By on August 19, 2019

2018 Subaru Crosstrek: Image: Subaru

Spend a few minutes talking to a normal, regular person, and they’ll probably reveal very little knowledge of a vehicle’s mechanics or specs while boasting plenty of knowledge of a brand’s (or vehicle’s) marketing efforts and media coverage.

The general consensus, at least according to your author’s mother, is that dogs help sell cars. Full stop. At the very least, they sprinkle a helping of feel-good fairy dust over a brand, leaving a positive impression of the company in the minds of viewers. Audience manipulation is the sole purpose of advertising.

As Subaru walks away from its most recent sales month with yet another healthy volume increase, however, one model seems to have run out of momentum. It remains to be seen if a heaping helping of dogs can turn it around.

The latest dog-centric Subaru commercials have landed, these ones focusing on the second-most popular model in the lineup: the Crosstrek. A brilliant bit of product planning, the Crosstrek is a lifted Impreza hatch that offers up a crossover-like ride height and standard all-wheel grip with compact dimensions and a not-excessive entry price. When the second-generation model bowed for 2018, sales soared.

Crosstrek Hybrid

By the end of the year, sales rose more than 31 percent. In only two months in 2018 (October, December) did the Crosstrek see its year-over-year sales fall, and those were relatively minor decreases.

Fast-forward to the end of July, 2019, and the model’s, um, ascent has reversed course. Since the beginning of the year, Crosstrek sales have fallen 18.8 percent, with July being the closest the model has come to parity with 2018 thus far. July represents the eighth consecutive month of year-over-year sales losses.

This news would no doubt please this writer’s friend, who griped to no end about the lackluster performance of his borrowed 2019 Crosstrek following a recent family road trip. Torque is not the Crosstrek/Impreza’s strong suit, but it’s hard to deny the model’s attributes.

And so the latest crop of Subaru dog ads target the sympathetic, youthful, puppy-loving Crosstrek intender, with one spot showing the life of a dog, as well as that of its owner (a young woman who doesn’t age) and grumpy, older neighbor (who does). Notice this cute pooch, but also notice our vehicles’ enviable longevity, the ad compels viewers.

While it would seem the Crosstrek’s headiest days are behind it, the overall brand isn’t hurting one bit. Despite a general cooling trend in the West, last month was the best-ever July for Subaru, with the brand posting a year-over-year sales increase of 7.9 percent. Year to date, Subaru sales in the U.S. are up 5.6 percent on the strength of the venerable, redesigned-for-2020 Outback (up 4.7 percent YTD) and redesigned-for-2019 Forester (up 8.5 percent YTD). Neither revamped model strayed far from their well-regarded predecessors.

Add to that the volume brought in by the midsize Ascent crossover. Hitting lots for the first time in June of 2018, the three-row Ascent is a boon for the brand’s coffers, offering customer plenty of interior content and quality, a pleasing exterior, and an overly boosted steering feel that unnerved your author. Sales have stabilized in the 7,000-per-month range.

Thanks to these new or improved crossovers, Subaru is able to compensate for the sales decreases afflicting passenger car (and passenger car adjacent) models like the Impreza, Legacy, and Crosstrek. The brand’s timing is good; were it not, there’d be no bragging about a ridiculous 92 consecutive months of year-over-year sales increases.

[Images: Subaru]

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48 Comments on “Dogs Go to Work As the Subaru Crosstrek Seemingly Passes Its Peak...”


  • avatar
    Fred

    I see that MB now has a dog in their commercials and for us old timers there is always Cal Worthington and his dog Spot.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    I hate this marketing nonsense. Show what the car can do differently. Everything in that ad could have been done with a 2020 Porsche Panamera or a 1974 Volkswagen Thing.
    To me if a car company has to rely on gimmicks (cuteness, sex, societal issues etc) it means they have nothing of value to offer compared to their competitor, otherwise they would capitalize on that and make it plainly obvious.
    I liked the few Subaru cars we owned (Impreza wagon, Forester XT, Legacy wagon) but this recent image they are chasing does nothing for me.

    • 0 avatar
      jh26036

      This is why you would fail in marketing.

      The car itself is mostly meaningless to the buyers. They buy into a brand, a lifestyle, an image. Every car can basically do everything for everybody. How do you set yourself apart from everyone else? You hit them right in the feels. Dogs apparently work really well. So does silly commercials about their cars crashing really well and your teenager won’t die.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Must be the demographic but Crosstrek is one of the most accident prone vehicles today.

    “…accidents had indeed affected some 13.64% of all models on the road today. In the case of the Crosstrek, the number was 25.81%. USAToday

  • avatar
    WalthamDan

    The Crosstrek doesn’t need dogs. It needs some ponies!

