Hello from sunny Southern California. You may notice a later-than-usual posting schedule today and tomorrow as we work our way through the LA Auto Show -- we're sorta working on West Coast time.
Which brings me to the QOTD -- what debut from this show has you perking up?
The 2022 Los Angeles Auto Show media is about two weeks away. For the most part, there hasn't been a lot of news leaking about planned debuts, though we know Ram has plans for the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, instead. That said, Subaru has dropped a teaser of the next Impreza.
The Alcan 5000 Rally might not be what you think of when you think of rallying a car. It’s not an event chocked full of sideways-sliding Subarus or overpowered hatchbacks catching air over hills as hundreds of fans gaze as rabid drivers hurtle through the woods in search of the fastest stage of a gravel rally.
It’s been nearly three years since The Grand Tour switched its format away from the elaborate traveling tent and to its all-special format. On Friday, Amazon released the fifth such special, and the first “post pandemic” episode (their term, not mine). In “A Scandi Flick,” the familiar trio heads across Scandinavia in three rally-inspired all-wheel drive sedans. It’s certainly not the show’s worst work, but it’s far from the best. You’ll need to suspend disbelief and leave your thinking skills in another room.
Subaru will launch an updated Crosstrek in the United States next year and showcased the Japanese model on Thursday to whet our appetites.
Though nobody at the company seems overly eager to reinvent a model offering such enviable sales figures. Most of the changes seem to be aesthetic in nature, with the exterior seeing some new creases – resulting in a more complicated and pleasing overall shape. There’s also been an increase in the number of plastic panels used on the vehicle’s exterior. However, this doesn’t look as disagreeable as it sounds.
The General began selling the Suzuki Cultus hatchback with Chevrolet Sprint badges here starting in the 1985 model year, with the later versions becoming the Geo/ Chevrolet Metro. Even though gasoline prices had crashed during the middle 1980s, the three-cylinder Sprint sold well enough that Subaru decided to bring their tiny three-cylinder car to our shores. This was the Justy, and I’ve found this ’90 in a self-service yard in Subaru-crazed Denver.
When Subaru announced the latest WRX sedan, it was made perfectly clear that it would arrive without the high-performance STI variant metaphorically in tow. After attempting to push performance versions of the Impreza sedan into becoming their own thing for years, the 2022 model year saw the WRX jumping onto the Subaru Global Platform. This resulted in a more mainstream vehicle we assumed would need additional time in the relevant skunkworks garage before it could reemerge as the aggressive, rally-inspired, no-nonsense WRX STI.
But Subaru is now saying that there won’t be an STI for this generation. According to the manufacturer, “future sports and performance cars should evolve to meet the needs of the changing marketplace and the regulations and requirements for greenhouse gasses (GHG), zero emissions vehicles (ZEV), and Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE).”
Subaru hasn’t sold the WRX as a wagon since 2015. While fans have been clamoring for its return ever since, the automaker’s willingness to play along hasn’t gotten much further than its Viziv concept vehicles.
But that doesn’t mean other markets have to do without. The manufacturer is currently prepping the 2022 WRX Sportwagon for the Australian market. Though it’s difficult to be broken up about it being trapped in the land down under, considering it’s going to be offered exclusively with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
One great thing about living in Colorado, where new residents are issued a dog and a Subaru when they arrive, is that I can find examples of just about every Subaru model sold here since the late 1970s in the local car graveyards. That means that I have plenty of opportunities to observe the gloriously weird SVX, once its street days are finished.
In our last edition of Buy/Drive/Burn, we considered the Mazda Protegé, Mitsubishi Mirage, and Subaru Impreza sedans from 1998. Most of you preferred the Protegé as your Buy of the three. Today we fast forward to the same offerings in 2008, and see if things shake out differently.
Toyota has announced pricing for the 2022 GR86, with the Hachiroku receiving an MSRP of $27,700 before destination. That’s $295 cheaper than the nearly identical Subaru BRZ. Though, when you’re effectively building a sports coupe that has a literal clone of itself on sale across the street, every tiny advantage suddenly becomes relevant.
While a couple of hundred bucks aren’t likely to sway someone holding any amount of brand loyalty, it could become the deciding factor for interested parties who see the Toyobaru Twins as otherwise identical. The problem is that they actually do have distinctive personalities, despite still being overwhelmingly similar at their core, and the price difference shrinks even more once you accounted for each manufacturer’s delivery fees.
