By on October 5, 2017

2018 Subaru Outback - Image: SubaruIn September 2017, Subaru reported the company’s 70th consecutive year-over-year U.S. sales increase. That’s nearly six complete years of steadily improving U.S. sales volume.

Think of it this way: 2013 was a huge year for Subaru of America as sales had risen 59 percent over the span of just two years. But in 2013, Subaru sold 424,683 over the course of the entire calendar year. In 2017, that’s a total Subaru blasted past in the first week of September.

But have you ever stopped to notice that Subaru is accomplishing much of its success with three remarkably similar variations of the same theme? Crosstrek, Forester, Outback. A bit of extra length there, a touch of extra height here, a smidgen of savings there, a dose of extra equipment here. This is hardly the historically obvious 3 Series to 5 Series to 7 Series lineup. The Crosstrek, Forester, and Outback are conceptually similar vehicles with overlapping price spectrums. And recently, with a huge leap in Crosstrek popularity, they’re all similarly popular, too.

You almost get the sense Subaru could squeeze an Outback “four-door coupe” in there and sell 12,000 of those each month, too.

2018 Subaru Crosstrek - Image: SubaruOr could they? Is the huge success of Subaru in 2017 — consistent U.S. sales growth despite a market-wide slowdown — something of a peak, nothing more than the result of inflated demand for a lineup temporarily perceived as hot?

In September, Subaru of America reported 12,491 Crosstrek sales. That’s a September record, the second-best month ever (after August’s record) and just the third month in the nameplate’s history in which the newly relaunched Crosstrek entered five-digit territory. Crosstrek pricing stretches from $22,710 to $27,210.

Subaru also sold 13,262 Foresters in September, a sharp 17-percent year-over-year drop for the Forester but still the model’s 50th consecutive month above the 10K marker. Forester pricing starts just beyond the base Crosstrek at $23,710 but reaches to a higher $37,005.

Then there’s the Outback, now Subaru’s best-selling model with 140,491 sales so far this year. September volume slid slightly, 4 percent, to 16,330 units. Outback pricing starts at $26,810, only $2000 beyond the basic Forester automatic, and soars to $39,605.

The Crosstrek, Forester, and Outback accounted for 76 percent of Subaru’s September volume.2018 Subaru Forester - Image: SubaruSeptember’s huge 51-percent Crosstrek uptick came as sales of its donor vehicle, the Impreza, jumped 32 percent. While industry-wide September incentives rose 1.5 percent, year-over-year, to $3,742 per vehicle according to ALG, Subaru’s average discount fell 6 percent to only $1,026. The auto industry’s average transaction price fell 1 percent; Subaru’s ATPs ticked up by a tenth of a percent. The industry discounted vehicles by an average of 11.5 percent in September. Subaru cut prices by less than 4 percent. Together with the Crosstrek’s rise, these financial tallies help explain the acceptable losses in Forester and Outback sales — Subaru refuses to play that game.

Is the current wave of Subaru acceptance anywhere near cresting, or could Subaru theoretically position another mid-$20,000s two-row crossover and find itself in short supply of that vehicle, too?

Subaru won’t test that theory, of course. The next vehicle stretches the range on the north side. The Ascent will be Subaru’s flagship vehicle. Based on current trends, it seems as though Subaru won’t be able to build enough to sate demand.

Can Subaru just do as it pleases, build whatever it wants, and find even more buyers than it thought possible? Or will America’s Subaru affection soon max out?

[Images: Subaru]

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

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141 Comments on “QOTD: Can Subaru Just Go Ahead And Sell Whatever It Wants, Wherever It Wants, Whenever It Wants?...”


  • avatar
    VW4motion

    Possible reasons for steady increased sales.
    1. An alternative to boring sedans, awd gives a sense of being more rugged.
    2. People see 10-15 yo models that still look great.
    3. Resale value of used Subaru’s lead you purchase a new Subaru
    4. Dealerships tend to be non-threatening. Different from your average Toyota or mainstream brand. At least in my experience.
    5. Almost ever model has been 5 stars in crash test ratings for years now.
    6. Well thought out interiors for outward visibility.

    • 0 avatar
      redapple

      VW4

      You are correct.

      Test Drove a Forester last week. Almost pulled the trigger. Lease didnt work.

      Strongest image in the car Biz (not including premium cars brands). It’s a brand I can take to the Birmingham (MICH) Country Club and hold my head up.

    • 0 avatar
      TNJed

      I agree with all of this. Subarus have the virtues described above and they are just different enough from their competition to have at least some character. After six years of owning a 2011 Impreza 2.5i hatch with a 5 speed, I remain satisfied overall. Everything on it just works. If Subaru introduces too many models and gets to far away from its core values – AWD across the line, boxer engines, solid ergonomics/visibility – then its could be at risk of fading into the pack. Worth reading Harvey Lamm’s book Gaining Traction about the origins of Subaru of America to appreciate its core values.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Subaru resdiuals read like an old wive’s tail versus the competition. Cars.com has the Forester at $22K while the Equinox 1.5T AWD is $20K. Even though Edmunds gives the Forester about 8% better residual than a 2018 Equinox, that is only $2,000 on a $22,000 car and pretty much even on a 12/36 lease.