    Give it some power Subaru. It’s a good looking vehicle, rightsized for many. Just a ‘dog’ to drive at times.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    We had a Crosstrek as a service loaner for a week, and even my Subaru-uber-loyal stepson was unimpressed. The transmission is just flat out weird feeling, coming to a stop almost feels like regenerative braking. Interior materials were ridiculously cheap.

    Visibility is good – points for that – it’s easy to drive – definitely would make a good urban runabout. I’d hate to have to drive a Crosstrek 500 miles in a day.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    There’s a lot more competition in this category then there was a few years ago. I would much rather have a Renegade then this

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Renegade is sweet. Of course, I only talk of MT models. Unfortunate for renegade, it has as many Cons and Pros. If it would have only 1 or 2 cons, it would be sitting on my driveway. It is definitely better assembled than JGS, that much I know for sure.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    People need to crash more of them. Then replace with a new one.

    These are really popular in the northwest.

    Maybe most Subaru people got their 2nd gen and will now be sitting on them until the head gaskets blow.

    So sales should go back up again in what 7 years or so?

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    I find it amusing that in the space of 7 years, Jalopnik’s articles are now in-depth and informative like how TTAC used to be, and TTAC’s writing is now often snarky and attention grabbing like Jalopnik’s Gawkwer era. Whod’a thunk.

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      That’s because all the snarky geniuses are employed by TTAC. They think they exude intelligence and worldly knowledge. The editor appears to be in charge of S eff A, grabs most of the new car intro trips and his subsequent “reviews” feature ZERO bite or insight, the most BORING writing out there. Look at the useless Lexus ES review today. Did anyone need a trip to write that pile of uselessness?

      Torstar owns this outfit, having bought out Verticalscope who scooted for the horizon with the loot from this and its other 200 titles, and is losing money hand over fist. Thus this place is now mostly amateur and grandad-with-pipe-and-slippers-hour. A travesty of its original mission. No insights can be found here except for the occasional guest writers like that ex-Chrysler engineer recently.

      No authority whatsoever issues from TTAC. I occasionally visit Jalopnik for their reviews of cars; they are in a much higher league, I agree.

      Oh well, it’s free so I glance over the offerings here now and then, and take in some things if they’re worth it. There’s less and less of that. What a downer of a place it’s getting to be.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        You get what you pay for here. But the comments can be fun!

      • 0 avatar
        JoeBrick

        @conundrum- Why do you read the website if you don’t find it interesting ? I don’t care about some of the subjects occasionally, but most of the time, I find new info and funny comments here, even good writing. I’m just easier to please, I guess. Glad I’m not like you. No offense.

    • 0 avatar

      I most cases I do not read articles themselves because already red news including Jalopnik on my cell phone. So I proceed directly to comments and do not read them all either.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    For a while the Crosstrek was the trendy thing in this Subaru-crazy town. But maybe now the customers are figuring out what I thought all along: the Forester is a much better value and a more compelling package. You pay only a little more money in real-world prices, and you get way more interior room and a more satisfying 2.5L powertrain.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    ” but it’s hard to deny the model’s attributes.”

    And what are they exactly? Personally, having driven the first gen, the new Impreza and the second gen Crossdrek, I cannot say I found a single one as a car enthusiast. Nothing says “Drive me!” Quite the opposite. For those with their minds out of gear and hyped-up by blue PR skies and naughty little doggies, “Noooo Freddie, don’t pee there, baaad boy!”, Subarus are wunnerful. It’s like finding an Airbnb that allows pets, like your comfort alpaca you just flew in with on Southwest. Freedom.

    The extended family has a new Impreza hatch as the discerning buyer figured the Crosstrek was the same, just up on stilts. Call it native cunning – I figure compared to 95% of the dopes I meet it amounts to unusual intelligence. Their 2014 Impreza was written off by a T-boning RAM, but it at least kept away any serious injury barring six weeks of bad bruising recovery. The dog doesn’t like the new smaller hatch side window because it has to crane to peek out. So Subaru got that “feature” wrong and I bet they’ll keep it a secret.

    • 0 avatar
      quaquaqua

      Okay, I think somewhere in this pile of unconnected nonsense is the question “why do people buy safe and comfortable cars that bore me” and it’s because…most people want safe and comfortable cars. Very few cars are fun for enthusiasts. Just look at every single comment here about a Subaru, or a Nissan, or a Toyota, or a Chevy, or a Volvo….etc. etc. etc. This isn’t anything new, dude.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Love the dogs, but laughed at the “97% still on road in ten years”…with explosive year after year growth, the bulk of those cars on the road are 5 years old or newer…wonder what the data would look like if they had flat sales for a decade….nowhere near 97% it is safe to say.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      Hmm. Dunno about that. There are a number of 15-to-20 year-old Foresters running around my parts. They’re not quite as shiny as when new. But, other than that, they appear to be soldiering along quite well.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I don’t doubt that at all. Then again the same could be said about my 27 year old Sable. All outliers. I’ve seen plenty of old Subies around – many perforated but still running. But still no way. If they advertised that 97% of 10 year old Subarus are still on the road, now that would be impressive.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          Subaru Sales

          2018 680.135 3,92%
          2017 647.956 3,76%
          2016 615.132 3,51%
          2015 582.675 3,34%
          2014 513.693 3,11%
          2013 424.683 2,73%
          2012 336.441 2,32%
          2011 266.989 2,09%
          2010 263.820 2,28%
          2009 216.652 2,08%
          2008 187.699

          Like I said, heavily front loaded.

