By on May 25, 2017

2017 Subaru Impreza 5-door – Image: © Timothy Cain

A band is only cool until everybody knows it’s cool.

Subaru, long a niche automaker with unique product offerings and limited geographic appeal, has tripled its U.S. market share over the last decade. Subaru will likely sell more than 650,000 new vehicles in the U.S. this year. The Subaru Outback and Forester are among America’s 12 most popular utility vehicles. And in a shrinking car market, U.S. sales of the Subaru Impreza — a newly launched compact for 2017 — are up 41 percent so far this year.

Subaru just dropped a new, fifth-gen Impreza 5-door in my driveway for a week-long test. It’s quite clearly the best Impreza ever: quiet, refined, solid, sufficiently powerful. The driver’s door armrest is plush. The car itself is — and we’re talking about an Impreza here — quite attractive.

The 2017 Subaru Impreza is, to be frank, normal. It doesn’t sound like a thrummy flat-four is present under the hood. The seating position doesn’t put your hips and feet on the same level. The windows have frames. There are other people driving the same car.

Has Subaru become a mainstream automaker? And if so, has some of Subaru’s appeal been lost?

Yes, and no.

This is 2017, not 2007. With nearly 4 percent market share, Subaru isn’t just any ol’ alternative punk rock band. Subaru is singing from the Top 40 song sheet. Somebody that I used to know called me maybe under my umbrella.

But that doesn’t mean Subaru isn’t still sending power to all four wheels virtually across-the-board. The engines are still Boxers, even though the Impreza’s 2.0-liter doesn’t sound like one. The traditional sedan body style accounts for a mere fraction of the brand’s sales.

Subaru is clearly still Subaru. But will the brand’s massive popularity uptick undo the Subaru spell?

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net and a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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85 Comments on “QOTD: Is Subaru Now A Mainstream Automaker? And If So, Is That A Good Thing?...”


  • avatar
    Adam Tonge

    It’s the best of both worlds:

    Subaru is a mainstream automaker now, but the traditional Subaru customer doesn’t view it as a mainstream automaker.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      Every new Subaru comes with two pounds of confirmation bias, right in the glove box.

    • 0 avatar

      To be fair, Subaru is mainstream because they have improved most of the things their traditional customers would have been annoyed by. Build quality, materials, refinement, and reliability. Yes, we had to lose some things in the meantime (frameless windows, turboed engines in the mainstream models, all sense of styling decency for the Outback between 2010 and 2015) but those were relatively minor in comparison to the things they fixed. I say this as a previous Outback owner, knowing people who are current owners.

      Yes, people can complain that the manuals are gone (and they are right), but that has happened at pretty much the same rate for Subaru as for every other brand. If anything, Subaru kept the manuals around longer than other brands (in Canada, a manual is still available for every model, but not every trim).

      • 0 avatar
        duncanator

        Are frameless windows preferred these days? I used to have them in a car in the past and I hated having them. I suppose it was more an issue of driving older relatives around who, when they’d open the door and get out, they’d grab the top of the glass and use it to pull themselves out. Since then, I’ve never purchased a car that had frameless windows. They look nice, but I like having the frame around the glass.

        • 0 avatar
          zamoti

          I’ve always liked frameless windows, but I think that’s just a personal preference. Having them on a coupe is pretty typical (my Camaro has them, as did my Ford Probe), but on a four-door it’s kind of odd. However Subaru was never known to be normal (until now). I had an 87 GL coupe and loved it. Frameless windows, check. Spare in engine compartment, check. Auto down and up window, yes. Though mine didn’t have it, it was also available with a center locking diff switch, pneumatic suspension, dual range transmission and a few other goodies I’m sure I’m forgetting. I used to stare at the owner’s manual in amazement as even in the mid-90s I wasn’t aware of any other cars that had the wild options that the GL had. I always dreamed of a loaded GL or better yet an XT Turbo or XT6. Now talk about wacky…

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            Frameless-window sedans were a remnant of the hardtop sedans that were considered a premium body style in Japan during the ’70s and ’80s. True hardtops disappeared in the early ’90s, but hidden B-pillars were still common for a decade or so after that.

        • 0 avatar
          WallMeerkat

          The wife won’t let me have a frameless car anymore.

          My last frameless car – a gen7 Celica – she broke her thumb on trying to get out and closing the door by the main panel, trapping it (yes I don’t know how she did it either).

