By on September 20, 2014

Subaru vs Volkswagen sales chartIt’s not a brand new thing, this Subaru-besting-Volkswagen trend. But when Subaru outsold the Volkswagen brand in the United States in 2009 and 2010, Subaru was on a rapid upswing despite the market’s sharp decline, and all auto sales results were thought to be skewed by the recession.

Year-over-year, Volkswagen volume shot up 26% in calendar year 2011 and 35% in 2012, a 113,731-unit increase. But 2013 volume fell 7%, and though the total number of sales was still far higher than anything Volkswagen had recently achieved, 2012 aside, there was cause for concern. Volkswagen’s new Passat, which, when 14,462 were sold in late December 2012 looked to have potential, slid 6% in a slowly growing midsize market. Volkswagen’s next big launch was to be the Golf, a car which, in America, simply didn’t have the potential for restore-the-brand volume that the Jetta and Passat sedans possess, or were thought to posess.

So here we are, with Subaru having reported its highest monthly U.S. sales total ever in August and Volkswagen having reported 17 consecutive year-over-year declines. Not all of the products marketed by these two brands in the United States are necessarily direct rivals, but they are both seen by many of their own buyers as slightly upmarket mainstream brands: Subaru arrived at this point after, until recently, fostering a niche status, while Volkswagen has consistently played on its German heritage.

The contradictions are obvious. Subaru is a tiny, part-Toyota-owned Japanese automaker. Volkswagen is the headline brand for the world’s second-largest automaker. The average margin of Subaru’s “victories” over Volkswagen during the last four months has been 13,693 units.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

86 Comments on “Chart Of The Day: Subaru vs. Volkswagen...”


  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Most people I know would not even consider a VW due to its poor reliability record, the one exception bought a Jetta Diesel a few yrs back and he has zero regrets.

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    “Epic battle of the brands with spotty reliability records, and inflated reliability reputations.”

    I’ve owned several of both brands, and they are in the interesting, fun, but wallet-risky category. Subaru was the worst offender for me.

  • avatar
    thx_zetec

    Awful graph even for taco

    Poorly labeled. Font way too small, there is room for bigger font. Also y-axis does not start at zero making misleading comparison

    • 0 avatar
      an innocent man

      On my copy, the y-axis does start at zero. And clicking on the image brings up a much larger graph. Seems fine to me. YMMV

      • 0 avatar
        thx_zetec

        You are right about y axis. I missed this as I viewed it on my Zeus microscope

        Regarding clicking on image to expand: still not that readable. Also why should I have to click to make it readable? There is room. Maybe content is designed by 20 year old sitting in front of 27 in display

      • 0 avatar
        thx_zetec

        You are right about y axis. I missed this as I viewed it on my Zeiss microscope

        Regarding clicking on image to expand: still not that readable. Also why should I have to click to make it readable? There is room. Maybe content is designed by 20 year old sitting in front of 27 in display

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      The least informative graph I am currently aware of, is the one on Garmin’s heart rate watch site that shows heart rate throughout a run. When I run, my heart rate fluctuates over hill and dale between, say, 120 and 150, which is very significant as far as training effect, and being out of breath is concerned. But the darned graph looks like a straight line, and is hence very misleading. Why? Because the Y-Axis does start at 0…….

  • avatar
    Fred

    I’m kind of guessing here but I assume Subaru beats VW mostly because they have more SUVs I see them Foresters and Outbacks all over the place. It’s rare to see the VW Tiguan. On the other hand I see lots of Jettas but few Imprezas

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Fred – – –

      I think you hit one for the two key factors that may explain the “BIg Why”:
      1) SUV’s and CUV’s are the popular trend, and VW is lacking in those segments;
      2) VW has had a poor repair record, but Subaru has been improving rapidly recently.

      ——————

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        There’s that third factor, AWD. There are a lot of people in the snow belt, and even people out of the snow zone tend to think of it as a safety feature, imparting greater traction and stability in snow, rain and broken pavement. It helps that the whole Subaru line is AWD, not just an added cost option for some models.

