Tag: Subaru

By on May 22, 2017

2018 outback

With the exception of Mazda and — until its Outlander PHEV finally lands on U.S. shores — Mitsubishi, Subaru remains one of very few automakers to completely eschew electrified powertrains.

Despite lacking any fully electric, plug-in hybrid or hybrid model (the unloved Crosstrek Hybrid met a quiet death last year), Subaru’s U.S. customer base continues to expand at a rapid clip, but a gas-only strategy can’t survive forever. Environmental regulations the world over insist Subaru should follow the lead of its rivals and build something without pistons.

Well, Subaru plans to. However, unlike many of its rivals, the automaker has indicated it might take a different path towards this goal. (Read More…)

By on May 18, 2017

2018 Subaru WRX STI, Image: Subaru

Earlier this week, I fielded a question regarding German hot hatches. A few commenters suggested that I had made a mistake by not recommending the Subaru WRX or STi as an alternative to the Golf R and Focus RS. After all, I’d been perfectly content to recommend a Subaru as an alternative to a Volkswagen just a week before. So why not suggest an STI in place of an RS? Was it the long-dormant Euro-snob in me surfacing unexpectedly, like a Kraken slouching up from dark water to terrify the innocents on shore with its repugnant and vicious countenance? Or had I simply forgotten about the mere existence of the twin turbo compacts?

With regards to the first of these two scenarios, I can only assure the readership I’ve repented of my youthful Euro-snobbery to a degree that would make a post-Room-101 Winston Smith weep over his Victory Gin. With regards to the second scenario, I will only say this: somebody has forgotten about the WRX and STi, and that somebody is the corporate person known as Subaru of America.

(Read More…)

By on May 12, 2017

2017 Subaru Outback - Image: Subaru

Although Subaru is selling more new vehicles than ever before, particularly in North America, the automaker’s run of record profits came to end in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017. Subaru made money, no doubt, but Subaru’s operating profit was down 27 percent compared with the prior year.

Subaru’s revenue grew 3 percent while global volume rose 11 percent to more than 1 million vehicles, according to Automotive News. That’s the kind of information that matters to investors.

As for consumers, it’s the information from Subaru CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga that matters most. Saying the U.S. market has peaked, Yasuyuki Yoshinaga claims, “The market environment has increasingly become tougher.” In a tougher market, Subaru’s largest market, an automaker must either give way or make way.

Subaru’s decision? “We will carefully examine the situation and will take the necessary steps to maintain our sales, including incentives,” Yoshinaga says.

You heard right. Subaru, notorious for limited supply and limited scope for deal-making, might just offer you a bit of a discount on your next Outback or Forester. (Read More…)

By on May 9, 2017

Subaru Legacy 2018 Logo Emblem Grille

After several years of record growth, a combination of increasing costs and exchange losses forced Subaru’s operating profit to fall by 27 percent in its recently ended fiscal year. No longer Fuji Heavy Industries, and now focusing primarily on automotive product, Subaru Corporation announced its operating income had dipped to $3.69 billion in April. Net income also took a hit, falling by 35 percent to $2.54 billion.

Considering the company finally surpassed the one million annual sales mark for the first time in its history, it is surprising to see the brand faced with anything other than glowing praise. However, improved sales and continued revenue growth doesn’t tell the entire story. Subaru’s European sales declined by 2.6 percent — matching the trend in China and Japan. North America, which accounts for the majority of the brand’s sales, maintained its interest but the overall market has slowed.

“U.S. demand has peaked out,” Subaru CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga explained. “The market environment has increasingly become tougher. We will carefully the situation and will take the necessary steps to maintain our sales, including incentives.”  (Read More…)

By on April 27, 2017

All four Lexus LS generations, Images: Toyota Canada

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: everything, and I mean everything, is utterly and absolutely context-dependent. It’s literally true on the atomic level, where we cannot accurately measure both position and velocity at the same time. It’s true at the quantum level, where “quantum entanglement” governs behavior that is currently beyond our ability to understand. It’s even applicable in your dating life; the same size-six girl who feels insubstantial to you in the long evenings at home will acquire new heft after you spend a drunken weekend away with a size two.

