tire combo available at Tire Rack is $1,528 plus shipping. Divide that by four, assuming that the wheels and tires would last about four seasons (or that I would sell the car in four years or less) and it comes up to $382.

In total, the Subaru cost me $1,545 to operate for seven months. However, operating the Boss over the same time period would have cost me $2,321. That’s a savings of $776. I call that a win. Repairing the Subaru at a cost of $1200 would have meant that I would have needed to operate the Subaru for another year with no additional repair costs just to come out even, which seems unlikely. Now that I have the Fiesta ST, as well, it’s doubtful that I would have driven it as much as I did. It’s more likely that I’ll just throw a set of snows on the Fiesta next winter and avoid the additional insurance, maintenance, and acquisition cost of another beater.

Because, after all of this, my number one takeaway is that I’m really not cut out for the Beater Life. I don’t want to have to spend time fixing (or, in my case learning how to fix) cars. I don’t really enjoy driving old cars. I loved the Subaru, but she would have been better off in the hands of somebody who would have taken better care of her, in all honesty. A little bit of preemptive care and she’d likely still be on the road today.

All in all, a valuable lesson about who I am and what I expect out of a car. Your mileage may and likely will vary. God speed, SuBaruth.

051

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Beyond Official: A 12-Month-Long 40K Sales Streak Proves Subaru USA Is Mainstream http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/beyond-official-12-month-long-40k-sales-streak-proves-subaru-usa-mainstream/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/beyond-official-12-month-long-40k-sales-streak-proves-subaru-usa-mainstream/#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2015 13:32:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1018202 It’s official: Subaru is now routinely the seller of more than 40,000 new vehicles per month in the United States. That’s an impressive achievement considering that in 2013, the company averaged 35,390 monthly sales in what was the automaker’s best year ever. Between 2002 and 2012, Subaru USA averaged fewer than 19,000 monthly sales. In […]

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2015 Subaru OutbackIt’s official: Subaru is now routinely the seller of more than 40,000 new vehicles per month in the United States. That’s an impressive achievement considering that in 2013, the company averaged 35,390 monthly sales in what was the automaker’s best year ever. Between 2002 and 2012, Subaru USA averaged fewer than 19,000 monthly sales.

In each of the last twelve months, Subaru sales have shot past the 40,000-unit mark. Subaru USA had crested the 40K barrier twice in the previous seven months. But now all the brand’s best-ever performances have occurred in the recent past.

Last month, for example, was Subaru’s best-ever February.

The previous month was the best-ever January.

August of last year, when 50,246 Subarus were sold in the United States, represented Subaru’s best-ever month full stop, just one year after Subaru was touting best-ever results in August 2013.

In most months, the push past 40K hasn’t been even remotely incremental. Subaru volume jumped 21% in March 2014, for instance the month the streak began. Among volume brands – yes, Subaru is most definitely now a volume brand – only Jeep and Ram reported greater year-over-year improvements.

Subaru USA sales chart 40K streakThe year-over-year percentage improvements have consistently measured in excess of the market’s rate of growth, save for one month when Subaru grew at the same rate as the industry as a whole. The average YOY increase over the last 12 months? 21.3%.

2014’s 21% leap forward was bettered only by Mitsubishi’s 25% improvement, Ram’s 28% increase, Jeep’s 41% jump, and Maserati’s 171% (8175 units) increase. Subaru added 89,010 sales in 2014 after growing by 88,242 units in 2013 and 69,452 in 2012. Sales have increased in seven consecutive years.

Through the first two months of 2015, Subaru sales are up 21%, a gain of 14,261 units during the two lowest-volume auto sales month of the year following a gain of 12,083 units during the first two months of 2014.

All these impressive figures force the question: which vehicles are pushing Subaru forward? The answer is simple: nearly all of them. Defunct Tribeca and niche market BRZ aside, every Subaru is increasingly popular.