    • 0 avatar
      bosozoku

      I’ve received, much to my surprise, several VW rental cars over the past year or two. Never so much as seen a Subaru mentioned in the same sentence as a rental company’s name. Not sure what that has to do with anything, but if fleet sales are counted in the graph above and VW’s numbers are still that low, then Subaru more than deserves to be leaving them in the dust.

  • avatar

    Speaking from a used car perspective, I can’t hold onto nearly a single Subaru I get for more than a handful of weeks. People literally fly down or have them shipped from parts up north because I look for FL/GA-owned Subarus exclusively.

    VWs? A truly mixed bag. Jettas are a proven performer and the cheaper the better since their appeal is usually a younger female’s cash car (especially A5s), but trying to select one is truly Russian Roulette. There’s no gray in used VWs; you get a good one or you get a terrible one. Pick wrong and end up spending $800 on recon for inane items like window control modules and electronically-controlled A/C pressure valves. Also, the answer to “can you throw in an extra key?” is an unresounding NO.

    A6 Jettas are hard to buy in general because they lose value on a nearly weekly basis. I bought an ’11 Jetta SE Convenience w/62k miles in early June for $10,200. Six weeks later, I buy a plain ’11 Jetta SE w/32k miles for $10,300. Today, MMR is telling me I should be able to get a ’12 SE Convenience w/30ish-k for $10,000. Over the span of three months…??

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      When I had a 5 day trip to Washington State recently, it literally seemed as if every 4th car on the road was a Subaru.

      I have never seen a higher ratio of Subarus to other vehicles, anywhere, period. Not even a close 2nd locale came to mind.

      What I liked about Washington State was that the roads were smooth, mostly, and more importantly, cars just don’t rust there.

      I saw many, many pristine 10 to 20 year old vehicles being driven in traffic, including Subarus, that didn’t have a single speck of rust.

      For someone like me, who likes to buy a quality car based on my admittedly eccentric preferences, and keep it long term (at least 10 years), there are few places better than Washington State I can think of where this strategy/preference is more viable.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        I just moved out to here to the Seattle area. It’s definitely the place to buy a used car. You don’t have the rust, but you also don’t the the sun and heat damage of places like Arizona or California, that are more commonly associated with good rust free cars. It’s starting to suck for me though, as a tech, cars just don’t brake like they did in Michigan. It’s just electrical issues or maintenance for the most part.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Before my latest Washington State trip, I had always thought the primo place to locate cherry used cars would have been Nevada or Arizona, but I’ve come around in my thinking such that the brutal
          heat either state has in the summer months takes a vicious toll on both mechanical and other systems.

          Given the fact that the metallurgical makeup of modern engines is evolving so quickly, with many motors making extensive use of aluminum near contact points with iron components, I’d be able,Utley OCD about my cooling system/radiator/hoses if I had a vehicle in such a brutally hot environment.

          I think heat prematurely kills a lot of motors and transmissions.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      @flybrian

      What sort of transaction prices are you getting for your used Subbies?

      • 0 avatar

        I average $1200-1800 a copy depending on exactly what they are and how much I have to put in them. I’ve found the sweet spot to be $6-12k, enough for someone to cash-purchase one as a second car, a car for the kid, a car to leave at their residence up north, etc.

        I had a theory that I could just buy up Foresters with impunity regardless of mileage and still sell them quickly, so at one point, I had four Foresters with mileage 125k+. Keep in mind, I have about 30-35 cars on deck at any one time, so that looked pretty silly to say the least. I sold all but one as of now, but it took a lot longer than I though, so I’m back to buying locally-registered lower-mileage ones even if they’re a bit older (’03-05, etc.).

