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Subaru Crew - Future Models II

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  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Bob: bring back the Mini. With such huge trucks everywhere, we need to get back to basics. Wait a second, they're already doing that... ;)

    Mike: you're engine is cherry. 6k miles? Fuggedaboudit!

    paisan: I need to unbolt the Miata's seats to lift up the front portion for more thigh support (Forester has a knob - nice). That ought to be fun.

    I like the typical SUV markup price. Jeep profits about $8 grand from a Grand Cherokee.

    -juice
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    The 5th gear in a 'Vette is overdrive, so 6 is purely an economy gear. I think the ratio is ridiculously low, like 0.50 or so (most are in the 0.80 range).

    Throw in some city driving and the Outback would beat the Vette's average.

    -juice
  • Picked up my VDC Nov 30.
    First I would like to thank all of you for all the information you've given me over the last 6 months. It helped me make my decision. I know I made the right decision and I'm completely satisfied. I feel the car is worth the money I paid for it.
    The ride is solid, smooth and comfortable. I'm impressed with the handling and control. The transmission is extremely smooth and the engine has enough power for me. I'm not hot on zero to 60 times which it does well anyway. My concerns are with cruising mountain roads. This VDC satifies me. It has luxury and quality appointments. It offers safety and security on all weather roads.
    The McIntosh audio sound system is awsome.
    As far as the looks of the VDC I've received many compliments. Some folks who saw it are seriously interested in buying one.
    For people out there who are more interested in the Legacy GT H4 with the Turbo be patient and wait for it. Subaru won't disappoint you. They will deliver and you'll be satified as I am with my VDC. I've waited 2 years for this vehicle and I'm glad I did.
  • rshollandrsholland Posts: 19,657
    Congrats on the new purchase! :)

    The VDC is an excellent and very comfortable cruiser, for sure.

    Bob
  • OB: Thanks to the last few posts I now understand the appeal of the OB vs. the appeal of the GT (and I admire Subaru for doing so much to differentiate two essentially identical cars). The OB is for those who want an SUV that handles; the GT is for those who want an A4 Quattro but are more careful than that with their money ;-)

    B: mikesmi, buy me a couple and I *absolutely guarantee* to tell you whether your gas mileage is due to the car being broken in or not.

    Cheers,
    -wdb
  • miksmimiksmi Silver Spring, MDPosts: 1,246
    WDB, you're on, be it the Bal'mer or Philly auto shows, whichever we think has the better chance of the WRX (as per the Events topic).

    ..Mike

    ..Mike

  • Subaru's problem is that they only have two cars, the Impreza and Legacy, and a couple of riffs on those two cars, the Forester and Outback.

    The Impreza and Legacy are good cars, but Subaru is not going to be able to market them to BMW and Audi drivers here in the U.S., no matter how much they try. They should try to gain former Saab drivers in particular, since Subaru has many of the same attributes as a vintage Saab -- rather quirky, good in the ice and snow, heated seats (grin). This means that the Legacy, in particular, is just too small to be the "big" car for the U.S. market -- you could practically drive one into the cargo bay of a classic Saab. In other words, Subaru needs a bigger car in their lineup in the U.S. market.

    Frills like the VDC are el-neato, but are maintenance nightmares. While I like all the gadgets on my Forester, I worry about the long-term durability and maintainability of those gadgets. Subaru has a long history of innovative design, such as the electric power steering, air suspension, etc. The main problem is that these gizmos, while being very good ideas, have become maintenance nightmares because Subaru does not have the clout to force aftermarket venders to carry spare parts for obscure stuff. If these features had been standard on every Subaru sold world-wide for years and years, there would be a chance that parts would be available for reasonable prices for years. But there are only a few VDC Subarus being sold. The rest don't have VDC. Subaru cannot afford to do things like this. For items that will require maintenance in the future, Subaru has to go after that classic Scandinavian image of cars that maintained ease of repair over a period of years by not varying their design wildly from year to year (something that Subaru is accomplishing with the Impreza and Legacy for sure, since they were introduced, what, 10 years ago? but frilly things like the VDC hurt that).