          • 0 avatar

            It looks like medium term junk bond fund. So if you invested $287,699 in Subaru in 2008 Subaru it would become $680,135 in 2018 – impressive steady growth. And if it is in Roth IRA it is also tax free.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      golden2husky

      Just means people who put a lot of miles on their vehicles don’t choose Subaru’s.

  • avatar

    I am a cat person so do not care about Subaru. Does anyone know are there cat-centric brands around.

  • avatar
    gottacook

    Anyone else notice that the second photo shows a first-gen Crosstrek, not the current one?

    True, the Forester is a wiser choice for similar money, but the Impreza still offers a stick (although with a smaller motor) and the Forester doesn’t. (Originally – 1997 to 2008 – the Forester was merely an Impreza wagon with a boxier, more useful body, larger tire size, and nicer dashboard and interior trim.)

  • avatar
    teddyc73

    I still contend Subarus sell because of their trendy outdoor folksy marketing and because people think their vehicles some how transcend all other vehicles in some way. Talk to any Subaru fan boy and they put these cars on a pedestal (of course Hyundai/Kia fan boys do the same thing). Subarus are really no different than any other vehicle but for some reason people think they far superior.

  • avatar
    analogman

    Having a Crosstrek in our family (my wife’s car), I’ll offer a different view based on actual ownership experience. This is not an exciting car for enthusiast, but it is an excellent car for a non-gearhead.

    Yes, the CVT is unspeakably awful if you’re a car enthusiast. Even though it has some fake ‘shift points’, it still has the the same rubber bands stretching feel they all do. But other than that, we’ve found it to be a pretty impressive car.

    I’m a gearhead and have owned well over 100 cars in 47 years of driving, and am also a retired engineer. Potential head gasket lifespan aside, to me the Crosstrek seems better built than its competitors. We looked at every small CUV/tall station wagon on the market for my wife, and this one stood out head and shoulders above the rest.

    It has a solid, well-built, competent feel most of the usual suspects didn’t. Interior quality in any car of course depends on the trim level, and in the higher end ‘Limited’, I find it to likewise be above average. There is attention to small details inside that you won’t notice unless you’re an obsessive-compulsive-anal-retentive-hypercritical-perfectionist like I am, but that stand out against the competition. Such as, the quality of the stitching on the seats, the design of the gasketing around the doors, accessibility in the engine compartment, and general ergonomics.

    The CVT further saps any pretense of ‘performance’ from the car, but the power is ‘adequate’ for a non-enthusiast driver. On long trips we routinely see 35-36 mpg cruising at 65-70-ish mph.

    My sister in law was so impressed with it after one drive that she went out and traded her Kia Sorrento for her own Crosstrek (bless her heart she got a manual, which dramatically improves the enthusiast appeal). I was so impressed with the design, engineering, and build quality of the Crosstrek that I went out and bought a WRX for myself.

    If you’re on this site then by definition you’re an enthusiast and different from most car buyers/drivers out there. The Crosstrek is targeted to those who probably don’t read TTAC or Jalopnik. As much as we’d love for every car to be a passionate drive, most driver’s don’t care (like my wife), and the car companies build cars for the majority of the market, not the minority (no matter how passionate we might be). A Crosstrek with a CVT is definitely not something to warm the cockles of an enthusiast’s heart. But for a solid feeling, comfortable car for everyday use, it’s pretty nice. With a stick, it’s even better (how many manufacturers even offer a stick anymore, especially in a car like this?).

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      Analogman – As you say, this is not a vehicle for “enthusiasts” (whatever that means on this site – mostly folks disparage certain makes/models if they don’t conform to the posters on their basement wall). But many of these are sold to “non-enthusiasts” much as the VW Type 1’s were many years ago because they are competent, well built, and economical to operate (and similarly suffer from lower levels of power) and do the things required by their owners well. And Subaru continues to quickly sell everything they manufacture because of this. As for the “deadly head gasket issue”, my new ’70 Beetle also had this issue (as well as many folks who purchased ’68 thru ’71 Type 1’s) at around 45k miles – VW changed the composition of the alloy in the crankcase halves which allowed the head studs to loosen and required Helicoil inserts to correct. Subaru has had virtually no issues with head gaskets since 2010. Very nice write-up but HERESY on this site. LOL!

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