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. Wed, 02 Sep 2015 20:14:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 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 Chart Of The Day: Subaru Sets Monthly U.S. WRX/STI Sales Record In July 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/chart-day-subaru-sets-monthly-u-s-wrxsti-sales-record-july-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/chart-day-subaru-sets-monthly-u-s-wrxsti-sales-record-july-2015/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 13:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1144009 After two consecutive years of growth, including record-setting U.S. sales achievements in 2014, what does the Subaru WRX do for an encore performance? An all-time monthly record of 3,716 WRX/STI sales in July 2015 starts the second-half off strongly after a first-half in which sales of Subaru’s rally-inspired nameplate jumped ahead of last year’s sales […]

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After two consecutive years of growth, including record-setting U.S. sales achievements in 2014, what does the Subaru WRX do for an encore performance?

An all-time monthly record of 3,716 WRX/STI sales in July 2015 starts the second-half off strongly after a first-half in which sales of Subaru’s rally-inspired nameplate jumped ahead of last year’s sales pace by 14 percent.

When setting a brand-wide sales record in 2014, Subaru’s WRX/STI-specific record of 25,492 units accounted for 5 percent of the brand’s total U.S. sales volume.

Last month, however, the WRX/STI tandem produced more than 7 percent of all Subaru USA sales, up from 4 percent at this time last year thanks to an 85-percent year-over-year improvement.

Subaru WRX:STI pie chart TTAC

Subaru sales in July shot beyond 50,000 units for the first time since August of last year.

With massive increases through the first seven months of 2015, Subaru has already sold more WRX/STIs this year than in all of 2013, when sales were beginning to surge. Subaru is on track for significantly more than 30,000 WRX/STI sales in calendar year 2015.

Combined, Volkswagen’s Golf GTI and Golf R are on track for approximately 25,000 U.S. sales in 2015.

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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QOTD: What Merger Would You Be Excited To See? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/qotd-merger-excited-see/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/qotd-merger-excited-see/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 11:07:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1156490 Sergio Marchionne is determined to merge with somebody. He’s kind of like that guy who doesn’t have a date at Senior Prom, and just goes anyway, hoping to score a dance with the Prom Queen. It’s as if the modern marketplace is his very own version of Sixteen Candles, and he’s James Spader rocking a 944. […]

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Subaru BRZ and Mazda MX-5

Sergio Marchionne is determined to merge with somebody. He’s kind of like that guy who doesn’t have a date at Senior Prom, and just goes anyway, hoping to score a dance with the Prom Queen. It’s as if the modern marketplace is his very own version of Sixteen Candles, and he’s James Spader rocking a 944. Or something. I gotta be honest, I never watched the movie.

Well, I’m not sure if Mary Barra is the Prom Queen or not, but Sergio seems to think she is. Yet, I’m not sure the idea of a GM/FCA merger has auto enthusiasts feeling all hot and bothered; is there a merger out there that would?

Here’s my idea. I’d like to see a Mazda/Subaru merger. Does it make business sense? Eh, maybe. Mazda has seen record profits in the European market in the last two years, growing at a much faster rate than anyone expected in both Germany and the UK. They’re also growing decently in the Japanese market, and they’re holding their own in China, despite a lack of Chinese-only models.

But North America? Not so much. Mazda has never been able to get much of a foothold in the highly competitive mid-sized sedan market, nor do they do particularly well in the C segment, despite having well-reviewed entries in both. Their year-over-year growth in America is basically flat through July 2015.

However, Subaru is growing like mad — almost too quickly. They are teetering between a growth model and a profit model, as their American sales growth is reaching double digits due to an almost fanatically loyal customer base. How can Subaru grow without compromising what it is that makes them so “authentic”?

Easy. Merge with Mazda, which has specifically stated that they are looking to trade profit for growth in the near future. Subaru could do some brand engineering and send the popular Outback over to Mazda. Call it the CX-Whatever. Mazda, in turn, could share the new ND Miata with Subie, which might make up for the relatively disappointing BRZ, itself down about 30 percent YOY. I mean, they wouldn’t, but they could!

If you really wanna get cray cray…why not merge the all-wheel drive goodness of Subaru with the rotary madness of Mazda and come up with some high-revving, all-wheel drive rally and autocross monster? Let’s call it the RX-10, just because that sounds much cooler than RX-9.

I like my idea, but I bet that you, the B&B, have an even better one. So let’s hear your merger ideas. What two automotive companies could merge into an ever better one?