      Plus with GM you have 2 years of free maintence.

      • 0 avatar

        Dear Norm,

        Subaru has a unique sales and brand proposition which is not present on the Equinox in any way. Subaru customers do not defect to GM because the Forester costs more. And it’s never going to happen.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          Subaru resdiuals are a joke and not supported as they hold their value as well as a Chevy. Unless someone is buying your vehicles for you….love on through your rose colored glasses.

          If you think I’m wrong on the costs to own, prove me wrong. Until then Subaru is not more than Redbull, a marketing company that sells a life style or energy drink.

          • 0 avatar

            I know it’s hard to grasp, but people are not buying Subarus based entirely on residuals or costs to own. Same with VW, Mazda, and anything else which loses lots of value and/or costs a lot to run (any luxury vehicle).

            You’re thinking like a fleet manager rather than a real customer. Try again.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I say it is a significant factor influencing at least half of all sales (or more). Proles be poor yo, every dollar counts.

            “Same with VW, Mazda, and anything else which loses lots of value and/or costs a lot to run (any luxury vehicle).

            You’re thinking like a fleet manager rather than a real customer.”

            You know I’m not a fleet manager but you also know my background. I truly do not understand new car buyers of those “off” marques (inc Volvo) unless they can deduct leases and just want to try new things. Baffles me, few of those marques offer anything unique and it’s not as if they are 25-35% less than the class leader. I can buy serviceable transverse I4 turboz faux SUVs from anybody at this point, why am I looking at anyone but the residual and/or class leaders?

            Regarding the luxury vehicle equity flush, I think its something between snobbery, social climbing/status, or simply treating one’s self. Mercedes could sell the actual Yugo and there would be buyers. I actually “get” this behavior despite the negative financial aspects.

          • 0 avatar

            I think in the case of Subaru, the money is not enough to make a difference to the bottom line for the purchaser. Many of their customers make a decent living, and are not base Mirage spec sort of people.

            There’s a desirability there which isn’t present in other options, with reputation and marketing, or however you want to credit it.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Most Camcord buyers also make a decent living, they are the sort to buy reliable high resale vehicles new (which is my point).

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I purchased a new 2013 Forester XT in January of 2013 for $26,900.

            I sold that Forester XT *to a dealer* in April 2016, with 25,000 miles and a couple of minor dings, for around $22,000.

            That’s a little over $100 in depreciation per month.

            Try that with your Equinox.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            Dal, the 2014 Forester and Equinox AWD are the same price with 36,000 miles at $14,500-15,000. The Forester costs $2,000 more today so it actually loses more value.

            All depends on your relationship with your dealership and what you replaced your XT with?

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Looking at Cars.com, in my area, the only 2014 Foresters with reasonable mileage under $16,000 have some kind of poor history. Prices on good examples (of which there are very few) run from about $17,000 for base models to $20-21,000 for Tourings. XTs are several thousand more but aren’t really relevant to this comparison.

            With Equinoxes, there are about twice as many examples for sale locally, and the price spread between trims is broader. NA LTZs are worth as much as Forester Tourings, but the base models are down near $15-16k like you said.

            My Forester sale was a straight sale. The dealer I sold it to wasn’t involved in the replacement (which is a leased Ford C-Max).

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            @ DAL, but didn’t you look based on a 98xxx zip code? Fact is that used car values can vary greatly by location. W. Wa in general and Puget Sound specifically is one of Subaru’s biggest markets and they demand higher prices than in other area.

            Years ago I knew a small time auto wholesaler. A lot of his business was buying Subarus at auction in CA, bringing them to Seattle and Wholesaling them.

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            My base 2011 Impreza 2.5i stickered for about $17,500. After a 3.5 year lease, the estimated residual was $10,250. I went to turn it in while I was living in the Seattle area. The dealer talked me into selling it to him instead of turning it in for $10,500. An easy $250 was worth 20 minutes of paperwork to me so I said why not. They ended up listing it for $14,500. I assume they would need at least $12,500 to make it worth it for them. A few months later, I received another check from them for a little over a hundred dollars. They said they sold it for more than they thought they would when they bought it from me. I can’t imagine having a similar experience with another brand.

      • 0 avatar
        VW4motion

        @norm,
        Every Subaru dealer has the option of offering 2 year free maintenance on a new vehicle.
        8% is a small amount? You’d be one lousy financial advisor.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          If I were a betting man, I’d take that $2,000 today on a Equinox vs hoping for it three years down the road on a Subaru.

          • 0 avatar
            VW4motion

            Yeah, you take your misshapen interior bits and sagging doors on your Equinox. Rental fleets of that model is also a reason not to purchase.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            VWMotion, at least the parts won’t fall off like a Volkswagen.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            Freedmike, these are advertised for sale prices by the dealerships. Leases vary as sometimes $1,200-1,500 lease cash bonus along with residuals set by the banks make it difficult to figure payments unless you know the finance guy.