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “Subaru is a mainstream automaker now, but the traditional Subaru customer doesn’t view it as a mainstream automaker.”

      Well said.

      Snowflakes don’t like to admit that they’re actually like everyone else.

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    I think yes, they are mainstream now. They’d never make something like that quirky GL 4×4 wagon from our Rare Rides any more, or even something like the SVX.

    And yes, that is a good thing – for their profits. Which is the thing about whic companies care most. As long as they keep advertising themselves as a company that cares and loves dogs, their fans won’t bat an eye.

  • avatar
    arach

    I think Subaru has gotten lame.

    Look they used to stand out. Now the new impreza could have a honda or toyota badge and no one would no the difference. Seriously.

    I mean good for subaru. Every businessman wants to me the next “toyota”, but that doesn’t mean its cool or worthwhile.

    Subaru Died to me with its newest generations. Even if the WRX STI is a beast of a car, it looks and behaves like a Honda, and thats exactly what used to appeal to me of the Subbys.

    • 0 avatar
      Corey Lewis

      “Every businessman wants to me [sic] the next “toyota” [sic], but that doesn’t mean its cool or worthwhile.”

      Being the next Toyota = money
      Money = worthwhile

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        Worthwhile to Subaru, Yes, but not worthwhile to ME is what I meant.

        But correct, Subaru is doing all the right things from a business perspective.

        This makes it difficult. Thats what they SHOULD do because it is a business.

        That doesn’t mean I LIKE it.

    • 0 avatar
      Adam Tonge

      Serious question; what changes would make the Impreza be more of a “Subaru” to you?

      • 0 avatar
        Timothy Cain

        It’s a nice car. Some Subaru noise, even just a little, would be nice.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        The only thing the average Subaru is missing to be more SUBARU-ish is a center diff lock.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        More plastic cladding will make Subaru a Subaru. Plus, bring back real AWD

        • 0 avatar
          notapreppie

          What’s your definition of “real AWD”?

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            Subaru uses 3 or 4 different AWD systems. They used to have AWD that was 50:50, 60:40. Today, those with CVT come FWD-biased. I think, the only model with “real awd” is WRX. We’ll need to see what is going to go into Crosstrek MT.

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        here’s the issue subaru faces.

        I feel like subaru has become more mainstream in design, while its competition has become more subaru-esque in its drivetrains.

        Case in point: in 2003, AWD cars consisted of Subaru’s line, and…. The VW 4motion?

        Subaru was well built, reliable, but they were considerably viewed by the market as RUGGED. Yes, that means they had some excess plastics, hood scoops, and some more upright design elements, They were what other companies wouldn’t be, and they could rock it because if nothing else, they were different and backed it up.

        Then around 2000, the legacy started to look and feel like a normal old sedan. The imprezza, with hood scoops and big obvious fog lights and even bull bars in some situations actually become more bold into the second generation. A flat face with big round lights stood out. The facelift started pulling the lights back, but it was still pretty bold. Then in 2007 the G3 series comes out and the impreza looks like a mazda, a honda, or a toyota. It blends in. Its like the rest.

        The WRX still maintains the bold hood scoop and a boxier design element, until 2011. Now its more of a subtle hood scoop, but the rest of the body is less “obvious”. Now even the WRX looks kind of like a normal sedan with a hood scoop and a big wing, and the base imprezza has no unique character… it looks like like a honda, a toyota, or a nissan.

        Its as if model by model, its turning into Toyota. If I look at the model line, there is only one model that still feels subaruesque, and thats the Forester. The CRVs of the world have gotten lower and longer and start looking like the outback, and I don’t even notice an outback as being distinctly subaru anymore.

        The outback is a wagon, but now its a crossover. As other players encroach on its AWD play and wagon credentials, they’ve allowed themselves to be marginalized.

        http://www.planetsubaru.com/subaru-outback-vs-honda-pilot-vs-toyota-highlander.htm

        I know fans of subaru might disagree, but 15 years ago, subarus were built for a specific person… The dog owning, western living, deal with snow and dirty roads and love the outdoors types.

        Now I feel as if “Subaru” IS mainstream. “Oh I need a car to go grocery shopping, should I buy a honda or a subaru?”

    • 0 avatar

      How does the WRX STI behave like a Honda?

      It is almost the same car that we’ve had since 2004. The powertrain is pretty much unchanged, the only things that have changed are cosmetics.