[Photo by Kevin McCauley]

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2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek Manual Review – Field Manual http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-subaru-xv-crosstrek-manual-review-field-manual/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-subaru-xv-crosstrek-manual-review-field-manual/#comments Fri, 28 Aug 2015 13:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1154809 In 1919, then-Army Major Dwight D. Eisenhower embarked on a transcontinental journey with a military convoy to show off to the country the mechanical might used to conquer the Kaiser. From Washington D.C. to San Francisco, Eisenhower traversed the Lincoln Highway over 62 days. The going was relatively easy until Kansas, but the hardest part, […]

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In 1919, then-Army Major Dwight D. Eisenhower embarked on a transcontinental journey with a military convoy to show off to the country the mechanical might used to conquer the Kaiser.

From Washington D.C. to San Francisco, Eisenhower traversed the Lincoln Highway over 62 days. The going was relatively easy until Kansas, but the hardest part, he wrote, came in Utah.

“Aug. 20 (1919) Departed Salt Lake City, 6:30 am. … Last 6 miles was natural desert trail of alkali dust and fine sand up to 2 (feet) deep, with numerous chuckholes. No rain for 18 weeks and traction exceedingly difficult,” Eisenhower wrote in his journal.

“Aug. 22 (1919) Departed Granite Rock (Utah) 6:30 a.m. … Personnel utterly exhausted by tremendous efforts, and will rest at Black Point. … Reduced morale.”

Admittedly, my journey in a 2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek would be less dramatic. In Utah, Eisenhower reported the convoy of 80 vehicles took 7.5 hours to do 15 miles in near-biblical sand in lieu of bad roads. I could manage 80 miles an hour in the diminutive hatchback with 148 horsepower — which likely has more horsepower than the entire 1919 convoy. Resemblance? I have a few.

(At least my five-speed manual, five-door compact wagon was a hue Subaru called “Desert Khaki,” a color resembling a faded, fatigue greenish-brown. That has to count for something, right?)

2015_Subaru_XV_Crosstrek_(1_of_2)You could say I was partially retracing Eisenhower’s steps on his formative journey, but I would say I was putting the Crosstrek through the toughest test I could imagine — hauling a 1,000-pound, loaded U-haul over the Rockies. (In fact, I was moving my girlfriend over the Rockies and into Denver, in the least likely tow vehicle imaginable.)

To be fair, I’ve driven an XV Crosstrek through “Jurassic Park” in Hawaii and another through the middle of Iceland in a blizzard. I wasn’t concerned with the Crosstrek’s performance as much as I was worried about my patience: U.S. 6 south of Price has all the visual charm of a sopping wet bath mat.

Interestingly, very few Crosstreks are purchased with a manual transmission. As the automaker celebrates its most successful sales month ever for the Crosstrek in July (more than 8,500 sold in the U.S., nearly three times as many BMW X3s sold in the same timeframe) exceedingly fewer and fewer of them are of the row-your-own variety.

That’s counter-intuitive for a car that has earned a rep for having less strength than the League of Nations. You’d think buyers would want to wring every last drop of horsepower from the busy little mill.

So, appropriate five-speed manual to tow, and fully commanding all 148 horses powered by the Subaru’s horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine, I set off along Interstate 80.

The most useful statistic: Seats down, the XV Crosstrek manages 51.9 cubic feet of cargo room, which is less than a Jeep Cherokee and Kia Sportage, but more useful considering its wide rear opening and fold-down seats. That’s enough room to fit a closet full of clothes, a TV, three backpacks, a dog and some snacks purchased in a daze from Harmon’s near the interstate.

Our Crosstrek piled on the extras too: a 6.2-inch multimedia display with Bluetooth, subwoofer, heated seats and trailer hitch with 4-pin connector. The Beverly Hillbilly Special, I believe the package is called.

All that matters very little when you have a 500-mile drive with a 1,000-pound trailer and a 50-pound puppy to haul. The most useful measure? The drama-free interior as your steed chugs along the highway.

From best to worst, the Crosstrek ranges somewhere in the middle when it comes to interior comfort. When it was introduced, the Crosstrek was louder inside than a cramped Louisiana cellblock (don’t ask me how I know), but Subaru has since added more sound deadening material to quiet things down. On the road, hauling a trailer, the Crosstrek managed to keep a subdued drone as we wound through the passages of southeastern Utah.

The hill climb? Well, that’s a different story.

Not exactly retracing Eisenhower’s steps, I opted for Interstate 70 instead of I-80, up over the Rockies, ascending to more than 11,000 feet before descending into the Mile High City.

At altitude, the Crosstrek is straining for oxygen to ignite. Its furious engine is gasping for any clean breath to pull its (probably ridiculous) load up a mountain and back down again. The ability to snatch my own gears with the five-speed manual would be my saving grace, I figured.