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          You’d clean up in my neck of the woods. My mechanic got stuck with the last newer Subaru I heard about. I believe it was an 05 Forester, 121K, bought and driven in Western PA (read: destroyed), and he paid 92 at the Perrysville Auction (read: crap auction) to then have his buyer drop out when her 10K+ loan couldn’t get financed on what was then an 8yo car. Someone eventually bought it for near what Chuck had in it, to my amazement.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    A few reasons for Subaru’s recent climb:

    1. They catered to the CUV/crossover demands of the market and are reaping the rewards;
    2. They built a very loyal fan base over the last twenty years;
    3. They have captured the marketing magic that Volkswagen once had. We have another thread discussing this factor, but the short of it is: Subaru has successfully tied themselves into peoples’ life experiences while Volkswagen has fallen into generic advertising that resonates with nobody;
    4. Volkswagen zigged when the rest of the market zagged: they eliminated their competitive advantage (perceived higher quality) in order to reduce complexity, cost and improve reliability at the same time that the rest of the industry stepped up its competitive game (Fusion, Focus, Mazda 3/6, Hyundai, etc.)
    5. Volkswagen is in the middle of a multi-year architectural changeover that has slowed the first generation releases of these cars.

    I’m pretty confident that Volkswagen will regain its product traction in North America, but it’s going to take until 2017 at the earliest before we see MQB based Jettas, Tiguans, Passats, CCs, CrossBlues, etc. With the new architecture they’ll be able to roll out variants quickly, but ramping up and following product roadmaps that don’t make the bean counter’s heads explode means we have some time to wait.

    The new Golf is a great sign of what’s to come, but we all know that the Golf isn’t going to give VW much traction in North America.

    Subaru’s doing a great job right now. Good on ’em.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      “4. Volkswagen zigged when the rest of the market zagged: they eliminated their competitive advantage (perceived higher quality) in order to reduce complexity, cost and improve reliability at the same time that the rest of the industry stepped up its competitive game (Fusion, Focus, Mazda 3/6, Hyundai, etc.)”

      Everyone says the same thing over and over again, but look at Audi sales. It’s obvious that VW has been cannibalizing Audi for over a decade, and it was in VW’s best interest to get out of their way. Furthermore, the Buick-strategy was based upon errant forecasting about middle-class household income during the 1990s. The dollar did not pull away from the Euro, quite the contrary, and US household income and wealth have not met with expectations.

      VW made the right move, but VW is not enthusiastic about the change so they can’t sell it.

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        TW5 – I agree with that to an extent, but I don’t think it’s so much about VW not being enthusiastic but Volkswagen not understanding how to successfully reposition themselves as a value brand. I would imagine that what’s frustrating the VW brand planners is that they cannot compete with Honda/Toyota on reliability and in order to keep out of Audi’s territory they’ll have to dumb some things down.

        Volkswagen is really trapped in a middle ground with competitors nipping at both ends. As a brand this is a frustrating place to be in.

        • 0 avatar
          TW5

          True, but VW have been in the same situation since the SuperBeetle. They’ve survived and thrived by offering unique vehicles, unique powertrain options, and superior chassis engineering (fahrvergnügen). Somewhere along the way they fell for the stealth-wealth canard, which was a dot-com era fantasy that supposed we were moving towards a classless ownership-society with consumers who were no longer status conscious. Enter Phaeton, and a raft of unreliable, superfluous powertrain developments.

          The company is named People’s Car. There branding strategy should be relatively straightforward, especially since the Japanese only deliver 50-shades of beige.

      • 0 avatar
        mshenzi

        I mostly agree; when I bought a 2010 Golf TDi, I cross-shopped it with the Audi A3 and couldn’t see enough advantage in the Audi to justify the price difference. The Golf already cost a premium compared to my other favorite– a Mazda 3– but you could really tell what the extra coin got you. From top-end Golfs to the A3, not so much.

        The problem with leaving more room for Audi when the nicer VW’s went down-market is that the entry-level Audi still doesn’t look/feel worth it. The new A3 looks better chiseled than the Jetta, but has the same whiff of ‘boring and forgettable’ about it.

        I’ve had good reliability from my Golf and the dealer has been fine, so I’m potentially a repeat customer for the brand. But beyond the new MQB Golf, there’s nothing in the line-up that appeals to me. The dowdy-fied Jetta wouldn’t find a place in my driveway even if it were mid-90s Toyota reliable; same with the Passat, and I loved the look and feel of the turn of the century ones. Tiguan’s uncompetitive on several counts. Beetle should have been a 4-6 year fashion fling that was allowed to die a timely death; unlike the Mini, no further cache ever attached to it beyond its initial retro splash. I was intrigued by the original CC, but VW blandified that into oblivion, too.

