By on October 14, 2014

ImprezaSubaru USA didn’t sell as many Imprezas in 2013 as they did in 2012. By Subaru’s reporting methods, Impreza sales have fallen this year, as well, sliding 0.3% through the first three-quarters of 2014.

But Subaru narrowly defines the term, “Impreza.” That’s a good thing, as too many automakers don’t provide us with longed-for breakdowns in their monthly sales releases. (Examples: F-Series, Silverado, Ram, the four-bodystyle E-Class.) However, this means a cursory glance will suggest that the Impreza range is increasingly less relevant in Subaru showrooms.

In fact, that’s not the case at all.

31.6% of the new Subarus sold in the United States this year have been proper Imprezas, not just Impreza-related cars or Impreza-based cars, but true Imprezas: Imprezas with more power and more wings and Imprezas with black-rimmed wheelarches and taller ride heights, yes, but Imprezas nonetheless.

That’s up from 31.3% during the first nine months of 2013.

subaru-xv-crosstrek-hybridThe Impreza that Subaru calls an Impreza, with a naturally aspirated 2.0L four-cylinder powerplant, as a sedan and hatchback, is Subaru’s fourth-best-selling model, on its own.

Subaru’s third-best-selling model is the increasingly popular XV Crosstrek, a genuine Impreza hatchback with a tougher exterior and added ride height (XV Crosstrek ground clearance: 8.7 inches. Ford Explorer AWD ground clearance: 7.6 inches.).

The WRX and STi, Subaru’s sixth-best-selling model line, is not nearly as liberated from the Impreza’s foundation as the WRX Concept from 2013’s New York International Auto Show indicated it would be, either.

For the record, I’m not calling out Subaru’s strategy, as this is brilliant marketing. I wouldn’t suggest the XV can’t crawl a rock or two, because it can. I won’t say the WRX isn’t a rocketship, because it is. Subaru’s decision to differentiate the models has clearly been a fruitful one. This is simply a presentation of numbers so we can more clearly see one core element which drives Subaru’s growth.

Individually, XV Crosstrek sales are up 43% to 54,303 units in 2014, Impreza volume is down 0.3% to 46,445 units, and WRX/STi sales are up 33% to 17,884, more than double the number of WRXs and STis sold by Subaru in all of 2010.

2015-Subaru-WRX-STI-drivingAs a unit, they’re up 21% to 118,632 units in 2014 as the top-selling representative of an automaker which has climbed 20% in 2014. Among America’s ten-best-selling auto brands, only Jeep is growing faster. While a quick look at the figures suggest the Impreza is a drain on the ticket, a secondary scan offers up convincing proof that the Impreza is an essential part of Subaru USA’s lineup, especially when Subaru turns the Impreza into a more expensive XV.

Of course, now we can play the same game with the Legacy’s figures. Sales of Subaru’s midsize sedan are small in number (rising 4% to 34,718 in 2014), but the Legacy is the donor vehicle (or vice versa) which helps to create the Outback, Subaru’s second-best-selling model. Outback volume is up 8% to 97,266 units in 2014. Together, they form 35.2% of Subaru’s U.S. sales output. Subaru has also sold 117,940 Foresters in 2014 along with 6245 BRZs and and 684 Tribecas.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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38 Comments on “The Impreza Is Subaru’s Top Seller, Sort Of...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    They could have made the XV a package instead of a separate unit, but somehow I don’t think they would have sold nearly as many if they hadn’t marketed it as a new model, pretty smart

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    Why, why, why do they put that clownish wing on a little commuter car that will spend the bulk of its life averaging 40 mph?

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Ricers love ’em, I’m surprised that it has a muffler

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      Why, why, why do they put a: 5.0L Ti-VCT V8. The new 5.0L V8 is even more powerful this year. • 435 horsepower* • 400 lb-ft. of torque* • Larger intake and exhaust valves • New intake and exhaust camshafts with increased lift • 16 city/25 hwy/19 combined mpg** *Using 93-octane fuel
      **EPA-estimated rating of 16 city/25 hwy/19 combined mpg, GT auto Fastback. Actual mileage will vary.
      …on a little commuter car that will spend the bulk of its life averaging 40 mph?

      • 0 avatar
        TW5

        You’re attempting to equivocate a speed-sensitive aerodynamic device with a 5.0L V8 engine. The term non sequitur was invented for such occasions.

        • 0 avatar
          bullnuke

          Not actually, TW5. The spoiler is no more useful than a 400+hp engine in a car which will average 40-mph during its lifetime. Not many 100-mph + commuter lanes in the USA to utilize either option.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            Small problem with that analogy; a spoiler only has any effect at higher speeds – and only provides (if properly designed) downforce. (If improperly, it’s simply an airbrake.)

            A big V8 lets you accelerate rapidly, even if you never go 100mph; to *cruise* at 100, Autobahn-Style, you don’t need one either.

            But that V8 will make passing from 65 to 80 on the freeway – a not-unknown thing! – trivial.

            Is it preiswert, for most consumers? No, of course not – it’s a matter of desire, not rational assessment.

            But they’re not the same level of ridiculous.

      • 0 avatar
        joeverde

        what?????

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Because the STI’s target market absolutely does not think of itself as “commuters”?

      And they want a ridiculous carrying-handle spoiler.

  • avatar

    Subaru has to stop bean counting their vehicles to death and get with the options the competitors have as standard. My mother’s fully loaded Forester has less creature comforts and features than her outgoing Hyundai Sante Fe.

    Like an overhead trunk like in the rear hatch. Subaru thought placing the light on the floor for visibility when you open the rear hatch was a better idea than on the ceiling. This is lazyness engineering at its finest. There is no light in the rear hatch area because their light is always blocked by their side-panel!