I figured wrong. In fact, it wasn’t the engine that kept the Crosstrek from running easily up the mountain and back down, it was my gear searching that proved difficult. The Crosstrek never dipped below 40 mph or second gear, but that figure probably would have improved if I had the benefit of computers working for me. The Crosstrek’s continuously variable transmission may be joyless like a civics class, but at least it keeps the engine constantly in its sweet spot. I can’t say the same for myself.

The results? More than 1,200 miles of driving in two days with a load on halfway and a puppy with a load on all the way, and the Crosstrek managed just over 24 mpg. Oh, and it made it.

Eisenhower could say the same. But his journey took 62 days and was so bad he created the Interstate Highway System in 1956 — which included I-80 — so no one would have to do that again.

The Crosstrek has might. Maybe not enough to win a war, but at least it won this battle.

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Kia Prepping New Sports Car by 2020; Hyundai Isn’t http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/kia-prepping-new-sports-car-2020-hyundai-isnt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/kia-prepping-new-sports-car-2020-hyundai-isnt/#comments Thu, 06 Aug 2015 17:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1135418 Kia’s chief in the U.K. says the automaker will have a new sports car by the end of the decade, Autocar is reporting. Hyundai probably won’t. The two reports roughly detail a global business case the Korean is making for a small, lightweight sportscar that would be sold worldwide and further positioning for the brands. According to […]

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GT4 Stinger

Kia’s chief in the U.K. says the automaker will have a new sports car by the end of the decade, Autocar is reporting. Hyundai probably won’t.

The two reports roughly detail a global business case the Korean is making for a small, lightweight sportscar that would be sold worldwide and further positioning for the brands.

According to Kia’s chief in the UK Paul Philpott, the car would be based on knowledge gleaned from the Stinger GT4 concept car.

According to the Autocar report, the architecture for Kia’s car would be all new and not based on any current Kia model.

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In April, Kia America’s head of product planning Orth Hedrick told Drive that the automaker would be bringing a car similar to its GT concept into production soon. It could be based on the Genesis Coupe and sport a V-6 under the hood. If that’s true, the new sports car due by the end of the decade would likely be a smaller, two-door version similar to the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT-86.

At the other side of the building, Hyundai UK chief Tony Whitehorn admitted to Autocar that another sports car wouldn’t likely be in that brand’s future: “Not many people make money out of sports cars. The sports car market is shrinking dramatically, and even firms with heritage and a great product are struggling. Aside from the Audi TT and Mazda MX-5, it is a tough place to be.”

So it sounds like Hyundai will be firmly planted in its sub-brand N, which will launch around 2017, for the next few years.

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NHTSA Investigating Harman Kardon for Hacking Vulnerabilities http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/nhtsa-investigating-harman-kardon-hacking-vulnerabilities/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/nhtsa-investigating-harman-kardon-hacking-vulnerabilities/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 20:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1132601 Fresh from the recent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles infotainment-hacking flap, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced last week that it would look further into supplier Harman Kardon for possible vulnerabilities in other cars, the Associated Press reports (via Autoblog). Harman Kardon produces radios for automakers such as BMW, Subaru, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, in addition to FCA. […]

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Harman Kardon Speaker

Fresh from the recent Fiat Chrysler Automobiles infotainment-hacking flap, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced last week that it would look further into supplier Harman Kardon for possible vulnerabilities in other cars, the Associated Press reports (via Autoblog).

Harman Kardon produces radios for automakers such as BMW, Subaru, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, in addition to FCA.

Last month, FCA recalled 1.4 million cars after a vulnerability in its system was detailed by Wired, which allowed hackers to control critical functions in a Jeep Cherokee, including throttle, brakes and steering.

The automaker said the recall would fix a loophole in the 8.4-inch Uconnect systems that permitted the intrusion by hackers.

Last week, Wired detailed another hack that could reportedly open doors on an OnStar-equipped car made by General Motors and start its engine. GM said it patched that vulnerability without recalling its cars.

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2015 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium Review (with Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-subaru-legacy-2-5i-premium-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/2015-subaru-legacy-2-5i-premium-video/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 12:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=767697 Subaru’s Legacy is unique in the midsize sedan segment, not just because it is the only entry with standard all-wheel drive, but also because it also comes with a standard continuously variable transmission and the $21,745 price tag is just $405 higher than the least expensive entry, the Passat. The value of that standard CVT and AWD system […]

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Subaru’s Legacy is unique in the midsize sedan segment, not just because it is the only entry with standard all-wheel drive, but also because it also comes with a standard continuously variable transmission and the $21,745 price tag is just $405 higher than the least expensive entry, the Passat. The value of that standard CVT and AWD system is around $2,600-$3,000 effectively making the Subaru a much better value than the base Volkswagen that is front-wheel drive with a manual. This value proposition is the key to understanding Subaru in general and the Legacy in particular.



