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, 26 Jan 2015 18:20:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Subaru http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com 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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Subaru Cancels Plans For US-Made XV Crosstrek http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/subaru-cancels-plans-us-made-xv-crosstrek/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/subaru-cancels-plans-us-made-xv-crosstrek/#comments Fri, 26 Dec 2014 14:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=968122 Were you hoping to buy an American-made Subaru XV Crosstrek? You can breathe now. Reuters reports Subaru has cancelled plans to relocate production of the CUV to a facility in Lafayette, Ind., opting to keep production at home in Gunma prefecture. The original plan — based on the automaker’s policy of assembling vehicles in the […]

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Were you hoping to buy an American-made Subaru XV Crosstrek? You can breathe now.

Reuters reports Subaru has cancelled plans to relocate production of the CUV to a facility in Lafayette, Ind., opting to keep production at home in Gunma prefecture.

The original plan — based on the automaker’s policy of assembling vehicles in the markets where they’re sold — called for 65,000 XV Crosstrek models to leave the line in Indiana every year. Capacity constraints at said plant, along with the high sales price for the vehicle — $21,595 for the base 2-liter, $25,995 for the hybrid model — conspired to alter those plans.

The decision follows similar actions from other Japanese automakers, citing a weakening yen as the main driver.

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These Are The Subaru Tribeca’s Dying Days http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/subaru-tribecas-dying-days/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/subaru-tribecas-dying-days/#comments Tue, 23 Dec 2014 13:49:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=963098 Try to conjure up in your memory the Subaru B9 Tribeca’s early days. No, we’re not talking about those TTAC-oriented Tribeca memories – I’m far too new at TTAC to delve into the site’s ancient history. No, think back to when the biggest Subaru crossover was downright common. Yes, “common” might be a bit of […]

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2013 Subaru TribecaTry to conjure up in your memory the Subaru B9 Tribeca’s early days. No, we’re not talking about those TTAC-oriented Tribeca memories – I’m far too new at TTAC to delve into the site’s ancient history. No, think back to when the biggest Subaru crossover was downright common.

Yes, “common” might be a bit of a stretch. But Subaru sold more than 18,000 of these beasts in 2006, the Tribeca’s first full year on the market. (Subaru sold nearly 15,000 Tribecas in the final eight months of 2005, an even healthier sales rate. So yes, the decline began early on.) The B9 Tribeca was America’s 167th-best-selling vehicle in 2006, which doesn’t sound very high, but isn’t very low, either. 134 different nameplates generated fewer sales.

Imagine if in 2014 Subaru was capable of selling the Tribeca at the same rate as some of the crossover’s 2006 cohorts. The Tribeca ranked right alongside the Land Rover Range Rover Sport eight years ago. Had they stayed together, Subaru would be selling 17,000 Tribecas in America in 2014.

Instead, only 723 Tribecas left Subaru dealers between January and November of this year. Cars.com shows only four currently remaining in dealer inventory. Subaru says 30 were sold in November, which represented a massive uptick from the nine sold in October but a 72% decline from November 2013, a 99% drop from the 2129 sold in November 2005.

2129. In November 2005, the Tribeca outsold the whole Jaguar brand, the Suzuki Grand Vitara, the Lexus RX hybrid, the Scion xA, the Pontiac Torrent, the Kia Amanti, the Mazda Tribute, the Mitsubishi Endeavor, the Infiniti FX, the Mercury Mountaineer, and the Range Rover Sport.

Heady times, indeed.

2006 Subaru B9 TribecaBut one year later, Tribeca sales plunged 44%. The decline of the Tribeca has almost always been in effect. Subaru didn’t sell as many in the final eight months of 2006 as they did in the same period of 2005. 2007 sales slid 10%. Tribeca volume then fell 35% in 2008, 46% in 2009, and 58% in 2010. As the market improved 10% in 2011, Tribeca volume improved 13%, but then in 2012 the Tribeca dropped 26% to new lows. Last year, Tribeca sales slid 23%.

Through the first eleven months of 2014, as the defunct Tribeca was cleared out, sales were cut in half. To add insult to injury, and perhaps because of embarrassment, Subaru is no longer including the Tribeca in its monthly sales charts, displaying it instead as a footnote below the vital info. In Subaru’s November results, for example, when the headline read, “Subaru Of America, Inc. Enjoys Best November Ever, Confirms All-Time Sales Record,” the release’s total included a conspicuous asterisk: “Includes 30 Tribeca sales for the month and 723 YTD.”

Subaru-sales-chart-November-2014A decade after B9 Tribeca sales began, the Subaru brand now impresses us with its significant growth month after month after month. As a small automaker with a relatively small product lineup, their ability to sell 43% more autos than VW USA has garnered positive attention. That they’ve produced such growth without any meaningful three-row crossover is especially noteworthy. And it causes one to wonder what they might achieve – what they might already have achieved – with a true Toyota Highlander twin.

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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Subaru Considering Smaller Engines, Phasing Out Six-Cylinder Units http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/subaru-considering-smaller-engines-phasing-six-cylinder-units/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/subaru-considering-smaller-engines-phasing-six-cylinder-units/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 15:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=963914 Say farewell to the Subaru 3.6-liter six-cylinder boxer, as the automaker is considering smaller engines with turbos, among other options. According to CarAdvice, deputy general manager of engineering Yoichi Hori says research by Subaru found that six-cylinder models in its and other automakers’ lineups are seeing declines in uptake, pointing towards a future where “many […]

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2015 Subaru Outback

Say farewell to the Subaru 3.6-liter six-cylinder boxer, as the automaker is considering smaller engines with turbos, among other options.

According to CarAdvice, deputy general manager of engineering Yoichi Hori says research by Subaru found that six-cylinder models in its and other automakers’ lineups are seeing declines in uptake, pointing towards a future where “many companies take the smaller displacement with a turbocharger, or diesel, or hybrid.”

For Subaru, that could mean an engine as small as the 2-liter turbo-four boxer found in the 2015 Impreza, WRX, Forester and XV Crosstrek, with the possibility of a 2.5-liter unit, as well.

Diesel is also on the table: Hori says his employer is looking to take its 2-liter diesel and tune it toward two different states, providing more performance or fuel economy depending on interest. A PHEV diesel may also appear on the options list, though Hori didn’t say much on the subject.

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Subaru BRAT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/junkyard-find-1982-subaru-brat-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/junkyard-find-1982-subaru-brat-2/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 14:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=960609 Ah, the Subaru BRAT. Just as you can’t find anyone who hates The Ramones, you can’t find anyone who wants to beat on the Subaru BRAT with a baseball bat. As perhaps the best-loved car that shows up in self-service wrecking yards with any regularity, the BRAT always inspires me to whip out my camera […]

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15 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin Ah, the Subaru BRAT. Just as you can’t find anyone who hates The Ramones, you can’t find anyone who wants to beat on the Subaru BRAT with a baseball bat. As perhaps the best-loved car that shows up in self-service wrecking yards with any regularity, the BRAT always inspires me to whip out my camera when I see a junked example. So far this series, we’ve admired this ’79, this ’79, this ’84, this ’82, and this Sawzall-ized ’86 crypto-BRAT.
04 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinOnly 88,288 miles! I found this car in a well-stocked yard just north of Los Angeles, not too far from the ranch where Ronald Reagan drove his BRAT. Yes, Midwesterners, that means that you’re looking at a low-mile 32-year-old Japanese car without the slighest speck of rust on its body… and it’s going to be crushed, shredded, put in a container in Long Beach, and shipped to China to make Emgrand EC7s.
10 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt has the “Twin-Halo” roof option.
05 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinA time-capsule early-80s Radio Shack cassette deck, complete with the coveted auto-stop feature!
06 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinHow many BRATs were made with factory air conditioning?
18 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou can see evidence of a camper shell on this one. Poor doomed BRAT.