            Always negotiate lowest price for the car then figure payments.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Norm…leases are a function of a) residual and b) cap cost. If Equinoxes are cheaper to lease, it’s probably because GM is putting a ton of cash on the hood to bring the cap cost down.

        Low cap cost makes up for all kinds of sins when it comes to residuals.

        (Case in point: the car I’m driving right now, which has AWFUL resale value…but I picked up a cheap lease on it. Why? because VW put a ton of cash on the hood.)

    • 0 avatar
      MLS

      Where are these 10-15 year old models that still look great? Did they even look great when new?

      • 0 avatar
        Grahambo

        Whether they looked great when new is subject to question/subjective, but my daughter’s 170K mile 2000 Outback (formerly my wife’s; bought new Christmas ’99) still looks quite good even though it hasn’t seen wax – and, sadly, maybe not even a wash – since she took it over 5 years ago. My 05 LGT wagon, unfortunately totaled by my son a year ago, looked showroom new in and out until it died. The insurance payout also demonstrated that Subies (especially specialty versions) in fact hold their value extraordinarily well, whether justified or not. My wife’s replacement for the ’00 Outback was/is a ’13 3.6R in the same dark green as Corey’s recent acquisition. It’s been bulletproof – not a single issue of any sort, good to drive, looks the same as it did 5 years ago, and also held its value rather well.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        It was actually my base question base on Subaru advertising. They said that their cars all still on the road but I hardly see any old Subaru. I will start counting.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    Wow, Tim Cain. You just tossed a hunk of red meat over the fence. I’m getting another cup of coffee and waiting to see the comments on this.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    People buy Subarus because:

    1. Perceived safety: Without symmetrical AWD, you will die; and good crash ratings.
    2. They’re roomy inside.
    3. Love.

    So, to answer the question – yes, if they maintain their formula.

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      The awd trend is not that people are afraid they are going to die.
      But rather you don’t have to wait for the streets to be plowed before leaving your house. Before people start whining about snow tires. Yes, you can put on snow tires on your vehicle. But the convenience of just getting in your car driving is nice. And if snow is that bad, those snow tires can go on your awd Subaru. There is also the whole increase traction in the rain.

      • 0 avatar
        I_like_stuff

        “And if snow is that bad, those snow tires can go on your awd Subaru.”

        Yep. Doesn’t have to be either or. All my family’s vehicles are AWD/4WD and snow tires in winter as well. And pretty much everyone around here is the same way. It’s annual tradition. In October the leaves start falling from the trees and the tire shops have 3 hour wait times to swap out tires. And then in April the same thing, except with the leaves growing back out.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Perceived is right word here. Perceived safety. Perceived quality. Perceived reliability.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Still don’t want one.

  • avatar
    Guitar man

    Except the WRX !!!!!!

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    I’m with FreedMike. Still don’t want one.

    The latest Impreza is the first one I’d consider from Subaru from the last decade. A very streamlined hatch with good proportions, OK price, decent base engine, and yes a stick shift.

    WRX is not my jam, I’d more of a GLI kind of driver.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Oh, Yeah.
    I can see out of the friggin thing.
    BIG plus.

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      Yeah, go test drive a new MB GLA. Awful visibility, almost Camaro like needing the periscope option.
      Subaru didn’t fall for the sunken seat trend, with the dash at your shoulder level.

  • avatar
    mojeimeje

    An Outbackized Levorg would probably sell 5-10k a month, but Subaru does not want to bring it here.
    Even just a regular Levorg would sell at least 5k units a month just based on how popular Subaru is now.
    What I’m trying to say is I want the WRX wagon back. :(

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    And to think it all started with Malcolm Bricklin and a Kei Car.

    (In the United States anyway.)

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    Interestingly enough, here in Chicagoland even though lots of people buy cars “for snow”, Subarus are relatively rare. They simply aren’t as popular as on the coasts. Not really sure why, given how suitable they are for the environment, and given how every single CUV/SUV you can name is thick on the ground here.

    We spend a lot of time in rural northern WI, and they aren’t any more popular there, either. They’re mostly a coastal thing, don’t really know why.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Colorado and the Santa Fe/Albuquerque corridor love Subaru too.

      But Colorado loves anything 4×4/AWD – the original AMC Eagle 4x4s were big sellers there.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        We saw numerous Subaru’s with cracked windshields in the area. They are easy to spot as it spider cracks across the whole windshield.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        I almost consider Colorado as “part of the coast” given that the demographic is basically the same as CA or the northeast. But yeah, you’re right, Subarus are popular in the northeast, northwest, and CO.

        • 0 avatar
          bking12762

          S2K Chris-Colorado is “part of the coast” from the Front Range of the Rockies due west. To the east of the Front Range is definitely not part of that demographic. There is a continental divide in Colorado in more than one way. Also, Subaru’s are the new Saabs along the Front Range.