By making AWD a core Subaru value, and therefore standard on almost every model, certain costs are unavoidable. How then (or why?) does Subaru give you $3,000 more drivetrain for almost the same base price? Excellent question. The reason is simple: the average shopper has troubles with the concept of value. To be competitive Subaru has to keep their pricing in line with the FWD competition. It’s easier to say “my car has AWD for the same price” than “I know it’s $3,000 more, but we give you AWD and they don’t.”

To keep the MSRP competitive on billboards and pop-up ads, Subaru makes up the difference elsewhere. Building any car in the mainstream segment involves what I jokingly refer to as “cutting corners.” Cash can be saved by strategically placed hard plastics, by skipping a little trim in the trunk, making features optional or streamlining common parts. The trick in this segment is knowing what “corners to cut” and those to leave alone. This is a game that Subaru has been quickly learning. Standard AWD and pricing aside, there’s more about the Legacy that marches to a different drummer.

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Drivetrain
For the uninitiated, almost every modern engine is either an in-line design where the cylinders are lined up in a row, or a “V” engine design where two banks of cylinders interact with a crankshaft at an angle that is either 60 or 90 degrees. Except Porsche and Subaru. Mainly as a nod to nostalgia and uniqueness, these two brands have a dedication to the horizontally opposed, boxer engine. In a boxer design, cylinders are 180 degrees apart in two banks. Four-cylinder boxers are approximately half as long as an inline-four, but considerably wider. Although the boxer design is better balanced than an I-4, the prime benefit to this design has more to do with  the short overall length. The base 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer is good for 175 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque while the optional 3.6-liter 6-cylinder boxer bumps that to 256 horsepower and 247 lb-ft. The 2.5-liter engine is right in line with the competition but the 3.6-liter lags behind most of the V6 and turbo-four options from the competition. For 2015, both engines are mated to a CVT, although the 2.5 and 3.6 use slightly different transmission internals.

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Subaru’s AWD system has more in common with Audi’s traditional Quattro system than the optional AWD systems you find in the Ford Fusion and Chrysler 200. That’s because the Legacy is the only car in this segment with a longitudinally mounted engine, a mounting choice normally associated with rear-wheel drive vehicles. Like Quattro, Subaru integrates the AWD system and the front differential into the same case as the transmission meaning that the engine and torque converter are entirely in front of the front axle. So, although this layout resembles a RWD layout in a BMW, the weight balance hovers around 60/40 front-to-rear. Subaru likes to advertize the Legacy’s low center of gravity when it comes to handling, but in my opinion the front-heavy weight distribution has more of an impact on the handling than anything else. On the flip side, the overall dimensions of the drivetrain allow the front wheels more room to turn enabling a tighter turning circle than most midsized sedans.

Previous Legacy generations used different AWD systems depending on the transmission and engine choice but 2015 standardizes on Subaru’s latest multi-plate clutch design. Like other systems in the segment the system can lock the clutch pack to send power 50/50 front/rear with no slip and it can direct up to 90 percent of the power to the rear if slip occurs up front. What’s different is the “beefiness” of the clutch pack, this system is designed to send 40 percent of the power to the rear most of the time, while Chrysler’s 200 disconnects the rear axle as often as possible to save fuel and the Ford system defaults to a near 100/0 power split unless slip occurs.

Oil Consumption
Subaru’s new 2.5-liter engine has been the focus of conspiracy theories about oil consumption. Over my nearly 800 miles of driving, the oil level on the dipstick didn’t budge, but I don’t doubt consumption can be higher than some engine designs. First off, the new 2.5-liter engine uses low friction rings and very low viscosity (0W-20) oil. These two design choices invariably lead to higher efficiency and — you guessed it — higher oil consumption. All things being equal, if you add thinner oil and lower friction rings to any engine design, higher oil consumption is a likely byproduct. In addition, the very nature of a horizontally opposed engine may be a causal factor as well. However you feel about the Legacy’s appetite for dinosaur juice, the resulting fuel economy is undeniably high at a combined 30 mpg in the EPA cycle and a very respectable 28.8 mpg in our actual driving sample. Despite being four-wheel-driven, the Legacy is just 1-2 mpg lower than the thriftiest entries in this segment.

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Exterior
Form ultimately must follow function. Even though the Legacy uses longitudinally mounted engines and transmissions, the exterior still sports a long front overhang (like Audis) because of the engine’s location. Thanks to the “squatter” engine design, the hood slopes gently toward the front improving forward visibility. If you notice something un-Subaru in the side profile, you’re probably noticing that this Legacy ditches the frameless window design long associated with Subaru for a more traditional design. The change has a positive impact on wind noise in the cabin.