Since this is an automotive website and not The Journal Of Theoretical Physics And Deniable Adultery, let’s focus on what context means in the automotive sense. The definitions of fast car, big car, economical car, reliable car, and even full-sized pickup have all changed several times since the end of the First World War. Imagine you fell into a coma in 1975 and woke up today; you’d probably ask how and why cars got so tiny and trucks got so big. The first 911 Turbo was a “widowmaker” with 260 horsepower; today’s model delivers twice that much power and still isn’t the fastest car (around a track, at least) in its price range.

More importantly, our own personal context for an automobile often determines how much we enjoy and appreciate it. Think of all the people who spend their weekends restoring, cleaning and driving “classic cars” that other people threw away decades ago. Think of the over one million people who couldn’t wait to trade their Tri-Five Chevys in on something new, and of all the people who’ve spent major portions of their lives making those same cars better than they were when they left the assembly line. That’s the power of context.

Which brings me to today’s question for Ask Jack. It’s all about one man’s very unusual, but entirely understandable, definitions of “daily driver” and “weekend special”.

(Read More…)

By on April 26, 2017

Subaru Legacy 2018 Logo Emblem Grille

The importance of favorable perception is invaluable when it comes to sales. If a product or brand doesn’t inspire some sort of positive association, then it’s not likely to be around for longer.

Automotive brands are specifically interested in gaining recognition for their strengths. When you think of the most reliable or best-looking cars, one or two brands usually jump to the front of your mind — and the same can be said for the worst examples in the industry. Those companies are aware of their status and, on the off-chance they forget, certain outlets are only too happy to remind them.

Based on insights and data collected via Kelley Blue Book’s brand watch study, the automotive research company has established the victors of its Brand Image Awards for 2017. While most winners are about as surprising as a cold winter in Canada, a few recipients took some dissecting to make sense of.

(Read More…)

By on April 20, 2017

2018 Subaru WRX STI

The manual transmission might be on its last legs, but you’d never know it by browsing through Subaru WRX equipment lists. A six-speed manual comes standard on all five trim levels, helping make the all-wheel-drive compact a perennial favorite among driving enthusiasts of reasonably modest means.

For 2018, the WRX and WRX STI offers more standard equipment and a face that’s cleaner — and ever so slightly meaner — than before, though one feature seems notably absent. That, of course, would be the stiffer global platform found under the new Impreza. Oh, and add “extra horsepower” to that list.

As Subaru fanboys wait for a next-generation model, at least the updated version won’t cost them much more. (Read More…)

By on April 13, 2017

2017 Subaru Ascent Concept - Image: Subaru

Still nearly eight months away from being revealed in final production form, it’s already assumed inside Subaru HQ that the 2018 Subaru Ascent will generate the bulk of its conquests from inside the Subaru family.

Subaru expects to sell approximately 60,000 Ascents on an annual basis in the United States. But according to statements made about the long-awaited three-row Tribeca replacement by Subaru CEO Yasuyuki Yoshinaga at last month’s Geneva Motor Show, the Ascent won’t be stealing many sales of the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse, and Nissan Pathfinder.

Hey, Outback and Forester: Subaru’s looking at you for donations to the Ascent’s cause. (Read More…)

By on April 12, 2017

[Image: Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars]

The Subaru Ascent concept SUV unveiled today at the New York International Auto Show heralds a very real vehicle with similar proportions, styling, and name.

While the model’s name aptly describes the automaker’s sales performance, the Subaru brand hasn’t fielded a large-ish utility vehicle since the slow-selling, second-generation Tribeca disappeared after 2014. With the Ascent, due to appear in production form in 2018, the brand delivers a three-row, seven-passenger vehicle with a wheelbase that’s longer than a Chevrolet Tahoe. (Read More…)

By on March 22, 2017

Subaru STI bobsled

Most automotive advertising has little to nothing to do with the actual car. It’s usually about presenting an image or hawking brand identity and then loosely associating it with a vehicle — Mercedes’ current “Grow Up” campaign is a perfect, cringeworthy example. However, enthusiasts know that the best car ads feature incredible shenanigans and loads of life-or-death action.

Dave Chapelle mocked Mitsubishi for its pop-and-lock Eclipse spot, while Top Gear honored Land Rover for winching a Defender up the side of a dam. Keenly aware of this is Subaru, which, after sending Mark Higgins and a WRX STI around the Isle of Man TT course in 2014, brought both man and vehicle to the world’s oldest bobsled run in St. Moritz, Switzerland to record another automotive spectacle.