    And don’t get me started on the touch-screen interface I have to endure in my Subaru. What I wouldn’t give for a few buttons and knobs. I know it’s all little things, but these weren’t issues in previous generations.

    • 0 avatar
      TW5

      The options most Subaru buyers want are symmetrical all-wheel-drive and class-leading ground clearance. Other manufacturers do not offer them as standard.

      Form vs Function

    • 0 avatar
      gottacook

      To be fair, the current Forester and Impreza dashboard and interior materials are much nicer than those of the previous generation (2008-11 Impreza and 2009-13 Forester).

      • 0 avatar
        Power6

        baby steps for Subaru they move slow. They went waaay too cheap on full plastic dash in the last gen, but fixed that for the current cars. Still this is part of Subarus secret, for better or for worse they are going to build simple cars about 2-5 years or more behind the technology of similar offerings. Some people like that simplicity some don’t.

        It is funny when some enthusiasts pine for simple car with simple technology…put them in a Subaru and they complain about all the missing stuff like retained accessory power and one-touch windows.

    • 0 avatar

      Besides the whole premise of the question is a blatant lie. The new “fully loaded” Forester has the stereo-cam collision avoidance system. Show me Santa Fe with one.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    The increase in MPG to 37 could a big reason for the increase in impreza sales. With a few options on a civic or corolla it puts it in the price range of a impreza. So maybe people are becoming more educated and realizing they don’t have to purchase something inferior and just get a Impreza

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      More educated people might look at an Impreza, but they probably already know that long term ownership of an Impreza is far more expensive than for the higher quality Honda and Toyota products.

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        Timing chain now, not a belt will decrease the cost down to civic levels.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          I’ve heard a lot of complaints – from *Subaru people* – about longevity of the AWD system and drivetrain.

          Makes me less enthused about a WRX than I would otherwise be…

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            With any car ripe to be modified and abused expect complaints about “longevity”

            but really the AWD systems…especially the manual trans WRX, is dead simple. For years using the same basic 5 sped box, same Hitachi R160 rear diff, same simple viscous center LSD. Really not much to go wrong with it. The STI has some fanicer stuff that is also very stout though.

            Other models are similar…all very simple AWD stuff evolved over years. The CVT stuff, maybe too early to tell.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    XVs are all over the place in the DC area.

  • avatar
    jaydez

    This I am okay with. They all share the same body and are very similar cars. Yeah, the engine is different and the ride height is different, but you can see the WV and the impreza hatch are basically the same car.

    What I don’t agree with is the pickup sales numbers that are put out every month. The F-150 has nothing in common with with the F-250, 350, or 450. It would be like ford releasing sales numbers for F-series cars (Focus, Fusion, and Flex) together.

    That crap needs to stop.

    • 0 avatar
      Wraith

      Don’t the Impreza and XV have the same 2.0L NA engine?

      • 0 avatar
        Nicholas Weaver

        Yeup, same 2.0L Boxer 4 and transmission options are the same.

        The differences between an XV and a “Impreza Sport Premium” are $1200 in price, a big ground clearance boost, better approach/departure/breakover angles, beefier suspension, taller tires, a bit of silly body cladding, and tinted rear windows.

        I think the tall tires and suspension give a nice ride quality, but I haven’t compared with the normal Impreza.

        And they both get really impressive mileage. The XV slushbox is 26/34/29 while the standard Impreza is 27/36/31.

        For comparison, the CX-5 AWD is 25/31/28, while a CR-V AWD is 26/33/28.

    • 0 avatar
      Wraith

      Though I wouldn’t say no if they decided to make a WRXV…

  • avatar
    gottacook

    This report is not really surprising. Subaru is just doing (with much success) what they did with the original Outback, which was a one-year appearance package for the Legacy wagon (white-letter tires, tape and paint, etc.) before getting the raised suspension the following year. Analogously the Impreza Outback Sport (which was offered from the mid-1990s all the way up through 2011) was finally given the raised-up treatment, in this case with a change of name. (The last Impreza Outback Sport did come with 17″ wheels versus 16″ on the regular Impreza.)

    At least both the raised and non-raised five-door Imprezas are still available. The Legacy wagon defined Subaru for many years in the U.S. and should return – it’s still offered elsewhere.

  • avatar
    Wraith

    Hopefully the new XV gets the new touchscreen options that debuted in the ’15 Legacy/Outback and is already announced for the ’15 Impreza. From the little time I got to use it on a Legacy test drive, it’s worlds better than the XV/Forester’s optional touchscreen.

  • avatar
    ijbrekke

    They desperately need another engine option. I drove a hatch and it was one of the most sluggish and uninspiring new cars I’ve been in. I then drove a WRX right after and it was way too hard edged for my daily driving. Why not offer a true Impreza Sport with 170-ish HP and a slightly tighter suspension? They used to.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Anyone else notice that that premise of this article is dead wrong? The Impreza range isn’t the top selling Subaru, the Legacy range is.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      I think he’s dis-including the Outback + Legacy as being “Legacy Based”, not closely enough related to count together for this comparison; note that he calls the Impreza models “true Imprezas”, contrasting with “Impreza based”…

      Combine them together and you’re absolutely right (as the final sentence notes), but the distinction, while fine and mostly meaningless apart from “don’t discount the Impreza”, is in itself valid.

  • avatar
    Counterpoint

    If only they still made a WRX hatchback I would happily pay full retail price for one today. My 4th generation Impreza is the perfect size and shape but the engine is so weak and the interior is kind of horrible.

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