Borrowing a page from the Fusion’s design book, Subaru decided to give this Legacy a sportier profile with a roofline that starts plunging just after the B-pillar and extends behind the rear wheel. Like the Fusion and 200, which use similar design cues, this style has a direct impact on rear seat headroom. Overall this generation Legacy is far more mainstream than my neighbor’s Legacy GT with the hood scoop and rear wing.

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The rear bumper is a perfect place to see one of the trade-offs for the standard drivetrain. Many vehicles that have single and dual exhaust options use two different bumper moldings but Subaru saves some cash by just using one and inserting a blank in the four-cylinder model. In my mind this is the kind of trade-off that’s worth making for two reasons. The blank is well done (as you can see above) and should you for some reason want to have an exhaust shop upgrade you to a dual exhaust tip look, it’s easier than a bumper swap. In addition Subaru saves a little cash by giving base models steel wheels instead of the alloys found on most base midsize sedans.

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Interior
The same kind of trade-offs can be seen inside the Legacy’s cabin. Base and Premium models lack rear seat air vents, automatic climate control and you’ll find a hair more hard plastic in the cabin than in some of the newer competitors. That said, this Legacy is a definite improvement in terms of interior refinement compared to the last model.

I found front seat comfort to be slightly below average in the base model with the 6-way manual seat, and above average in the 10-way power seat found in Premium and Limited trims. You will find more comfortable seats in the Accord and Altima, but these seats are on par with the Fusion. Another area where costs were recouped is the front passenger seat which is 4-way adjustable only and notably less comfortable than the right seat in top-end trims as a result.

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Because of the roofline’s plunge toward the trunk, headroom is just about as limited as the Ford Fusion and Chrysler 200. (In other words, if you want AWD, be prepared for a height-restricted back seat.) At 6-feet tall, I had to slouch slightly in the rear to keep my head from touching the ceiling. This profile seems to be a trend in this segment and fewer and fewer midsized sedans have the headroom for six-foot-plus folks in the rear, the Accord and Passat are notable exceptions.

At 15 cubic feet the Legacy’s trunk is a hair smaller than the Camry, Passat, Accord, 200 and Fusion. However, Subaru uses a hinge design that doesn’t consume any trunk space meaning the slightly smaller hold is actually more practical. The Altima still takes top honors in this segment for swallowing multiple 24-inch carry-on sized roller bags in the vertical position.

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Infotainment
The Legacy debuts Subaru’s all-new StarLink infotainment software running on either a 6.1-inch or 7-inch LCD depending on the trim level. The new software brings expanded voice commands, finger gestures, climate control integration, improved USB/iDevice integration and optional navigation. The entire interface is snappier and more refined than Subaru’s previous software, although it still lacks direct voice control over your connected media library a la Ford’s SYNC or Toyota’s Entune. The optional StarLink app for your Android or iOS phone enables streaming audio and unlike some of the competitive apps, it doesn’t make you register and create an account in order to work.

One of the more interesting features of StarLink is unfortunately not supported in the United States: MirrorLink. you can think of MirrorLink as the more open alternative and precursor to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Sadly MirrorLink looks to be something consigned to the dustbin, but hopefully this means Subaru will support the other two standards at some point soon. (Note: Although Subaru does not support it in the USA, Subaru owners tell me it does work with a limited number of Android devices.)

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Drive
The Subaru AWD system has a distinct impact on the Legacy’s road manners. Because the system sends 40 percent of the power to the rear without wheel slip, the Legacy is easily the most surefooted and confident on slippery surfaces. [Edit: Shoppers should know that when the temperature drops below approximately 40 degrees fahrenheit winter tires are recommended for optimum traction. AWD does not improve braking or neutral handling but appropriate winter tires will. A FWD car with winter tires will our brake, out handle and likely out accelerate a comparable AWD car with all-season tires in the snow.]

The boxer engine may drop the center of gravity, but it also makes the Legacy just as front-heavy as a V-6 Accord. Like that Accord and every other V-6 front wheel drive sedan, the Legacy feels heavy and reluctant to turn in neutral handling (power-off) situations. Apply power in the corner, and the Legacy feels more neutral and predictable as the car shuttles power to the rear wheels, but the Subaru AWD system does not torque vector in the rear so it’s never going to rotate like a RWD car or an Acura with SH-AWD. The previous generation Legacy 3.6R used a mechanical center differential to give it a slight rear bias, but that has been removed for 2015 in the name of fuel economy.

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Speaking of fuel economy, the Leagcy’s numbers are unexpectedly high. Over the course of a week, I averaged 28.8 mpg in mixed driving with plenty of hill climbing as my commute involves a 2,200-ft mountain pass. Looking back on the recent sedans I’ve tested, the Legacy beat the four-cylinder Camry, tied with the 1.5-liter Fusion, was 1-2 mpg lower than the Passat 1.8T, Altima 2.5 and 4 mpg lower than the Accord with a CVT.

