By on August 23, 2014

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

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

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

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130 Comments on “Chart Of The Day: Subaru Has Risen, Mazda Not So Much...”


  • avatar
    thornmark

    Subaru=poor (or smart) man’s Audi.

    AWD for less and Saab is gone.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      Subaru has gone from a very niche player to a mainstream brand in the past 15 years. They’ve steadily upped their game. That all said, Subaru has also done an outstanding job of finding a target market and tailoring their message, their brand image and their products.

      In many ways they’ve out-Volkswagened-Volkswagen when it comes to marketing. Fifteen years ago VW had the best marketing and advertising in the business. The difference here is that Subaru was able to deliver with reliable products that steadily improved over the years. Volkswagen sold hundreds of thousands of people on an image and the product left them wanting.

      Subaru’s messaging is so spot-on-good it’s scary. Their approach should be a lesson to everyone in the industry.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        I agree with you that they have been successful, but in all seriousness what is their marketing?
        I hear the tag line “Love. Its what makes a Subaru” and derivations on that. Does “Love” sell?
        I ask as a 2006 Legacy wagon owner, who will be buying a replacement based upon product and not marketing.

        • 0 avatar
          Mandalorian

          I don’t know, most Subaru drivers I’ve met DO love their Subarus. Many of them are on their fourth or fifth one. Subaru buyers are pretty loyal for the most part.

          The reason they do so well is that if you want capable AWD, decent cargo space and decent ground clearance for south of $30k, Subaru is the prime game in town. Sure, there’s stuff like the CRV and what have you, but Subaru owns the segment.

        • 0 avatar
          hreardon

          Their advertising clicks with people, they’re emotional advertisements that tell stories that get people to connect.

          Let’s do a compare/contrast: Subaru did an advert with a young man and his labrador and it shows them growing up though life’s stages: girlfriend, wife, newborn baby, new home, etc. It’s a very touching advertisement that tugs at the heart. It’s uplifting and comforting.

          Contrast that with Chevy’s attempt that starts with a vague reference to a sweet Golden Retriever in a vet’s office, clearly about to be put down, and it then flashes back to all the great memories of his, and his owner’s life.

          Similar ideas, but incredibly tone-deaf: the Subaru commercial reminds you that like your faithful companion, your Subaru will be with you on life’s journey. The Chevy ad leaves you with the sense that like your dog, one day your Chevy will die on you.

          Subaru is really good at tying themselves to life’s journey and makes them feel like it is, or at least should be, a part of it. Brilliant work.

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            Thanks for the comparison and it makes sense. I don’t see TV ads, only radio ones and the tagline doesn’t work as well on radio.

            I agree that Subaru owners are loyal. Will be interesting to see what happens as they expand out of their niche.

          • 0 avatar
            pragmatist

            Subaru has been playing a steady game for years. Relatively robust, capable, reliable cars manage to include impressive capability with decent comfort and performance.

            From an engineering point of view, they are doing the AWD thing right, virtually every other AWD/4WD is an awkward kludge when it comes to layout.

            I don’t currently have a Suby (being primarily a Jeep guy) but I’ve had them in the past and wouldn’t hesitate on one if the circumstances demanded an efficient all weather beast.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        It’s not just in the ad’s either. Subaru almost never leaves out the environmental credits of it’s factory. Not a big selling point to everyone, but it’s big with their target. Even the music on the ads shows they are in touch with the demographic they are targeting. It’s as if Subaru didn’t fall into the trap of thinking the only path to successfully sell cars is to beat toyota/GM and instead have established a vision of being profitable and growing while not abandoning the core values (and customers) that got them where they are in a futile effort to be #1.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “Their advertising clicks with people, they’re emotional advertisements that tell stories that get people to connect.”

      Exactly. I happen to like their advertisements. You mentioned the one with the Labrador but do you remember the one with the couple on vacation or the summer vacation the high school sweethearts spend exploring in the Subaru.

      They’re attempting to connect the car with your life, particularly the good times. I like these types of ads. They connect with me. Thing is Subaru also realizes their customers also purchase their cars for safety reasons. Hence, the various safety related ads. An ad will not get get a customer to sign on the dotted line again and again so whatever it is their providing, their customers must like it.

      Say what you want, but Mazda, a company that highlights performance with its Zoom-Zoom slogan has nothing on the performance offerings of Subaru. So you tell me, whose products more align with their advertisements and whose blowing sunshine up your tooter?

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        The MazdaSpeed3 had performance and depending on how you define performance the MX5 also has it.
        Subaru has great offerings, but they don`t sell many WRX’s or STI’s which are only available in one model – the Impreza. The rest of their line up, especially the Legacy, Outback and XV CrossTrek doesn`t shout performance. They unfortunately dropped the Legacy GT. I am glad they have the Forester XT.

        As regards “whose blowing sunshine up your tooter?” Are Subaru’s any safer than other class competitive cars, any more environmentally sustainable, or any more likely to transport a couple through their life together? Now who is blowing?

        • 0 avatar
          Power6

          I think the charge was the marketing is getting the message out. So maybe Subaru is or isn’t safer though since the invention of their “safety ring” for the 02 Impreza they seem to have enough focus on safety to be a top pick for most of their models most years. They have the zero-landfill plant in Indiana and seem to have done a good job publicizing that.

          Performance is secondary for Subaru, they didn’t even want to bring the WRX here, it and the STI make up little of their sales. As you’ve pointed out they cut the Legacy GT becuase nobody bought them and the Forester XT is CVT only hardly a sport model. Subarus bread and butter is more typical folks than WRX lovers. I am more of the latter myself but I see what people like in their basic models.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      If smart means educated, Subaru seems to be smart man’s everything judging by sales to college profs…..

      Mazda is aiming straight at the core of perhaps the two strongest brands in the US import market; trying to be somewhere between BMW and Honda. As sporty as a Bimmer, but as reliable and low priced as a Honda… It’s a pretty tough sell.

      Subaru really has found a niche. They’re all awd, so even the densest non enthusiast is aware that if he wants to get around in the winter, he should go look at a Subie. AWD is not just some expensive addon package, the way most others are.

      To be a bit cynical, I also suspect Subie found success by, perhaps inadvertently, marketing to people who really don’t like cars. Who would rather be riding a bicycle, or hiking, if it was at all practical. And who are, hence, less likely to even know enough to be critical of their car…. While Mazda is aiming for a target market of guys who’ll never be happy until they get a brown diesel wagon that handles like a Miata and costs less than 50 bucks.

  • avatar
    VCplayer

    This chart should be posted in every marketing school in the world.

    Subaru has convinced a bunch of people that their cars are safer than everyone else’s through the most emotionally manipulative ads ever designed to sell cars.

