By on March 1, 2019

Expanding by leaps and bounds in the new millennium, Subaru effectively quadrupled its share of the U.S. market in the process. However, most of its production growth occurred in the last decade — leading to quality control problems unbefitting for a company that prides itself in sharing the same love as its customers.

Recalls are to be expected. No automaker can escape faulty components forever. But the frequency and scope of Subaru’s recalls (and scandals) over the past few years are especially bothersome, as they hint at an inability to catch mistakes, or perhaps a willingness to cut corners, as the company’s production volume targets the stratosphere. A new recall looming on the horizon will probably be the company’s largest to date.  (Read More…)

By on October 18, 2018

Three hatchbacks from 2010 (we might call them crossovers today), all of them about to disappear for various reasons. All three promise utility for their owners, and all provide four driven wheels. Thinking with your 2010 hat, which one do you take home?

(Read More…)

By on May 22, 2018

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.  (Read More…)

By on December 12, 2017

2017 Nissan Sentra NISMO – Image: Nissan USA

I often joke that not only are we all destined to buy a crossover in the near future, we’ll one day become crossovers. Oh, how the TTAC guys laugh…

Still, it’s hard to avoid the crossovers-are-replacing-cars narrative, as it isn’t some far-out theory — it’s a cold, hard reality. Crossover and SUV market share grows each year as buyers abandon traditional passenger cars in favor of a vehicle that does everything at least marginally.

That said, not every model faces the same rate of abandonment. Certain cars — through a hazy combination of performance, value, nameplate recognition, and other, more nebulous factors — haven’t yet been dropped off on the front steps of the orphanage by their once-loving guardians.

Let’s take a look at some surprisingly healthy performers in the non-premium, non-sports car class. Cars that aren’t declining in popularity, as this analysis isn’t about overall volume. Guess what? None of these vehicles are the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord, two models currently locked in a battle for midsize sedan supremacy (and worthy of their own singular coverage).

Hard to believe, we know, but there’s loyalty and desire to be found elsewhere. (Read More…)

By on September 20, 2017

2017 Subaru Impreza sedan and hatch - Image: SubaruThrough the first eight months of 2017, consumers across America have acquired 12 percent fewer new passenger cars than during the first eight months of 2016.

That’s a drop of 565,000 sales, a rate of decline that stands in stark contrast to the U.S. auto industry’s 4-percent year-over-year light truck improvement. Cars now account for just 37 percent of all auto sales, down from more than 50 percent as recently as 2012. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Some auto brands are selling more cars this year than last, and a wide variety of cars are accelerating their sales pace. Subaru, for example, has already sold 17,981 more Imprezas in 2017 than in the same period of 2016.

So we’ve compiled a list of every passenger car that’s making meaningful headway in America’s anti-car market — the cars that are selling more and more often even as many of their competitors suffer under the weight of a pro-F150, pro-RAV4, pro-Escalade ESV wave.

The list is not very long. (Read More…)

By on June 21, 2017

2018 Subaru WRX STI and WRX - Image: Subaru

Even thought Subaru’s new Impreza is already here and riding on the company’s new global platform, an updated WRX appears to be a long way off. In fact, it might be another three years until we see an updated performance sedan from the (mostly) all-wheel-drive automaker.

While the current incarnations of the WRX and its hotter STI variant still provide balanced dynamics and remain well liked by driving enthusiasts, seven years without a significant upgrade is a long time to wait. (Read More…)

By on May 30, 2017

2017 Subaru Impreza 5-Door, Image: © Timothy Cain

There have been times when Subarus were good enough.

On top of being good enough, these Subarus were equipped with all-wheel drive as standard equipment. As a result, an increasing number of people purchased these Subarus, cars which didn’t excel in very many areas but which featured the all-wheel-drive system deemed so desirable by consumers in certain regions.

To be fair, not all Subarus were sold purely on the merits of being all-wheel-drive cars that were merely good enough in other ways. Forester XTs and WRXs, for example, weren’t simply decent AWD vehicles. Setting aside its desirable AWD system, the Subaru Outback has long been a high-riding wagon in a world largely devoid of high-riding wagons. Subarus have often been blessed with impressive crash test results, as well.

But was the Subaru Impreza — not only way back in first-generation form but even in its fourth iteration from 2011-2016 — an attractive proposition if not for its AWD appeal? Sure, it was good enough, but not by much.

Yet as of the 2017 Subaru Impreza’s launch, as of the arrival of this fifth-generation Impreza, the Subaru Impreza is finally strong enough to stand on its own two feet. Albeit still with four driven wheels. (Read More…)

By on May 25, 2017

2017 Subaru Impreza 5-door – Image: © Timothy Cain

A band is only cool until everybody knows it’s cool.

Subaru, long a niche automaker with unique product offerings and limited geographic appeal, has tripled its U.S. market share over the last decade. Subaru will likely sell more than 650,000 new vehicles in the U.S. this year. The Subaru Outback and Forester are among America’s 12 most popular utility vehicles. And in a shrinking car market, U.S. sales of the Subaru Impreza — a newly launched compact for 2017 — are up 41 percent so far this year.

