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Subaru's fortunes sinking - can they turn it around?

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  • mb789mb789 Posts: 89
    A dozen Subaru dealers?? That must be nice! We have two in my area, and they are several miles apart. The next closest one after these is about 30 miles away. I would like to see a couple more in my area.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,661
    From where I live, within roughly a 30 - 40 mile radius, there are about 12 Subie dealers. I'm located between Baltimore and Washington, so I can hit dealers from both metropolitan areas. Within 20 miles, there are about 5 or 6 dealers.

    Bob
  • moparbadmoparbad Posts: 3,842
    I grew up in Sioux City, IA and there is not a Subaru dealer within 70 miles. 85,000 people in the city alone and probably 150,000 in the Siouxland area. No Subaru dealer. No VW dealer.
  • dstew1dstew1 Posts: 275
    From the one in Little Rock, AR, the closest dealerships are one in Memphis and one in Fayetteville, each about 2.5 hours away.

    In total there are only about eight dealerships within a 220 mile radius of Little Rock. That covers about 150,000 square miles - an area the size of Montana, populated by about 7 million people.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,661
    Get away from the large urban centers, and Subie dealers "can be" much harder to find. When you do find one, negotiating a good deal may be much harder, as it's a seller's market, not a buyer's market.

    Bob
  • dstew1dstew1 Posts: 275
    You're right - negotiating in this scarce market is not... uh... "encouraged."

    If you are informed/interested enough to show up at one of the few dealerships, you're obviously not there by accident. When you walk in the door, they know you want their product, otherwise you wouldn't have passed by the dozens of Ford/Toyota dealerships just to come to their tiny showroom. So you want a product they sell, and they are the only supplier of that product for several hours around. This scenario definitely gives the dealerships the advantage when it comes to "negotiations."
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 28,017
    That's not unusual for Arkansas... I think you would find the same concentration of BMW dealers.

    MODERATOR
    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    OK, good point, you got me. :D

    My guess is the worst place to get a deal on a Subaru is....Alaska. I think they have 2 dealers in the whole state. People drive down to Seattle to buy one at a reasonable price.

    If we go outside the US, Canada is even worse. Subarus are priced higher vis-a-vis the competition. Then again, they also get more content - like heated seats on just about everything.

    However....

    I bet if you were looking for a MazdaSpeed3 in Alaska you'd have trouble finding one at all.

    That is purely an educated guess. Feel free to correct me! ;)

    I do know that Miata PRHT models are impossible to find, and people pay full MSRP and still have to wait several months to get them. Join the thread and read about the adventures some people have finding one - even where there are lots of dealers. Some dealers didn't get any!
  • dstew1dstew1 Posts: 275
    You're right; we've got two BMW dealerships in the entire state - the same as Subaru dealerships. But I see a LOT more BMWs driving around than I do Subarus. Five to ten times as many, probably.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    today at that C&D comparo referred to earlier: the WRX was the slowest, almost the heaviest (one other car weighed 4 pounds more), the most expensive as-tested (because it had the huge NAV Premium package), might have had the highest base price (does the Volvo cost a little more at base price? I forget) and the most gas-guzzling.

    The Volvo was voted the nicest for a daily driver, while the Caliber SRT and the Speed3 were the track-stormers. I guess the WRX was somewhere in between. The Volvo has an optional sport package with better suspension and larger rims and tires, which was not equipped in the comparo. All four were criticized for junky shifters. And Subaru is still using Potenza RE92s on the WRX? That's what the magazine tester had. What a crappy tire. It was a notably cheap choice for rubber in comparison to the others there.

    OTOH, WRX was the only one that wasn't a front-driver, so if you are willing to give up quite a bit for the benefits of AWD, it might be your pick. It has me thinking this is not the way to expand out of the Snow Belt.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    You omit that it came in 2nd place and is probably the best balanced choice. ;)

    Subaru has *got* to ditch the Blow-tenzas.