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        I feel like the newer WRX STIs are capable towards track days and autocross, where a 2003 STI was a Rally Car who competed with the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. EVO died because it tried to play both worlds and I feel like it was sandwiched. (It also died because mitsu is struggling), however I feel like the current STI is more like the older lancer, as far as its trying to be too many things to too many people. Its almost as if Jeep Wrangler decided to start designing itself for highway fuel economy instead of offroad cred… its not that 99% of buyers wouldn’t benefit from it, but rather that the brand doesn’t.

        the STI needs to be pushing the rally space. The Impreza, Forester, and Outback need to be pushing FURTHER away from mainstream.

      • 0 avatar
        Garrett

        Being unchanged is not a good thing.

        I wouldn’t buy an STI over a Focus RS or a Golf R.

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      Agreed on the lame part, but lame sells it would seem. No more Brat/Baja, they went coupeless for ages between the SVX and then the BRZ (two-door imprezas don’t count because I don’t like them) all the aspects of what made them unique got washed away each generation. For each generation of boring, their sales got better and better. Take the somewhat svelte GT wagon, throw it away and replace it with a bloated turd of the later Outback. Get rid of the XT/turbo Foresters/Outbacks and plop in the wheezy 2.5. Round it all off, add a pointless model (ahem XV, why?!) and watch sales take off.
      I didn’t realize how boring they got until I rented a Forester for an Ohio/Maine family roadtrip. Sure it fit us and our stuff, but wow was it a turd to drive. Unless you buried the gas from each stop, acceleration was painfully slow. The reality is that this is 100% acceptable for most people. It did get fantastic mileage, was easy to drive and visibility was great.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    “Has Subaru become a mainstream automaker?”

    Yes. Because their AWD is not the same it used to be. they are just FWD with some help from rear when needed. Sort of like Toyonda

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Has someone laid out what the current system is for the manual transmission models (like a 2017 Impreza)? If the manual transmission models aren’t still 50/50 default then I might as well go buy something from a dealer closer to home.

      • 0 avatar
        Pete Zaitcev

        Manual was the same before this generation. Most likely they’ll keep that. But the CVT take rate exceeds manual’s take rate, and Lineatronic is a clutch-based system. Although, ironically, since it only uses one clutch pack, it’s more similar to Toyota, not Honda. The latter traditionally use 2 clutch packs that permit vectoring.

        • 0 avatar
          newenthusiast

          To borrow a term from another website: Can some explain like I’m 5 as to what Subaru does for AWD say vs Audi’s quattro, or Honda’s SH-AWD badging?

          I assume they are actually different systems rather than just marketing names for exact same thing?

          I have heard that aside from things with true HI-LO selectable 4wd (like a Jeep, or Xterra, or pick-ups) that Subaru’s AWD is the most robust or tied with Audi’s quattro system.

          Is that true? Has there already been a TTAC entry on this?

    • 0 avatar
      notapreppie

      I was under the impression that the center diff was an electromechanical clutchpack on automagic models and viscous unit on manuals for at least the last decade or two. Has that changed?

    • 0 avatar
      runs_on_h8raide

      “Yes. Because their AWD is not the same it used to be. they are just FWD with some help from rear when needed. Sort of like Toyonda”

      Completely false. Spend some time researching more before stating opinion as fact.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        Read up. Their mostly used AWD is a clutch-based junk.

        http://youwheel.com/home/2016/08/07/subaru-awd-system-fully-explained/

        • 0 avatar
          runs_on_h8raide

          Read what? Subaru is AWD all the time. You said they use FWD based systems like Honda and Toyota. You are wrong. End of story. End of your argument. Nice try though.

          http://www.subaru.com/engineering/design/awd-benefits.html

          Straight from the MFR.

          https://youtu.be/0_MXK2nzt2Y

          Just like Honda and Toyota? Yea…ok

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    Subaru is what Mazda wish they were (sales wish), and if I am honest I wish Mazda was as well.

    • 0 avatar
      runs_on_h8raide

      Mazda makes the greatest cars no one buys. Its a shame. A great car company. I had a 91 Mazda MX-6 and that thing was bulletproof for 8 years from new.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Subaru is SAAB, except 20 years behind. Hear me out.

    In the 60s, virtually every car was RWD. SAAB had FWD, and was quirky. Some people liked quirky and discovered FWD was good for snow driving. Forty years later, everyone had FWD, and SAAB went mainstream in order to attempt to reach the customers who didn’t want “quirky”.