    Mazda sells amazing, high value vehicles that they can’t convince anyone who isn’t already into “zoom zoom” to drive. Unfortunate given how amazing Mazda’s marketing was ~15 years ago.

    Well done Subaru, even though I find your cars boring and your ads cringe-worthy.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      It’s not just Rosie O’Donnell’s car anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      alsorl

      Watching a Mazda 5 frontal crash test video and seeing the dash almost decapitate the front passengers down not help Mazda on safety.

      • 0 avatar
        olydoug

        The Mazda5 is just about the oldest design in the lineup, more recent designs like the 3 score so much better. The Next Gen 5 will most likely do so much better.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      Image, brand and the ability to relate to both are exceptionally important for building sales. It’s not enough to have the right product, you also have to have the right message and the right connection to your customer. Mazda simply doesn’t have the right messaging or image to connect with enough people.

      Subaru, likewise, started its rise when they started the Outback branding with Paul Hogan. It helped them build an image that resonated with active lifestyle, above-average income and education Americans. They built on that, improved their products and succeeded in bringing in new adherents.

      Mazda simply has not built a coherent brand image and Volkswagen has allowed its brand image to erode over the past fifteen years. Subaru is doing it right.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        I expect Subaru are doing better this year because of the extreme winter weather we had 6-8 months ago. Jeep also has done well as people, maybe mistakenly, switch to AWD/4×4 to mitigate winter weather in the future.

        Also Subaru seemed to plateau when VW came out with the new Jetta and Passat and had sales increases. Now VW is falling, Subaru is picking up the slack. I wonder if there is any correlation and overlap between their customers.

        • 0 avatar
          hreardon

          mike978 –

          Wouldn’t be surprised if they’re picking up a lot of Volvo and Volkswagen buyers. I get the same impression about Subaru gaining a lot of VW converts.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “Mazda simply doesn’t have the right messaging or image to connect with enough people.”

        Could be. An alternate possibility also exists. Maybe, for whatever reason, their cars aren’t connecting with customers. Ads and image be damned.

      • 0 avatar
        LeeK

        That’s a very astute observation, hreardon. VW for many years appealed to customers who weren’t quite interested in the mainstream offerings of the big three or the Toyota/Honda/Nissan juggernaut. Now, Subaru’s low key campaign on NPR stations with simple words about “symmetrical all-wheel drive” is having the same effect on this market that VW’s campaign did back in the 90s and 00s. The decline of Volvo and disappearance of SAAB also factors in, two brands that also used to enjoy this customer niche. In the eastern college town I lived in for twenty three years, 240Ds and 900s have been replaced by Outbacks and Foresters. Now I live in the southern range of the Rockies and see an astounding number of Subarus, particularly amongst the educated retiree set. The cars are considered reliable, safe, practical, reasonably priced, and probably most importantly not a Toyota.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      Subaru very well has a legitimate argument as being the safest cars on the road. They basically have a high strength steel roll cage implemented around the entire passenger compartment, and the boxer engine is designed to go “down” instead of into the cabin in the event of a frontal collision. Not to mention the good handling in all conditions and superior AWD system. Anecdotal: My buddy was t-boned at 55 mph in his Forester and he walked away. The BMW who hit him was completely destroyed and the driver ended up in the hospital.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      “Subaru has convinced a bunch of people that their cars are safer”
      Since those people include the ones who analyze the testing data I’m not sure you’re not missing the Forester for the trees. Subaru put the high strength steel rods that required modifying the jaws of life in the cage first, and aired the ads second.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      It’s as if you’re saying Subaru drivers are just uneducated rubes who fall collectively for their manipulative ads, when in reality their customers are among the most educated in the industry.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “Mazda sells amazing, high value vehicles…”

      Let’s take a bit of conformation bias, after all I’d choose Mazda so they must be good, much better in fact than a Subaru. Add a bit of high-mindedness…

      “Subaru has convinced a bunch of people…”

      Of course, Subaru has pulled the wool over your eyes you mouth breathing rubes. Why else would you not only purchase one, but keep coming back for more. If you’re that glutton for punishment, I know a certain Mr. Grey. He’ll hook you up. Literally.

      And of course we finish with the back handed compliment.

      “I find your cars boring and your ads cringe-worthy.”

      Hey, that’s VCplayer’s truth. Looks are subjective and Subaru’s have never been that attractive visually (at least to my eyes) but they do have other qualities which is why their customers buy them.

      Here’s the rub. Mazda is the Zoom Zoom company but what about Mazda is Zoom Zoom? They have nothing that can touch the WRX, let alone the STI. Zoom Zoom my A$$.

    • 0 avatar
      Sky_Render

      “High value”?

      Hardly. The cost of a well-equipped Mazda 3 (a compact car) will get a you similarly-equipped midsize car from other manufacturers.

      Mazda also seems to have an issue keeping inventory at their dealerships. For instance, when I was car shopping recently, I couldn’t find a dealer within 50 miles that had any Mazda 3s with the larger engine. NONE.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Mazdas were really, really ugly for a generation or two. And they have a reputation for rust. And I at least don’t find the 3 and 6 to be particularly amazing to drive. The Golf and Passat do it better for anyone who can’t a afford a BMW. The 6 needs more engine (and I RARELY say that about anything). The CUVs have nothing on anything else in the segment. The 5 is neat, but limited in appeal. So other than the Miata, which is nearly a class to itself, why would I want a Mazda, exactly?

    Subaru has AWD across the board, they mostly aren’t hideous, and those ads are bound to work like magic on the folks with sprogs. The cheapest way to full-stop collision avoidance has got to be worth something to all the nervous nellies these days. Subaru has gotten most of Saab’s former business and probably 95% of what Volvo has lost too.

    • 0 avatar
      alsorl

      Subaru has defiantly taken some sales from the Volvo crowd. Safety is just as good maybe even better without the maintenance and breakdowns of a Volvo

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Most reviews seem to disagree with you on how the 3 and 6 drive.
      The CX5 is class leading as well. The new 2 should continue the excellence of the new Skyactiv range that started with the CX5.

      I agree the previous styling didn’t help, but they have solved that.

      With regards needing a bigger engine for the 6, it would be good. However 80%+ of the mid size segment sells with a 4 cylinder that doesn’t offer more power than the 2.5L in the 6.

      • 0 avatar
        alsorl

        The MX 5 is a nice SUV. But the Forester even without the skyactive marketing beats it real world MPG. And that is comparing it to the FWD not the awd Mazda vs. The awd Subaru. Overall site line also is a selling feature compared to the sitting low CX 5.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @Mike978

        Most reviews are bought and paid for. I call them as I see them.

        But they all still at least offer a more powerful engine as an option.