Consider just the last two months, a period in which YOY volume of the best-selling Outback jumped 34%, the next-best-selling Forester rose 5%, the XV Crosstrek was up 26%, non-WRX Imprezas rose 13%, Legacy volume increased 55%, and the WRX/STi jumped 44%.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Chart Of The Day: A Decade Of January Market Share Improvement For Winter’s Auto Brands http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chart-day-decade-january-market-share-improvement-winters-auto-brands/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chart-day-decade-january-market-share-improvement-winters-auto-brands/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 13:17:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1009394 Subaru and Jeep are consistently two of America’s fast-growing auto brands. Aided by expanding portfolios and clearly understood branding, Jeep volume jumped 41% in 2014; Subaru sales shot up 21%. Are any two auto brands more easily identified with winter than Subaru and Jeep? As the U.S. auto industry grew 14% in January 2015, Jeep […]

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Jeep Subaru market share chartSubaru and Jeep are consistently two of America’s fast-growing auto brands. Aided by expanding portfolios and clearly understood branding, Jeep volume jumped 41% in 2014; Subaru sales shot up 21%.

Are any two auto brands more easily identified with winter than Subaru and Jeep?

As the U.S. auto industry grew 14% in January 2015, Jeep sales were up 23%; Subaru volume rose 24%. Together, they accounted for 8% of all new vehicle sales in America in the first month of 2015.

Since January may be the most Subaru and Jeep-like month of them all, the accompanying chart showcases their market share improvements in the month of January over the last decade.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Review: 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/review-2015-subaru-outback-2-5i-premium/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/review-2015-subaru-outback-2-5i-premium/#comments Fri, 13 Feb 2015 14:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=995058 The SUV craze of the 1990s caught Subaru by surprise. The company simply did not have a product that everyone wanted. The North American division of Fuji Heavy Industries had no choice but to play the cards they were dealt.  The engineers looked into the VW Golf Country 4×4 for inspiration, then took a Legacy […]

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2015 Subaru Outback side

The SUV craze of the 1990s caught Subaru by surprise. The company simply did not have a product that everyone wanted. The North American division of Fuji Heavy Industries had no choice but to play the cards they were dealt.  The engineers looked into the VW Golf Country 4×4 for inspiration, then took a Legacy wagon and lifted it, added some molding, big fog lights with mesh screens, and a roof rack. The marketing people ingeniously called it the Outback and hired the best known Aussie in America, Paul Hogan, to promote it.

The results of this marketing brilliance were sales that exceeded expectations, possibly saving the company. The Outback was such a huge hit Volvo and Audi followed suit and jacked up their own wagons, creating the Cross Country XC and the allroad quattro.  At the 2014 New York International Auto Show, with yours truly in attendance, two models first dressed as vegan organic French-press coffee drinking hipster hikers, and later as that blissfully ignorant well-dressed couple that every thirty year old yuppie think they will always be, unveiled the fifth generation of the Outback.

2015 Subaru Outback front

Three inches taller, four inches longer, and five inches wider than the original, the new Outback is the same as the old Outback. Some found the styling of the new car lacking originality. Those are the same people who would have complained that Subaru killed a great product had the Outback looked any different. I was never a fan of the previous generation Legacy/Outback, so I found the new, dare I say more generic, look rather refreshing.

But Subarus have never been about looks. In fact I would go so far as to the say that most Subaru cars have been ugly in a cute way, sort of like a Pug or a Bulldog. Subarus have always been about functionality, reliability, all-weather traction, and price. The new Outback continues these traditions placing function over form and cost over perceived opulence. From the outside, the two-tone scheme of the original has been reduced, the fog lights got smaller, and the roof rack more pronounced but the two-box shape on stilts cannot be mistaken for anything other than an Outback.

2015 Subaru Outback interior frotn details

Inside, functionality and simplicity triumphs, but its quality has significantly improved over the previous generations. The infotainment system is much improved, it is now easier to see, and simpler to use and set up. The test vehicle did not have a navigational system, but controlling the radio, phone, and auxiliary input devices is similar to using a Windows tablet. In the front of the center console is an auxiliary audio input and two USB ports (that’s two more than Audi). The audio system did sound pretty good, too, for what is essentially a base vehicle. Looking from inside out, at night, the headlights are not overly bright given the recent technical advances in headlight technology.

Dual zone climate controls are equally simple to use, but there are no vents for rear passengers. There are cup-holders in the center console, bottle holders in the doors, big door pockets, sunglass holder on the roof, a simple covered cubby for phones, and a large glove box. It’s these little things that make daily life easy and it’s amazing how many automakers cannot get that right (I’m looking at you Range Rover). Nothing is perfect, however, and my eight year old daughter, who reads a dozen books a week, completely wrote the Outback off for not having reading lights for rear passengers.