Tim asked the other day if I might work up an opinion piece on the current state of Subaru. “Sure,” I said, and immediately felt salty. In mind were many criticisms on how the smallish automaker is doing things currently. After that initial salty reaction, I got to thinking about Subaru’s current offerings and recent trajectory more critically. And I realized they’re doing most everything just as they should.
The 2021 Subaru Crosstrek isn’t changed much, and that’s almost certainly a good thing for Subie.
After all, the Crosstrek, like other Subaru products, is popular with the brand faithful because of its utility abilities. So it behooves Subaru not to screw with it too much.
By the second half of the 1980s, Subaru had moved beyond being known only for tiny, hilarious econoboxes. While American Subaru shoppers could still get front-wheel-drive cheapmobiles at that time, the same showrooms also offered futuristic-looking s ports cars and four-wheel-drive family wagons loaded with luxury features. Today’s Junkyard Find is the swankiest Subaru wagon money could buy in 1987 North America: a GL-10 4WD Turbo, found in a Denver car graveyard last summer.
Today’s update on the global semiconductor shortage involves Subaru, which recently announced that it would be suspending production at its plant in Indiana. Lafayette’s Subaru of Indiana Automotive (SIA) will be idled through the end of April while the automaker waits for suppliers to catch up. It’s a situation we’ve seen numerous manufacturers forced into this year, with Ford arguably being the most relevant for the North American market.
Subaru’s Outback has long been a standard-bearer for wagons. The addition of the Onyx Edition XT trim level for 2020 won’t change that.
Really, that’s the big news, and I don’t mean that sarcastically. While minor trim-level additions and changes sometimes seem so minor as to not be worth a review, this one is.
When the 2022 Subaru BRZ debuted last year, our general impression was that the second-generation coupe didn’t appear all that different from the original. While excellent news for those seeking a well-balanced, lightweight sports car that can be driven aggressively on public roads or serve as a solid foundation for any number of track-focused build projects, the manufacturer decided against throwing out curveballs. The car’s purpose remains unchanged, it’s just been remade into a better version of itself. But the BRZ’s fraternal twin, the Toyota GR 86, had a few more weeks in development with President Akio Toyoda rumored to have been pushing for modifications that would help differentiate the two models — much like the automaker did with the similarly related Toyota Supra and BMW Z4.
While limited to the same hardware as the Subaru, Toyota is claiming the new GR 86 makes a tad more horsepower and is hinting it could be the more serious sporting machine. Both of those claims remain unverified and, if the duo is anything like their first-generation, deciding which is the faster 2+2 car will have almost everything to do with which rubber is on the wheels and who’s been placed into the driver’s seat. But the pilot will have an alleged advantage of 4 horsepower in the 86, forcing the BRZ to bring in Subaru Tecnica International (STI) aboard to offer some enhancements of its own.
Subaru is adding a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder to the Forester. Great news if you were verklempt over the discontinuation of the 250-horsepower turbo-four after 2019.
And if you live in Japan.
It hasn’t been a normal year, and all the plans you and I and even Subaru had for 2020 have more or less fallen flat. This year will not see the Japanese automaker grow its volume over 2019 levels. Targets set in the Before Times will not be met.
So why worry? Celebrate what you got.
That’s what Subaru did after tabulating its August sales tally, noting that the figure — representing a year-over-year loss of 17 percent — was actually its best showing so far this year. And once again, Subaru brass north of the border didn’t have to pretend.
Apparently not quite done with monthly sales reporting, Subaru produced two very different tallies for its U.S. and Canadian arms in July. Known for being able to build just as many vehicles as it can sell, the automaker habitually carries one of the slimmest inventories in the industry — and the pandemic didn’t help things on that front.
Domestic factories have been up and running since May, lessening the strain on both dealers and sales sheets, but normalcy remains out of reach for certain industry players. And that group includes Subaru. In the U.S., volume was down nearly 20 percent last month, but north of the border it was an entirely different story.
I last gave an update on the vehicles which occupy my drive back in February. At the time, the Volkswagen’s roof rattle issues had (finally) been corrected and I was all ready for a quick sale of my Subaru Outback. But said quick sale was interrupted by a few different issues, both local and global.
Uncertain Times for car sales, eh?
After a streak of 11 consecutive years of U.S. sales growth for Subaru, a period in which the brand doubled its market share to 4.1 percent, “We’ll start a new streak next year,” the brand’s U.S. CEO Tom Doll says of 2020.
At any other point in history, the declines reported by Subaru over the last few months would be calamitous. Yet Subaru’s year-over-year losses in 2020, a year torn to shreds by COVID-19, have not been as severe as anticipated. Moreover, bright spots have been more numerous than expected.