Subaru just dropped a new, fifth-gen Impreza 5-door in my driveway for a week-long test. It’s quite clearly the best Impreza ever: quiet, refined, solid, sufficiently powerful. The driver’s door armrest is plush. The car itself is — and we’re talking about an Impreza here — quite attractive.

The 2017 Subaru Impreza is, to be frank, normal. It doesn’t sound like a thrummy flat-four is present under the hood. The seating position doesn’t put your hips and feet on the same level. The windows have frames. There are other people driving the same car.

Has Subaru become a mainstream automaker? And if so, has some of Subaru’s appeal been lost? (Read More…)

By on April 7, 2017

subaru emblem logo

Subaru is an automaker known for offering a highly specific brand identity and a quality product, but compelling styling has always been low on its list of priorities. While acknowledging the retro charm of its earliest Japanese models, it can be said that the company has never produced a particularly handsome automobile. The SVX was futuristic and interesting, but it wasn’t overtly sexy. And the visual appeal of the old bug-eye WRX or BRAT hinges entirely upon how oddball they were.

After 63 years in the business, Subaru finally wants to change that and place a stronger emphasis on design. However, despite having the least visually stimulating lineup in recent memory, the company could probably stay the course and still be fine. Subaru has done incredibly well in the United States. Annual U.S. deliveries hovered around 187,000 vehicles from 2002 to 2008 but grew fiercely in the following years. Subaru had a record-breaking 615,132 sales in 2016 and looks prepared to break that record this year.

So, why even bother changing anything when the current recipe works so well? (Read More…)

By on February 13, 2017

2017 Subaru Crosstrek 2.0i Limited

The 2017 Subaru Crosstrek has the bad luck of living in the shadow of a vehicle that doesn’t yet exist. That phantom would be the looming 2018 Crosstrek, which borrows the new-for-2017 Impreza’s modular platform and, no doubt, enough technological, mechanical and appearance upgrades to make the old model look ancient overnight.

So, if you’re stuck living in northern climes and counting pennies is your idea of a thrilling good time, now’s a great time to sit back and wait patiently for a killer deal on the outgoing model. Because, replacement or not, it’s popular for good reason. And no, not just because of Subaru’s newfound status as the go-to conveyor of the nonconformist middle class.

With little changed since its 2013 model year debut, save for the elimination of the “XV” prefix, a minor 2016 facelift, and the disappearance of a short-lived hybrid variant, the Crosstrek enters the last year of its first generation with confidence. This jacked-up Impreza 5-door has a life ahead of it and a fan base behind it. Anyone who questions the reasons for the model’s popularity had best pack their bags, head north, and experience a month where it snowed at least every other day. (Read More…)

By on February 2, 2017

2017 Subaru Impreza Sport Exterior, Image: Subaru

The Impreza has been the oddball of the economy car bunch since its inception, so it’s fitting that Subaru launched the next-generation compact at the unique and peculiar Pantai Inn in La Jolla, California.

The Pantai Inn features rooms decorated with Balinese art and other luxurious features, but those rooms lack some basics, such as digital TV reception and usable electrical outlets. Old Imprezas were similar to the Pantai Inn, with high-value features like all-wheel drive provided as standard, yet missed some staples — like fuel economy.

But this is a different Subaru, and an even more different Impreza, which the company has transformed thanks to its new Subaru Global Platform. The new car is more Kimpton than Pantai, as it still retains unique characteristics — like the aforementioned all-wheel drive — but refocuses on mainline amenities, such as fuel economy and comfort. Additionally, the new platform brings a significant change to how the Impreza drives, which provides a nice preview of what’s to come for the rest of the automaker’s lineup.

(Read More…)

By on November 9, 2016

2017 Subaru Impreza 2.0i

Sometimes a manufacturer churns out a base trim that — all things considered — might just be the primo choice for that particular model. Here’s an example.

A few weeks ago, Ace of Base looked at a base model truck from The General. The thing is, at an instant ramen price point, the compact truck is a rear-drive-only affair. Let’s now imagine a base-model shopper who doesn’t care about payload or bringing home grandfather clocks from estate sales but does want their power shuttled to all four wheels. What to do?

(Read More…)

By on October 19, 2016

2017 Subaru Impreza

Subaru has coughed up how much the all-new 2017 Impreza hatchback and sedan will cost.

The new Subies offer a few surprises in regard to pricing, especially on the higher trims, and a shocking loyalty to the five-speed manual transmission — an increasingly rare beast in the automotive landscape.
(Read More…)

By on March 7, 2016

Subaru Global Platform

Subaru’s next generation of models will ride atop a platform that is stiffer, less prone to body roll and can incorporate a variety of propulsion sources, Motor Authority reports.

The new modular platform will underpin all future Subaru vehicles except the BRZ, starting with the Indiana-built 2017 Impreza.

Besides its adaptability to a range of models, the company says the key selling point of the Subaru Global Platform is a greatly increased stiffness that lends itself to safety and handling.

(Read More…)

By on November 10, 2015

Impreza Sedan Concept h 1110

You saw the Subaru Impreza five-door concept at Tokyo last month. Now, it’s the Impreza Sedan Concept’s time to shine later this month in Los Angeles.

Subaru dropped the above teaser in its press release issued Tuesday. Little else was given about the latest concept beyond its time of arrival, set for the afternoon of November 18.

(Read More…)

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