Unfortunately, Subaru is more than 50 years too late for this particular publicity stunt. Ford filmed an identical feature in the Italian Alps with the Cortina GT way back in 1964. It even named the car after the Cortina d’Ampezzo ski resort, where it later held the event. Subaru may be calling it “boxersledding” today, but it’s really just a rehash of Ford’s classic “auto-bobbing.”  (Read More…)

By on March 9, 2017

2017 Subaru Outback - Image: Subaru

“Washington is not a place to live in. The rents are high, the food is bad, the dust is disgusting and the morals are deplorable. Go South, young man, go South and grow up with the country.” —Not Horace Greeley

Subaru generates 60 percent of its global sales in the United States. For a Japanese brand that still relies on imports for half of its volume in its largest market, Subaru knows that 60-percent reliance on America is way too high.

Subaru needs strength in other markets. Subaru needs to diversify its portfolio. Subaru needs another America.

Unfortunately for Subaru, history suggests the brand won’t quickly find strength in other markets. History suggests Subaru’s attempts to diversify its portfolio won’t succeed.

Fortunately for Subaru, however, there is more America.

“It’s true we want to increase sales in other countries, but in terms of the place with the best chance to increase sales, it has to be America’s Sun Belt,” Yasuyuki Yoshinaga, CEO at Subaru’s Fuji Heavy Industries parent company, told Bloomberg.

In other words, Subaru wants to add some New Orleans to its order of New Hampshire; Burlington with a side of Birmingham; Kennebunkport supplemented with a dose of Port St. Lucie. (Read More…)

By on March 7, 2017

2018 subaru crosstrek

Unveiled in Geneva today, Subaru’s Crosstrek undergoes a top-down revamp for 2018, bringing the compact, lifted five-door in line with its Impreza stablemate.

Called the XV overseas, the Crosstrek soldiered on with its old bodystyle and platform in 2017, even after the model it shares its body and mechanics with went in for a makeover. With new skin, bones, and a thoroughly reworked powerplant, the model no longer has to live in the new Impreza’s shadow. (Read More…)

By on February 13, 2017

2017 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i Limited

The 2017 Subaru Crosstrek has the bad luck of living in the shadow of a vehicle that doesn’t yet exist. That phantom would be the looming 2018 Crosstrek, which borrows the new-for-2017 Impreza’s modular platform and, no doubt, enough technological, mechanical and appearance upgrades to make the old model look ancient overnight.

So, if you’re stuck living in northern climes and counting pennies is your idea of a thrilling good time, now’s a great time to sit back and wait patiently for a killer deal on the outgoing model. Because, replacement or not, it’s popular for good reason. And no, not just because of Subaru’s newfound status as the go-to conveyor of the nonconformist middle class.

With little changed since its 2013 model year debut, save for the elimination of the “XV” prefix, a minor 2016 facelift, and the disappearance of a short-lived hybrid variant, the Crosstrek enters the last year of its first generation with confidence. This jacked-up Impreza 5-door has a life ahead of it and a fan base behind it. Anyone who questions the reasons for the model’s popularity had best pack their bags, head north, and experience a month where it snowed at least every other day. (Read More…)

By on February 9, 2017

Bozi driving 2016 Subaru WRX on track in Charlotte, Image: © 2016 Bojan Tatarevic

The WRX passed the one year mark a few months ago and the odometer hasn’t stopped rolling. It’s been on a few road trips, a track day or two, and racked up another 12,000 miles since the last update in August.

The new car smell might be fading, but it feels just as new as it did 15 months ago. I’ve mostly kept my urge to modify it at bay, but it’s received a few tweaks for comfort along with a few parts to make it perform a little better on track.

Our last update ended with a plan to attend some competitive driving events and, as luck would have it, SCCA offered a demanding multi-day event that would put the car through its paces.

(Read More…)

By on February 8, 2017

2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited red

It’s normal for many new car buyers to fall out of love with their vehicles once the honeymoon is over and the thrill is gone, though the majority stick with their vehicles for the long haul — well, until the lease period is up, anyway.

The jilted romantics will run to tell Consumer Reports and anyone else in their immediate vicinity about how unsatisfied they are with their car’s finicky infotainment unit and herky-jerky transmission, but their complaints fail to shed any light on costs. Initial quality and customer satisfaction are nice things, but what about the impact on the buyer’s wallet over time?

Kelley Blue Book can provide some advice, as it tallies up the top brands and models based on ownership costs over a five-year period. (Read More…)

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