Subaru Says Sedans Are Still Working, Doubles As Contingency Plan

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
subaru says sedans are still working doubles as contingency plan

Ford’s announcement that it will eventually eliminate every sedan from its domestic lineup has forced the automotive media to consider which automaker will be next to cart theirs off to the guillotine. Due to the growing popularity of crossovers and their inherent profitability, it’s probably just a matter of time until another manufacturer tosses all of its sedans in a burlap sack and drowns them in the proverbial river.

General Motors seems ready to abandon the Chevrolet Impala and Sonic, and Cadillac’s ATS, CTS, and XTS will soon be replaced by two unnamed sedans. Buick’s Lacrosse also looks to be a likely candidate for execution, and rumors exist that Caddy’s CT6 may also be destined for death. However, while rumors swell that American automakers are just years away from from killing the four-door car, Subaru says sedans remain totally relevant.

As a smaller but rapidly growing manufacturer (domestic sales have tripled since 2010), it’s dangerous for the brand to become too reliant on a single segment. If the market suddenly shifts, Subaru knows it’s better not to get caught with its pants down. In fact, it’s almost as if the company’s national manager of product communications, Dominick Infante, is counting on that.

“Gas prices are starting to come up now,” he told Motor Trend in a recent interview. “So a good hedge for better economy is having a sedan.”

That’s not to suggest Subaru hasn’t tried to alter its lineup to cash in on the current market trends. Its Forester and Outback have become more SUV-like with every generation. The Crosstrek, which was introduced in 2012, quickly matched the Impreza in terms of sales and currently exists as the brand’s best-selling model in North America. Subaru is also launching the three-row Ascent this year to compete with the rest of the world’s midsize crossovers.

Meanwhile, the company’s car sales have declined. In the first four months of 2018, sales of the Impreza fell 16.3 percent and the Legacy dropped 13.9 percent. WRX and STI sales have also declined a bit. Still, it’s not as dire as it sounds. The revamped Impreza actually saw a significant increase in sales last year, and looks to be on schedule to surpass every other year that wasn’t 2017.

“So we still make the Impreza and the Impreza hatchback,” Infante said. “They do get better gas mileage than, say, a comparable CUV like the Crosstrek, so we do sell those so if the market does change that’ll help sales of sedans.”

Subaru says entry level cars like the Impreza are also important in getting people set up with their first car, while sporting models like the BRZ or WRX help to attract younger buyers cut from a different cloth. However, it intends to keep both via its enviable level of brand loyalty and fill any gaps with new models like the Ascent.

“[Customers] stay with the brand except for this one area, when they have children starting to become 8 years old or so,” explained Infante. “ families, so then they leave the brand and they would go to our competitors. So they could buy a Honda Pilot or a Highlander and then come back when their kids are out of high school and buy an Outback.

“It’s kind of funny, they would come back or they would have their second car which would stay being a Subaru but we would lose them in that one area … Basically it’s an open door where the customers are just walking out. Now we’ve got something to fill that in and keep them in a Subaru.”

[Images: Subaru]

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  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on May 23, 2018

    And oh yeah, show me a sedan a 6 footer can sit upright in in the back seat. We had a Legacy as a rental this week and my head brushed the headliner though legroom was OK. Build sedans that aren't glorified coupes and maybe some people will buy. Nobody wants to bang their head every time they load baby in the car seat and then try to get the stroller in that mail slot of a trunk opening. Sedans have just evolved into something that aren't practical for many people. Blame CAFE maybe, but by in large, as family cars they are seriously compromised. Enter the Crossover

    • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on May 23, 2018

      Missing one bit: Blame CAFE maybe, but by in large, as family cars they are seriously compromised on purpose. Enter the Crossover

  • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on May 23, 2018

    Geez you make two sedan platform variations which comprise a handful of models, its not controversial.

  • Kat Laneaux What's the benefits of this as opposed to the Ford or Nissan. Will the mileage be better than the 19 city, 24 hwy? Will it cost less than the average of $60,000? Will it be a hybrid?
  • Johnster Minor quibble. The down-sized full-sized 1980-only Continental (which was available with Town Car and Town Coupe trims) gave up its name in 1981 and became the Town Car. The name "Town Coupe" was never used after the 1980 model year. The 1981 Lincoln Town Car was available with a 2-door body style, but the 2-door Lincoln Town Car was discontinued and not offered for the 1982 model year and never returned to the Lincoln lineup.
  • Zipper69 Some discreet dwebadging and this will pass for a $95k Lucid Air...
  • Zipper69 Does it REALLY have to be a four door?Surely a truly compact vehicle could stick with the half-door access with jump seats for short term passengers.
  • ToolGuy See kids, you can keep your old car in good condition.