Chart Of The Day: Subaru Has Risen, Mazda Not So Much
The more some things stay the same, the more other things change. Or so the saying doesn’t go.
Mazda’s U.S. market share hasn’t been much more than level since a pre-recession surge, if you can call it that, to 1.99% in 2008. A brand known as something of the poor man’s BMW should be selling 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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.