The front seats are comfortable, but the headrests could use a rake adjustment and bottom cushions could be longer. Someone at Subaru finally figured out that heated seat buttons are invisible when they are located under the center armrest and moved them to climate control panel. The rear bench is wide with plenty of leg and head room. The seatback is split 60:40, but there is no center pass-thru, so skiers with more than two rear passengers have to use the meaty-looking roof rack. That roof rack itself is functional, too, with standard cross-bars that slide and fold into the rails when not in use. There are also four tie down loops which can secure up to 150 pounds of cargo.

2015 Subaru Outback details

With high ground clearance and a high center of gravity, Subaru did not intend to make a driver’s car out of the Outback. The 2.5-liter pancake engine also won’t impress anyone with its 175hp and 174 lb-ft of torque. Worse, this engine is attached to a continuously variable transmission. This powertrain combination makes buzzy and whiney noises turning an otherwise quiet cabin into a noisy one. For that noise buyers are rewarded with fuel economy of 25mpg in the city and 33mpg on the highway, which was once considered excellent for a small econobox. Despite all that, the Outback somehow manages not to be a soulless appliance and is somewhat fun to drive. Perhaps it’s the car-like seating position and the jacked-up ride height, along with suspension tuned to nicely absorb the winter ridden roads, that create the feeling of being a rally driver.

Subaru makes a big deal of their AWD system, so it was a nice coincidence that the Northeast got hit with a big snow storm while the Outback was in my possession. It is common knowledge that tires are the most important thing in winter driving but this car was equipped with a set mediocre Bridgestone Dueler H/P Sport. Automakers like to use these tires because they are cheap, quiet, comfortable, and last long. I have personally had some bad experiences with these tires, so I was very cautions driving the Outback in the snow. To my surprise, the big wagon proved capable; granted the snow was packed and it wasn’t deep. In an empty lot near my work I turned the hoon knob up a little and even then, with stability control off, the vehicle stayed totally composed and controllable. There is a good reason why New England and Denver are Subaru’s biggest markets – with a proper set of snow tires this would be an amazing winter vehicle.

2015 Subaru Outback rear hatch open

The test vehicle was equipped with Subaru’s EyeSight system, which is optional on all but the base Outback. The system works off two cameras mounted between the rear view mirror and the windshield. The system is able to detect speed differentials, brake lights, pedestrians, and bicycles. It has the ability to cut power, apply brakes, and bring the vehicle to a complete stop, if not avoiding an accident completely, than at least minimizing the impact. It tells those who bury their heads into their phones at traffic lights that the vehicle in front has moved. When reversing, it calmly alerts you that a vehicle is coming from the side. The whole system can be fully disabled for those with mad driving skillz, but for the majority of buyers this is a no-brainer option – it can protect the not only vehicle occupants but everyone else on the road, too, and will likely repay for itself in the first near-hit.

The base Outback, steel wheels and all, starts at about $26,045. The 2.5i Premium model seen here starts at $27,295. EyeSight with power tailgate package is $1695, mirror compass is $199, and rubber floor mats are a bargain at $72. For some reason Subaru charges a mandatory $300 for the vehicle to meet the Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle standard. Total price, with destination charges, is a very reasonable $30,111. Other options on the 2.5i Premium are sunroof and a nav system. Limited model comes with leather and the 3.5R Limited has more powah!

For thirty grand, the mid-level Outback gives you large SUV functionality, solid reliability, and all-weather traction while not looking like a cookie-cutter CRA-V4. Fun-to-drive factor, latest and greatest safety systems, and good gas mileage are the icing on this frosty cake. I was surprised by home much I liked this Outback and I would put it high on my shopping list of two-row SUV-ish vehicles, along with the Grand Cherokee and the 4Runner.

2015 Subaru Outback rear

Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for Hooniverse.com. His ramblings on Eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous automotive stuff can be found there. He is known to enjoy organic coffee made in a French press, day hikes, and nights out on the town. He has yet to find one ideal vehicle for all those activities.

Subaru of America, Inc. provided the vehicle for the purpose of this review. 