    You all know how the SAAB story ends.

    In the 80s, virtually every car was FWD. Subaru had AWD, and was quirky. Some people liked quirky and discovered AWD was good for snow driving. Thirty-five years later, everyone has AWD, and Subaru is going mainstream in order to attempt to reach the customers who don’t want “quirky”.

    Anyone care to guess how the Subaru story ends?

    • 0 avatar

      “Anyone care to guess how the Subaru story ends?”

      Uhh, with massive sales successes? I’m sorry, I get what you are trying here but this comparison doesn’t work.

      SAAB failed for a multitude of reasons. They failed to read and adjust to the market, they were massively underfunded, they wasted money during development, they were completely starved for cash/marketing when GM bought them, and they were in a class in which they couldn’t compete (entry lux). SAAB died because they were managed poorly and purposefully starved for resources while under the ownership of another company that was itself failing.

      So such parallel exists with Subaru, which has done a stunningly good job of reading the market, even creating niches for itself accidentally, getting the value equation just right (remember when the 2.3 9000 or 9-5 cost the equivalent of $55-60k in today’s money?), and identifying just where improvements need to be.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    My parents have a base 2013 Outback and I hate driving the thing. I partly blame Subaru for the current CUV insanity. Subaru planted the idea in the average consumers brain that AWD was a must just to drive in the rain.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “Subaru planted the idea in the average consumers brain that AWD was a must just to drive in the rain.”

      Genius marketing = creating an irrational desire in your customers. I don’t like their deception on this point, but it’s very successful.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        It’s the whole industry, not just Subaru. Go to a BMW dealer and see how many models on the lot are X-drive. I’m guessing at least 65%. Do the same with Mercedes and 4Matic.

        AWD systems have become common practice across the board. Everything Subarus excluding the BRZ are cross-shopped against have it available as well.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        AWD is far from irrational in places like Colorado. I had an old RWD Volvo wagon not so long ago; let’s just say it was not endearing to drive in the winter. Yes, you can get winter tires, but who wants to spend time on that?

        • 0 avatar
          runs_on_h8raide

          Exactly…where ever there are fairly steep hills or mountains and snow…AWD or 4wd is pretty much needed, be it from Subaru or another make. But not all AWD systems are the same. Hence, people in places like VT and CO, love their Subarus for a reason, and it ain’t because of dogs or being gay.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      When I bought my RWD G37, I had quite a bit of negotiation leverage since it was the only non-AWD model at the time.

  • avatar
    tonyola

    I still miss the center-mounted driving light hidden under the flip-up badge in the grille.
    http://japanesenostalgiccar.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/274_Subaru-Leone-GL-1600-wagon-cyclops_Subaru-BRAT-640×426.jpg

  • avatar
    n_tesla

    I’ve always owned oddball cars. Past mistakes include 2 SAABS and back to back Fiats. Currently I have a Volt and a Corvette. I wondered if my peculiar tastes would affect (or infect) my kids. My son and daughter just bought their first new cars and they have a 17 Impreza Sport and a 16 Crosstrek respectively. They are well screwed together and nice riding cars. They cross shopped Toyota, Honda and Mazda and felt the Subaru was worth a little more money. They weren’t making a statement about who they are through their auto purchase. The Subaru stood up to the big competitors because they have a well built slightly different mousetrap.

  • avatar
    DarronS

    I drove a new Impreza a few months ago while searching for a replacement for my VW Tiguan. Nice car, but “sufficiently powerful” is not the phrase I’d use to describe the engine. Woefully slow comes to mind. The engine may be sufficient at sea level, but in the mountains the Impreza is so slow it borders on dangerous. There is no way you’re going to pass slower traffic on a mountain pass in one of these things, mainly because you’ll be the slower traffic holding up everyone else.

    Put in a 2.5 iter engine or a turbo on the current engine and I’d be interested, especially the turbo.

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      “There is no way you’re going to pass slower traffic on a mountain pass in one of these things, mainly because you’ll be the slower traffic holding up everyone else.”

      That is an absolutely absurd statement. Not saying the Impreza is a speed demon. But I drive on canyon passes that go from 4500ft to 7500ft weekly and I witness Impreza and Crosstrek’s flying past me while my cruise control is set at 82 mph.