The high fuel economy comes at a slight cost. Subaru’s CVT has a ratio spread of 5.8 (that represents the spread of ratios from low to high, the higher the number the bigger the difference between high and low) which is narrower than most of the other transmissions in this segment. This means that when picking a final drive ratio Subaru had to chose between low end acceleration and fuel economy and they chose the latter. The resulting 14:1 starting ratio is notably higher than the 17.6:1 ratio we find in the four-cylinder Chrysler 200 and explains the Legacy 2.5’s leisurly 8.3 second 0-60 time. Some folks have incorrectly assumed the 2.5-liter boxer is “guttless” at low RPMs, but it really has more to do with this ratio and the torque converter design, as evidenced by the 3.5 second 0-30 time (longer than a Prius). Opting for the 3.6-liter engine certainly adds some scoot, but the big boxer is notably less powerful than the V-6 engines in the competition. Couple that with a tweaked CVT and an even higher starting ratio of 12.8:1 and 3.6R Limited is decidedly sluggish compared to the Fusion’s 2-liter turbo and especially the Chrysler 3.6-liter V-6.

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Subaru’s revised suspension in this generation of Legacy has improved the road manners. While not as soft as the Altima, the Legacy proved to be a smooth highway companion and never seemed upset over broken pavement. This year’s cabin is notably quieter than before in both wind and road noise. This softer side of Subaru translates to plenty of body roll and tip and dive when you’re out on your favorite mountain road, but the Legacy is still firmer than the Altima. The steering rack isn’t as responsive or direct as the Mazda6, Fusion or Accord Sport, opting instead for a middle-of-the-road feel. Subaru has tweaked the suspension further for 2016, but I did not get a chance to sample the change. Although the Mazda6 is not one of the faster options in this segment, it is still the most fun out on a winding road.

In terms of AWD competition, for the 2.5-liter model there simply isn’t any. Ford’s requires you to select the SE or above trims and the 2-liter turbo engine in order to add four-wheel motivation to the Fusion. As a result, the least expensive model is $27,810. Not only is that $6,000 more than a base Subie, the EPA says it’ll cost you $300 a year more to run. Chrysler only bundles AWD with their 3.6-liter V-6, which drops fuel economy to 22 mpg in combined driving and bumps the price tag to $29,562, which is $8,000 more than the base Subaru. On the filp side, the 200 AWD will hit 60 in under 6 seconds, more than a full second faster than the Legacy 3.6R.

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Thanks to high fuel economy and a well chosen feature set, the Legacy 2.5 is a solid alternative to the FWD competition with only few caveats. The 3.6R is another matter. The top end Legacy will set you back 30-large and adding push-button start and navigation bumps this up to around $34,000. For that price, the Chrysler adds real wood trim, ventilated seats, better handling, better performance, heated steering wheel, more comfortable seats, auto high-beams, autonomous parking and a partial LCD instrument cluster.

Taken out of context, the Legacy could seem less than competitive. If you’re looking for the best rear seat accommodations, the highest fuel economy, the best performance or the most luxury features, your future lies elsewhere. But it’ll cost you more and it won’t have AWD. The interesting twist is that even if AWD isn’t terribly important to you, there is little penalty at the pump and almost no price premium at purchase. That means that whether you’re above the snow-belt or not, if you’re looking for one of the best buys in the CamCord segment, drop by your Subaru dealer. If you want the “best AWD family hauler” however, that’s at the 200C AWD from Detroit.

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

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.5

0-60: 8.3

1/4 Mile: 16.2 Seconds @ 87 MPH

Average Economy: 28.8 MPG

IMG_0608 IMG_0609 IMG_0610 IMG_0611 IMG_0612 IMG_0613 IMG_0618 IMG_0619 IMG_0621 IMG_0624 IMG_0625 IMG_0626 IMG_0629 IMG_0631 IMG_0632 IMG_0634 IMG_0636 IMG_0637 IMG_0639 IMG_0642 IMG_0643 IMG_0648 IMG_0650 IMG_0653 IMG_0657 IMG_0658 IMG_0659

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2015 Subaru Legacy Rental Car Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-subaru-legacy-rental-car-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-subaru-legacy-rental-car-review/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 14:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1129105 In my youth I was a vital, virile, male Manly Man. So manly that when I got a new ’86 GTI as my first “nice” car, I left off not only the automatic transmission but also the power steering. Mind you, it drove great — when it drove at all. One night my parents tossed me […]

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2015_Subaru_Legacy_ext_17

In my youth I was a vital, virile, male Manly Man. So manly that when I got a new ’86 GTI as my first “nice” car, I left off not only the automatic transmission but also the power steering. Mind you, it drove great — when it drove at all.

