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. Tue, 26 May 2015 20:00:54 +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 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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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.

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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.

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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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2012-acura-TL-SH-AWD-badge-2

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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