03 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1982 Subaru BRAT Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Subaru’s WRX/STi Is Outselling The BRZ and FR-S Twins Combined http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/subarus-wrxsti-outselling-brz-fr-s-twins-combined/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/subarus-wrxsti-outselling-brz-fr-s-twins-combined/#comments Fri, 28 Nov 2014 13:54:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=950417 Through the first ten months of 2014, Subaru has sold 19,969 copies of their Impreza-based WRX and STi, 996 more than the number of Toyobaru sports cars sold in America this year. WRX/STi sales are up 35% through the end of October 2014, a 140% increase compared with the full 2010 calendar year, 45% compared […]

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2015 Subaru WRX STiThrough the first ten months of 2014, Subaru has sold 19,969 copies of their Impreza-based WRX and STi, 996 more than the number of Toyobaru sports cars sold in America this year.

WRX/STi sales are up 35% through the end of October 2014, a 140% increase compared with the full 2010 calendar year, 45% compared with all of 2011, 47% compared with 2012, and 11% compared with all of 2013.

2014, as you know, is not over yet. Subaru USA has been selling just under 2000 WRXs and STis per month.

Year-over-year volume has increased in 24 consecutive months. Nearly three out of every ten Imprezas sold is either a WRX or an STi.

The sports car market may be drying up, but it’s not dead yet. Scion, with 12,293 FR-S sales this year, and Subaru, with 6680 BRZ sales, have combined for 18,973 sales in 2014. Yes, that’s down 18% from the 23,126 sold in the first ten months of 2013. True, monthly BRZ volume peaked 20 months ago in March 2013. And no, FR-S sales haven’t topped 2000 units since the car’s first full month on sale, June 2012, and monthly FR-S volume has twice fallen into three-digits this year. Sports cars tend to do this. They surge with early interest and quickly decline with age.

But ignoring the standards set by Detroit muscle – 182,196 Camaro, Mustang, and Challenger sales this year – these are relatively popular cars, given the category in which they compete. Two-doors which sell more often than the FR-S aren’t nonexistent (Audi A5, Mini Cooper Hardtop, the three-door Hyundai Veloster, Volkswagen’s Beetle, the Chevrolet Corvette, Fiat 500, and the aforementioned trio), nor are they direct rivals for the Toyobaru twins.

Other places for sport compact-like money? Unfortunately, automakers don’t routinely release specific sales figures for models like the Civic Si, Focus and Fiesta ST, or Abarth 500s. Sales of the outgoing Mazda MX-5 Miata are down 20% to 4143 in 2014. The Volkswagen Golf GTI, however, is up 23% to 13,848 U.S. sales year-to-date.

Yet unlike the Impreza’s increasingly popular sporting iterations, the GTI isn’t outselling the combined Scion/Subaru pairing. The WRX/STi has done that in five of the last seven months; in seven of the last ten.

In 2013, the FR-S and BRZ combined for 26,914 year-end sales while the WRX/STi duo managed 17,969. In 2014, the coin has been flipped to reveal a very different side.

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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VW Bringing Golf SportWagen 4Motion, Alltrack To US In 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/vw-bringing-golf-sportwagen-4motion-alltrack-us-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/vw-bringing-golf-sportwagen-4motion-alltrack-us-2016/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949993 Looking to muscle in upon Subaru territory, Volkswagen will be bringing over the Golf SportWagen 4Motion in standard and Alltrack models for 2016. Automotive News reports the plan was announced by Volkswagen Group of America CEO Michael Horn during last week’s LA Auto Show, citing demand from dealers and consumers alike. The Alltrack variant, unveiled […]

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Looking to muscle in upon Subaru territory, Volkswagen will be bringing over the Golf SportWagen 4Motion in standard and Alltrack models for 2016.

Automotive News reports the plan was announced by Volkswagen Group of America CEO Michael Horn during last week’s LA Auto Show, citing demand from dealers and consumers alike.

The Alltrack variant, unveiled at the 2014 Paris Auto Show, will be paired against the Subaru XV Crosstrek with the aim of capturing a piece of the U.S. small crossover market, gain more overall U.S. market share, as well as using more of the Puebla, Mexico factory where the Golf is assembled now.

As for the standard SportWagen, FWD versions will arrive sometime this coming spring, while tooling for the AWD 2016 model is beginning to be installed. Horn expects the SportWagen to make up 50 percent of all Golf sales once VW completes its lineup expansion.

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NHTSA, USDOT Demand National Recall Action From Takata, Automakers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nhtsa-usdot-demand-national-recall-action-takata-automakers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nhtsa-usdot-demand-national-recall-action-takata-automakers/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949217 While we were looking over the latest and greatest from the 2014 LA Auto Show, the Takata band played on. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation are both calling for a national recall of all vehicles with Takata’s airbags, citing a catastrophic failure of a module outside the high-humidity […]

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While we were looking over the latest and greatest from the 2014 LA Auto Show, the Takata band played on.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation are both calling for a national recall of all vehicles with Takata’s airbags, citing a catastrophic failure of a module outside the high-humidity zone previously established in an earlier recall.

The NHTSA also issued a General Order to the airbag supplier and 10 automakers — BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota — requiring all to submit documents regarding “completed, ongoing or planned testing” of the supplier’s inflators outside of the current recall zone, with the goal of having all involved come correct with the agency and the American public about what they all plan to do about the airbags. Takata alone received a Special Order, regarding the propellent used in its airbags.

Responses to both orders are due by December 5.

Three of the 10 automakers involved with the General Order — Ford, GM and Honda — may likely have the hardest time replacing Takata completely. Per Bloomberg, the trio worked closely with the supplier to develop special features for their vehicles — Ford’s Adaptive Steering system, GM’s front center airbags — features that would take a while to work out with a new supplier if a deeper relationship were to take hold.

Meanwhile, only 6 percent of the 8 million vehicles equipped with Takata’s airbags have been repaired thus far, a rate critics of the supplier and its client base find appalling. The pace isn’t likely to quicken, however; Toyota says it would take a year at minimum to test and replace its units with those from other suppliers, while Nissan said doing the same for itself wasn’t feasible.

Returning to the Beltway, Reuters reports Takata had presented documents to the NHTSA linked to a 2009 accident involving its airbags, only for the agency to decline, as it had closed its investigation on the supplier and Honda, whose vehicle was involved in said accident. The NHTSA informed the news agency that the documents “would not have added to the agency’s understanding of the issues involved in that particular investigation.”

Speaking of Honda, senior executive Rick Schostek admitted before Congress that his company failed to notify the NHTSA or its customer base about the issues with Takata’s airbags, promising to offer consumers a loaner if their affected vehicles are repaired quickly due to supply shortages. As for Takata’s Hiroshi Shimizu, Automotive News says he went on the defensive, going so far as to claim that it was “hard” for him to “answer yes or no” to several questions asked by the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, much to the dismay and bemusement of the committee members.

Prior to the call for a nationwide recall, the regional-specific actions, as well as the NHTSA’s order to consumers to have their airbags replaced immediately, contributed to public anxiety over whether or not the airbag before them would disfigure or kill in an accident. According to Bloomberg, Takata itself believes a national recall would only further exacerbate those fears, potentially diverting resources “from where they’re needed, putting lives at risk.”