          • 0 avatar
            carguy67

            I spent some time in Durango the year CO become the first state to legalize weed. Went to dinner at an upscale steak house and observed the clientele: A mixture of the (expected) college/’hippie’ types, and cowboys. Not drugstore cowboys, but honest-to-god cowboys with gnarly hands and weathered faces, dressed-up in their best jeans, cleanest boots and shiniest belt buckles. I remembered thinking “How the hell did they pass legalization in a state with so many, er, conservatives?” Then, it dawned on me that these ‘conservatives’ were, actually, more libertarian than Republican; i.e. they figured weed was ‘no skin off my butt;’ i.e. ‘You smoke your dope, I’ll drink my Jack and we’ll get along just fine.’ And they were.

          • 0 avatar
            bking12762

            carguy67-You are absolutely correct regarding Colorado Libertarians. NOTE:I specifically did not mention left/right or Republican or Democrat.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            more libertarian than Republican; i.e. they figured weed was ‘no skin off my butt;’ i.e. ‘You smoke your dope, I’ll drink my Jack and we’ll get along just fine.’

            My kind of people. :-) Still can’t figure out for the life of me how other people’s lifestyle choices threaten others so greatly that they’re willing to put up with egregious behavior from any politician who promises to put a stop to it.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “I remembered thinking “How the hell did they pass legalization in a state with so many, er, conservatives?”

            It passed because the bulk of Coloradans don’t live in the mountains or on the plains (in fact, about 60% of the state’s population can be found in the greater Denver area.)

            It was the city dwellers that got this passed. Plus, I’m guessing about 107% of registered voters in Boulder and Fort Collins voted for legalization.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Juxtaposed human behavior in an urban setting vs sparse countryside is always so interesting. In an extended blackout scenario I do wonder if urban dweller’s values may adjust.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            That’s 28…always lookin’ on the bright side of life…

            I dunno, it’s like that Doors song “Five to One”…they got the guns but we got the numbers…

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        And here in the CO snowbelt, they do not depreciate. A friend shopped 2017 Crosstreks last year and the dealer had a one or two year old mid level model that they were asking more money for than the brand new base level trim he bought.

        Can’t resist adding that we drove that 2017 up Pike’s Peak yesterday. It appears the engineers did not do their homework with the CVT. It was very slow to increase RPMs to accelerate uphill at 11,000+ feet elevation, and It surged and bucked a lot when geared down to avoid burning up the brakes on the way down.

    • 0 avatar
      Nedmundo

      Subarus are incredibly popular in the Philadelphia area, even though we usually don’t get much snow. We get just enough, however, that I understand why folks want AWD even if they don’t truly need it.

      Also, the ground clearance and general ruggedness are advantages on our bombed-out roads. With those traits and its compact size, I think a Crosstrek is a nearly perfect vehicle for the city, so it’s no wonder the city is positively crawling with them. We might get one soon.

      Doesn’t hurt that Subaru’s U.S. headquarters are just across the river in Cherry Hill, NJ, and are soon moving to Camden. The brand has a big presence here, and isn’t considered a “niche” brand at all. There used to be a Subaru dealership in downtown Philadelphia, which held on longer than other downtown dealers.

      But the popularity is not just the coasts or demographically similar places like Colorado — I noticed loads of Subarus, especially Foresters, in West Virginia. On their merits, this makes sense.

      As for the article’s question, I bet there is a limit to overlapping models Subaru could introduce. The Forester, Crosstrek, and Outback at least look fairly different from each other, and another overlapping model could create confusion and dilute the brand’s identity in the segment.

      Somehow, BMW has gotten away with Grand Coupes and all sorts of narrow niche models like the X6, but I’m not sure a non-premium brand can succeed with that approach. They have less (profit) margin for error.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Seeing them only on the coasts does that make them a red state phenomenon?

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    Over time, my household has owned 4 Subarus. The products themselves were never over-the-top awesome, but the whole “Subaru lifestyle feel” certainly is compelling. Why the Subaru love? My observation is: Easy driving dynamics, airy cabins, a sensible nature, a wholesome reputation, respectable resale values, and dealer experiences which are friendly. Like Honda, Subaru does not have to offer “deal of the week” to move the metal.

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    Not sure how many new models they could introduce after the Ascent. I think there are things they could still do to juice their demand – they’ve more or less ignored the sporty side of the market that helped them get popular (familiar story). I’m still enjoying my ’05 Legacy GT wagon, although it’s starting to show its age here and there, and I’m in the market for something new – will probably keep the LGT as well.

    I believe there’s a huge pent-up demand for a WRX/STI hatch again (huge being relative to the WRX/STI market) – it’s been gone since 2013 or 2014. Good condition hatches still fetch almost the same price as a NEW STI. They could sell 10-20k more (annually) STIs that way easily.

    I believe there would be a big demand for an STI with a revised engine that doesn’t have ring-landing issues. Whether that’s a revised 2.5L, a higher-strung WRX 2.0L or the new rumored 2.4L. It needs to have 350hp+. If they make it flex-fuel, where it has a higher output on E85, they’ll sell 3-4x as many as they do now. There’s already a significant “flex fuel” demand for aftermarket tuning on the WRX/STI platform. Having all the sensors built-in and the programming on the ECU would be HUGE. If the block can handle ~350-400 whp without requiring a huge rebuild, that would also help a lot.