      • 0 avatar
        rockets

        We have a ’14 CX5 and a ’15 Forester. My summary as follows:
        the Mazda is a bit quieter, smoother and gets better mileage (but has the 2.0 and 6spd manual). Mild edge here with handling, but not much.
        The Forester has better visibility, more room, a lot more torque and zip, but maybe a less compliant ride. It’s brand new but mpg is coming up, now at 24.5 around town with 1200 miles. BTW, the CVT is fine. Sort of apples and oranges here, but those are our impressions. We like them both, but the wife loves the Subie.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          Never understood all the pissing and moaning on CVTs. I adapted to mine (and visa verso) in 10 minutes. Non-issue, really.

          Good comparo. I’d love to hear from an owner with the Forrester and CR-V.

          • 0 avatar
            rockets

            We drove the CR-V for comparison. A bit plasticky inside, poor rear visibility like my Mazda, just OK handling and braking, and surprisingly felt tight in the front seat. Overall, very appliance like, and we have had three Hondas that we did like (Acura RSX, Odyssey, Element). Didn’t like the RAV-4 much either, but all four are good vehicles and in the end probably not separated by that much. We did not look at the Escape, Tiguan, Kia/Hyundai products, or Nissan.

          • 0 avatar
            KrohmDohm

            reply to Dave M.

            We purchased a 2015 Forester 3 weeks ago or so. It replaced a 2012 Honda CR-V. Between the excessive body roll and the poor visibility in the rear quarters I didn’t like my wife driving it on her highway heavy commute anymore. (side note, a co-worker just bought a 2014 CR-V, on the drive home on the highway he almost ran someone out of the right lane due to poor visibility)

            The Forester is superior to the CR-V in handling, traction, visibility and safety. We love it.

            As far as the CVT I was dead set against it 5 years ago when Subaru introduced it to the Outback. I now rescind that opinion. It drives so smooth, holds the torque band well and gets great MPG and no lashing. So far the reports from 2010-14 Outback owners and TrueDelta say the CVT has been durable & reliable. I can’t wait till winter and try this car out in the snow. (The CR-V was TERRIBLE in snow!)

            This is my 6th Subie going back to high school. When I replace my current ride it will be with an Outback and nothing else.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            KrohmDohm,
            I am glad you and your wife like the Subie. But most of your criticism of the CR-V is fixed by a set of snow tires and proper use of mirrors.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    Mazda’s uplevel 3’s and 6’s simply cost too much, and to the untrained, aren’t enough different. Plus the most basic reason, Mazda hasn’t figured out how to deal with NVH which is horrid vs. its competition (and this is nothing new/something they should have known about). It was the main reason we walked away when making a recent purchase.

    • 0 avatar
      alsorl

      Dealership experience at Mazda is also damaging to overall sales.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Subaru’s are expensive to maintain. My 2006 legacy wagon had its 90000 mile service and that was very expensive compared to my Sienna of a similar age.

        You mention the 5 and its crash video. Let’s see what happens with the new 5. All since the CX5 have been class leading or competitive on safety.

        • 0 avatar
          alsorl

          Comparing an advanced Subaru drivetrain to a sienna toaster is not a very good comparison. Compare the Subaru to an Audi quattro 90,000 mile service and you’ll understand why Subaru is breaking sales recorders.

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            In understand you are a Subaru booster and I write as a Subaru owner but they are not Audi. They are competing against Toyota, Honda and the others. Talking of marketing, do you remember a few years ago the “mediocrity” advertising, then the new Legacy came out – was that ironic?

        • 0 avatar
          Richard Chen

          FWIW, the Mazda3 is at the top the IIHS small car ranking as the Mazda5.

          Rumors are that the next gen Mazda5 won’t make it to the US. It sells better than gas-engined Sportwagens, but that’s not saying much.

        • 0 avatar
          olydoug

          Before my brother bought his Legacy wagon back in 2006 he was asking his mechanics (who work on VW/Audi’s as well as Subaru’s) which they would recommend and in their opinion he would spend less money and have a more reliable vehicle buying the Subaru Legacy over any of the Audi Quattro’s he was looking at. Audi may be more of a premium brand but is the closest to Subaru as far as offering AWD on mainstream models. If Subaru came out with a new Tribeca or similar with a 3rd row they would be first in line. They haven’t found repair costs to be that out of line.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      I think with the uplevel 3s you can tell where the money went. It definitely looks nicer than the rest of the segment. I agree about NVH, but Subaru doesn’t exactly have a reputation for quiet cruisers either.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Lesson learned – bland sells

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      Indeed. I’d expect that 10% or less of the overall automotive market is comprised of “enthusiasts” who are interested in such things. Everyone else just wants reliable A->B transportation. Cue Honda, Toyota, Hyundai….

      • 0 avatar
        petezeiss

        //I’d expect that 10% or less of the overall automotive market is comprised of “enthusiasts”

        I agree (though that might be a little high) but that cult has long tendrils extending even into the CR community.

        CR commenters tend to be more adult but their writing staff still feel compelled to give the obligatory nod towards “performance and handling” and say off-putting things about perfectly fine and safe vehicles based upon “disappointing” acceleration or hard cornering.

        The demographic that built and maintains CR is only interested in safety, comfort, reliability and value, not speed or edge-of-envelope handling. I wish their editors were more attuned to that.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      Even the Mazda fans I know were put off by those goofy grinning grilles they debuted a few years ago, so maybe it’s not so much as “bland sells” but rather “fugliness for the sake of being different doesn’t sell”.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        But in contrast, remember all the grief Audi took when they introduced the gigantor grill on the 2006s? Thanks for that trend, Audi.

        Anyway, the Miata “smile” wasn’t too bad…it could have been a lot worse, like Acura’s beak or Chevy’s braces or Ford’s razor.

  • avatar
    alsorl

    Subaru quality and safety has always been a selling point to Subaru. Mazda not so.much.

    • 0 avatar
      HerrKaLeun

      Quality head gaskets? In additionexpensive to fix?

      Mazda really has that rust problem. But everyting else is way better than Subaru.

      I never would buy a Mazda again after my 2005 Mazda 3 rustbucket. But Subaru woul even be lower on my list for quality. My wife and MIL, and BIL used to have Subarus and spending hundteds a yera on maintenance an thousands on repair no one would buy one again.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        My Legacy has been reliable for the past 8 years, but then so has my Sienna. Subaru are no more reliable than Toyota or Honda, and if anything a bit less.
        They are also much more expensive for servicing.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        Honestly, the head gasket problem has been dealt with, it’s time to move on. That engine isn’t even in production anymore.

        • 0 avatar
          HerrKaLeun

          People that got stiffed don’t jusy get over it and forget.