        If the repositioning of VW was partly about getting more separation for Audi, it was a fail on both sides of the coin as far as I’m concerned. Better to have a range of compelling VW options in its upper reaches, and to skip the underwhelming A3 altogether. A redone VW lineup based on MQB can’t get here too soon. ( I also wish they’d bring the Polo here!)

      • 0 avatar
        spreadsheet monkey

        ^^ This.

        The graph would be a lot more informative if it included Audi sales, and Europe region sales.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Volkswagen reliability was relatively good when (a) the competition consisted primarily of less reliable domestics and (b) it was acceptable to build a car with relatively few mechanical changes over an extended period of time.

      Toyota and Honda torpedoed that model with lean production. With a lean system, it became possible to produce biannual face lifts, new models every 4-5 years and new platform/ drivetrain combinations every 8-10 years without sacrificing quality or spending high amounts of money on QC. In a lean system that works, reliability improves while helping the bottom line.

      The lower cost Europeans couldn’t compete with that; they needed long model cycles or high labor costs to produce quality that was even semi-competitive with that.

      The luxury badge Germans could use the je ne sais quoi of the driving experience, brand prestige, leasing and dealer service to fend off Lexus. But that approach doesn’t work for the bread-and-butter or the tier in between. Hence, pain for VW, adieu to the French, and death for Saab.

      VW won’t be able to improve quality to meet US expectations without a complete overhaul of its corporate culture. That ain’t gonna happen; they’re already a proud bunch as is.

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        PCH –

        Good analysis, but Audi has demonstrated with their MLB architecture that the Germans can become more nimble. Audi has been able to roll out so many new variants (A4, A5, A5 Sportback, Q5, A6, A7, various allroads, avants, S and RS models) in rapid succession thanks to MLB. Facelifts have come more quickly than in the past and overall reliability has improved substantially over previous generation models.

        Of course, we’re talking about the premium brand, but if MQB is to be the transverse equivalent of MLB then things are looking up for VW in the medium-long term. Up until 2016-2017 I think things are going to be rough going for VW.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          At this point, everyone who hasn’t failed has adopted some variation of lean, and is developing new cars more often.

          However, getting the full benefits of lean requires a cultural shift that not everyone is willing to make. It isn’t just about working faster or scrapping job classifications.

          For the Americans, this change would require less top-heavy (and overpaid) management and more worker empowerment. For the Germans, that would require streamlining the engineering so that it doesn’t glorify needless complexity for the sake of it.

          Neither group is predisposed to make the changes that would be required; these inclinations run too deep and are too deeply embedded in the culture to simply fix with a memo and a class.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        “VW won’t be able to improve quality to meet US expectations without a complete overhaul of its corporate culture. That ain’t gonna happen; they’re already a proud bunch as is.”

        This is a very accurate statement.

        VW’s North American HQ used to be located approx 12 miles from my house (they have turned the building, in Auburn Hills, into a regional facility, since they moved their HQ to Virginia 3 years ago).

        Their executive ranks had a well-known reputation of being extraordinarily arrogant & myopic as view from the perspective of Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers, as well as management at competing automotive companies.

        It almost seemed as if the German DNA somehow was transplanted into their NA executive ranks.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Subaru’s growth is based on the irrational fears of American drivers about treacherous driving conditions.

    Volkswagen’s problems are rooted in its corporate arrogance (“German engineering”), high prices, and 15 years of poor reliability.

    I hate the sound of an opposed engine, so Subaru is out for me. VW lost my love with just one ownership experience.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      What sells Subies in MY area is twisty mountain roads, snow and ice driving in winter and mud driving in Spring and Fall. Yet the nearest full-service Subie dealer is more than a 100 miles south of us in El Paso, TX.

      VW had its fans in my area and we even had a VW dealer but VW quality at the time drove down the business and drove the dealership out of business.

      While buyers will eagerly travel more than a 100 miles to buy a Subie in El Paso, TX, fewer are willing to drive that same 100 miles to buy a VW in El Paso, TX.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      “Volkswagen’s problems are rooted in its corporate arrogance (“German engineering”), high prices, and 15 years of poor reliability.”