    Two words: BRZ turbo.

    Sure, these suggestions won’t do 10K sales/month additional, but I would say, together, easily 2-3k/month. Of course, probably not worth it in the bean counter’s eyes.

    • 0 avatar
      john66ny

      This ^^^

      Full disclosure: fellow ’05 Legacy GT Wagon owner.

      Also the comments about being able to leave a dealership without feeling the need for a shower.

      I still take mine back to the dealer for service. The only vehicle I’ve EVER done that for. They even recommend aftermarket parts when appropriate and are happy to install a Cobb Accessport if you’d like…

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        Ditto. Buying my 2006 Legacy was the first time I purchased a car and didn’t feel slimy afterward. Most painless negotiation I have ever had. The dealer STARTED the price negotiation at invoice.

        I have also taken my car back to the dealership for many repairs/service including my recent head gasket replacement because the price they quoted was actually lower than quotes from two independents.

        Even with the head gasket issue I have had, I would consider an Impreza hatch if they only offered it with a better power train. Right now, Mazda would get my money for a Mazda3 2.5 GT with a manual.

  • avatar
    stuki

    They’re like Porsche. A very clear message. Just one of “outdoors” rather than “sport.” And “outdoors” has been very popular for awhile now. 4Runners and Jeeps are in a similar branding space (even if functionally different), and are selling well as well.

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    My deep rooted attraction to them is the engine/power train layout. They are not the ubiquitous transverse slightly off center 4 or 6 cylinder with front wheel drive that my mind just does not like. They have a “normal” mounted and low positioned boxer in the nose, with everything in pleasing sequence of front diff, trans, drive shaft, rear diff. Simple, symmetrical, balanced, functional and rugged. It just works with my mind. Also, no torque steer, no slipping in the rain, and that quieting feeling that I’ll get home no matter how much snow is piling up outside my office, as long as all the non-Subaru’s stuck out there leave me enough space to get around them as they struggle to move.

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    You can sell LOVE anytime, anywhere for any reason. It’s LOVE! Who can possibly not want LOVE in their life?

    Very few people buy Subarus because of the engine or performance or any of that. They buy them because Subaru has done a great job of creating a brand. It’s the car for people in Seattle, Missoula, Berkeley, etc. They might as well also come with a Bernie2020 and CoExiSt bumper sticker option straight from the factory.

    • 0 avatar
      MeJ

      I think they’re successful because the have clearly defined goals. They build rugged, user friendly, dependable, roomy vehicles that are priced well and have fantastic dealers.
      It’s why I bought one.

    • 0 avatar
      gottacook

      I_Like_Stuff discounts the long-term customer base who have been buying Subarus (including FWD versions when they were offered) for 30+ years, plenty of whom are still around and driving new Subarus today. The influence they’ve had on buyers new to Subaru, although not easily measurable, was completely independent of any marketing campaign. (Of course, it’s often difficult to measure the impact of an ad campaign as well, but Subaru learned long ago what NOT to do – see the book Where the Suckers Moon, about the early-’90s “What to Drive” campaign and how it helped to almost kill Subaru of America.)

    • 0 avatar
      carguy67

      I like the dog commercials, in spite of myself.

  • avatar
    rcx141

    When I came to the US from the UK in 2002 my new brother in law had a Subaru. It was a 3.0 V6 and I got in it expecting performance like you would get from a 3.0 V6 car back in the UK. Big mistake. There must be something wrong with this, I thought, pulling over to check the throttle pedal travel and making sure a mat had not got stuck underneath.

    Over the next few years he would throw a thousand here, a thousand there, into this temperamental dog slow money pit. Eventually something very expensive failed so he traded it… for another Subaru.

    He’s now on his third or fourth since I’ve known him and views dropping a grand in repairs a couple of times a year all part of the ownership experience.

    During the same period of driving various Fords and Chryslers my total outlay on repairs comes to a grand total of zero.

  • avatar
    2.5XT5spd

    It’s amazing that all the growth in Subaru has been with most of thier cars equipped with CVT transmissions. The only ones with manuals are WRX’s -2.0 turbo or STI’s – 2.5 turbo or the base forester -2.5 non turbo. Subaru have lost me as a customer because of the CVT. I’m shopping for a German AWD turbo POS because of the CVT to replace my ’09 Gen 3 Outback – the pinnacle of Subaru IMO.

  • avatar
    yankinwaoz

    I went to Oregon for the Eclipse. It felt like 50% of the cars I saw were Scooby Doos. I’ve heard that they are also very popular in Alaska. I think it has to do with their high ground clearance and AWD.

    Here in SoCal, my mom just replaced her old full sized Dodge Pickup with a 2016 Forester. She is very impressed with it and very happy.