    Many people here want a sports sedan, but the real market today is in SUV's. Subaru has an excellent engine lineup for small SUV's. The 2.5L engine is more powerful than any other small SUV engine on the market. The 3.0L engine in the Outback LL Bean gets better gas mileage than any other 6-cylinder SUV on the market, as well as being quite competitive in terms of power. What's lacking is the chassis to handle these engines. What Subaru has is rigged-up Impreza (Forester) and Legacy (Outback) chassis. These lack the ground clearance and seating height and thus the "look" to be taken serious as SUV's by non-acolytes.

    The Forester is a good car but the limitations of the Impreza chassis prevent it from getting the kind of kudos it deserves. Yes, few people take their SUV's offroad, but the Forester can't even handle minor washouts on poorly maintained forest service roads -- much less offroad duty (in case you're wondering, the problem is approach angle -- the Forester has too much nose sticking ahead, and that nose is too close to the ground rather than sloped upwards). While few people take their SUV offroad, they want to think that at least they COULD take it offroad, if they wanted to. Combined with the car-like seating height and shallow rear cargo compartment (it's certainly
    wide and long enough, but load it with luggage and you can't see out the back window) means that you get people who buy a Honda CR/V, a much inferior car (less power, suspension parts poised to get taken out by any rock that comes along, crude AWD system) because it "looks like an SUV" while the Forester "doesn't look like an SUV". So the Forester needs jacking in the air by another inch or so to make it "look like an SUV", and probably could also benefit from another inch or so of seating height and roof height, which of course will hurt its on-road handling, but it's all about image (sigh). If it is possible to relocate the spare tire to the rear door, that should also be done -- "real" SUV's have their spare tire on the rear door, where it can block your rear vision ("real" SUV owners don't care who's behind them anyhow, sigh).

    The Outback is simply a spiffed-up Legacy. It shows. It sells well because those who buy Subarus tend to buy them for their ability to handle snow and poor conditions, and seem to think that an extra inch of ground clearance and some plastic cladding somehow makes it more capable of doing that. Besides, it doesn't look as frumpy as a Legacy. But it's not an SUV, and people who are looking at SUV's (which, alas, are a large number of today's customers in the U.S.) give it only a short look before moving on. Again, it needs to have the "look" to get a real sales takeoff -- jack it up in the air, put a boxier body on it with higher seating position, move the spare tire to the back door, etc. Subaru's engine technology is good enough to make it competitive in the compact SUV market, if Subaru simply hits the right marketing cues.

    Remember, Honda sells more CR/V's in a month than Subaru's entire U.S. sales of the Forester for an entire year. And the CR/V is, frankly, a crappy car compared to the Forester -- it has no power, its AWD technology is 80's technology that Honda had abandoned for 10 years with no further development (as vs. Subaru's technology, which has continued evolving), it has parts hanging out all over to snag on rocks (meaning that even though it looks like it has more ground clearance, it really is as bad as the Forester off-road)... it's, well, it's the Honda Civic of SUV's. But Honda hits the right marketing cues. The CR/V *LOOKS* like an SUV. The Outback looks like a station wagon. The Forester looks like somebody stuck a boxy body on an Impreza. Neither the Forester nor Outback looks like an SUV, and neither sells primarily to those looking for an SUV -- the Forester sells primarily to folks who'd buy an Impreza but need more cargo space, the Outback sells primarily to folks who'd buy a Legacy but think the cladding and extra inch of clearance will make it better in the snow and ice. But I think that if Subaru hit those marketing cues more on-the-mark, they could quadruple their sales in a very short time. The question is whether Subaru has the resources to do that, considering their limited U.S. dealership number (mostly concentrated in the Snow Belt states) and the fact that SUV's sell like iron hotcakes everywhere but the U.S. (who wants an ill-handling, ugly, offensive-to-other-motorists vehicle, other than ugly Americans? Not many people!).