      Just about everyone either has or knows someone with a self destructing VW story but I don’t believe the other two really apply. The Jetta and Passat are bottom feeding with the best of them with $4-5000 in discounting and sub $200 lease deals. Dealer scumbaggery has probably turned more buyers off than any arrogance on the corporate side.

      BMW is the poster child for all three of those and it hasn’t held them back much.

      • 0 avatar
        petezeiss

        “Dealer scumbaggery” is worth a series of articles in itself.

        My experience has me continuously preferring Honda. You get top-notch kaizen without the Toyota sell-bots. But I expect there are regional variations.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          … and with Honda you get enhanced retained value at trade-in time, long after the payments are over and done with.

          Although I am admittedly a Toyota convert since 2008, I can see where Honda excels even Toyota’s established and vetted high bar.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            I’ve always been fascinated by how any given consumer industry seems to sort itself into a pair of competing equals followed by everyone else.

            Nikon/Canon, Fender/Gibson, Ford/Chevy, DeWalt/Milwaukee, hell, even Stradivari/Guaneri though I don’t think dealerships existed for those :-)

            I don’t see Toyota as in any way lesser than Honda. There’ve just always been some tiny factors like switchgear, ergonomics, dash layout etc. that tip me over to Honda.

            Along with the fact that Toyota dealerships are not a very relaxing place.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            And then there are the people like me who often choose both camps, like Nikon/cannon – I like both and own both;

            Fender/Gibson – like both brands, own a ’65 Jaguar Sunburst, ’72 Jazz Bass, ’75 EB2, my dad’s 50-something Les Paul, among a host of other guitars, basses and amps;

            Ford/Chevy – have owned both brands but have stepped away from them in 2008 because of poor ownership experiences;

            DeWalt/Milwaukee – have wore out a bunch of both of them, doing real work. They tend to last longer than B&D, Skil, Porter-Cable and many others.

            But for cars I’m going to put my money on Toyota for my future, primarily because Honda doesn’t make anything like the Tundra 5.7 or the Sequoia.

            I had the rest, including the most awarded SUV ever, the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

            Now I want the best and I don’t care how much it costs. I’ll never be able to afford a Rolls, Bentley or Aston-Martin, so I’ll settle for the best I can afford. Toyota is it!

            Toyota dealerships are not a very relaxing place because the pressure is always on to SELL and close the deal.

            But you can get around that if you let it be known at initial contact that you don’t dance.

            It’s amazing how that focuses the mind of the salesperson and salesmanager because they do not want to p!ss you off and have you to walk away, and lose that potential sale to someone else.

            Selling Toyota made all four of my brothers very wealthy men; consistently best selling and consistently rich on dealer margin. Only Honda comes close.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Well, my irrational fear machine kicks ass whenever it rains here in Houston. The road oils rise up in the first few minutes, and it gets sloppier than people reckon.

      It also plays nicely on the beach.

      So yeah, call me scared.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Modern VW:

      Price, reliability, styling.

      Too high, too low, not unique.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Subaru knows their market better than anyone. VW is still struggling to understand the US market.

  • avatar
    210delray

    To borrow the old Goodyear tagline in regard to Subaru vs. VW — “Out front, pulling away!”

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    Vw is suffering from falling sales due to the fact that they sold out. 10 years ago their products were considered the premium product of their categories, then they got greedy and cheapened their products in the persuit of higher sales based on their premium brand rep. That works for a little while till buyers catch on,,,which they have and sales fall and the brand is damaged. Its a no win and vw should a seen it.
    That and they still have a rep for shit reliability while Subaru does not so the hippies/hipsters/greenielibs go Subaru…when they should be going hybrid. Its all about marketing.

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    Subaru has the plasma green Crosstrek!

    VW has…. nichts.

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    Oh yea about that German engineering thing…when you sit in a korean car and and see a better interior than vws it means German engineering is crap and you’re not gonna get a vw.

    • 0 avatar
      bosozoku

      Indeed. If I were an executive at any other large or mittelstand German firm, I’d be lobbying the EU or whomever to ban VW from using anything German in their marketing for defamation and false advertising.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The problem for VW is that it won’t tolerate its niche status in the US, yet it refuses to do the things that are required in order to move beyond niche status.