One night my parents tossed me the keys to drive them home from the restaurant. Mom’s whip was a mid-trim, 4-pot ’88 Camry. Yes, its limits were low, it was gutless, and it was tailored to bourgeois tastes with pastel upholstery here and fake stitching there. However, it was up front about its limitations, pridefully built, civilized in all its moves, and driving it was just so…easy. I one-fingered steered all the way home and made an earnest mental note.

Fifty VW defects later, I went Japanese and never looked back.

2015_Subaru_Legacy_ext_25This is the set of preconceptions I carried to the Avis counter the other day just before I walked away with the keys to a ’15 Subaru Legacy. My first impression of the car was, boy, boxy car in dull blue. My second was, hey, nice 18” alloys; this must be a high trim. And my third impression confirmed it. Upon opening the door, I encountered perforated — if rather anodyne — black leather, muted — if obviously fake — wood, and soft-touch surfaces everywhere I dash-stroked.

There were no badges inside or out, but I’ve subsequently deduced this example was the top-trim 2.0 Limited, albeit without the graduate-level nannies and navigation. It had the usual stuff to infuriate my Luddite self – the profusion of steering wheel buttons, the ersatz iPad above the console – but the buttons were at least logically arranged, and the HVAC was mercifully set free entirely from the gizmo prison. I heaved a sigh of relief and hit the road.

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The Legacy’s interior doesn’t say “premium,” but it exudes an integrity of build notably missing in, for one example, the embarrassing current-generation Camry. It’s not perfect; there are some odd angles and planes you’d only find in Nipponese iron, and the multi-adjustable driver’s seat only just sort of fits, with a head restraint that deserves its own restraining order. The stereo definitely has a subwoofer, though the treble was either dialed down or left out. The speedo is ringed in glowing blue as a fashion statement. There’s nothing all that fashionable about it anymore, but it’s also not executed via unevenly applied glops of cheapo blue paint like the previous-generation Fusion I once drove. This car was probably built in Indiana, but there’s nothing about it that needs to bow in inferiority to native Japanese workmanship. It reconfirms that American executives, not American workers, are the problem with American cars.

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The Legacy feels smaller and niftier in tight spaces than its size implies. Once underway, the chassis feels tight, body motions are firm but controlled, and the steering is firm and accurate — although electric-numb. Once I went into a decreasing-radius entrance ramp a little hot. The car stuck admirably while giving the driver no clue how it was doing so, which was the desired result but rather unsettling in concept. Whenever I buried the loud pedal, it wasn’t all that loud or coarse, just CVT-annoying like a distant motorboat. It wasn’t all that fast, either.

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Over the road, I distinctly recall the 4-pot Legacy I took out a decade ago for an (almost literal) spin around the block. That car engaged me on pea gravel at 10 mph. This new one didn’t, at any speed. It just did whatever I asked. It tracked true on a wet and windy highway, went easy on its driver, effortlessly swallowed far more people and cargo than I could throw at it, and felt, at least by today’s pound-shaving standards, sturdy and untaxed by all of it.

After I turned in the Legacy, I looked up its road test in that tree-pulp car magazine. They said Subaru had resolved this generation to return the Legacy to its roots. Did they? I think not. Instead, they did something just as noble: Far better than their parent company has bothered to do in recent years, they returned to Toyota’s.

If “love makes a Subaru a Subaru,” it’s not the hot and dirty kind I used to experience with my tempestuous GTI bitch. It’s the kind you feel for the sheepdog who fetches your slippers for you every day of its life. Would I own one? If I got a fantastic deal, and if it had the Six, and I were short of funds for something more fun, mayhaps. But would I recommend one? To the right non-car-person friend, heartily. And I’ll bet they’d thank me for it the next 15 years.

Photography provided by the manufacturer.

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Reuters: Subaru Success Fueled By Marginalized Foreign Workers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/reuters-subaru-success-fueled-by-marginalized-foreign-workers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/reuters-subaru-success-fueled-by-marginalized-foreign-workers/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 20:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1128529 Reuters Investigates has a scathing report on foreign workers in Japan at some of Subaru’s most important suppliers. According to the news agency, due to the combination of a booming “Abenomics”, Japan’s 2010 asylum seeker program, and manufacturers looking for cheap sources of expendable labor, foreigners are taken advantage of and treated as second- and […]

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2015-Subaru-Forester

Reuters Investigates has a scathing report on foreign workers in Japan at some of Subaru’s most important suppliers. According to the news agency, due to the combination of a booming “Abenomics”, Japan’s 2010 asylum seeker program, and manufacturers looking for cheap sources of expendable labor, foreigners are taken advantage of and treated as second- and third-class workers. Another program meant to help Chinese citizens learn manufacturing skills in Japan is also implicated in helping Subaru take advantage of marginalized immigrant workers.