    Finally: Given American tastes, it would appear that a larger Outback would probably sell well here. Unfortunately, Subaru does not have the engine technology for a much larger Outback.

    And the whole idea of a Subaru minivan is so stupid that I won't even go there. Minivans just don't sell anymore, and there's entrenched competitors there with very good products (Ford, GM, Honda, and Chrysler all have quite good minivans) who have the lions share of that market. Subaru does not have the dealership network to sell minivans either -- most of Subaru's current dealers outside of the Snow Belt sell Subarus as a sideline to some other more popular type of car, and most of them have very little space for carrying additional Subaru inventory, especially something as bulky as a minivan.

    Oh: Last thoughts on the "frumpy" bit -- most Subaru products look a bit on the frumpy side. You know, like some spinster school teacher would buy. That's one reason the Outback sells so much better than the plain old Legacy -- the Outback doesn't look quite as frumpy as the Legacy. The chrome geegaws and such don't help there. Subaru needs to engage some real styling talent, somehow, somewhere, to give them an image makeover. In particular, the moron who decided that the Forester needed a plastichrome grill needs to be taken to a Honda dealership and forced to watch CR/V's roll off the lot like hotcakes for hours upon end... maybe that would teach him that small SUV buyers do NOT want fake chrome grills and other such geegaws on their SUV!

    -Eric
  • Um, thats why the ST-X is coming out...
    Thats going more for that "off-road" market while the WRX/new Impreza will be more for the "performance" market...

    They are spreading in both directions in America.

    Then again, Subaru never was about "true" off-roading, just "real-world" conditions that people may face. You dont need 2 feed of ground clearance to drive around Ski-Resorts parking lots, you dont need a taller car for rainy days, you dont need an SUV to drive on a dirt road...
    Subaru has proven all these things, and its the European Subaru with turbo-legacies and turbo-foresters we need to be seeing more of, not the American Subaru that likes to plop gold effects and raise their models an inch and make everyone think they're an Australian company...
  • alingaling Posts: 598
    Wow, those were long posts! Interesting nonetheless and thanks for them. I'll point out though, that VDC is not a frill. It is an important safety advancement and I applaud Subaru for offering it. There are not many mechanical parts that can go wrong with it since it is based on the existing (proven) ABS system with the addition of a few sensors. Now, if only they could make the VDC wagon less expensive...

    Drew
    Townhall Community Leader/Vans Conference
  • paisanpaisan Posts: 21,181
    Sensors that once out of warranty will run oh $500/each to replace, only replaceable @ your local SOA dealer! :)

    As for "real world conditions", that doesn't sell cars. Not in America. It's nice to have a small loyal following that knows a good product when they see one, but that doesn't make investors happy, and that is why SOA/FHI is in business, no matter what you say, you can stand on your head and tell me they are there to build cars, but I assure you, they are there to MAKE MONEY! In the US market to make money now, you need to have a bigger SUV that has an image of going off road. The STX is a good move, but probably they should have beat the frontier and Exploder to the market to really have won that battle.

    Eric is also right about OB not having much better on-road snow performance than the legacies or other subies. Case in point, my family has the following cars: 2000 OB, 1997 OB, 1997 Legacy, 88 XT6, 92 SVX, guess which plowed through 2 feet of snow in the adirondacks?

    SVX, 2nd place was the 97 Legacy, then the 97 OB, then the XT6 then the 2000 OB!

    -mike
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    scarwaf: congrats. You may be the first VDC owner here. We've had a few LLBs though.

    Eric: a few corrections, if you don't mind. CR-V has sold at an annual rate of about 120k units per year, while the Forester is close to 50k. That's not even 3 to 1, much less 12 to 1.

    Also, it's head-to-head with the RAV4, despite the fact that Toyota has about a billion dealerships. Subaru has a fraction of that.