  • avatar
    Rengaw

    Here in the Pacific Northwest Subaru’s are the enthusiast’s vehicle. We are enthusiastic about visibility, safety, AWD, ride comfort on both paved and rough unpaved roads, and fuel economy. Zero to sixty times are way down our list of priorities, We much prefer form following function as gaudy sharp angular windswept designs with scant rear visibility make no sense to us. The thrill of using a wide opening door and sliding behind the wheel with ease puts a smile on our face. To us, utility is the primary characteristic in determining our enthusiasm for a vehicle. Subaru creates a lot of satisfied customers where I live. We understand your definition of enthusiasm is likely to be different from ours.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    Subaru is making cars in the same way that Honda/Toyota did in the 90’s, no surprise about the formula. Clear sigh lines, clean ergonomics, functional interior room. A minimum of fuss and excess on exterior styling, its everything people liked about “Japanese-ness” during the heyday of the big two.

  • avatar
    Alfisti

    First thing first, the Outback is a very, very compelling product for a family since the interior update a couple of years back. it is affordable, roomy, drives more like a car than an SUV but clears parking kerbs etc and is easy to get in and out of. With two kids and some stuff to haul it is, basically, the perfect vehicle if you can look past the engines to some degree.

    The rest of the line up though, i don’t get it. They have released some crazy boring and plain poor product over the past 5 years, especially the Imprezza, but peo;el keep buying them. I don’t get the appeal.

  • avatar
    HahnZahn

    Ours is a two-Subaru household. I’m an unyielding pragmatist, so Subarus are more attractive than other brands by virtue of nearly all their models being hatchbacks. I also find overly powerful engines perplexing – where am I going to go to use 300 hp? I live around millions of other drivers taking up space on the roads, so 152 hp on my Impreza is no more or less than I need. EyeSight is the best option I’ve ever had on a car. We actually regularly do the things Subaru advertises, so they’re not overkill.

    The only model I wouldn’t consider relative to a competitor is the Legacy. If I was in the market for a mid-size (actually gigantic nowadays) sedan, I’d probably get an Accord.

    I’ll be very interested to see how Subaru fares as we shift more toward hybrids and electrics. I’m certainly planning on my Impreza being the last ICE I purchase.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Here in Houston (we last had a snow “dusting” maybe 8 years ago…) Outback and Forrester sales have exploded in the last 5 years. I attribute that to a number of factors such as the huge migration we’ve had of folks from the coasts, the fact that AWD and 8.3″ clearance add security in our torrential downpours, and people’s desire to have something reliable that’s not a Toyota, Honda or Nissan.

    The old Saab market perhaps, but cheaper and more reliable than a Volvo. I think the Ascent will mostly sell to Subaru customers looking for something bigger than the Outback rather than stealing sales from other crossovers.

    Expanding their market? Subaru needs to hybrid more, working closely with big brother Toyota. I also think an AWD light-duty pickup on the Ascent chassis as well as a mid-sized minivan would help expand into non-traditional areas for them.

    The upcoming Forrester (next year as a ’19) looks promising as far as interior upgrading with more room without going 3 row.

    The interior on my ’13 Outback is nice yet functional and easy to clean. The only thing on my wishlist is cooled seats.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Can Subaru just do as it pleases, build whatever it wants, and find even more buyers than it thought possible? ”

    No, the marque must be careful to remain successful. Produce too many models or too much inventory, and you outpace demand in quest of market share. Subaru does not need market share, it is a recognizable and respected marque which does not sell on discount. The marque also maintains high resale and a sterling reputation among proles, despite the many, many, previous years of reliability issues. Keeping the ship steady while occasionally tweaking the lineup is the best advice. Target slow realistic growth and be able to consistently maintain every 0.1% gained.

  • avatar
    TTCat

    I have an irrational hate of everything Subaru, so they will never sell one to me under any circumstances – I think it stems from seeing them crawling all over here in Colorado for decades, and up until the late 90’s every one I saw was a rusted out heap going way too fast for conditions…

    • 0 avatar
      MeJ

      That is irrational.

      • 0 avatar
        TTCat

        But isn’t nice we can do as well please eh? Plus, a good portion of those Subbies were getting in or causing accidents in poor weather conditions, and frankly that hasn’t changed much, so yeah, I hate the brand because of the preponderance of their drivers I encounter – oh well…

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          Where I reside its Nissan, yet I have no hate towards the brand (but I do contain much disinterest).

          • 0 avatar
            TTCat

            My experience here in Colorado is that Subbie drivers are even worse than the average SUV pilot, and that is saying something, because we are overrun with yoyos (a large percentage of whom are transplants), who have no grasp of winter driving and it’s limitations and think all-season-tires + awd is magic. Fortunately, the front range is not the snow covered wasteland that many folks elsewhere think it is, but when it happens it’s a cluster…

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            Got any good stories to go with that?

            I personally dont hate Subarus, but I dont trust their boxer engines/overall quality, too many older rustbucket examples combined with countless engine leaks and their brilliant plastic transmission gears in older models.

    • 0 avatar
      MeJ

      @Ryoku

      Yeah Subaru’s are rust buckets, I guess that’s why every tome I see an older one they seem to just keep on going, long enough to actually get rust. Oh and boxer engines, why would you trust that configuration? They must be crappy because why else would Porsche use them…
      Smh…

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        MeJ,
        It’s not the configuration but Subaru’s implementation that is iffy. Head gaskets and oil consumption have been lingering problems with Subarus for many years.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          Fun fact, early Subaru Boxers copied so much from VWs original boxer design that you could swap over parts, only when VW sued them did they change things up a bit.