      • 0 avatar
        DarronS

        Try getting around the people who drive 35 mph uphillll in no-passing zones then accelerate to 55 in the passing zones. I test drove the Impreza in Denver. Nice car. I loved the interior and the handling, but found it badly underpowered. BTW, I bought a CPO 2014 BMW X1 228i. Passing slower4 drivers is way in that.

        • 0 avatar
          VW4motion

          Congrats on the BMW and it will be a much zippier ride. Longevity of that BMW will be the question.

          • 0 avatar
            DarronS

            I got a three-year 73,000 mile CPO warranty with paid maintenance. Not sure if I will keep it after that, but it’s going to be next to impossible finding a CUV that drives better.

      • 0 avatar
        DarronS

        Try getting around the people who drive 35 mph uphillll in no-passing zones then accelerate to 55 in the passing zones. I test drove the Impreza in Denver. Nice car. I loved the interior and the handling, but found it badly underpowered. BTW, I bought a CPO 2014 BMW X1 228i. Passing slower drivers is easy in that.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        My girlfriend’s Hyundai Accent had no problems getting up into the high country on I-70 last year. Just don’t ask how loud it was.

        And that’s the thing – any car can “fly” at higher elevations, as long as you’re willing to listen to it drone on endlessly. And Subarus aren’t exactly paragons of low NVH to begin with.

  • avatar
    VW4motion

    Some Subaru products could be considered mainstream. Yet the majority of their products are awd and have a higher ground clearance than some full size suv’s. So having a great sales record should not necessarily mean that Subaru in itself is a mainstream auto company.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    Subaru can become really mainstream when makes us a pickup truck, with a manual transmission (^_^)

    =========================

  • avatar
    smallblock

    Subaru is like my favorite band – I like their older, edgier material better. I think they sold out to appeal to a wider audience, but I’ll still buy their new album.
    At one time my wife and I had both an ’05 Legacy GT Limited (automatic, sadly) and an ’04 Forester XT manual cloth seats with VF39, STI TMIC, WRX sedan struts / wagon springs, ’03 WRX seats, etc. Those were cars from the golden age for Subaru enthusiasts, where there was an XT / GT version of nearly everything, including wagon or hatch form.
    Today my wife drives a 2016 Outback 2.5i Premium, and it’s a good car, but nothing to get excited about. The marginal performance gain of the 3.6 wasn’t enough to justify it.
    Subaru makes more money than ever, and yet they refuse to offer the variety they used to. I replaced the FXT with a Focus ST specifically because the WRX was no longer available in a hatch for 2015+.
    I think they lose a lot of customers and enthusiastic brand ambassadors by ignoring folks like me, but they prefer to focus on the masses who want generic CVT CUV’s.
    Why can’t they do both? I’d replace the Focus with a WRX hatch in a heartbeat, the Outback with a Legacy GT wagon, and sing their praises from the rooftops!

    • 0 avatar
      jh26036

      I do wish Subaru took some of the Porsche approach and kept some of their enthusiast trims alive. There’s nothing wrong with going mainstream. They gotta keep their lights on.

    • 0 avatar
      FAHRVERGNUGEN

      It’s funny. After my marriage of 28+ years disintegrated like a 124 in the salt belt, and after a half-dozen cohabitated squid-friendly Subes ranging from a 4WD turbo Loyale wagon to a 2012 Forester, I felt it was time to rediscover my musical roots and bought the equivalent of a master copy of Houses of the Holy, my lightly-used 2005 GL Ltd (automatic, fondly, but the sport shift is funner). But I’m going back to the Schwarzen side next time I need to replace a car, prob with a sportwagen.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Are they mainstream? Yes, though not quite Toyonda.

    Is that a good thing?
    Yes, it means less rust buckets puking coolant everywhere, less plastic transmission gears, less oil burning, less rust.

    This isnt a new thing either. Back in the day a few Sub buffs were put off by the Subaru Legacy due to how icky and normal it was!

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    The 2017 Impreza is mainstream because it’s:

    a) Doesn’t look like a spaceship
    b) Is practical
    c) Is quite
    d) Is comfortable
    e) Gets good marks for safety
    f) Gets goodwill for reliability
    g) Is probably what Volvo and Saab owners used to look for in a car
    h) Won’t look embarrassingly dated in two years.

    Radical notion, right?