    If VW wants to have any hope of becoming a major player in the US, then it needs to focus on reliability, reliability and reliability, in addition to reliability.

    VW continues to believe that decontenting and softening the product is the answer, even though that is what torpedoed their Westmoreland output. They didn’t learn much from that experiment, even though they’ve had 25 years to figure it out.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. People who own Subarus usually love them, and although I don’t have the numbers, I suspect they have better customer loyalty than most other brands. They are especially popular in New England, colorado, and the PNW. The new forester is an incredible bargain, the new legacy isn’t given it’s proper due as the largest interior midsized car and near the top driving dynamics. Unfortunately the H6 is now woefully out of date. Subaru should drop the H6 and replace it with the new turbo H4.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      The Legacy with the 4 banger that I drove had all the driving dynamic of a floppy noodle.

      It felt like an AWD Camry.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        I think that’s the price you pay for the Forester’s very generous 8.7 inches of ground clearance and the traditional Subaru long travel suspension. I’m one of the people that will sacrifice some on road handling for pothole-soaking-up ability so it works for me.

        What doesn’t work for me is Subaru’s tiny seats. Very uncomfortable for anything more than a 20 minute drive. And no I’m not some huge guy (5’11” 190 lb).

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        DW, Subies are not known for excellent driving dynamics but they sure get around through mud and snow when others have been parked on the side of the road and abandoned.

        Pretty common sight in the mountains near where I live after snowfall blots out the landscape.

      • 0 avatar
        nickoo

        Interesting. I recently saw a 45 minute video of two guys driving the new legacy around a dirt track, a rally course, and an abandoned airbase outside of Victorville in comparison to an old ranchero(or el camino, I forget which), a charger, and a modified turbo 240z. It seemed to me that in that video the new legacy was pretty competent so I wonder how it would have done compared to it’s modern competitors!

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      “The new forester is an incredible bargain …”

      This isn’t true of any Subaru recently, stickers are competitive but the incentives went away a couple of years ago when they got popular and actual transaction prices are a couple thousand bucks out of line with the competition.

      Like Steve Lang always said, bargains are hitting them where they ain’t. Subaru is exactly where they are and the sales graph at the top proves it.

  • avatar
    Tosh

    It’s pathetic that neither of them, Subaru nor VW, can offer a car I would want, even on paper: VW because they’re proven unreliable junk, and Subaru because they only offer AWD along with an exotic boxer engine. Lose, lose for them. Win for me and my Honda!

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Subaru benefits from having a large number of customers who formerly drove Swedish or German cars. What are some burned valves between friends when you used to drive a Saab or VW? They clearly deserve their success relative to VW, but people that have owned high quality cars shouldn’t expect Subarus to duplicate the durability and reliability of Hondas or Toyotas.

    There’s something to be said for Subaru not abandoning its customers to chase rapid growth. Spitting in the face of existing customers to appeal to ‘fashion-forward’ status-seekers worked for Chris Bangle’s BMW. The jury is out on whether or not Cadillac can find a piece of that market. Lincoln shed their aging customers in favor of no customers at all. Volvo ceased making wagons just long enough for all their customers to discover Subaru’s superiority. Acura decided that revered models should be renamed and then eliminated or made irrelevant. When that didn’t succeed in killing the brand, they decided that beaks would do the job. They’re going to need some help though, since competition in the luxury CUV class is too weak to pick up the slack.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      I feel that Subaru has abandoned me since getting more Toyotafied. My ’11 Impreza is worse than my prior ’07 in every way that matters to me, like interior quality, performance, handling, etc. The new one is even worse. The public as a whole seems to like it and they are selling more cars, and at the end that’s their bottom line.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    My wife owned a Subaru back in the eighties and it lasted for all of 85,000 miles. Turned her off because the dealer at 35,500 miles would not replace a faulty voltage regulator. The parts clerk got me a rebuilt one for $25.00 and i repaired it my self. It was a good lesson i had to learn as i had to do a lot of repairs on that car. Even today some of my running buddies have 5-7 year old Subaru’s and they spend anywhere from $600.00 / $1,000.00 a year on repairs. Oil leaks and drive shafts are big items. Most people today buy Subaru’s because of the last two winters. I use 4 snow tires on my DD and have never gotten stuck. Besides the sound of that engine turns me off.That design must date back before world war II.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    “That design must date back before world war II.”