Meanwhile, Reuters reports the Monclova, Mexico facility where the defective units were assembled had issues from the moment it opened its doors in 2000. Aside from the units made in 2001, 2002 and 2012, an explosion in 2006 — one some workers claim was fueled by the same ammonium nitrate used in Takata’s airbags as a propellent — jump-started a production run where quality slipped against hourly quotas. Whether the top brass knew of the problems, however, is a different story, as it never sent permanent staff to Mexico from its headquarters in Japan.

Over in Germany, BMW is working with the supplier to have its airbags made closer to home in Freiberg, transferring production from Mexico. The move only applies to BMW, who expects additional production to come online by mid-December. Alternative arrangements would take two years and “divert attention from current recall efforts,” per the automaker.

Finally, U.S. Air Force First Lieutenant Stephanie Erdman gave her testimony before Congress, detailing what had happened to her when a vehicle turned in front of her 2002 Honda Civic in September 2013. According to The Detroit News, the resulting injuries and ongoing surgeries led to a lawsuit against Honda, whose certified dealership in Destin, Fla. failed to notify Erdman of the February 2010 driver’s side airbag recall or what would happen if the airbag deployed in the wrong conditions, nor did the dealership replace the unit in question. She also feared that once the spotlight subsides on Takata et al, the problems would still be there, and urged Congress to continue to hold all accountable for their actions.

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Junkyard Find: 1979 Subaru BRAT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1979-subaru-brat-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/junkyard-find-1979-subaru-brat-2/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 14:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=943729 Where I live (Denver), wrecking yards overflow with old Subarus. I walk past junked early-80s Leones (or GLs or whatever Subaru’s confusing naming conventions of the era were) all the time, but I’ll always stop and photograph a BRAT. So far in this series, the BRAT roster includes this ’79, this ’84, this ’82, and […]

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19 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhere I live (Denver), wrecking yards overflow with old Subarus. I walk past junked early-80s Leones (or GLs or whatever Subaru’s confusing naming conventions of the era were) all the time, but I’ll always stop and photograph a BRAT. So far in this series, the BRAT roster includes this ’79, this ’84, this ’82, and this Sawzall-converted ’86. Last week, I spotted another example, and it still had its Chicken Tax-dodgin’ jump seats.
02 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYes, the personal-injury lawyers loved these seats, but they let Subaru evade the 25% tariff on imported light trucks.
14 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinRemember AOL CD spam? This car still has one!
10 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s somewhat rusty (I know, Midwesterners, you don’t consider this to be true rust), but could have been kept on the road a while longer.
15 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinCorn stopped by.
17 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe condition of the seats and the AOL disc suggest lengthy outdoor storage of a nondriving vehicle.

01 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1979 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Subaru Legacy and Mazda 6: Low Volume Midsize Cars Making A Small Difference http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/subaru-legacy-mazda-6-low-volume-midsize-cars-making-small-difference/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/subaru-legacy-mazda-6-low-volume-midsize-cars-making-small-difference/#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 12:36:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=935482 America’s 35th president, John F. Kennedy, said, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” Automobile manufacturing is not public policy. (Actually it is, basically all the time.) But virtually every automaker tries to make a difference in the midsize car sector, yet are the differences each manufacturer makes worthy of a mention […]

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2015 Subaru LEgacyAmerica’s 35th president, John F. Kennedy, said, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.”

Automobile manufacturing is not public policy. (Actually it is, basically all the time.) But virtually every automaker tries to make a difference in the midsize car sector, yet are the differences each manufacturer makes worthy of a mention here?

2014, like most years, is a time of great change for the segment. We’ve been steadily approaching a premature refresh of the Camry, America’s best-selling car. Chrysler Group replaced its Sebring-based 200 and Dodge Avenger with an Italian-based (can we call it that?) 2015 200. Hyundai’s avant-garde sixth-generation Sonata was replaced by a more conservative 2015 model.

Also recently launched was the sixth-generation Subaru Legacy. Subaru USA reported their best-ever Legacy sales month in September, when 6198 were sold.

Crossing the 6K threshold is no mean feat for a car which averaged fewer than 3800 monthly sales in 2012 and 2013.

With real volume coming from the company’s midsize car (plus improvements from the Outback, XV Crosstrek, and Forester) Subaru yet again reported record brand-wide sales: September 2014 was Subaru’s best-ever September. Sales have increased in 34 consecutive months.

Meanwhile, Mazda reported the 6’s sixth consecutive year-over-year monthly improvement as September sales shot up to 4263 units. 6 sales have now topped 4000 units in five consecutive months after crested the 4K mark only seven times in the previous 28 months.

2014 Mazda 6Measured by percentage gains, the 6 was America’s second-fastest-growing midsize nameplate in September, surging 35% as Legacy sales jumped 118%.

Perhaps neither car made a huge difference in the overall scheme of things – they accounted for just 0.8% of the new vehicles sold in the United States last month – but their impact on the midsize sector was notable. In September 2013, they generated just 3.5% of America’s midsize car volume; that figure rose to 5.9% in September 2014. With 10,461 sales between the pair, they combined to produce market share similar to the Chrysler 200 (10,995 September sales) and Kia Optima (10,908 September sales).

Nevertheless, the 31% year-over-year improvement from the Honda Accord, America’s best-selling car in both August and September, translated to 7780 extra sales compared with September 2013. In other words, Honda added more sales to an already high September 2013 Accord total than Subaru or Mazda’s midsize total. The Accord’s market share, on its own, increased by 3.7 percentage points to 18.5%.

America’s four best-selling midsize cars so far this year (Camry, Accord, Altima, Fusion) combine to sell 60% more often than the next eight-best-selling midsize cars (Sonata, Malibu, Optima, 200, Passat, Avenger, 6, Legacy).

This doesn’t translate to bad news for the two smaller Japanese automakers, not at all. Subaru will likely sell more than 50,000 Legacy sedans this year, a total not achieved by the Legacy nameplate since its sales figures were Outback-inclusive. Mazda has already sold more 6s through the first nine months of 2014 than in all of 2009, 2010, 2011, or 2012 and will likely produce the greatest year-end 6 volume since 2007, when 57,575 6s were sold.

Clearly, lower volume intermediate cars are having an impact as they utilize their unique strengths to attract attention in a stagnating segment. And yet even in September, a most difference-making of months, the Legacy and 6’s achievements pale in comparison to the Accord’s surge, like filibustering senators who aren’t blessed with veto pens in their desk drawers.

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Acura May Follow Subaru With AWD-Only Product Plan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/acura-may-follow-subaru-awd-product-plan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/acura-may-follow-subaru-awd-product-plan/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 14:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=930906 Looking for a way to revitalize itself, Acura is considering taking a cue from Subaru by going all in on all-wheel drive. Automotive News reports the plan is one of several backed by the brand’s Acura Business Planning Office — formed earlier this year to rethink and revitalize the brand in the United States — […]

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Looking for a way to revitalize itself, Acura is considering taking a cue from Subaru by going all in on all-wheel drive.

Automotive News reports the plan is one of several backed by the brand’s Acura Business Planning Office — formed earlier this year to rethink and revitalize the brand in the United States — though nothing is set in stone thus far.

Acura boss Koichi Fukuo believes that AWD is the way to go, citing the brand’s need to offer “something different” compared to the competition. That said, premium brands like BMW and Audi already offer AWD, with 58 percent of BMWs and 90 percent of Audis so equipped.

As for taking influence from Subaru’s success with the platform, Fukuo wants to do for what he calls “Acurists” — the loyal customer base he aims to cultivate through the AWD plan — what the Pleiadian automaker has done for its “Subarists”:

Looking at Subaru, I felt that we have to have a strong, clear direction as a brand. What’s important is to have the technology, styling and performance to evolve all together. Otherwise, I don’t think we can increase the number of loyal customers, so-called Acurists.