          At MeJ:
          I see more old GM A-Bodies than Subarus (let alone Camcords/Panthers), and rarely to they rust as seriously as Subarus from that time period.

          • 0 avatar
            bullnuke

            You may be thinking of the Borgward Arabella and not VW as the source of the design of the Subaru boxer engine. I owned several boxer VW’s (one is still out back) and these engines share only the layout with a Subaru including the early models and not much else.

  • avatar
    2012_117

    We have a 2014 Forester with 58k and it burns oil (but not enough to get the short block replaced). If I recall, it was cheaper than the Equinox when we got it in 2013 because the yen was very weak. We’ve had mystery ESC lights, disappearing coolant, an improperly installed drivers side seatbelt buckle, and a dash vent that just fell out one day. One of the wheel studs snapped off at the last tire rotation, and the lower control arm bushings went at 50k. I wonder if the Consumer Reports reliability ratings for it are the benefit of some kind of halo effect.

    But every time I try to convince my wife to get rid of it while it still has some residual value, she won’t hear of it. It’s like the commercials about love…

  • avatar
    olddavid

    I am convinced anything branded by Fuji Heavy would sell in Oregon. I am also an old dinosaur who cannot get the image of those bug-eyed cars placed in the bed of 1 ton pickups in a two for one sale, circa 1972. The ’70’s and ’80’s saw these mostly relegated to the back row on used lots as they were thoroughly ragged out before trading. I cannot write off everyone’s happy experiences, however, as many I respect are believers. Just not for me. Now if Mazda could only get some of their “pixie dust”, that I could get behind. Went to Graham’s wedding last week and got 44 mpg in a 2015 Model3.

  • avatar
    TTCat

    But isn’t nice we can do as well please eh?

  • avatar
    ttacfan

    Almost 20 years ago I bought a house in a suburb. At that time I noticed that unusually high proportion of cars there were Volvos. Nowadays, I almost don’t see Volvos around, but Outbacks and Foresters, majority in the Limited trim, seem to filled that niche.

    I wonder if Subaru just had a good timing to capture “I have enough money not to drive a Chevy or a Toyota sedan, but I don’t want to look as a jerk in BMW or MB” audience just when Volvo abandoned it.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes. Volvo and Saab.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        It helps that by the time Subaru got mainstream with its Legacy, Volvo owners were leaving their 7/8/9-series in flocks, sick of the countless CELs, the garbage plastics, and numerous sensor issues.

        Naturally they didnt mind the occasional oil leak (it aint an old Volvo without a PVC leak), or headgasket leaks. They were just happy to have AWD, and standard cupholders (vs it being an option even on pricier Volvos).

        Saab on the other hand…they went after the elusive “I want a super expensive econo-box” crowd, then briefly made the “Saabaru” which I insist continues to inspire the styling of recent Subarus.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy67

      Yep. The stereotype of a librarian driving a Volvo station wagon at 60MPH in the fast lane has been replaced by a self-proclaimed ‘environmentalist’ enforcing the speed limit in a Subaru.

  • avatar
    bultaco

    When Volvo abandoned its ‘safe,sensible, slightly upscale car’ mantra to move upmarket in the early ’90s, Subaru stepped right into that space. Subarus today are kinda what Volvo 240s were in the ’80s, image-wise. Not a bad place to be, although I think those old 240s were much more durable than modern Subarus, if less reliable day-to-day.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      “I think those old 240s were much more durable”

      It depends, old Volvos had very good steel durability (though 240s did have their rust troubles), but a modern car will be safer in most cases.

      What happened was that they quit making the 240, their big seller for many years. Hardly anyone wanted the cheaper to produce yet more expensive 7-940 series (the rather ugly early sedans didnt help). With the 240 canned (due to side impact safety regulations), the “sporty” 850 was intended to take its place, it sold well enough but failed to retain buyers due to below average reliability/overall quality, plus at the time the Nissan Maxima cost similar numbers, and yet it was the better car overall.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        Oddly enough my wife and I were shopping Volvo/Nissan in 1998. She always wanted a Volvo (our candidate was the S70), I had a Nissan truck with the 3.0 and loved it so I pushed for the Maxima SE. We ended up with the Volvo (it was her car after all) but wished it had the Maxima’s reliability. We did love the “little tank” solid feeling of the Volvo. When it ran.

    • 0 avatar
      stuntmonkey

      Funny thing, If you look at the small offset tests for the new Impreza, it uses the same philosophy as Volvo; the car deflects off the impact barrier like a Volvo rather than absorbing it directly like the majority of small Japanese cars.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    If Subaru could “build whatever it pleases” I’d love to see the XT return, what with the tilting dash cluster, headlight wipers, the retractable door handles (take THAT Tesla!), just update it a bit and people will be wowed over with gadgets!

    Oh, and lets at the SVX’s gunslit windows too, so we can text in rain without getting wet!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    If they built a car with an inline engine again, I’d consider a Subaru.

