Toyota Evidently Expects the All-wheel-drive Toyota Camry to Be Far More Popular Than the Subaru Legacy
In a shrinking U.S. midsize sedan market, Toyota’s slice of the pie is the biggest. In fact, despite its own year-over-year decline in 2019, the Toyota Camry’s slice of the U.S. midsize market actually increased to 25 percent last year because its decline was comparatively modest.
Now Toyota has its sights set on a corner of the midsize car market the brand has left uncontested for nearly three decades. Not since the Gulf War (no, not that one; this one) has Toyota fielded an all-wheel-drive Camry in the United States. And just as Toyota exerts its control in the overarching midsize car segment with a heavy hand, the automaker expects to do the same in the all-wheel-drive sub-segment of the same category.
Toyota has designs on 50,000 annual Camry AWD sales in the United States.
Oh, Subaru Legacy, where doth Toyota’s success leave thee? In the shadows.
Subaru has been on something of a tear lately, cashing in on the crossover craze and ringing up ledgers full of sales. In fact, as of July this year, the company can boast of 92 consecutive months of year-over-year growth. That month was also the second best in Subaru history, just 435 units off its best month ever, recorded in December of last year.
For 2020, the Exploding Galaxy has paid attention to its Legacy sedan, imbuing it with fresh styling and all manner of safety features. Despite these advances, this big car still bears a base price of just $22,745. And, yes, all-wheel drive is standard.
Subaru is upping the starting prices of the redesigned 2020 Outback crossover and Legacy sedan by a rather modest amount. The automaker was even confident enough to list the hikes in its own press release, when the industry standard is to simply announce the new MSRP and hope nobody bothers to check what last year’s model went for.
The 2020 Outback will start at $27,655 while the Legacy will begin at $23,645. According to Subaru, that’s an increase of $300 and $200, respectively — though the actual difference over last year’s models is a few bucks higher. Just negotiate a full tank of gas or a handful of air fresheners at the dealership if you feel you’re being slighted.
Chicago has proven a sleepy show for news for quite some time now.
This year, however, there was a hint of something stirring. While there still wasn’t a wealth of product news, there was more than normal — and most of it didn’t involve minor trim changes (okay, some of it did).
I wandered the halls at massive McCormick Place last week to take in what was a busier show than normal. Starting with Subaru, here’s my “hot takes” about what I saw on the show floor. Just for the hell of it, let’s embrace a grading gimmick.
The 2020 Subaru Legacy made its debut at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show on Thursday. While most casual observers will probably assume the model has undergone a mild visual refresh, what’s actually on display is an entirely new vehicle.
Whereas previous incarnations of the Legacy provided more of an upscale WRX experience, the outgoing sixth generation saw the car fitted with a livable continuously variable transmission and engine options that moved it away from anything that could be described as truly sporting. Fortunately, Subaru is attempting to remedy that for the 2020 model year.
Few automakers can boast of 85 consecutive months of yearly month-over-month growth, but that’s exactly what Subaru did as the calendar turned from 2018 to 2019. Still, despite the automaker’s impressive performance in the United States, not every model in Subaru’s lineup is a sales stud. There’s always a problem child or two.
As American buyers drain from the passenger car market, Subaru plans to make a pitch for the non-traditional traditional car, unveiling a next-generation 2020 Legacy at next week’s Chicago Auto Show. By the way, you should wish the Legacy a happy birthday today.
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.
What does an automaker do after the company’s three-year-old midsize sedan — the only midsize sedan with standard all-wheel drive — is slightly upgraded for 2018?
It initiates a new marketing campaign. And what must that marketing campaign entail when the car is chronically unpopular and suffering from sharp sales declines in a shrinking category? It must utilize a catchy, attention-grabbing slogan.
Thus, for 2018, Subaru gives us the rebirth of a tagline: sport utility sedan.
Only this time, unlike 1998, the Legacy SUS isn’t lifted, it doesn’t wear two-tone cladding, its tires’ lettering won’t be emboldened by white font. The 2018 Subaru Legacy Sport Utility Sedan is just a Legacy.
The blower motor in my WRX seemed to be getting louder by the day and, while adding an insulation panel seemed to help, I still wasn’t satisfied. The noise was intermittent, making it hard to reproduce, though a tech working at my local dealer discovered a technical service bulletin and offered to replace it while the warranty was still in effect.
So, I scheduled an appointment to drop the car off to replace the blower motor and perform a technical service bulletin to resolve my squeaky clutch pedal issues. Because they needed time to get some extra parts in, I was told I’d be given a loaner for a few days. I dropped the WRX off and expected to walk out to a base Impreza, but was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a plush Legacy 2.5i Limited.
“Stepping up to a midsize is basically a no-brainer for buyers at this point,” CarsDirect’s senior price analyst Alex Bernstein tells TTAC.
With demand for midsize sedans drying up, deals on aging models are warming up.
Now in its sixth model year, the 2017 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T S — the entry-level Passat — is available in June for a 36-month lease at $189 per month and $1,999 due at signing.
The 2017 Honda Accord, a new version of which is due later this year, is also available in June in basic LX trim on the same terms.
Meanwhile, the mid-grade 2017 Toyota Camry SE 2.5, set to be replaced in the coming months by an all-new model, is likewise available in June for $189 per month with $1,999 down over 36 months.
“This is about as cheap as lease deals have ever been on these midsize sedans,” Bernstein says. But it actually gets even cheaper, marginally cheaper, according to CarsDirect’s examination of 500 lease deals.
Subaru has refreshed its Legacy for 2018 and the updated sedan will make its debut at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show.
It’s tough to spot all the 2018 Subaru Legacy’s updates, but the Japanese automaker assures us they exist. Subaru has revised the Legacy’s sheetmetal, front and rear, for a sportier appearance, while upgrading the interior with more premium materials. Subaru’s engineers have also focused on making the Legacy’s ride smoother and quieter.
TTAC commentator Patrickj writes:
Sajeev, an update:
My 2006 Ford Freestyle that started this series has been traded in after 184,000 miles. It’s replacement is a 2015 Subaru Legacy, so I guess I wasn’t scared off by the CVT.
The reason for getting the Subaru is mostly because of the second A/C failure of the summer in the Freestyle, though it also needed four struts, assorted bushings, and a steering shaft (u-joints doing a weird stick-slip thing). CVT and engine have been been fine to the end, with only two transmission fluid changes.
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