At present, the TLX and the upcoming hybrid RLX will have the brand’s next-gen Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive system, the latter receiving the Sport Hybrid variant that will also move the second-gen NSX when the sports car leaves Ohio in 2015. The rest of the lineup will follow over the years as each model comes up for renewal and/or refreshing. Power for all will come more powerful engines, none of which will be V8s or V10s due to weight issues interfering with the performance of a given vehicle.

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The Impreza Is Subaru’s Top Seller, Sort Of http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/impreza-subarus-top-seller-sort/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/impreza-subarus-top-seller-sort/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 12:39:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=930370 Subaru USA didn’t sell as many Imprezas in 2013 as they did in 2012. By Subaru’s reporting methods, Impreza sales have fallen this year, as well, sliding 0.3% through the first three-quarters of 2014. But Subaru narrowly defines the term, “Impreza.” That’s a good thing, as too many automakers don’t provide us with longed-for breakdowns […]

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ImprezaSubaru USA didn’t sell as many Imprezas in 2013 as they did in 2012. By Subaru’s reporting methods, Impreza sales have fallen this year, as well, sliding 0.3% through the first three-quarters of 2014.

But Subaru narrowly defines the term, “Impreza.” That’s a good thing, as too many automakers don’t provide us with longed-for breakdowns in their monthly sales releases. (Examples: F-Series, Silverado, Ram, the four-bodystyle E-Class.) However, this means a cursory glance will suggest that the Impreza range is increasingly less relevant in Subaru showrooms.

In fact, that’s not the case at all.

31.6% of the new Subarus sold in the United States this year have been proper Imprezas, not just Impreza-related cars or Impreza-based cars, but true Imprezas: Imprezas with more power and more wings and Imprezas with black-rimmed wheelarches and taller ride heights, yes, but Imprezas nonetheless.

That’s up from 31.3% during the first nine months of 2013.

subaru-xv-crosstrek-hybridThe Impreza that Subaru calls an Impreza, with a naturally aspirated 2.0L four-cylinder powerplant, as a sedan and hatchback, is Subaru’s fourth-best-selling model, on its own.

Subaru’s third-best-selling model is the increasingly popular XV Crosstrek, a genuine Impreza hatchback with a tougher exterior and added ride height (XV Crosstrek ground clearance: 8.7 inches. Ford Explorer AWD ground clearance: 7.6 inches.).

The WRX and STi, Subaru’s sixth-best-selling model line, is not nearly as liberated from the Impreza’s foundation as the WRX Concept from 2013’s New York International Auto Show indicated it would be, either.

For the record, I’m not calling out Subaru’s strategy, as this is brilliant marketing. I wouldn’t suggest the XV can’t crawl a rock or two, because it can. I won’t say the WRX isn’t a rocketship, because it is. Subaru’s decision to differentiate the models has clearly been a fruitful one. This is simply a presentation of numbers so we can more clearly see one core element which drives Subaru’s growth.

Individually, XV Crosstrek sales are up 43% to 54,303 units in 2014, Impreza volume is down 0.3% to 46,445 units, and WRX/STi sales are up 33% to 17,884, more than double the number of WRXs and STis sold by Subaru in all of 2010.

2015-Subaru-WRX-STI-drivingAs a unit, they’re up 21% to 118,632 units in 2014 as the top-selling representative of an automaker which has climbed 20% in 2014. Among America’s ten-best-selling auto brands, only Jeep is growing faster. While a quick look at the figures suggest the Impreza is a drain on the ticket, a secondary scan offers up convincing proof that the Impreza is an essential part of Subaru USA’s lineup, especially when Subaru turns the Impreza into a more expensive XV.

Of course, now we can play the same game with the Legacy’s figures. Sales of Subaru’s midsize sedan are small in number (rising 4% to 34,718 in 2014), but the Legacy is the donor vehicle (or vice versa) which helps to create the Outback, Subaru’s second-best-selling model. Outback volume is up 8% to 97,266 units in 2014. Together, they form 35.2% of Subaru’s U.S. sales output. Subaru has also sold 117,940 Foresters in 2014 along with 6245 BRZs and and 684 Tribecas.

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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Capsule Review: 2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-review-2015-subaru-legacy-3-6r-limited/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-review-2015-subaru-legacy-3-6r-limited/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 13:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=920122 In the very recent past, six-cylinder midsize sedans were often the cars consumers acquired because the basic four-cylinder powerplants were insufficient devices. As fuel efficiency became more of a concern, as economic concerns prompted families to consider less costly purchases, and as larger four-cylinder engines became more refined and powerful, the six-cylinder option gradually became […]

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2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R LimitedIn the very recent past, six-cylinder midsize sedans were often the cars consumers acquired because the basic four-cylinder powerplants were insufficient devices. As fuel efficiency became more of a concern, as economic concerns prompted families to consider less costly purchases, and as larger four-cylinder engines became more refined and powerful, the six-cylinder option gradually became less necessary.

In 2014, upgrading from the four to the six means an increase from sufficient power to over-the-top acceleration.

Usually.

Rewind to 2002. The V6-powered Honda Accord, a 3.0L car with 200 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque, was tasked with motivating 3274 pounds. The latest four-cylinder in Honda’s Accord is a 2.4L tasked with propelling only two fewer pounds (in Sport trim) with only 11 fewer ponies than in that 2002 V6. The newer Accord – which just recorded record-high monthly U.S. sales – is two inches longer, its cabin is only slightly larger, and its trunk is 12% more capacious. It’s absolutely fine, completely capable, and as quick as the old V6, if not quicker. Or, if you want to accelerate like an 80s (or 90s?) supercar, you buy the V6.

2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited profileThere’s much more to the new Subaru Legacy than an engine. It’s the only car in the class that comes equipped exclusively with all-wheel-drive. Its cabin is truly vast. The trunk, while shallow, is deep and wide and squared off. Interior quality is a couple of generations ahead of the last car. Road and wind noise has been kept to a minimum, and ride quality is really rather impressive. 576 watts and 12 speakers of Harman Kardon audio provides a positive acoustic experience. The steering and handling lack the edge of third and fourth-generation Legacy 2.5 GTs, body roll being the biggest complaint, but the steering is more natural and weightier than what you’ll find in many intermediate cars, and there’s no secondary jostling of occupants as the car recovers from severe road imperfections.

Driver comfort is enhanced by terrific visibility, and while my lanky frame never felt low enough in the car, there is a sensation of abundant up-front space that’s in keeping with contemporary “mid”-size cars, which easy fill a garage. The extensive list of active safety features (ADC, PCB, PCTM, VLDSW, BSD, LCA, RCTA) on this top-trim Legacy Limited work unobtrusively, unlike the Jeep Cherokee which brings you harshly to an unnecessary halt when reversing, for example.

2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited rearBut in an era which supplies us with perfectly conventional family sedans that tempt consumers to switch out the capable four-cylinder engine for a high-performance V6  – America’s three favourite midsize sedans still offer remarkably quick V6 powerplants – the Legacy’s 3.6L horizontally-opposed six-cylinder reeks of insignificant extravagance. Subaru USA only offers the 3.6L on full bore Limited models and asks for an extra $3100 to take the plunge.

And what a plunge it is, as average fuel economy takes a nosedive from 30 mpg in the 2.5L to 23. The boxer six’s city rating is 20 mpg. In a mix of city and highway driving, we averaged 19.6 mpg over the course of a week. The six-cylinder’s fuel economy ratings are better than the all-wheel-drive V6-engined Chrysler 200’s; not as good as the 2.0L EcoBoost AWD Ford Fusion’s. Granted, in that Fusion, we saw 18.4 mpg. An Accord V6, lacking all-wheel-drive of course, is rated at 21/34/26 city/highway/combined.