          Who tells me the current cars don’t ha flaws that will be costly later? With Toyonfa thete is a 99% chance the car is reliable and in case it is not they own up and fix it. Subaru never fixed those gadkets at their expense.

          No car will be perfect. My neighbors Acura had transmission issue after 110K miles. Guess how much he paid? Exactly zero since Acura stood behind their product and took responsibility. Did Subaru ever?

          • 0 avatar
            DavidB

            My 04 Forester head gaskets failed 27K miles / 3.5 years AFTER the drive train warranty expired. I pointed out the issue on all the forums and I only had to pay a $100 deductible. I thought that was more than fair.

      • 0 avatar
        JD23

        I had a Unicorn Edition 2004 Mazda 6 that it spent its entire life in Illinois and Vermont and never developed rust.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Subarus’s legendary quality is just that – a legend.

      I don’t think there is any other brand that comes close to the echo chamber that has been created around Subsru “quality”

      • 0 avatar
        LectroByte

        Deserved or not, that’s the reputation Subaru has, and here in the mountains of Eastern TN/Western NC, they are very desirable cars, new or used. Not sure anyone gets that excited over any Mazda products around these parts, most folks probably think of them as re-labeled Ford’s, deserved or not, if they think of them at all.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      I’ve owned several Subarus over the last 20 years – curiously enough, I skipped the models with the head gasket issues. The only times the car needed non fluid changing work was a ripped CV joint (common thing), a fried radio, and getting a new pair of wheel bearings at 180k.

  • avatar

    I test drove 2014 Mazda3 before leasing a Dodge Dart.

    The Mazda’s steering, road feel and handling was amazing, but the road noise was RIDICULOUS. Mazda needs to learn that the only part of a Miata people want in their commuter car is handling, not road noise! I could tell this was a common complaint because the salesman started spouting off some BS about radial tires always generating noise and that you could add undercoating to make it quieter.

    Only leased the Dart because it was $99 a month and “0 down” (excluding first month’s payment and licensing)

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      That is a killer lease deal, I looked for a similar deal but only found shady dealers that sell the miles separately from the lease. Where did you get a dart for $99 a month?!

  • avatar
    nguyenvuminh

    I have a sister who loves Subaru, she’s in Portland (and used to drive Saabs) which explains the quirkiness of Subaru fans. Nothing wrong with that, personally, I respect those “individualistic” people.

    As for Mazda, I currently drive a 2013 Mazda5. I bought it because of the great combination of practicality features like 3 rows of seats if needed, sliding doors,manageable size for ease in parking. BUT, I will say that I am disappointed in i) poor fuel economy for a small car in this age (22 city 28 highway) and ii) wind noise (no regret though since I was already aware of these two complaints). I could care less about zoom-zoom mktg since I know the reality of 85% of my time is spent on fairly straight roads or in parking lots we call the highway.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Subaru was smart to go to an entire AWD lineup. It was a straightforward way to create an easily identifiable niche that customers could immediately understand without the story being too complicated.

    Part of the marketing appeals to the outdoor lifestyle segment. In many respects, this is a throwback to the compact truck segment during the 70s and 80s.

    The ads are essentially updates of how Datsun used to market its trucks, as a vehicle that ordinary folks could use to grab their gear and head out into the woods. A bit of the quirk of Ogilvy’s 60s-era Beetle advertising has been thrown in for good measure. Pretty smart; Mazda’s continual efforts to sell the public on oddball engineering isn’t nearly as appealing.

  • avatar
    Canis Caeruleus

    I currently drive a Forester Touring and my wife drives a CX5 GT. I definitely prefer the Subaru due to noticeably more interior room and much better all around visibility. The equipment level on the Mazda is higher and the technology is more modern but the Subaru has the better driving experience. A great test drive goes a long way towards making a buying decision.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    The 2015 legacy may very well be the best driving midsizer on the road today. It’s also got the most interior room. The current forester is also a knockout, especially in GT trim. You want a non-premium wagon? There are basically two choices, they are Subarus as well. The best part is, they are priced competitively so you’re not paying premium money for a premium driving experience. The only things missing are bringing back the hatch on the WRX and a GT trim on the legacy. I’d be in favor of Subaru dropping the H6 in place of the H4 turbo. It would allow better engine bay design to not have to worry about fitting in the H6.

    On the other hand, there are cars like kia, which are generally regarded as driving like crap, but throw in all the extras and sell competively priced. I would take the Subaru all day over something like the kia.

    Mazda has had a bad past 7-8 years, second generation 3 and 6 were duds, it’s going to take them time to get the recognition they deserve.

  • avatar
    Fenian

    My family has outgrown my 2005 Outback Sport and I am looking to replace it with a mid-sized sedan with a stick. Subaru is now out of the question because the Legacy doesn’t offer a manual transmission anymore. At least Mazda caters to that small demographic.

  • avatar
    readallover

    Yes, Mazda should have figured out the NVH stuff by now. But then again, it is hard to sell the 6 if there aren`t any on the lot. Every dealer seems to have 3`s by the dozen and just a handful of 6`s. Most people have no appetite for the `we can get whatever you want` song and dance.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    I think a lot of Subaru’s success can be traced to dumb luck. During the SUV craze they didn’t have enough money to develop a real SUV so they jacked up the Legacy station wagon and called it an Outback ‘SUV’. The success of the CRV and RAV4 led them to create a similar style box they called the Forester, which they based on the Impreza 4WD passenger car platform. Gas prices went up and people started trading real SUVs for CUVs and low and behold that was what Subaru was selling almost exclusively. Beyond those two models that were developed on a shoestring budget, they have not been successful in the volume car market – remember the Justy, Tribeca, XT/SVX, Impreza, and Legacy have generally been weak competitors to their stronger U.S., Japanese and Korean competitors.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Nailed it.

    • 0 avatar
      gottacook

      The above analysis doesn’t take into account Subaru’s decision to abandon loyal buyers who liked the original-sized Legacy/Outback (1990-2009) and Forester (1997-2008). How successful would Subaru be today in the U.S. if it still produced those vehicles in their former sizes, with their distinctly non-roomy back seats?

      (Although I’m glad Subaru is doing well enough in Indiana to take over the whole factory and stop making Camrys, I myself am an adherent of the original-sized cars, frameless door glass and all; we now own three, including one automatic. We hope to keep them going indefinitely. In the U.S. market there’s no present-day alternative to a Legacy wagon or to the not-too-tall original Forester.)