  • avatar
    Thorshammer_gp

    I think I’d argue that this has been a going on in stages for Subaru. The 3rd-gen Impreza strikes me as one of their first “more mainstream” efforts- that’s where framed windows made their first appearance (if I’m remembering correctly), and as compared to my friend’s 2007 Corolla, the overall experience really isn’t that different (hell, my Impreza’s interior has held up better than hers so far). The styling was still quirkier than a lot of its competitors at the time, but not egregiously so (a la the bugeye model). Then, of course, the Outback essentially became a CUV in 2010, and the mainstreamization has only progressed from there.

    I don’t see this as a bad thing at all- if it helps bankroll their fun projects like the WRX, I see no issue with it.

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    Mainstream. This is not going to sit well with Lesbaru owners in Seattle!

  • avatar
    gottacook

    Subaru can enjoy wide acceptance while still being outré, like (for example) Prince.

    As for the remark “The windows have frames” in the original post: This car is the third generation of Impreza to have window frames. It’s been more than seven years since Subaru last sold a new car with frameless door glass.

  • avatar
    Alfisti

    Subaru amaze me, some of it has been good management and some of it luck.

    Their whole “rugged” thing via the WRC has somehow transcended itself to mean “reliable” when in reality Subaru sit comfortably in the bottom half of most industry wide indices.

    I suspect Saab vanishing, Volvo disappearing up it’s own arse and VW constantly shitting on their own bed has helped Subaru a lot.

    Still, today I find most of their offerings ugly and dog slow. except the Outback which really is the best mainstream family vehicle on the market with all the advantages of an SUV and very little of the disadvantages.

    Finally, they need to sort out their engines, at some point the public will stop buying, Honda read the tea leaves and stepped it up in recent models, Subie will need to do the same, and soon.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Even though their vehicles are no longer quirky in the styling department, and look like any other car or CUV, I still see them as a niche player – but a mainstream player in a growing niche.

    Mainstream? not quite.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Given that Subaru competes in every mainstream passenger category extant, and does so very successfully, I have no idea how one would call it anything but mainstream.

  • avatar
    vagvoba

    They did what is the best for the company but not for the diehard fans: go mainstream to grow sales.

    Despite some people’s claims, it’s not the gays that made Subaru less cool, but the fact that Subaru wanted to be more like Toyota and Honda. I.e. the Forester didn’t become a lesbian-mobile, but a RAV4/CRV clone.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    I’m not really sure of what “mainstream automaker” is. Should there be a certain percentage sold per state or some other measurement? My definition is a “mainstream” vehicle has a noticeably visible number seen daily driving around. There are rural areas where non-US brands are relatively rare; Fords, Chevys, and Chryslers/Dodges/Rams are more “mainstream” than any of them damn furrin cars by a fairly large margin. Subaru has been “mainstream” for a long time in three areas of the United States: Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountain Region and New England. It appears to be gaining “mainstream” acceptance outside those areas in the last six or seven years as evinced by the rapidly rising sales volumes outside those three areas in other areas that experience periods of winter weather. By my personal observation using my definition of “mainstream” more and more are being seen in traffic daily around here (a conservative rural area). Probably it will be considered “mainstream” pretty much everywhere above the old Mason-Dixon line in a few years and, perhaps due to the AWD across the product line, out in the Southwest where some roads are dirt tracks across the desert areas. It will most likely not become “mainstream” in the Southeast or Southern California as Subaru’s standard AWD capabilities aren’t high on the list of desires for folks living there. Selling more than a half-million units a year (at maximum production capacity no less) in large areas of the country probably qualifies Subaru as being largly a “mainstream automaker”.

  • avatar
    macnab

    A couple of years ago Consumer Reports said that they’ve found that Subarus use more oil as they age than other brands. Then I read someplace else (maybe here) that they use “low tension” piston rings, presumably to reduce friction. Can anybody comment on this? Oil consumption doesn’t bother me much but could it also mean more gas blowby? That would bother me more.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Subaru used low friction piston ring lands to cook epa fuel economy numbers. Just like every 3rd Subaru had a cracked windshield due to its thin material for weight reduction to cook epa numbers. Should I go on about the thin wiring in our 2012 Forester that blew cigg lighter fuse and would bog the power windows whenever another switch was pulled?

  • avatar
    WallMeerkat

    Subaru died a little, in the UK at least, when they replaced their iconic rally-bred Impreza with a generic looking hatchback that looked like a previous generation Kia.

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