2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited steering wheelThe Subaru’s six-cylinder fuel economy is a highlighted issue because it’s yet another penalty you pay, in addition to the higher transaction price, for an insufficient amount of heavy throttle fun. By modern standards, the Legacy 3.6R doesn’t feel like a genuinely quick car, because it’s not a genuinely quick car. Four-cylinder power in a Mazda 6, for instance, will get you away from stoplights more quickly. Indeed, the last Legacy 3.6 accelerates more rapidly. The Subaru is heavier than it used to be, and that’s an undeniable part of the problem, but that weight pays dividends in a structure that feels very solid and a cabin that’s nicely hushed. Indeed, the 3.6L isn’t overwhelming even on paper: with just 256 horsepower, it does not rank among the elite. No, the bigger issue isn’t the Legacy’s overall heft and dearth of impressive specs but rather the connecting element between the engine and the wheels: this is the kind of CVT that gives CVTs a bad name.

Certain that added power cures all CVT ills, I was pleased to discover that the CVT in the latest Outback 2.5i we tested a few weeks ago was mostly inoffensive. Yes, sometimes it made unpleasant sounds. (This 3.6 makes a great noise but its orchestral talents are thrown out of tune by the conductor, the CVT.) But the 2.5’s delivery of power was not hindered by its gearlessness. Knowing this, I assumed that an additional 81 horsepower would only smooth out the CVTness.

Perhaps Subaru made similar assumptions and therefore did not take the time to properly calibrate the pairing, as the dearth of initial acceleration from rest is a miserable disappointment. The paddle shifters offer real assistance, but the frustration of being in a six-cylinder midsize car that simply doesn’t feel like a substantial upgrade over the four is not going to be alleviated by operating the paddles on a constant basis. (A six-speed manual is not available with either of the Legacy’s two engines in the United States; Canadian buyers can select a three-pedal layout with the 2.5L engine.)

2015 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited Tech interiorFortunately, these disappointing realizations serve to highlight the gains made by more basic Legacys in the Subaru’s latest revamp. The new infotainment interface is quick and uncomplicated; only a long reach to the tuning knob and excessive glare on the screen itself let down an otherwise straightforward centre stack. The outgoing Legacy I drove around last winter was hugely uncompetitive. With all-wheel-drive included in the price and inoffensive styling, perhaps even a handsome front end, the new 2015 Legacy is just as staunchly Subaru as it’s always been, if less athletic, but it now feels as well-built as the category’s top sellers.

North America’s new vehicle market has developed a large appetite for cars and crossovers with four driven wheels. Yet the major midsize players from Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, Kia, and Volkswagen have either never entered the all-wheel-drive fray or have forsaken the notion. Massive leaps in refinement have created an opportunity for the 2015 Subaru Legacy to capitalize on its unconventional layout.

The fact that the underperforming CVT-laden six-cylinder option is a terrible value is truly of little consequence on that front. A dollar-minded sedan buyer with a yearning for all-wheel-drive, decent fuel efficiency, and space for four already knows he’s better served by the base engine. Alas, historically speaking, not many of those buyers have actually existed.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. The Legacy was provided for review by Subaru Canada.

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Chart Of The Day: Subaru vs. Volkswagen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/chart-day-subaru-vs-volkswagen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/chart-day-subaru-vs-volkswagen/#comments Sat, 20 Sep 2014 12:53:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=912882 It’s not a brand new thing, this Subaru-besting-Volkswagen trend. But when Subaru outsold the Volkswagen brand in the United States in 2009 and 2010, Subaru was on a rapid upswing despite the market’s sharp decline, and all auto sales results were thought to be skewed by the recession. Year-over-year, Volkswagen volume shot up 26% in […]

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Subaru vs Volkswagen sales chartIt’s not a brand new thing, this Subaru-besting-Volkswagen trend. But when Subaru outsold the Volkswagen brand in the United States in 2009 and 2010, Subaru was on a rapid upswing despite the market’s sharp decline, and all auto sales results were thought to be skewed by the recession.

Year-over-year, Volkswagen volume shot up 26% in calendar year 2011 and 35% in 2012, a 113,731-unit increase. But 2013 volume fell 7%, and though the total number of sales was still far higher than anything Volkswagen had recently achieved, 2012 aside, there was cause for concern. Volkswagen’s new Passat, which, when 14,462 were sold in late December 2012 looked to have potential, slid 6% in a slowly growing midsize market. Volkswagen’s next big launch was to be the Golf, a car which, in America, simply didn’t have the potential for restore-the-brand volume that the Jetta and Passat sedans possess, or were thought to posess.

So here we are, with Subaru having reported its highest monthly U.S. sales total ever in August and Volkswagen having reported 17 consecutive year-over-year declines. Not all of the products marketed by these two brands in the United States are necessarily direct rivals, but they are both seen by many of their own buyers as slightly upmarket mainstream brands: Subaru arrived at this point after, until recently, fostering a niche status, while Volkswagen has consistently played on its German heritage.

The contradictions are obvious. Subaru is a tiny, part-Toyota-owned Japanese automaker. Volkswagen is the headline brand for the world’s second-largest automaker. The average margin of Subaru’s “victories” over Volkswagen during the last four months has been 13,693 units.

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The Source Of August 2014’s U.S. Auto Sales Growth http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/source-august-2014s-u-s-auto-sales-growth/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/source-august-2014s-u-s-auto-sales-growth/#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2014 12:28:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=906633 Forecasts didn’t call for rain on August 2014’s auto sales parade, but there was definitely a general feeling of overcast heading into Wednesday as automakers prepared to release their monthly and year-to-date sales results. The rate of growth in the U.S. auto industry since the recession ended has been striking, but the chances of that […]

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U.S. auto sales growth by units gained August 2014Forecasts didn’t call for rain on August 2014’s auto sales parade, but there was definitely a general feeling of overcast heading into Wednesday as automakers prepared to release their monthly and year-to-date sales results.

The rate of growth in the U.S. auto industry since the recession ended has been striking, but the chances of that growth lasting forever – particularly when a month like August is compared with a very strong month like August 2013 – seemed slim.

Yet auto sales increased by 5.5% to more than 1.58 million in August 2014, an improvement of more than 80,000 units.

The forecasts weren’t all wrong. High-volume brands like Chevrolet, Dodge, and Volkswagen all reported losses, a 13% decline in Volkswagen’s case, the 17th consecutive month in which Volkswagen brand sales have decreased in the United States.

Jaguar volume fell 31%. Infiniti volume fell 23%. Fiat was down 20%. Scion sales likewise slid 20%. Cadillac volume was off August 2013’s pace by 18%. Sales at BMW’s Mini brand were down 17%. Buick and Volvo both lost 10%; Acura and Land Rover fell 9%. Lincoln was just south of level.

The bright spots, however, were particularly bright. Jeep, Ram, Subaru, Nissan, and Toyota were the biggest brands to post significant increases. Maserati, Porsche, Smart, Mitsubishi, and Audi were among the lower-volume auto brands to post meaningful improvements: 278%, 36%, 34%, 28%, and 22%, respectively.

Mazda, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, GMC, and Lexus all grew by at least 10%. Toyota brand sales were up 7%. Hyundai grew 6%. (Kia, Chrysler, Honda, Bentley, and Ford improvements were all below the market’s 5.5% growth rate.)

Back to those five large and fast-growing brands, Jeep reported its best-ever sales month for the new Cherokee, America’s eighth-ranked SUV/crossover in August. Ram’s market share in the full-size truck category grew by more than four percentage points. Subaru sold more than 50,000 vehicles for the first time in a single month, and Nissan reported a car sales improvement of 18% in a car market that improved by just 2%. Toyota shot the RAV4 up to top spot among utility vehicles with record sales in a second consecutive month.