      • 0 avatar
        Canis Caeruleus

        All the early CUVs have grown, but I think Subaru has better than some at keeping the bloat down. That being said, I parked my 2013 Forester next to a gen 1 Cherokee the other day and it looked about the same size as an SUV that would now be considered truck-like.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      Remember Subaru’s ad campaign from 20 years ago? It was so bad, there was this book:

      http://www.amazon.com/Where-Suckers-Moon-Advertising-Campaign/dp/0679740422

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      One mans dumb luck is another mans genius I guess, just depends what bias you are pushing…were they “stupid” to make a jacked up Legacy wagon with some body cladding…that went on to far outstrip the Legacy sales. They just did the same with the Crosstrek which outsells the Impreza. There is some truth to the perhaps “shoestring budet” in that subaru doesn’t have a huge budget, but if they already make a unibody platform with AWD and good suspension travel…why wouldn’t they make an SUV like vehicle off of that rather than develop a platform. They did fully engineer an SUV Legacy platform variant the Tribeca which never sold well.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        Dumb luck is when something that is done because you have no other attractive alternative turns out to have been the smartest thing that could have been done. As it turned out, Subaru was able to cheaply get into the developing CUV craze, but if CUVs had been a short-lived fad I expect Subaru might have suffered the same fate as Saab.

        • 0 avatar
          Power6

          We don’t have enough info to know whether developing the Outback was a desperate move or just a great product idea. You call it dumb luck because you don’t like Subaru whatever, unless you worked at SOA?

          No doubt they were lucky with rise of SUVs, which interesting enough becuase they did it without actually building a truck at all. Audi tried that via the original Allroad, which was an epic flop in the US.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          “Subaru was able to cheaply get into the developing CUV craze”

          Pretty much every automaker can make that claim. Some of them have done better with it than others.

          That being said, Subaru is still just a niche brand. Last year, Toyota sold almost as many Camrys in the US as Subaru did vehicles. Subaru is doing very well compared to how it was, but it’s still a small fish in the scheme of things.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      BMW was similarly fortunate. In the 1970’s, as a result of the oil shocks, all the major carmakers were invested heavily in FWD platforms to replace less efficient RWD cars. But BMW was only midsized, and could not afford to invest like the big players, so they stuck to RWD.

      Now, BMW will claim they stuck with RWD for its sporting character, ultimate driving machine, blah blah blah, but that doesn’t explain why they’ve been so focused on FWD and AWD vehicles now that they have money to invest.

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        I was in Australia in about 1996 and talked with some managers at Holden who told me they were under heavy pressure from Detroit GM to switch everything to FWD and follow the US lead. The Aussies were resisting because they thought RWD better suited Australian conditions, and were concerned the changeover costs would never be recouped. Apparently they were successful in resisting headquarters as Holden provided the platform borrowed by all the recent 4+ passenger rear-drivers in GM’s US lineup. Going all in on FWD was GM’s strategic decision based on a vision of continuing increases in gas prices and continuing downsizing on vehicle size and power. How might things have been different if GM had decided to hedge their bet by shifting Chevy and Buick to FWD, and maintaining Pontiac, Olds, and Cadillac as RWD with independent rear suspensions and some available high output motors?

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          “How might things have been different if GM had decided to hedge their bet by shifting Chevy and Buick to FWD, and maintaining Pontiac, Olds, and Cadillac as RWD with independent rear suspensions and some available high output motors?”

          The Commodore has been in decline ever since. If that’s supposed to be a barometer for US success, then I’d get your umbrella.

          When you were in Australia in 1996, the import tariff there was 25%. It wasn’t so hard for the domestics there to stay above water when they were taxing the foreigners out of the market and providing subsidies to offset the shortfalls. Drop the tariff to 5% and cut the subsidies as they have lately, and that’s bye-bye to the Commodore. (Higher fuel prices haven’t been much help, either.)

  • avatar
    turboprius

    My mom owned a Mazda MPV back when Mazda was owned by Ford; it had the same engine as the Freestyle. I really liked that thing, but it had some issues. In early 2008, we were considering selling it after it had some severe brake problems, and when one of the sliding doors (wasn’t even power) wouldn’t open anymore in the spring, we knew we had to sell it. Exactly six years ago today, we sold it and bought the Rogue I mention so often. It was a 2003 with just under 65K on the odometer. Today, that would be disappointing.

    Sure, it was a great van, even with the mentioned issues, but an Odyssey could’ve done the job better. This is what’s happening to Mazda. They make good cars, but to most, the competition is better and more practical. One of the Lambdas, the Pilot, or the Highlander takes preference over the CX-9, the Accord and Camry over the 6, and so on.

    I’d consider a Mazda or a Subaru for my family, if USAA wasn’t sassy. Well, the Subaru; we were afraid the CX-5 wouldn’t have enough power.

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    Mazda’s problem now is they have nothing unique to offer except a stick shift which nobody wants anyway. The syactive 2.5 in the 6 is a dud. The 6 and 3 are not fun to drive at all…and the first gen 6 was. Nobody who buys a crossover cares about sporty driving either so to use zoom zoom for those is just dumb. Mazda’s been marketing themselves as the sporty fun zoom zoom automaker for 15 years and they are not..time for a new marketing angle. Hey it worked for Subaru..they were going down the tubes then they gave the legacy some more ground clearance and body cladding,called it the outback and look at them now.

    Oh a

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      I have to partially agree. As someone who grew up a fan of the MX-6 turbo, the 626 5-door, and the legendary 323 GTX, Mazda makes great cars, but something seems to have been lost in the formula.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      “The 6 and 3 are not fun to drive at all…” you are entitled to your opinion but the overwhelming number of reviews, including those not paid for (Mike, Jack and Alex on here) say consistently that Mazda is one of the best driving cars in the particular segment being reviewed. Now they may have issues that make you not want to buy one. I am personally torn between an Accord Sport and a 6 Touring, but lets not say they are not fun to drive AT ALL.

      • 0 avatar
        3800FAN

        My wife’s 02 sonata is more fun to drive. Go test drive a gen1 6 and you’ll be extremely disappointed with the driving dynamics of the new one. The suspensions loud and choppy, the motor is a throbbing dullard with no high-end power, the steering is number than my grand marquis,,,its just not engaging or enjoyable at all. So in a nutshell their fun to drive marketing message is a MYTH! Anyone whos driven Mazda’s of yesterday can see it. As for all the positive reviews,,,fanboy horseshit from the Camry haters.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “I am personally torn between an Accord Sport and a 6 Touring…”

        Allow be to be of assistance…Accord Sport. My good deed for the day is done.

        Au Revoir

        • 0 avatar
          mike978

          Thanks. Any reason? From your earlier posts you seem very anti-Mazda for some inexplicable reason.

          Subaru and Mazda both are good car companies with many advantages. It really doesn`t need to be black and white with only one “the best”.