    The stated advantages of the boxer design are BS, and I can’t stand their sound.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    I was wondering at times who buys all those Outbacks. If I wanted a one a little smaller, I’d buy a Crosstrek. If I wanted a one a little bigger, I’d buy a Forester. Outback though… What is it even for? I’m not judging, obviously thousands of people found something appealing in them.

    • 0 avatar

      The Outback is bigger than both the Crosstrek and Forester by a considerable margin. It’s a full 8″ longer than the Forester, 15″ more than the Crosstrek.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      The Forester was shockingly noisy and chintzy inside prior to the current generation. I suspect that a major driver for Outback sales was test driving the Forester first.

      Those people now come back for new Outbacks without shopping anything else.

      • 0 avatar
        gottacook

        Actually, the 2006-08 Forester (the last of the smaller, frameless-door-window variety) was quite nice inside. The 2009-13 generation was a huge step down, as was the 2008-11 Impreza (they shared a dashboard). Both had unpleasant plastic everywhere – flimsy door panels, unpadded sun visors, etc. The more recent Imprezas (2012-2016 and the current ones) and Foresters (sold since spring 2013 as 2014 models) are much nicer.

    • 0 avatar
      Philosophil

      I test drove all three, expecting to like the Forester but much preferred the more ‘carlike’ ride of the Outback. I like wagons but there aren’t too many wagon options out there. The VW Sportwagen is a bit cramped (especially in the back seat), and the other wagon options are far pricier than the Outback. I’ve test driven pretty much all the compact crossovers and none of them felt as wagon-like as the Outback.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Because it’s based on the bigger Legacy chassis the Outback is longer and wider, with a more-hefty feeling overall and a sedan-like seating position. The Forrester is taller with a more upright seating position; with it’s lower price point it’s interior reflects that.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Yes, Subaru can sell whatever they want wherever they want right now and can for the foreseeable future. The only thing I see derailing the trend is if they do something really stupid like merge with FCA or try to pull a Hyundai and dump valuable resources into an up-market brand their core/loyal buyers can neither afford or care to afford.

    Here is what I don’t get. Supply, currently, either = or is < demand. Why have they not raised prices? I would be systematically moving the msrp/invoice up $500 per model per year, every year. At some point they will find the tipping point and know where to level off pricing and roll with inflationary increases thereafter. But for now, they obviously sell them too cheap, which if I were a shareholder I would be pissed that they are leaving what is probably millions on the table. Fuji is a for-profit company, yes?

  • avatar
    fvfvsix

    I spent a bunch of time driving a rental Forester through CO a couple of months ago. We drove from CO Springs, spent some time in downtown Denver & Boulder, and also went up into the mountains. My impressions after our 400 mile trip are that I’d certainly buy one if I needed a relatively inexpensive runabout for an area full of people who could care less about dinging your doors in a parking lot. It’s the perfect vehicle for parts of the country with a mix of city, ‘burbs, and a lot of dirt road/wilderness driving thrown in. I can see why they sell well. They’re slow, but the engine & transmission aren’t a bother if I’m being honest. They also handle pretty well, and even without much of a discount, they’re in “throwaway money” territory for they people that usually buy these things new. If you can stand the extra size, a 4Runner is more versatile and just as easy to live with – BUT – there’s a $12K gulf between the Forester I’d spec (XT premium) and the 4Runner we own… so, I can certainly see the appeal.

  • avatar
    Avid Fan

    Sister in law had a Subaru. Drove the devil out of it. Drove it like it was rented by Satan and he was giving her free gas. She did everything it her power to murder that car. Best she could do was break the front sway bar, not the mount but the bar itself. Pretty ringing endorsement on the quality of a Subaru.
    So based on that I bought a 13 Impreza Sport or something. Neat little car. Handled really well. Loads of fun to drive. Leaked like a cardboard tube. Passenger front window leaked in the rain and would puddle in the floor. Took it back to the dealer to be fixed. “They all do that.” Promptly, immediately, and instantly drove it to my local Honda dealer. They were happy to fix it. A goodly application of 2013 Civic fixed all traces of that leak. F— you Subaru! I’ll keep my trouble free Hondas, thank you.

  • avatar
    ryanwm80

    I’ve been wondering why anyone would pay money for a Subaru – not bad, but nothing exceptionally great – and I feel like there’s a lot of elderly people who buy these cars and Kia Souls, and I think there are two main reasons. 1) When you sit in the driver’s seat the H-point is nearly at the same height as a standing, so you don’t really sit “down” you just pull your knees and feet up into the car, and when you exit, you don’t have to work your thighs to “sit up”. 2) Price – they’re inexpensive.

  • avatar
    TOTitan

    I enjoy driving. Subarus are not fun to drive. Most Subaru owners view them them the same as they do an Appliance…. they want it to do its job reliably. I am more of a fleet operator…. a car for the city which is a 2016 VW SportWagen a car for road trips which is a 2009 BMW 335d and a truck for towing and Hauling which is a Nissan Titan modified with big brakes and airbags. When my new house in Kiowa Colorado is done I will trade the Sport Wagon for an Alltrack

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