As for the fast-growing lower-volume brands, Maserati outsold Jaguar, albeit by just 49 units. Even with the Macan excluded, Porsche sales jumped 7.3%. Mercedes-Benz reported more than 1000 Smart Fortwo sales for the third time in five months, having not done so previously since September 2012.

Mitsubishi is not back to being a brand that can sell more than 300,000 cars annually in the United States, but sales have increased in six consecutive months and in ten of the last eleven months.

Audi reported its highest-ever monthly sales in the U.S. in August, generating 41% of the brand’s sales with Q models and the A4 Allroad, including the first 243 Q3 sales.

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Subaru Reviving The WRX Hatchback? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/subaru-reviving-wrx-hatchback/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/subaru-reviving-wrx-hatchback/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 19:33:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=904969 When the latest Subaru WRX was released, the enthusiast fan base was forced to suffer the indignity of a sedan-only lineup. Subaru’s company line was that there weren’t sufficient resources to develop a hatchback model as well. But that might be changing. A hatchback WRX mule was spied undergoing hot weather testing, with a WRX […]

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When the latest Subaru WRX was released, the enthusiast fan base was forced to suffer the indignity of a sedan-only lineup. Subaru’s company line was that there weren’t sufficient resources to develop a hatchback model as well. But that might be changing.

A hatchback WRX mule was spied undergoing hot weather testing, with a WRX front end grafted onto an Impreza hatchback bodyshell. Given the popularity of hatchbacks in both world markets, and the WRX hatch’s fanbase stateside (where it accounted for about 45 percent of WRX sales), there’s a good case for its return.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-review-2015-subaru-outback-2-5i/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-review-2015-subaru-outback-2-5i/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 12:10:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=902858 Of all the things that struck me during my week with the 2015 Subaru Outback at the end of August, it was the realization that this nameplate has been around for two decades which shocked me most. Is this because I’m getting old, that when I think something occurred recently, I find out it actually […]

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

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

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

True, you could argue that most modern crossovers have stolen their offense from the Outback’s playbook. But driving the Outback is different, and it continues to be perceived by the vast majority of actual Outback buyers as different, as a true crossover; a true mid-point, between car and SUV.

Audi’s A6 and A4 Allroads are all good and well, but they’re very rare cars. Volvo’s XC70 has lingered, but it too has become very uncommon in terms of new car sales. Don’t even say the words, “Honda Crosstour,” within range of my ears.

One then wonders what’s always been so different about the Outback.

To answer that question, we would need to examine multiple products from multiple periods over the the last two decades. So what about this new car? What makes this 2015 model great; what ensures further success for the fifth Outback?

2015 Subaru OutbackSubjectively speaking, it looks better than the outgoing car. Though strikingly similar in most ways, perhaps too similar from some angles, its face is cleaner and classier. Unfortunately, this specific tester, a 2.5i Touring version on loan from Subaru Canada, features alloy wheels that do a really good impression of cheap wheel covers.

It’s better built than previous Outbacks were. There’s no hint of fragility to this car, no after-bump jiggles and rattles, no door-closing thwacks where there ought to be, and are, thunks. It is more than vaguely Toyota-like, and given the relationship between the two companies, we shouldn’t be surprised.

Interior quality and workmanship has taken a big leap forward, particularly where it matters around the driver. The infotainment unit is now modern, which is to say it meets our low expectations for in-car systems but doesn’t rise to the level of convenience you’d find in the new Mazda 3 or the depth of services in Chrysler’s UConnect.

With each new Outback iteration, there’s been a moderate increase in space and comfort, progressively less of the knees-to-chest awkwardness for rear passengers and arguably better seats for front passengers. This remains true, but I’d like the front seats to feature side bolstering that wasn’t quite so far away from my sides. The headrests feature a welcome range of adjustability.

Cargo capacity is up slightly from 34.3 cubic feet to 35.3; from 71.3 to 73.3 cubic feet with the seats folded as overall length grew by six-tenths of an inch.

The Outback is still a smart car. The roof crossbars are embedded in the flush-mounted side rails until you need them. Combined city/highway fuel efficiency has increased from 26 mpg to 28, three miles more per gallon than the 2014 Honda CR-V, America’s best-selling SUV/crossover, is rated to achieve, and on par with the 2014 four-cylinder Toyota Camry, America’s most popular car. Pressing Subaru’s X-Mode button turns the Outback, already a tall-riding car with 8.7 inches of ground clearance, into a very capable mud-runner by remapping the transmission and all-wheel-drive system and traction control. It’s not a joke.

2015 Subaru Outback rearThe 2015 Outback’s on-road behaviour produces what may be the most convincing argument that the Outback has improved. Ride quality is superb, as the Outback isolates occupants from road imperfections while maintaining a nice amount of firmness. The Outback has become a very quiet highway cruiser, no vibration seeps through the pedals or wheel or shifter, and the boxer four-cylinder has been further refined to reduce unwanted boxer noises.

Say what you will about the character of older H-4 Subarus, they weren’t the engines you strapped on if you were going to meet the queen. This 2.5L is now smoother, and there is still a hint of flat-four warble if you call upon it.

Subaru has also made a slight return to its more enjoyable driving roots after a fourth-gen car that was all too boring to drive. This new Outback doesn’t have the the same amount of athleticism enjoyed by the third-generation Outback; nor is there any real interactivity here. But body roll is kept to a minimum in comparison with most small crossovers and the steering is sufficiently quick to make me think I’d hustle this car whenever the opportunity presented itself. I wouldn’t have said that about the last Outback, and I certainly wouldn’t say the same for the Toyota RAV4 or Nissan Rogue.

Hustling is perhaps a stretch for the overburdened 175-horsepower powerplant, of course. There’s a great deal more cooperation now between the engine and the continuously variable transmission, so much so that the car no longer feels slow unless you’re accelerating from rest up a steep hill. The CVT is rarely annoying, offering a distinct stepping sensation and paddles if you want to exert some control. In the Canadian market, consumers are still given the option of selecting a manual transmission. Oh joy, oh delight.

2015 Subaru Outback InteriorYes, you’ll want the 256-horsepower six-cylinder, but you might not want its fuel bill, 22 mpg overall, or the $3000 premium you’ll pay on top-trim Limited models to get that boxer six. (Limiteds start at $30,845 including destination, $3000 more than the Outback Premium, which is $2100 more than the base Outback. We averaged a somewhat disappointing 24 mpg in mostly urban driving in the four-cylinder.) And you won’t need the six-cylinder – base four-cylinder Outbacks weigh less than 3600 pounds. They can make do.

Positivity aside, I’ll admit I grew somewhat bored of the Outback before the week was up. I blame the black paint for masking the more stylish look of the cladding – it looks great in lighter shades. We also have frequent access to more thrilling machines on a regular basis. The Outback doesn’t thrill, nor does it aim to.

No, the Outback really is just a new take on the old-fashioned station wagon. Rather, a 20-year-old take. But I realized when the Outback left our driveway that a rugged, roomy, affordable, surprisingly efficient, all-weather midsize wagon is basically the perfect car for almost everybody I know, in the same way flimsy, massive, affordable, inefficient, rear-wheel-drive full-size wagons were basically the perfect car for almost everybody I never knew 35 or 40 years ago.

There are things Subaru could do better, from re-injecting more fun back into the chassis, crafting less American-waistline-oriented seats, designing a faster power liftgate that doesn’t leave me standing impatiently in a parking lot with a 30-pound bag of dog food, reining in the aggressive throttle tip-in, and providing 200 standard horsepower.