          • 0 avatar
            hubcap

            Anti-Mazda? Moi? No. We had a 929. Was a great car and served us well until it was rear ended. Never had a Subaru. Drove both the Mazda 6 (auto) and Accord Sport (manual). I liked the Accord better. A part of that had to do with the transmission but taking that out of the picture I just liked the Sport. The engine was not only peppy and responsive but pulled well for what it is. I liked the design of the IP, the large back seat and large trunk. Thing is I don’t dislike the 6, I just like the Sport more.

            I don’t think you’d go wrong with either. It’s just if I was buying I’d choose the Accord. It’s shame that you can only get the manual Sport in black or grey and neither the 6 or the Accord gives you the option of a 6mt with a moonroof.

            For some reason, people jump on Subaru for their ads but Mazda gets a pass on Zoom Zoom. I can’t think of one performance oriented manufacturer that has a line up similar to Mazda’s. When they had the Speed6 and Speed3..yes… but now, to me, they’re something else. Hopefully the MazdaSpeeds are in the pipeline. Something tells me a MazsaSpeed6 would be a keeper.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Subaru = the brand built on fear

    Mazda = the brand cursed by the rotary, and a bad relationship with Ford

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      Do tell, what is Nissan, particularly the Leaf built on?

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Sounds more like a comment than a question.

        My answer: I like the technology, and I like spending only $20/month to operate it. Plus, I like torque.

        For lefties (I’m not) and tree huggers (I’m not), I suppose the answer is something else.

        • 0 avatar
          hubcap

          Ahh! I see. A special snowflake, so unlike all the others.

          You still didn’t answer the question which was not why you like the Leaf but what is it built on? From a marketing and advertising POV natch.

          • 0 avatar
            SCE to AUX

            Nissan says it gets 126 MPGe:

            “http://www.nissanusa.com/electric-cars/leaf/charging-range/”

            No more polar bear ads.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Obviously, having a major competitor (Saab) go away is a huge benefit. Ford would be making bags full of money if either Chrysler or GM were gone.

    Subaru has the benefit of having produced consistently reliable, serviceable vehicles for quite some time. Mazda, not so much. VW not at all. So, there is that. I don’t see Subaru’s advertising campaign as being particularly clever, except that it has credibility. No way could either VW or Mazda make that pitch. They also have the willingness to practically guarantee that their vehicles can serve as your primary transportation for at least ten years. If they don’t deliver, they will regret it.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      VW, as recently as last year, made a pitch in its Superbowl ad where they implied that the 4 year old boy would actually get daddy’s Passat to drive some 12 years later.

      • 0 avatar
        jim brewer

        Right. And it was a laughingstock.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        >> VW, as recently as last year, made a pitch in its Superbowl ad where they implied that the 4 year old boy would actually get daddy’s Passat to drive some 12 years later.

        It was true, but they left out the part about it getting crushed and the scrap metal used to make a Toyota/Honda/whatever that the boy ultimately received.

  • avatar
    turboprius

    Before Subaru of Kennesaw opened, Subarus were non-existent in my area. Now, I see a good amount of new ones, such as 2010-present Outbacks, 2009-present Foresters, and XV Crosstreks (usually with Subaru of Kennesaw badges). If it weren’t for that dealership, new Subarus would probably be as foreign as newer Saabs.

    I’m glad there aren’t Subaru cults down here. But hey, Waffle House trumps a collection of Legacy Wagons.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I understand there is a lot more to selling cars than just the vehicles themselves…

    But even saying that, I still cannot see people liking Subaru over a Mazda. At all. Mazdas are peppy, well styled, drive nicely, and are pretty solid to ride inside of quality and design wise. And on the flip Subarus feel tinny, soft, with the most horrendous interiors on the market as far as material quality and boring design, plus the external styling is, sorry to say my opinion, but hideous. I don’t know if any other company has as frumpy a style as Subaru.

    So it must be marketing, or AWD or something…. Because I really just can’t see people blind testing a Mazda vs a Subaru and picking the Subaru.

    Honda Toyota Ford Hyundai vs Mazda, yeah OK. But Subaru?

    • 0 avatar
      kingofgix

      I just completely, utterly disagree with you. I currently have a 2009 Rav4 that has been flawless for 80k and is built solid as a rock. I only mention this because my sister bought a 2013 Outback wagon, and that car is the only car I have been in that has the solid feel, the complete lack of tinnieness, that I like in the Rav4. I think Subaru makes some of the most solid cars out there. The did use to be tinny. I think you are out of touch.

      Also, I test drove a CX5, twice actually. I like the way it drives, but it is not as solid as Subaru. I don’t own either one.

      • 0 avatar
        turboprius

        Is yours Japanese built? Though I don’t believe this theory, a lot of people think Toyotas built in Japan are of higher quality than ones built in the Americas. My mom has a 2012 Limited built in Canada, and it has some interior quality issues. Mechanically fine, however.

    • 0 avatar
      alsorl

      Go test drive a Forester xt then a loaded CX 5, both good. But the viability, 250hp, and overall build quality of the Subaru sets it apart from the Mazda. And the non-turbo Forster with AWD gets better mpg then the FWD Mazda. Which pretty proves that skyactive is just bs marketing.

  • avatar
    TW5

    Subaru bet that Americans would appreciate unpretentious, affordable capability. While the industry is busy trying to con drivers into buying $35K AWD soft-roaders (Jeep), Subaru creates AWD hatchbacks/wagons with suspension lifts for about $25K.

    Subaru’s success is easy to understand, but what is Mazda doing for car buyers? SkyActiv is quite good, but Mazda’s offerings in the midsize and compact segments are not special enough to stimulate impulse buying. The Miata is unique, and the Mazda2 is the best in its segment, but those segments don’t move volume.

    The new Mazda ad campaigns urge people to think of Mazda as innovators, but the products need to do the messaging.

    • 0 avatar
      kingofgix

      I just completely, utterly disagree with you. I currently have a 2009 Rav4 that has been flawless for 80k and is built solid as a rock. I only mention this because my sister bought a 2013 Outback wagon, and that car is the only car I have been in that has the solid feel, the complete lack of tinnieness, that I like in the Rav4. I think Subaru makes some of the most solid cars out there. The did use to be tinny. I think you are out of touch.

      Also, I test drove a CX5, twice actually. I like the way it drives, but it is not as solid as Subaru. I don’t own either one.

  • avatar

    As long as I remember Mazda never considered as a poor mans BMW. Ford Mondeo was considered as a FWD analogue of BMW. VW Passat considered as more refined version. Peugeot 405 was also very nice car. Mazda was considered as a Japanese car which was better than Toyota but not up to German standards. Mazda6 is too light and noisy and engine is too weak and car is not refined enough to be compared with German cars. I am not even sure if they still sell cars in Europe. Subaru is popular because of symmetric AWD and nothing else. Other Japanese cars have nothing compelling to refer to. May be Honda for its engines and ‘all. In US Subaru is probably popular among those who bought Swedish brands Volvo and SAAB before. Probably for the same reasons which is it is a good winter car.