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Revised Toyota 86 Gains Some Style In New Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/revised-toyota-86-gains-style-new-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/revised-toyota-86-gains-style-new-edition/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 21:30:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=997114 Shopping for a new Toyota 86? The newly revised JDM model is gaining an injection of style for one variant, in the form of the style Cb. AutoGuide says the 86 style Cb — or Cool beauty — is meant to inject fashion sense into the low-cost sports car, featuring a face that wouldn’t look […]

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Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 01

Shopping for a new Toyota 86? The newly revised JDM model is gaining an injection of style for one variant, in the form of the style Cb.

AutoGuide says the 86 style Cb — or Cool beauty — is meant to inject fashion sense into the low-cost sports car, featuring a face that wouldn’t look too out of place next to its older siblings like the 2000GT. Other features include two-tone paint, leather steering wheel and woodgrain instrument cluster.

The overall 86 range gains revised power steering, improved ride comfort, and a more rigid frame, all features it will share with its Subaru BRZ twin. The BRZ, however, will have more unique interior features, such as satin silver bezels for the steering wheel and shift panel. Powertrain upgrades were not mentioned at this time.

Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 01 Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 02 Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 03 Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 04 Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 05 Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 07 Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 08 Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 09 Toyota 86 Style Cb Edition 06

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Editorial: Subaru Is Proof That Boring Sells http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/editorial-subaru-proof-boring-sells/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/editorial-subaru-proof-boring-sells/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 18:23:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=971762 2014 was a banner year for Subaru. The Japanese auto maker sold a record 500,000 units in the United States. Capacity is bursting at the seams – Subaru simply cannot meet demand without their upcoming expansion at their Indiana plant, and they had to kick the Toyota Camry out just to be able to build […]

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2014 was a banner year for Subaru. The Japanese auto maker sold a record 500,000 units in the United States. Capacity is bursting at the seams – Subaru simply cannot meet demand without their upcoming expansion at their Indiana plant, and they had to kick the Toyota Camry out just to be able to build more cars. One industry source told us that in terms of pure retail sales (fleet, daily rental etc excluded) Subaru beat Hyundai – who would have imagined that even 5 years ago.

Subaru’s lineup is also more “boring” than ever. There are no more manual Outbacks, no more WRX hatchbacks, no turbocharged Legacy models, no more pure wagons. In short, none of the products that make enthusiasts adore the brand. I don’t think it matters.

Outside of a small pocket of New England states, Subaru has perennially struggled to gain a proper foothold in the marketplace. In the epilogue to the seminal marketing book Where The Suckers Moon, the author notes that after a repeated series of mis-steps in terms of both product and marketing, Subaru finally scored a hit with the Outback – in 1995.

It’s taken roughly another 15 years for their lineup of visually bland, mechanically quirky all-wheel drive cars to gain serious traction (no pun intended) outside of the Yankees-and-alternative-lifestyle crowd, and be taken seriously as a mainstream alternative to the Camcords and EsCR-V’s.

The big winners in 2014, in terms of sales were products that were designed to broaden the brand’s appeal to American consumers: the Impreza, Forester, Crosstrek and Outback, which have all undergone some form of commodification to scrub performance variants, manual transmissions and other idiosyncrasies from their lineup. Sales of the Forester were up 29 percent, the Outback up 18. Even the Legacy, the car which has arguably lost most of what once made it cool (turbo engines, stick shifts, wagons) is up 24 percent. Even the new WRX and STI posted a 42 percent gain in sales, despite not having the beloved hatchback body style. The big losers are the low volume BRZ and the aging Tribeca.

Clearly, the new direction is working. Part of that comes down to Subaru’s shrewd positioning in the post-recession era, where its relatively quirky image, standard all-wheel drive, safety-focused marketing campaigns and competitive prices made it attractive not just to consumers who may have bought a mainstream brand, but those who wanted something off-beat, but no longer saw the value in a foreign luxury brand. My parents are a good example of this. They now have a Volvo XC60 T6, but won’t be buying another one, thanks to a series of price increases by Volvo. The new Outback is high on their list. Are they upset about the demise of the turbo engines? No, but not for reasons you think. Says Mum: “We had a GL 10 Turbo and loved it. But when the turbo died, we sold it. It will be nice not to have to worry about that anymore.” Yes, the plural of anecdote isn’t data, but last year alone gave us half a million data points to examine. Pretty convincing numbers if you ask me.

 

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