Yet the 2015 version makes the Outback a better car than it’s ever been. Subaru has worked to make it better despite the lack of pressure from rival automakers; despite the security of Subaru’s steadily growing North American sales volume.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. These Outback images were supplied by frequent GCBC photographer Steffani Cain.

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Bark’s Bites: The Joys of Owning a Six Hundred Dollar Subaru http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/barks-bites-joys-owning-six-hundred-dollar-subaru/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/barks-bites-joys-owning-six-hundred-dollar-subaru/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:52:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=903058 “I have a couple older Subaru wagons (96-97) for sale in Morehead. Message me if you are interested.” Interested? Was I ever! As I stated in one of my more recent contributions to TTAC, I have been driving my Boss 302 as my daily driver ever since I bought it (with a brief interruption from […]

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“I have a couple older Subaru wagons (96-97) for sale in Morehead. Message me if you are interested.”

Interested? Was I ever!

As I stated in one of my more recent contributions to TTAC, I have been driving my Boss 302 as my daily driver ever since I bought it (with a brief interruption from a 1995 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Regency Elite that had more electrical glitches than one might have thought possible). Well, with winter approaching yet again, and my right rear wheel still showing the ill effects of my last attempt to drive the Boss in about a quarter inch of snow, I thought it might make sense to investigate when a friend of mine made the post seen above on Facebook back on June 27th.

Fearing I might already be too late, I started the following message chain (the names have been redacted to protect the quilty):

27/06/2014 16:46

Bark M.

Interested in the subies! What are the details?

.

27/06/2014 16:58

G. T.

Okay one is an outback 1997 with 262366 miles and is in fair to good condition KBB is @$1800 The other is a legacy L with 163654 miles it has two set of wheels and tires. It does need a catalytic converter and some minor electrical. KBB on that one is fair condition is $684. I am open for offers especially for the pair. They are old gals but have been great cars.

.

27/06/2014 17:01

Bark M.

Does the legacy run?

.

27/06/2014 17:01

G. T.

Yes it is also a manual and is quite fun to drive.

.

27/06/2014 17:02

Bark M.

Any head gasket issues with either (and I promise that’s my last question)?

.

27/06/2014 17:03

G. T.

Yes the outback had that problem and it was replaced. That is an issue with these engines.

.

27/06/2014 17:03

Bark M.

That’s why I asked

.

27/06/2014 17:04

G. T.

There were no xmas presents for the kids that year

.

27/06/2014 17:05

Bark M.

Hahaha I bet not. Do you think the legacy could run from Winchester to the Lexington airport and back reliably (I lied apparently about the questions)

.

27/06/2014 17:05

G. T.

Yes it could

.

27/06/2014 17:06

Bark M.

I will take it for six hundred then if you’re cool with that price.
.

07/06/2014 17:06

G. T.

sold

And just like that, I owned a 1996 Subaru Legacy L Wagon, AND it was a manual! Imagine my surprise when he rolled into my driveway to make the exchange and I discovered that it was AWD! My good pal had done his KBB valuation based on the car being FWD, which meant that he had undervalued it by about $600. Well, perhaps he had been a tad generous in estimating the vehicle condition as “Fair,” too. The interior was covered in dog fur, especially the cargo area. The front passenger floorboard looked as though a soda had been spilled on it in 2003 or so and had never been cleaned up. The smell of dog was pervasive, too. Nevertheless, I was more than happy to press the cash into his hand before he changed his mind, although due to it being Sunday, we had to wait until the following day to actually change the title into my name.

The next day, I met him at the UPS Store where we had the title notarized. I swiftly took it to my local title agency, where it took a mere two trips and 45 minutes to get the title switched into my name (turned out that they needed the old plates). After paying a whopping $36 in property tax, I was officially the owner of My First Subaru.

Thrilled to death with my purchase, I drove it happily to the grocery store to make use of the spacious cargo area. After loading up the back with a week’s worth of groceries for the fam, I got behind the wheel, turned the crank…and nothing. Tried again. Nothing. The starter appeared to be working fine, and the battery wasn’t dead, but the damned thing just wouldn’t go. Oh, well. Good thing I had already added it to my insurance policy and had enthusiastically said “YES” when asked if I wanted Roadside Assistance. After a quick call home and a rescue trip by the rest of the family, I transferred the contents of the cargo area to my Flex and was ready to leave the Subaru to sit in the parking lot of the grocery store and be towed off to the local garage. I thought I might try it one more time, though, since it had been sitting for a while.

Boom, started right up, no problem, but there was a horrible whining noise that sounded like a belt problem of some type. Now what to do? The tow truck was already on the way. I decided to let them tow it to the garage anyway and allow the mechanics there to give it a once over (especially since I had bought it sight unseen and had no discernible mechanical ability).

They kept it for about a week. They couldn’t duplicate the issue. Every day I called and asked, and every day they told me the same thing. No problems with the car—it starts right up every time. No belt noise. Weird, right?

Well, I decided that I should go get it. Sure enough, it started right up. I drove over to the local library to take the kids to pick out some new books. Had a wonderful time at the library, picked out about 20 books each. Went to the Subie to drive home…no dice. ARRGH. Waited about 15 minutes. Tried again. Started right up. Oh, well. Home we go.

Ever since then, it has been dead reliable. I have driven it as far away as Charlotte (about seven hours) with no issues whatsoever. The radio works, the AC works, the power windows work (well, the switch did snap off in my hand, but it still works), the windshield wipers work, the CLA works…it’s been perfect. The shifter is exciting, because there’s no relationship between the actual gears that makes any sense at all. The shift lever will move several inches in any direction when in gear, and often just falls down and to the left, so there’s no real way to know what gear the car is actually in without doing some RPM and MPH calculations. Fifth gear is impossible to find—I have a 50/50 shot of putting it in third, instead.

I have tried vacuuming it with three different vacuums (Dyson, Shop-Vac, and Car Wash Hose), but the dog hair appears to be here to stay. However, the good news is that I have found nearly a dollar in change in the various crevices of the interior, so my net purchase price is getting closer to $599 every time I drive it. Also, it has a “LADY VIKINGS SOCCER” sticker on the rear driver’s side window that probably has a street value of about $5.

The best thing about the car, though, was pointed out to me by my good friend, Ryan, when he rode in it for the first time. “Man, I miss being in old cars,” he opined as I struggled to find third gear. “My car is a 2012, which is great, but it has no character, no personality. This thing has character.”

There’s no question about that. I fall in love with it a little more every time I pick it over the 444 HP beast nestled safely in the garage behind it. The little Subaru sits outside, parked in the grass next to my driveway, with nary a complaint. It goes when I call upon it. It sits inconspicously in the airport parking lot. It gladly takes my luggage in its vast interior and welcomes me home cheerfully with a slight whine of a yet-to-be-determined belt when I start it up. It’s like a previously neglected golden retriever—it just wants me to love it.

And I do.

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Junkyard Find: 1997 Subaru Legacy AWD Sedan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1997-subaru-legacy-awd-sedan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1997-subaru-legacy-awd-sedan/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 13:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=899666 Living in Denver, I see tremendous quantities of old Subarus in local wrecking yards. Subarus after about 1985 don’t make it into this series (unless they’re XTs or SVXs or 4WD Justys), but the Legacy 4WD sedan is quite rare even by Denver standards so I made an exception for this car. This one has […]

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07 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinLiving in Denver, I see tremendous quantities of old Subarus in local wrecking yards. Subarus after about 1985 don’t make it into this series (unless they’re XTs or SVXs or 4WD Justys), but the Legacy 4WD sedan is quite rare even by Denver standards so I made an exception for this car.
13 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis one has a key, which means it probably came from an insurance company auction rather than a city tow yard.
02 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinJust barely over 100,000 miles on the clock.
15 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBy 1997, all Legacies sold in the United States had all-wheel-drive, but this was still special enough to warrant these “AWD” badges.
12 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBy this point, the Outback wagon (still bearing Legacy badging) was so much more popular than the Legacy sedan in the United States that most of us forgot that you could even get this thing in a three-box car shape.
04 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese engines remain legendary (get it?) for blowing head gaskets.
14 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSold in Denver, crushed in Denver.