  • avatar
    Power6

    Subaru is a great story of success. I had been a fan of the WRX/STI but really that has almost none to do with their rise.

    Its funny because on the Subaru message boards you will find, much like here, the small “enthusiast contingent” that doesn’t understand the reasons, or thinks Subaru of America(SOA) has some sort of mind control advertising program that dupes people into buying their cars.

    Fact is the people at SOA seem to get what buyers want in a car and can convince the home office to deliver it. The Outback was totally created at the request of SOA in response to the SUV/CUV sales boom. The Outback went on to obliterate the Legacy in sales. I believe they have done another master stroke jacking up the Impreza and creating the Crosstrek, which easily eclipsed Impreza sales already. The wagon lovers here should be on board, at least Subaru has figured out how to sell wagons. I do like our Outback precisely because it is a wagon not an SUV.

    The other secrets to their sauce seem to be safety and simplicity. If you know Subarus they use basic radios, little advanced electronics, and that probably keeps the price down and the usability high. It doesn’t have many bells and whistles it just works. Always the Subarus seem to be up there in crash testing ranking and plenty of airbags, seems to be important to them.

    My wifes car is an old Outback XT, and some of the Subaru-ness of it is gone from the newer ones I think, the turbo, manual trans availability, the premium theme of the 05-09 model…the fanboys complain incessantly but Subaru just keeps selling more cars, only one conclusion they are building what people who have real money to spend on cars want to buy.

    They still have extreme regional market share though, New England, Pacific Northwest, Colorado…the all AWD thing has not helped them everywhere else so if they want to grow that market share more they have to get over that probably.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      >> The Outback was totally created at the request of SOA in response to the SUV/CUV sales boom.

      The Outback has it’s origin in the 1971 1300G 4WD wagon prototypes. The first production version of an 4WD wagon was the Leone in 1971 that made it to the US in 1974 as a 75. In the late 70’s, they created the Yama Yagi (which I think was just decal engineering) and that sort of morphed into the Outback trim option in 1994. They’ve had an increased ground clearance 4wd station wagon in the US since 1974 and in Japan since 1971.

      • 0 avatar
        Power6

        I am familiar with the Subaru history. Many of the old 4WD versions had lifted suspensions as you point out. By 1994 the Legacy and Impreza AWD were outwardly the same as the FWD models. The Outback product was in fact a request of SOA to FHI, more than just a lifted suspension; raised roof, styling, marketing campaign etc. Whatever it is people like about the Outback package it worked.

  • avatar
    sketch447

    Based on my research over the years, I’ve discovered a few things about Subaru. One, they are almost, but not quite, as reliable as Toyota and Honda. Two, Subaru maintenance is more expensive. To keep a Subie running 250k miles requires a greater $$$$ investment, esp. with the brakes and head gaskets.

    Subaru basically owns the AWD market here in the Northeast. Women love them. You see plenty of Audi AWD vehicles, but they’re all leased. People lease Audis, then unload them in 3 yrs, but they actually buy Subies to keep.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      The CR reliability surveys are the only non anecdotal data that I know of, and once the cars get old enough to show meaningful gaps in problem rates Subaru is distinctly second tier.

      http://tinyurl.com/m8htn52

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    I don’t think Mazda’s product is inline with their marketing message. Why won’t the zoom-zoom company give you a stickshift with the 2.5L in the 3? I don’t care if a 10% take rate is optimistic; if you are going to market yourself as a purveyor of drivers’ cars, you should at least offer it.

    Their ongoing struggle with NVH is inexplicable. Would 50 lbs of sound deadening really ruin fuel economy and dynamics?

    Finally, I don’t think their dealer network does them any favors.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    Before moving to Canada from Florida in 2010 I wanted to buy some sort of AWD vehicle. Of course, Subaru came to mind. I was trading in a basic 2001 Honda CRV which I loved and had 130k trouble free miles. I never had a Subaru before so this was my first time in one. After many test drives in the outback and the Forrester I just couldn’t part with 21k. The interior was very cheap, disappointingly so. I constantly kept comparing it my wife’s 2006 Honda Pilot and there was no comparison. I gave up on Subaru and bought a slightly used Ridgeline which has turned out to be an excellent vehicle but a gas vampire.

  • avatar
    Brumus

    Based on issues a few friends/family members had with recent Subarus, I’m not quite sold on Subaru reliability. These cars were by no means lemons, but they all had (relatively) minor things go tits-up way sooner than they should have.

    That said, Subaru has indeed done an excellent job on finding a target market and servicing it with its AWD lineup.

    Speaking of AWD and the necessity thereof where the snow flies, I suspect many out there don’t realize how capable any number of FWD cars are when outfitted with good winter rubber. When I was looking at the Impreza, the salesman went into a canned spiel how a Subaru with so-called all season tires is better than any FWD vehicle with dedicated snows. I politely disagreed, whereupon said salesman became somewhat of a dick.

    Truth be told, I had decided against the Impreza after the test drive — didn’t even bother with the Crosstrek, as I doubt one of my beefs with the Impreza would be addressed by a vehicle that used the same, barely adequate 148-hp engine but weighed an additional 150 pounds. (Kudos to the Crosstrek for offering a stick, though.)

  • avatar
    JD23

    I used to live in one of Subaru’s strongholds, Vermont, and Subaru is well-positioned to compete in that region by offering standard AWD at a reasonable price. Its marketing, which presents Subaru as the natural choice for the quirky, outdoorsy, independent types, resonates well with both the Birkenstock crowd and families looking for safe, economical transportation. Outside of the northeast and northwest, however, Subaru’s AWD and marketing strengths are negated, and it is hobbled by mediocre powertrains and styling that is an acquired taste, to put it kindly.

  • avatar
    zach

    Give some credit to Carmichael Lynch, I think they are responsible for most of Subaru’s advertising bucks.

  • avatar
    zach

    I live in rural Missouri about an hour from St>louis, Subarus are really becoming common even in a town of 40,000.

  • avatar
    DrGastro997

    Considering Mazda’s (Hiroshima HQ +) size is about the same as that of Maserati, they’re not doing bad at all. It would be detrimental if Mazda started to fill in every class/segment within only a short period. Their pace allows them to focus on tamed growth without compromising quality, in my opinion. The divorce with Ford must have benefited Mazda greatly as well. In regards to Subaru, it’ll be interesting to see what happens from hereon forward since Toyota is out of their picture.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      That seems a little blue-sky on Mazda. Just take one for example the Mazda 6 which they sold a decent number of in the first gen. The word was they were still disappointed with US sales but reasoned the car was too small, they needed something bigger. I understand the Subsequent larger 6 gens have never equaled the sales of that first gen.