    It’s similar to VW’s H-4 twin-opposed boxer engine, except Subaru’s is watercooled.

  • avatar

    I do not like Subarus because I prefer more sophisticated and better looking and handling cars. And in CA they do not make much sense. But they are very special in the sense that there are no other vehicles like Subaru. They had rally credentials (at least for me) almost cult status. There is nothing special about VW just another car company. Passat is a less reliable Toyota Camry with better handling. Both Jetta and Passat look like cars from 90s.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    My wife and I both own 4th gen Legacies. Mine is an 07 GT wagon and hers is an 09 GT. We both love them. She isn’t really a … hands on owner. Ahem. But I do nearly everything myself and on time. I just replaced a bad wheel bearing on my wagon last week after 65,000 miles of use. I have yet to replace a cv boot myself, and for how cheap a local Subaru specialist shop does it I probably won’t (2 have been replaced so far).

    So, yes, I love my wagon and will likely have it for a long time – I bought in 2009. But I don’t recommend Subies to anyone I know looking at cars. Everyone talks about how VW lost their way, but Subaru lost their way back around 2009 or 2010. As an enthusiast, they turned their backs on what made me fall in love with the Legacy. They did what Nissan did to the Maxima in 2004. Made it look a lot bigger and exponentially uglier.

    I don’t think Subaru deserves the praise they get for reliability. Maybe for a 3 year lease. But long term, at least in my case (if 65k is long term) I can’t tell anyone asking for a good used car that they should consider a Subaru unless they enjoy working on cars.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I can think of few cars that changed more or more quickly in terms of who they appealed to and how they drive than the last gen and current gen Legacy, for better or worse.

      Enthusiasts really dug the old Legacy (with the high manual take rate and frameless windows) and completely walked away from the new one.

      The old Legacy had a very European-styled interior with cool gauges and outstanding aftermarket parts available (like center mounted gauge pods that measured boost, oil pressure/temp, and coolant temp), too.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      What does it say about the buying public that the ’02-’07 Impreza and the ’03-’09 Legacy where way better cars than what replaced them, but the new cars sell in way greater numbers? If they offered either one of those older cars new right now, I would buy it in a heartbeat.

      • 0 avatar
        petezeiss

        I think it says two things:

        A) We don’t have Car Guy Narcosis.

        B) We cosmically outnumber car guys.

        We just want safe, reliable, affordable conveyances, preferably with a little color choice. Younger types appear overly susceptible to AWD hype, but I may be wrong about deeming it superfluous.

      • 0 avatar

        Subaru is are now owned by Camry, I mean Toyota, what do you expect? Of course they will dumb it down. At least they still they have symmetrical FWD and low center of gravity.

        • 0 avatar
          petezeiss

          Toyota is just a minority shareholder; 18.5% if Wiki is correct. Nissan, Renault and GM all once owned more than that of FHI.

          I’d like to see Subaru drop the small sedans and especially the goofball WRX to concentrate on a fresh pair of CUVs (small & medium) with modern engines for better FE.

          They’ve built their loyalty, now milk the CUV craze. Their core customers aren’t interested in squeezing into little 3-boxes, especially riced-up go karts.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        “Way better” is a matter of opinion. Personally I’ve shopped Outbacks since they were marketed, but it wasn’t until the 2013 upgrade of the 2010 remodel that I was impressed enough overall to buy one.

        Different strokes etc.

        Where I think Subaru should logically go next is a mid-sized minivan and a small pickup. They’d have those markets to themselves as well…

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      Sounds like a Subie alright, they’re notorious wheel bearing-eaters. That and CV boots that get cooked to a crisp due to the close proximity of exhaust headers, and the headgasket issues that people kept saying were fixed, but still seem to crop occasionally even in the 05-09 generation. As they get older EVAP related check engine lights are also a more common than average occurrence. Now, I’d argue they’re still better than something like an Audi with their gunked up intake valves and oil burning issues on the 2.0T and trashed front end bushings and balljoints by 60-70k.