01 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1997 Subaru Legacy Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Chart Of The Day: Subaru Has Risen, Mazda Not So Much http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/chart-day-subaru-risen-mazda-much/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/chart-day-subaru-risen-mazda-much/#comments Sat, 23 Aug 2014 12:54:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=893834 The more some things stay the same, the more other things change. Or so the saying doesn’t go. Mazda’s U.S. market share hasn’t been much more than level since a pre-recession surge, if you can call it that, to 1.99% in 2008. A brand known as something of the poor man’s BMW should be selling […]

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Mazda Subaru U.S. sales chartThe more some things stay the same, the more other things change. Or so the saying doesn’t go.

Mazda’s U.S. market share hasn’t been much more than level since a pre-recession surge, if you can call it that, to 1.99% in 2008. A brand known as something of the poor man’s BMW should be selling a large volume of cars in America, but BMW, with its expansive model range, sells nearly as many vehicles.

Subaru, on the other hand, has risen from niche status to a mainstream status in the span of a few short years. The WRX/STi and BRZ do contribute – 7.1% of the brand’s 2014 volume through the end of July – but Subaru has developed a real knack for knowing what U.S. buyers want. Consider the XV Crosstrek, an Impreza-based tall rider which, as it happens, easily outsells the Mazda 6.

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Junkyard Find: 1984 Subaru BRAT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1984-subaru-brat/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1984-subaru-brat/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 13:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=892298 The Subaru BRAT, basically a factory El Camino-ized Leone, has quite the lawsuit history in this country, due to the Chicken Tax-evading-but-dangerous jump seats in the bed that made the BRAT a “car,” legally speaking. The BRAT was sold in the United States until the 1987 model year, but it’s nearly impossible to find examples […]

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03 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn RodgersThe Subaru BRAT, basically a factory El Camino-ized Leone, has quite the lawsuit history in this country, due to the Chicken Tax-evading-but-dangerous jump seats in the bed that made the BRAT a “car,” legally speaking. The BRAT was sold in the United States until the 1987 model year, but it’s nearly impossible to find examples built after the early 1980s. Here’s a reasonably nice-looking ’84 that Shawn Rodgers (you may recognize him as the hero of the Junkyard Build Quality Challenges, as well as the captain of the very fast Bunny With a Pancake On Its Head 24 Hours of LeMons Rabbit team) saw in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard last week and was kind enough to photograph for us.
02 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn RodgersI shoot junkyard BRATs whenever I see them, and so far in this series we’ve seen this ’79, this ’82 (which still had its jump seats), and this Sawzall-converted ’86 (I’m a sucker for cruelly hacked-up Subarus).
21 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers73 horsepower, which would be considered absolutely unacceptable in any vehicle attempting to be even vaguely truck-like today.
10 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn RodgersNice nearly-a-T-top double sunroof— called a “Halo Twin Roof”— on this one.
16 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn RodgersJust the lo-fi solution for listening to bad mid-80s AM hits!

In Australia, the BRAT was called the Brumby and it was marketed with ads featuring pig passengers.

In the United States, Ruth Gordon pitched the BRAT.

01 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 02 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 03 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 04 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 05 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 06 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 07 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 08 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 09 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 10 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 11 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 12 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 13 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 14 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 15 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 16 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 17 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 18 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 19 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 20 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 21 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 22 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 23 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 24 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 25 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 26 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 27 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 28 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 29 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers 30 - 1984 Subaru BRAT Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Shawn Rodgers

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Subaru Eyes Le Mans, Has None For Compact Crossovers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/subaru-eyes-le-mans-none-compact-crossovers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/subaru-eyes-le-mans-none-compact-crossovers/#comments Mon, 11 Aug 2014 10:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=888577 If any of you were hoping for a small crossover underneath the Subaru XV Crosstrek, you may breath now. The Pleiades-bedecked automaker has no plans for such a thing, as it has its sights on the Mulsanne Straight. Auto Express reports Subaru has no cash to spare to develop a CUV in the vein of […]

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2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

If any of you were hoping for a small crossover underneath the Subaru XV Crosstrek, you may breath now. The Pleiades-bedecked automaker has no plans for such a thing, as it has its sights on the Mulsanne Straight.

Auto Express reports Subaru has no cash to spare to develop a CUV in the vein of the Jeep Renegade or Nissan Juke, which would need a (non-existent) supermini in its European portfolio and matching turbocharged engine just to start. If it did have every ingredient needed, however, its small crossover would be a Euro-only affair, despite sales of 500,000 per year in the United States and a rebounding Japanese market.

Meanwhile, the automaker has eyes on going back into the racing game with hybrid power, with Le Mans in particular. Toyota’s fortunes in LMP1, along with Nissan’s 2015 return, have the executives’ attention, and company insiders claim the budget to go all in could be found “if there is a big English audience to recognize the Le Mans commitment.”

As for a return to WRC, Subaru would need to rework the WRX STi to attempt to compete against current rally fighters like the Ford Fiesta RS, Hyundai i20 and Volkswagen Polo R. Thus, a return to rallying is not likely anytime soon.

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Toyota Putting The Brakes On Further Capacity In America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/toyota-putting-brakes-capacity-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/toyota-putting-brakes-capacity-america/#comments Fri, 08 Aug 2014 15:57:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=884729 Toyota is not going to be expanding any plants in the United States, even as they are forced to absorb further production of the Toyota Camry as their assembly deal with Subaru winds down. According to Just-Auto, Subaru’s Indiana facility built just under 100,000 Camrys in 2013, and the Georgetown, Kentucky plant that current builds the […]

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Toyota is not going to be expanding any plants in the United States, even as they are forced to absorb further production of the Toyota Camry as their assembly deal with Subaru winds down.

According to Just-Auto, Subaru’s Indiana facility built just under 100,000 Camrys in 2013, and the Georgetown, Kentucky plant that current builds the bulk of North American Camrys, is the busiest in the United States, turning out over 504,000 vehicles last year, with the Camry accounting for nearly 350,000 units.

With Avalon sales declining and the Venza reportedly being axed, there should be an additional 50-60,000 units of capacity. Even so, that leaves a shortfall, and Toyota is unlikely to increase imports of the Camry – which is built in Japan as well – increase beyond the handful it currently brings in.

The solution for Toyota will be to make better use of their current manufacturing footprint, through increased efficiencies. If Toyota wants to hang on to their “best-selling car” bragging rights, they’ll need to find some solution to the production deficit that appears to be looming.

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Piston Slap: New CV Boots? A Split Decision! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-new-cv-boots-a-split-decision/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-new-cv-boots-a-split-decision/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 12:53:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=860313 TTAC Commentator Detroit Iron writes: Long time no talk (I sound like a native American an Indian).  (Yeah, not so much. – SM) I have an 09 Outback with ~65k miles.  I had noticed a bit of a burning smell after running it for a while and it was pretty strong after a recent trip.  […]

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TTAC Commentator Detroit Iron writes:

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

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

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

Sajeev answers:

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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green subaru xv crosstrek hybrid

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

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

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

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