QOTD: What's Missing From Your Subaru Lineup?
Yesterday’s teaser of the upcoming 2019 Subaru Forester got me thinking, but not about the Forester. Don’t get me wrong, the Forester’s a good vehicle — a gold first-gen model driven by a buddy tackled moderately challenging terrain with aplomb whenever we’d head to the woods for some gunplay — but for many, it’s not the stuff dreams are made of.
No, I started thinking of the blank space in Subaru’s lineup — the missing models that could fill a niche here and there. If given control of the company’s development team, I know exactly what I’d plunk atop the company’s global platform, and maybe you do, too.
Prepare for a shock: It’s a pickup I want. Yes, we had a second swing at the beloved Brat with the short-lived Baja (2003-2006), essentially an Outback with a pickup bed large enough to hold your backpack, but that model didn’t leave the oven in pristine condition.
By taking the popular Outback, chopping the roof off the rear cargo hold, adding six inches of length, and throwing in a set of “sport bars” for rigidity and grab-handle use, Subaru created something of an ugly duckling. To keep rear seat volume in Outback territory, the roofline remained very upright, ending abruptly when it reached the bed. Hardly the graceful transition seen on the Brat. The bed itself, though capable of being extended, was too short. It was too much car, too little pickup.
Subaru had better things to spend its time on.
With the introduction of the 2019 Ascent, the Subaru Global Platform now host vehicles ranging from compact sedan to midsize, three-row SUV. While I highly doubt Subaru will attempt a third unibody, AWD sport pickup, there’s no model I’d like to see more. If it can built the long-wheelbase Ascent on the SGP architecture, a pickup should be a breeze. Ditch the four conventional doors that just eat up too much real estate and swap them for a clamshell configuration. I don’t care if the rear seat isn’t F-150-sized. As long as it’s accessible for the few times you’ll actually have a passenger back there.
Bring back the Brat’s flying buttress look for the C-pillar and give the rear glass a forward rake. Add enough length out back to avoid stubbiness. Ground clearance needn’t be more than the Subie-standard 8.7 inches. Keep the strong 2.4-liter flat-four turbo from the Ascent. Toss in a mild application of butch cladding and ensure it goes into production in Indiana, thus side-stepping the chicken tax. Bam.
Yes, such a vehicle would make your author mighty pleased, though perhaps you’ve got a better idea in mind. If Subaru hauled you to HQ and said “You’re calling the shots, do whatever makes you happy,” what would be your pick for a new model?
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