    Did you guys see the Forester sketch? I like it, my wife LOVES it...

    http://blogs.edmunds.com/Straightline/3744

    Hope it's accurate. We're all over a 2009 model.
  • The C30 does have a bit of a sloppy transmission but you can fix that with a short shift kit. The 2.0 with the dynamic chassis really does firm up the ride to just the right amount. Its not as nimble as a MINI but it is much more comfortable on the highway and weighs a few hundred lbs more so that is ok.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    Yes, well you can fix up the WRX with an inexpensive short shifter kit too. My question to the audience at large is why the HECK they don't just make those short shifters standard???? With the possible exception of the Volvo, these cars all have sport as their primary mission.

    They said the WRX's shifter felt like it was attached to the transmission with bungee cords. :-P

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,661
    There's nothing wrong with the standard shifter on my '06 WRX. It's not anything like what you describe.

    Bob
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    Not my description, Bob. But your '06 may be different from the '08, who knows. Certainly if it is the same shifter as in the 2.5i that I have driven, then it is acceptable but nothing to rave about, and most of Honda's shifters put it to shame.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,661
    I've driven 4 different '08 WRXs, and they shift as well or better than mine.

    then it is acceptable but nothing to rave about, and most of Honda's shifters put it to shame.

    Gimme a break... Yes, Honda has excellent shifters, but we're talking about subtle differences here. You've obviously never driven a car from the 1960s or earlier. Now those were truly awful gear shifts. ...And yes, those comparisons are relevent, as I have memories of what really bad gears shifts are like. So while the Honda may have an excellent gear shift, the WRX is still pretty darn good. Again, I have no compaints with mine or the new '08s.

    Bob
  • zman3zman3 Posts: 857
    then it is acceptable but nothing to rave about, and most of Honda's shifters put it to shame.

    Gimme a break... Yes, Honda has excellent shifters, but we're talking about subtle differences here.


    I have driven Honda manuals as well as a single drive with an 05 OB manual. I agree with nippon, I think there is a huge difference between Honda shift feel and Subaru shift feel. The Honda seems much more smooth.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Not quite attached by bungees, but there is a rubber layer of insulation there.

    A picture is worth 1000 words, see below.

    The top is the SPT short shift kit for an Impreza. Basically it's all metal. The urethane bushing is covered in thick grease but basically it's metal to metal, direct feel.

    The bottom is the standard shifter for a 1998 Forester. Ignore the fact that it's an inch taller, that's because the Forester's seats sit higher. A stock Impreza is the same length.

    Note, however, that the standard shifter is insulated with a rubber layer (that's the wide part of the shaft). This deadens vibrations from the driveline, but it also can create the bungee feel nippononly mentioned.

    It's not *that* bad, there is only a very tiny amount of "give".
  • The C30 has the same transmission as the S40 and I am sure from a cost perspective they didn't bother to modify it one bit. Its been a long time since I drove a manual tranny Subbie but it didn't really impress me when I drove it. I haven't had a chance to go next door and try out the new WRX yet. I might do that next week.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,749
    what to think about Subaru. It is nice to have them around because they offer a choice that some people like. My wife loved her old Subaru, and would have considered getting another one but getting a deal on one in Southern California is a lot harder. They aren't needed here like they might be in the snow belt. Though for a while they were very popular in the mountains. CR-Vs and Rav4s seem to have replaced some of the old Subarus as a mountain car. But like some others have posted here, there is only one Subaru dealer within 40 miles of here and they know all the mountain residents have to come to them. So there are no deals to be had.

    Still Subaru will more than likely have to stay a niche car rather than mainstream. To become mainstream they would have to give up too much of what makes them different and without that difference there simply is no reason to pick a Subaru over a Honda, Toyota, Mazda or even a Ford Focus. If you have no need for AWD and you live in the Sun Belt the sacrifice in fuel mileage is simply too great. That becomes a big problem when the other manufacturers have so many entry level vehicles that can be had for under 15k.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    Not really sure why we would be expecting shift quality no better than cars from 40 years ago, Bob...

    ...but I certainly do expect it to be a lot better than "back in the day"...