Subaru isn’t the only automotive manufacturer named as the same suppliers also feed parts to Honda and Toyota.

The long, detailed report states there are nearly 18,000 foreign residents in Ota, Subaru’s manufacturing home base in Japan, “making it a rare example of multiculturalism in a country stubbornly resistant to immigration” at three times the national average by percentage of population.

However, that immigration isn’t officially of the economic variety as is typically seen between industrialized nations, but of asylum seekers looking for a better life and finding their way into Japan through labor brokers and as indebted trainees. The situation has also been an example of institutionalized racism within Japan.

From Reuters:

In Ota’s auto industry, labor brokers and a manager at a Subaru supplier said ethnicity plays a part in how workers are placed: Japanese workers are at the top of the chain, followed by Brazilians of Japanese descent, who have been in the country longer under a special visa category and can speak the language. They’re followed by South Asians, many of them asylum seekers, and lastly, African workers at the bottom of the pyramid. An executive at one local manufacturer said he favored asylum seekers from Nepal, Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh, who he said are more willing to take on difficult jobs for lower pay.

“We carefully examined the matter and confirmed that this was not the case,” Subaru said in a written response to questions from Reuters.

The conditions for asylum-seekers-turned-workers in Ota are fueled by Subaru’s popular Forester, Reuters states in the report, running counter to the company’s “Love Promise” to make “a positive impact in the world.” Some workers make as little as minimum wage — $6.60 an hour — before labor brokers take their own cut off the top for housing, utilities and “dispatch fees” for arranging employment.

Many of the employees, typically on short-term contracts, are working illegally while on provisional release from immigration detention centers.

From Reuters:

Asked how people on provisional release were supposed to survive if they were barred from working, Hidetoshi Ogawa, a senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said they should rely on support from their relatives, friends and local charities. He said provisional release was a humanitarian measure to avoid long-term detention, “but in truth, these people should leave the country.”

The terms of employment, conditions of work, and treatment of the workers is fully detailed in the report and not what you’d expect from a supposed First World country like Japan.

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

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Subaru BRZ STI Performance Concept

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

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

Maybe.

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

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

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

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

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

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2015 Subaru Outback

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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They didn't make compromises, they made Saabs?

They didn’t make compromises, they made Saabs?

Ron writes:

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

You can see the question coming, of course.

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

Thanks for any light you can shed on this.

Sajeev answers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a dirty, dirty business.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Representatives from BMW did not immediately return requests for comment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2016 Mazda MX-5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Photo credit: AutoGuide/Adam Wood]

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TH2: BMW has sort of lost their…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TH2: Not a huge surprise here, is it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TH1&2 (simultaneously): WHOOOOOOA!

TH1: That’s a big swing.

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

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

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

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

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

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IMPREZA SPORT HYBRID 2.0i-S EyeSight low

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photo credit: Subaru)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2015 Honda Accord EX-L V-6 Coupe

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

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

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

2013 Subaru BRZ. Photo courtesy Subaru.

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

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

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

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

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

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

2014_LAAS_Scion_iM_Concept_015

EXPENSIVE!

2015_NYIAS_Scion_iM_003

CHEAP!

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

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

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2015-Subaru-Outback-01

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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BMW M3 Touring Render

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Subaru Impreza Wagon Dog Circa March 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2015 subaru wrx (9)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Old Hat? April 2015 Reveals Another Subaru U.S. Sales Record http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/old-hat-april-2015-reveals-another-subaru-u-s-sales-record/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/old-hat-april-2015-reveals-another-subaru-u-s-sales-record/#comments Sun, 10 May 2015 14:42:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1064218 Subaru reported the brand’s 41st consecutive month of year-over-year U.S. sales improvement last month and in so doing produced the brand’s highest-volume April in the history of Subaru of America. 47,241 Subarus were sold in the United States last month, an 18% increase compared with April 2014. The 7,158-unit increase was powered by gains from […]

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2015 Subaru Outback

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

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

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

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

Subaru USA sales chart

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

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

Subaru XV Crosstrek

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

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

2015 Subaru Forester

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Such a smart boy!

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

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

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95% Subaru, 5% Saab…100% Awesome?

Adam writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am open to any and all suggestions and advice!

Thanks,
Adam

Sajeev answers:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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Subaru-STI-Performance-Concept-Front-04

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

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

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

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

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

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BMW-M235i_mp2_pic_107451

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

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

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

BMW/MINI

The Good:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Not-As-Good:

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

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

The Ugly:

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

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

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

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

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

SUBARU

The Good:

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

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

The Not-As-Good:

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

The Ugly:

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

HYUNDAI/KIA

The Good:

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

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

The Not-As-Good:

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

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

The Ugly:

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

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

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