      For many people that like the AWD and versatile body shapes, the occasional reliability/build quality issues are tolerable because the car is otherwise such a fantastic fit. I know on the older cars, once you take care of the headgasket once, and keep up with timing belts and smaller repairs (CV boots etc) those cars will go the distance. Craigslist is chock full of 250-300k 1st gen Outbacks. This also may speak to the pragmatic nature of the older Subaru fans, who like not having a car payment and really like hanging onto their vehicles while making all necessary repairs that crop up.

      • 0 avatar
        Turbolove

        Subaru drinks oil too! The girlfriend’s 2012 Forester drops a quart about every 3,000 miles or half way between changes. There is a class action suit against Subaru for oil consumption on both 2.0 and 2.5l engines. Worst is there is no low oil warn as she was down almost 2 quarts. Luckily there is one more year on the lease and we are getting rid of it. It does have awd and good rear visibility but replaced a twilight and half dozen fuses due to the week electronics that bog down when more than one window is going up.

  • avatar
    genuineleather

    Subaru perfectly demonstrates a company that identifies it’s value proposition sticks to it. Subie buyers aren’t in it for looks, dynamic performance, plush interiors, or sex appeal, so Subaru doesn’t give it to them. Instead, they deliver competent, AWD wagons at mainstream price. Unless you want to spend $50k on an Allroad/3 or $65k on an E, you don’t really have any other options.

    That said, I do think Subie is leaving plenty of cash on the table by not offering a Denali-type trim. Name it after a ski town, slather the dash in leather, swap out the grille insert, stick on a pretty set of wheels and add $5k; plenty of ex-Swede buyers would bite.

  • avatar
    Variant

    Judging solely by the number of TDI Sportwagens I see on the road here in northern VT, VW could substantially close that gap if they would bring over a 4motion variant. Full disclosure: I just put a 2.5 S gasser in my garage to replace a (largely trouble-free) B5.5 1.8t Passat wagon, so I’m a bit of a VW homer/apologist.

    Before you ask, I didn’t go the TDI route because my 5 mile commute doesn’t justify the price premium, and I wanted the least expensive stop-gap anticipating a 4motion version will be available in three years.

    P.S. If Jack wants to come drive it and give his unvarnished opinion of the poverty spec Sportwagen before new model comes out, the offer is open. It’s quite lovely in Vermont this time of year.

  • avatar
    macmcmacmac

    Excellent comparison, as it seems like every douchebag who tailgates me on an onramp and blows by me like his hair is on fire is usually driving German or a Subaru.

  • avatar
    GaryM

    It was a happy day when I traded my ’05 Outback XT for a ’11 VW Tiguan SE. The Tiguan is a far more comfortable car, much more fun to drive and is much better in the snow than the Outback. Maintenance has been about equal for both.

    The ’10-’14 Outback was a dog to drive and horrible to look at. Yet for some reason, Outback’s have become the new Volvo wagon for the middle class.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      “much better in the snow than the Outback.”

      You must have better tires for snow on the Tiguan than you did on the Outback. The Tiguan’s AWD system is the same Haldex one that you find in all other Golf-based AWD cars. It can’t really even be described as “AWD.” Basically, it’s a FWD car that will give you a boost with the rears about one second after you lose all traction in front.

    • 0 avatar
      Turbolove

      The 2012 Forester would go tail out while turning at intersections and would slide all over the place with 17K miles on the clock. I’m not that impressed with it either.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • MiataReallyIsTheAnswer: Ha- I get snow but the Stinger I nearly bought was gonna be RWD for hoonability and lighter...
  • rpn453: Canadian prairies here, so usually a vehicle is pretty worn out by the time rust becomes more than a cosmetic...
  • Vulpine: I question the validity of the report, despite it coming through the Nikkei. I think the Nikkei has been fed...
  • forward_look: There’s only two problems with living in New York: politics and rust. Car life is measured in...
  • redapple: Hatch struts still work? W T Fudge? My sawed off broomstick handle was always in the back.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States