    ...in the 60s we had first gears without synchros, now that was fun. That ALSO would be totally unacceptable to me in a 2008 model, but that doesn't mean I think every transmission today is fab just because it has synchros on first gear.

    Juice: I like your "picture is worth 1000 words" demonstration, it is very telling. So the only reason they give you the standard shifter is so it transmits less vibration from the drivetrain? I can appreciate that but there must be some way of accomplishing that objective without putting in a tall, moderately sloppy shifter.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    With shifters, I think we have to accept a trade off. Without a layer of rubber to isolate, you're going to feel more driveline vibrations through the shifter.

    Enthusiasts will probably like it. The way my Miata's short/stubby shifter makes you feel like your hands are reaching in to the gear box, it's so direct.

    Funny thing is they sell aftermarket 8 ball shifters with taller shafts because some people want more leverage (I'm not kidding!).

    At least Subaru offers the SPT shifter as an option, even if it is port-installed.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,661
    The WRX does not have a rubbery shifter. If anything it's.a bit notchy—which I like.

    Bob
  • dino001dino001 Tampa, FLPosts: 3,486
    I have short-throw shifter on my '02. It should be standard on all WRX, period. After initial shock for those who never had to use so much force to shift a gear, it rewards you with fantastic crisp movements.

    I remember once I was away and I came back home after 3 weeks driving my sisters little old Opel with miniscule 1.3l engine (probably 60-70 hp), I actually stalled my car two times, then performed couple of "leaps" :blush: . Of course I was back in the game after two minutes - boy did it feel good, or what. Like an old-style racing car :shades:

    It really takes driving something else for a few days to realize how great my "now getting older" WRX is. I just worry the experience may never be repeated with new mainstream-schmainstream design ;)

    2012 BMW 328i wagon, manual and sports package. No. sold in the US: 1. Probably.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Hope you still read this thread...

    Can you hop over here:

    albook, "Crossover SUV Comparison" #3863, 18 Nov 2007 6:10 pm

    They're discussing the Pilot's platform and that photo you have would really come in handy. I don't think these guys fully understand platform sharing.

    The Tribeca is discussed in that thread, to bring this back on topic.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    were down 6% from 2006, is that correct? And Subaru's hopeful forecast for '08 is still to sell 200K cars, which would represent more than a 10% increase from '07?

    Will we see a diesel- or hybrid-powered Subaru at dealers in the next 2 years, do you think?

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I doubt they'll meet that target. I'm expecting doom-and-gloom for the whole US auto industry in sales terms this year.

    The 09 Forester debuted and looks very strong, but I don't think it'll be enough to offset a lousy market.

    Now, in terms of pure market share, I think they'll improve. The new Forester is a lot more mainstream, less tall wagon and more trendy crossover. The same changes that made the WRX too civilized are going to be seen as a good thing to a Forester customer.

    Plus, I honestly don't think I have *ever* seen such a near-unanimous positive response to a new Subaru design. Everyone seems to like it.

    In terms of market share, I bet they gain about 10%. That's still a small gain in the big picture, about 0.1% gain if you look at the whole car and truck market.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    I think most of the forecasts I have seen for auto sales this year are flat relative to '07. So for Subaru to gain 0.1% in market share, you are saying that in '08 they WILL achieve a 10% gain in sales over '07 then?

    I will be curious to see how how high they take the incentives on the Outback to push them out the door, or if they will just stand pat on incentives and let sales decline gradually on that model.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Oh, I don't think sales for the overall market will be flat at all. I think they'll be down significantly.

    OB sales are OK, the Forester has been hurting them due to its age.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    Well, they are giving back $1500 in cash on Outback, so I would HOPE OB sales were OK! I hope they do not raise the incentives any more. Better just to let sales taper off a little if that is what they are going to do. Outback is in what, year four of its current cycle?

    Obviously if the market is down by a few percent this year and Subaru merely maintains sales at '07 levels, it would gain market share. That would be intriguing to me: is there something about Subaru's typical customers that insulates them more from downturns in the economy than the customers of other automakers?

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

This discussion has been closed.