The company, as a result, is now planning for 2020 to end as the brand’s sixth-best on record.
Subaru has a dual reputation. Car people know it as the company that gives us WRX and STi (and a good chunk of the BRZ/Toyota FT 86 partnership), while the rest of the world thinks of the brand as one that puts out a lot of wagon-esque crossovers that appeal to granola types, academics, and families that prioritize safety but aren’t in a Volvo tax bracket.
The Forester Touring definitely fits in to that latter stereotype. And that’s not a pejorative – it’s okay to embrace what one does best.
For the Forester, that means serving as a solid if not spectacular commuting wagon that’s road-trip ready.
TTAC’s a great place to share car search stories (particularly for used cars), and I’ve taken advantage of this soapbox on a couple of distinct occasions when looking to replace one of my close personal rides with something else. I’ve gathered you all here today because that time has come once again.
The Subaru Outback is going to glide off into the fall sunset, and soon.
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.
Subaru started its first full decade in North America in the Seventies, where it sold the microscopic rear-engined 360. By the Eighties the company had found its niche among crunchy granola types and professors with four-wheel drive wagons like the GL. But Subaru wanted more; specifically customers with more money. Enter the XT.
For the past couple of weeks, Wednesday’s QOTD posts have asked a simple question: What was the most overpriced non-luxury vehicle of a given period of time? The first inquiry dealt only with 2019 vehicles, and last week we covered the 2000s — where I picked on the overpriced, retro Ford Thunderbird. Many of you thought I was wrong (I wasn’t). Today, we’ll head back to the decade we all like to discuss — the one that’s popular right now with youths.
It is, of course, the 1990s. I’m already wearing my blazer and shoulder pads.
Recently, I’ve shared musings about selling my old Infiniti, as well as the coupe or sedan options pegged to replace it. You readers had your helpful hearts in the right place, with funny suggestions of Challenger, Charger, and Mustang. A couple of weeks have elapsed since then, and there have been developments. Let’s chat.
Approaching my Ascent tester behind a not-so-local dealer, I felt a presence. Like a pre-war bank, this thing was solid, monolithic, immovable, looming over all of humanity and granting entry to only a choice few. Given the profit Subaru’s going to make off these things, it’s not an inaccurate comparison.
The last Subaru I drove was an Impreza. Not a WRX or its hotter sister, but a stock Impreza sedan. You don’t see many of them. Before that, it was a Crosstrek. Or was it a Forester? No matter, really. Before that, it was a friend’s short-lived SVX, some 16 or so years ago.
Compared to those compact rides, the midsize Ascent crossover is like the HMS Dreadnought moored alongside a torpedo boat, and that’s exactly what Americans — or what Subaru thinks Americans — want. Thankfully, having found myself behind the wheel of a great number of crossovers of late, the Ascent at least held some quirks to set itself apart.
Subaru landed on these shores with a raft of cars and totally-not-trucks (thanks, Chicken Tax) that were certainly capable when shown a rough road but were, in a word, quirky. Since then, the Pleiades brand has filtered out some of its weirdness in an attempt to capture more customers but – as we will learn – still marches to the beat of its own drummer … or at least to the beat of a flat-four.
What’s changed since our first drive of the Ascent eight and a half months ago? Anything? Did the big Subie acquit itself well during the Polar Vortex? Does our Associate Editor wear army boots?
Living in Colorado, I see so many discarded Subarus during my junkyard explorations that it takes a very unusual one to make me reach for my camera. An SVX might do it (though not always), or maybe a BRAT (again, not always), or perhaps a Subaru with Saab badges. A really early Subaru, from the Malaise Era days when few Americans took the brand seriously — I think that’s always worth shooting.
Here’s a first-generation Leone that I had to go all the way to Northern California to find.
Subaru is recalling nearly 229,000 late-model vehicles over an issue that could result in vehicles unexpectedly stalling. While this is a very different issue from October’s recall notice, which dealt with roughly 400,000 vehicles globally, both could leave you stranded on the side of the road.
The new recall involves software gremlins inside the 2018 Outback and Legacy. According to the NHTSA’s report, the low-fuel warning light may not issue a warning at the appropriate fuel level. Likewise, the anticipated range may overestimate the number of miles you have left before needing to refuel. This could elevate the risk of a crash in certain situations, but the most likely outcome is the vehicle sputtering before you’ve had the chance to gas up.
