Subaru Incentives Are Skyrocketing In America, But Remain Absurdly Low By 2017 Standards

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
subaru incentives are skyrocketing in america but remain absurdly low by 2017

Maybe, we told you in early May, you’ll soon be able to get a deal on a Subaru Outback.

As new vehicle demand gradually shrinks in America, every automaker wants to grow their market share in order to maintain steady sales output. “Sure, there are fewer buyers,” the automaker says, “but we’ll grab more of them.”

Decreased demand has a tendency to increase competitiveness. Not surprisingly, Subaru anticipated the need to more dramatically increase incentives on the least-incentivized cars in America as 2017 progressed. Even an in-demand automaker such as Subaru is going to struggle when rival automakers are routinely dropping prices by more than 10 percent.

Thus, according to ALG, Subaru’s average discount per vehicle shot up 63 percent, year-over-year, in June 2017. June was by no means an exception for incentive growth at Subaru. In May, year-over-year incentive spending jumped 59 percent. It was up 45 percent in April, 59 percent in March, 61 percent in February, and 97 percent in January. Year-over-year, Subaru’s average incentive spend per vehicle shot up in each of the last five months of 2016, as well.

Yet at just $1,032 per vehicle, Subaru’s incentives are 71-percent lower than the industry average.

And while the industry’s incentive spending as a percentage of the average transaction price jumped to 11 percent in June 2017, it remained below 4 percent at Subaru, or 65 percent below the industry average. That’s lower than any other major manufacturer. Kia and Nissan both cut prices 15 percent below MSRPs.

Still, it’s not difficult to see why Subaru would need to increase its incentives above $1,000/vehicle for the first time since January.

Aside from the new Impreza, Subaru’s fourth-best-selling model in America, Subaru’s other models are currently lacking a degree of freshness.

The top-selling Forester debuted at dealers in fourth-gen form more than three years ago.

The similarly popular Subaru Outback is in its third model year, awaiting a modest 2018 refresh.

The third-ranked Crosstrek will be all-new for 2018 later in July, but the first-gen Crosstrek is more than five years old.

The three-row Subaru Ascent isn’t due until next year.

Striving to maintain a lengthy growth streak — year-over-year volume had increased in 66 consecutive months heading into June — with aging models in a tremendously competitive market undoubtedly required improved discounts. And Subaru did manage to continue the streak, posting a 12-percent jump to 52,057 sales even as the U.S. auto industry, apart from Subaru, declined by more than 3 percent.

A little bit of extra cash on the hood pushed Subaru to its 67th consecutive month of growth in June 2017. A whole lot of cash on the hood at almost every other automaker did not bring to a halt their gradual declines.

[Images: Subaru]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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  • Cheezman88 Cheezman88 on Jul 07, 2017

    That's funny, i'm in the market for a 2017 Subaru Impreza and i'm having a lot of trouble getting a good price. The packaging is pretty terrible for these cars, it's never in the trim/package you want.

  • Foo Foo on Jul 25, 2017

    I will never! buy another Subaru again!!! They don't honor there warranty! I have maintained my vehicles myself for over 30 years. I have owned 2 wrxs. A 09 tuned and 60,000 miles. No problems. Traded it in for a 13 wrx. All stock, 13000 miles spun a main barring. I had to fight with them to fix it. They told me it was due to oil starvation. 09 eat oil, 13 was not as hungry for it. 35000 miles spun a main again. They would not cover it. Had reciepts for oil even, again they told me oil starvation. Never once did a CEL light go on for low oil. When I had someone else rebuild it they no longer sold the same size oil pump. It was repaced with a larger sized one. They knew there was a issue. They just fixed what was broke not the problem.

  • Carlson Fan I think it is pretty cool & grew up with a '75 Ford window van so I can attest to their utility. $60K is a lot for any vehicle and I'm not convinced EV's are ready for prime time for a number of reasons. It would make an awesome 2nd or 3rd vehicle in a multi-car household but again the price would keep most from considering it.I agree with the other comments that those who have to have it will buy it and then sales will drop off. Offer a panel version for the commercial market, that could have possibilities.
  • Wjtinfwb Panther Black? or Black Panther? Shaped like a decade old Ford detectives sedan? Seems like an odd way to send out your marquee car...
  • Kwik_Shift Instead of blacked, how about chromed? Don't follow the herd.
  • Carlson Fan Nicest looking dash/gage cluster ever put in any PU truck. After all these years it still looks so good.
  • Wheatridger Correct me if I'm wrong, but has the widescreen digital dash usurped the space formerly occupied in every other car by an HVAC vent? I see one prominent vent well right of center, where there should be two. I rely on twin driver's side vents to warm my hands on cold mornings, and I wouldn't give that up for more screen area.