      Mazda is barely keeping what share they have, not intentionally growing slow. One could simply check incentives or discounts on Mazdas to see if they are a limited production hot commodity, I didn’t check but I am guessing not.

  • avatar
    Dave W

    My dads first Subaru was a 4×4 wagon because he wanted simple, cheap, reliable transportation to replace his SAAB 96. Back then Subaru was selling nearly all their cars in rural, western states. nearly 40 years later Subaru has mostly stuck with plan of selling good cars at a good price to under served niches. Maybe if SAAB had stayed with selling well thought out transportation instead of adult/cult toys they’d still be with us.

    Mazda also seems to have stuck to their guns a bit. 3 times I have made a serious attempt to buy a Mazda at 3 different dealers in 2 states over 20 years. Dealer number 1 would not let us drive the 626 we were interested in, insisting that we ride while he drove and talked about the car. Dealer number 2 left us waiting 4 months for a Protege 5 manual with ABS and cruise control in any color but black. Needing to get on with our lives we moved on. Dealer number 3 would let us drive the car, even had mostly the model we wanted, but really wanted to sell us a Suzuki instead. In all 3 cases we bought a new car from a different dealer/manufacturer not too long after. (D3 was interesting, I had a preference for the Mazda, my wife a preference for the Suzuki. The impasse bought enough time that a Fiesta became available we both preferred to either and 6 months later Suzuki melted down…The possibility of which was the excuse I used to not do the expedient thing and just say “yes dear”.)

    Given the state of my dealer experiences I’m only surprised Subaru didn’t pass Mazda years earlier.

  • avatar
    Wraith

    I’ve been cross-shopping Subaru and Mazda over the last couple years. I was going to say I’m surprised that Mazda’s number aren’t edging upward for 2013, 2014. But I guess their overall sales may still be on the rise, even if their market percentage isn’t.

    Forester vs. CX-5 – I’d take the CX-5. CX-5 has: better seats, OK infotainment, great styling, blind spot monitoring, optional “Smart City Brake” (low speed collision avoidance), optional HID, no heated seats/mirrors except on GT trim. Forester has: horrible touchscreen/nav system, heated cloth seats/mirrors/wipers, EyeSight (more robust collision avoidance/auto cruise), better visibility, no HID except on XT (turbo).

    Legacy vs. Mazda6 – The new Legacy makes a very strong case, and you can get a lot for your money. Heated seats/mirrors/wipers, moonroof, foglights, eyesight, nav for under $27k sticker. I’d probably be fine with a Mazda6, but their trim levels/option packages don’t line up with what I want. (For example, I don’t want 19″ wheels, but I would like heated seats.)

    Impreza vs. Mazda3 – Not sure I’d go with either one, at this point. I wish the Impreza had: a little more power, better infotainment, power seats. Mazda3 has a great touchscreen nav system, and power feels ok, even in 2.0L, but that road noise is pretty awful at interstate speeds. And the 2.5L trims get expensive fast.

  • avatar
    JohnnyFirebird

    My main problem with Mazdas as a used car dealer in the rust belt (well, Canadian rust belt) is the rust. Quebecois both English and French loved the heck out of the Protegé and first generation Mazda 3 – you could get a great driving car for dirt cheap, especially pre-recession. But they’ve all rusted to pieces, especially the Mazda 3. Rear quarter panels and trunks, even on 2007s / 2008s, to the point where the cars are pretty much just worth scrap prices.

    Subaru has the same 5 year warranty but Imprezas from the same era don’t have anywhere near as much rust.

    Volkswagen’s 12 year warranty may be one reason why you see so many 2011+ Jetta Trendlines here. (Also because people love dirt cheap, no AC, stick shift cars.)

  • avatar
    chris8017

    In my experience buying my 2011 Mazda6 iSport with 6spd MT I found the dealer lots lacking of 6’s. I had to go to multiple dealers and find one willing to dealer trade for the car I wanted 200 miles away. I had to really stick to my guns to BUY the car. If one has to TRY and buy a vehicle they have to WANT it bad. Apparently not many people want it BADLY enough. Mazda needs to realize the competition is fierce and if they can’t deliver product people are easily distracted and will go elsewhere.

    I surmise part of Mazda’s problems stem from poor dealer inventory. We live in a ‘want it now’ society and many people are not willing to leave the dealer empty handed with a promise to find there vehicle…they want to sit in it and test drive it. Around me car dealerships are always located next to strips of other car dealers. It is very simply for a disappointed customer to leave a Mazda dealer and say “hey, I also liked the Subarus…let me check them out.” So they go to a Subaru dealer which is chock full of sedans and is able to sit and test drive an actual car.

    However, I do like my 2011 Mazda6 and I have had no issues with it in 53k miles other than the car eating tires. Do I regret not buying a Camry? Heck no. Do I regret not buying an Altima? No. Do I regret buying an Accord? Maybe.

    If I had to bet money on it I’d say Mazda’s problems are at the dealer level. Look at Hyundia, Kia and Subaru. There dealer networks around me are fantastic with well stocked, brand new and renovated dealerships and brightly lit lots. The Mazda dealers by me are dimly lit, have folding table furniture and look depressing.

  • avatar
    Sky_Render

    Mazda’s pricing is simply awful and is not on-par with the other mainstream manufacturers.

    Example: A Mazda 3, which is a compact car, costs about the same as a midsize car (Fusion, Malibu, etc) from other manufacturers.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I’m a Subaru owner (’13 FXT) in an almost comically Subaru-heavy place (the Pacific Northwest).

    They got my business by having a technically good AWD system in a well-packaged vehicle at a reasonable price. Cheesy slogans had nothing to do with it.

    The AWD system in particular deserves a shout. Its default torque split is 60/40 front/rear. It’s *not* on-demand like those in almost all of the competition, including the RAV4, CR-V, Escape, Rogue, and Equinox. All four wheels are always pulling. That makes a real difference in winter mountain conditions, such as those we drive through every time we go skiing.

    Is it perfect? Of course not. Fuel economy with the old 4-speed auto is a joke. Interior quality is about on the level of Chinese toys from Walmart. The Subaru rattles are all present and accounted for. But I still can’t think of anything other than a 2014+ FXT that would do the job we need as well.

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  • Lie2me: 168K miles before it was broad-sided tells me these were pretty stout cars for the late 80s. No telling how...
  • Matt Foley: In a world without the Civic Si, this Corolla might make sense.
  • Sajeev Mehta: NOOOOO! CLASSIC RUINED!!!!! #bittertears
  • CaptainObvious: I well remember the days of replacing stock radios and speakers. The choice of coaxial, triaxial, or...

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