Until this model year, the Subaru Forester was a homely-looking beast, eminently practical but always looking like that kid in grade school whose slacks were too short. With its narrow body and tip-toe stance, the old Forester had the appearance of its pants cuffs stopping well above its ankles.
Subaru has fixed this for 2019, creating a crossover that doesn’t appear as if it’s about to get stuffed into a locker. The price has been kept at bay, too.
Monday brought an ever-increasing barrage of Facebook and Twitter posts on the importance of voting from your obnoxious friends and family, but it also brought us this interesting tidbit from Japan.
The TC 380, which sounds like the name of a Brazilian pocket pistol, is actually a Subaru — one you won’t be able to find in American dealerships, apparently, but one you could probably build yourself.
As Troubles At Home Hit Subaru's Bottom Line, Americans Do Their Duty and Hand the Brand Another Record
Subaru reported an operating loss in its most recent fiscal quarter, with recalls and regulatory scandals in its home market dragging the company into the red. The company said it lost $22 million in the quarter ending September 30th, a departure from last year’s $816.3 million operating profit. Meanwhile, global volume fell 6 percent.
In the company’s largest market — the United States — it was an entirely different scenario, with American buyers conspiring to give the brand its 83rd consecutive year-over-year sales increase. A record for October, too, but that’s sort of a given. Very nice of those buyers, but the credit really belongs to the Ascent crossover.
The defunct Scion brand isn’t done making headlines, it seems. The rear-drive FR-S 2+2 sport coupe is among a number of vehicles — mainly Subarus — recalled over valve springs that could break, leading to serious engine damage.
In total, some 400,000 vehicles built between 2012 and 2013 are included in the recall; among them, Subaru BRZs, Foresters, and Imprezas. The Japanese-market Toyota 86 and North American-market Scion FR-S, twins of the BRZ, feature the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder.
Operating in a higher price spectrum and with Subaru’s typically tight grip on the incentive account, there’s no telling what the new Ascent is doing for Subaru’s bottom line. But as Subaru conservatively predicted, the Ascent isn’t generating much in the way of greater sales activity inside Subaru showrooms.
Instead, the Ascent is growing Subaru’s volume by the leanest of margins, in part because it’s by no means a segment leader in sales; partly because nearly all of Subaru’s other models are suffering significant sales slowdowns.
Fortunately for Subaru, the Ascent is now selling at the approximate pace Subaru had forecasted. But it appears to be doing so at the expense of other Subarus.
U.S. auto sales took a roughly 7 percent year-over-year dive in September, pulling the market’s year-to-date sales total further in the red. The industry-wide sales gain seen in the first half of the year is gone.
At Subaru, however, good timing and the continued popularity of a certain model kept the automaker from joining the ranks of its rivals (a group that does not include a beaming Fiat Chrysler). The automaker somehow managed to pull off a win in a dismal month, and it’s still up on a year-to-date basis, despite having so many minuses on its sales ledger.
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- MelanieRichardson GOOD
- El scotto @jwee; Sir, a great many of us believe that Musk is somewhere (pretty high) on the spectrum and move on.I work on the fringes of IT. Most of my presentations get picked over extensively and intensely at meetings. I'm smart enough to know I'm not that smart and willingly take advice from the IT crew. I bring them Duck Doughnuts too. We also keep a box of Crayolas in the meeting room.At one meeting an IT guy got way into the details of my presentation, the meeting went long as we discussed my target audience. Same IT guy insisted it was a disaster and would fail miserable and that I was stupid. Yeah, F-boms get dropped at our meetings. I finally had enough and asked if he was such an expert, did he want to stand up in front of 30 senior executives and give the presentation? His response was a flat "NO". He got the box of Crayolas. For you non-military types that means shut up and color. Musk is the same as that IT guy, lots of gyrations but not much on follow-through. Someone just needs to hand him a box of Crayolas.
- FreedMike The FJ Cruiser would be a better comeback candidate. The gang back at Toyota HQ must be looking at all those Broncos flying off Ford lots and kicking themselves.
- Tassos 2015 was only 7 years ago. $58k is still a whole lot of $ to pay for a vehicle. FOrtunately one can buy a flagship vehicle with great active and passive safety for half this amount, if one does the SMART thing and buys a pre-owned luxury flagship vehicle. they have historically been SCREAMING BARGAINS. A breadvan on stilts SUV, wether the more compact Macan or the more bloated Cayenne will never pass as a Flagship Vehicle. No matter how well it drives or how reliable it suprisingly is. It still is a breadvan on stilts.
- Sean Ohsee Bring back the 100 series and its I6 diesel.