    Consider also that the Forester is cross-shopped primarily with those two vehicles. You'll conclude that consumers do indeed view the Forester as an SUV, and it's been a huge sales success. Subaru sells every one it can build, and the only reason they don't sell more is plant capacity!

    Better yet - most Forester sales are conquest sales from other import brands. A marketing dream!

    Another point - despite the CR-V looking more truckish, it's cross-shopped most often with other sedans, primarily the Accord. So even though it sells well, they're leaching sales from themselves, sales they would likely have had anyway! Wasted money!

    Looked at from that point of view, the Forester has been a much bigger marketing success than the CR-V.

    IMO, Subaru should NOT try to go mainstream. Stay as a niche, and attack other niches. Do not make a me-too SUV; stick with safer cars and wagons. Add performance, add specialty vehicles that do not compete directly with the giants.

    As for only having 2 platforms, that's plenty for such a tiny manufacturer. Look at VW's success with the Golf platform - Bettle, Golf, Seat models, Audi A3, Skoda, TT, etc. All have different flavors, too.

    Just my 2 cents.

    -juice

    PS The sales numbers are from Automotive News, while the rest of the info comes from Auto Pacific.
  • subearusubearu Posts: 3,613
    Here's some additional sales figures you may/may not find useful.

    AutoSite's SUV sales #'s (Forester):
    http://www.autosite.com/editoria/asmr/homsu.asp

    AutoSite's Family Cars sales #'s (Legacy, Impreza):
    http://www.autosite.com/editoria/asmr/svolfc.asp

    Not sure if the Legacy sales reported there include Outbacks. I know most of us believe they are included though. And it seems that they take forever to update their numbers - October is still listed. After all, they probably have to wait until the manufacturer releases those numbers.

    -brian/subearu
  • I won't compare my frumpy Legacy GT sedan with a Saab hatchback for hauling stuff, but I sure will compare it for hauling people.

    The fact of the matter is that Subaru already has the old Saab-as-a-practical-car market sewn up. Go to rural New England or any mountainous region in the west and see for yourself. What they need to do is move into *other* niches left behind by Saab and others, including sportier niches.

    That's my humble opinion, made even more so by the fact that I drive a frumpy car. What bedevils me about that is why so many people want to race with me :-) Oh, by the way, I chose a Subaru over an Audi :-P

    Cheers,
    -wdb
  • tlbistlbis Posts: 25
    ...and as for the OB, I am not an SUV wannabe. Never looked at one either. Some like the look, others hate it. Me...I just wanted heated seats.

    Tom
  • kate5000kate5000 Posts: 1,264
    Eric, I agree with you that many people are turned off by Forester's low stance. I've heard many such comments at EdmundsLive show. However, in that little light off-roading I've done in my Forester, there were a couple of moments when I really appreciated lower center of gravity in my Forester.

    As for the placement of spare tire... the insurance adjuster and body shop guy both tell me that in my accident it was spare tire that saved us from the Ford ramming in from the back, so I definitely vote for spare to remain where it is. The "spare on the back" image is actually not "in" anymore: look at Rodeo and Pathfinder that no longer sport spare on the back.

    Looks are very subjective matter. There are still many fans of conservative boxy styling of SUV. I noticed at recent San Francisco auto show how many people literally drooled over Toyota Sequoia that has a very traditional styling. On the other hand, nobody was excited with Pontiac's Piranha on the display, so much for innovative styling.

    To my knowledge, most CRV buyers are loyal Honda fans who converted from Civics and Accords. The big reason for them to buy CRV is the expected reliability, and yes, it looks more macho as compared to Civic.

    As for gadgets going bad, it's hard to say, but in my old Loyale not a single gadget went wrong for 8+ years.

    IMHO Subaru goes in the right direction when going after Saab/Volvo markets. At SF auto show Subaru had display just next to Volvo, and I'd say Outbacks and Foresters looked very nice next to XC!
  • The Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), has named the 2001 Outback H6 - 3.0 VDC as the Best New Intermediate SUV of the year. Other contenders in this category were the Ford Explorer Sport Trac, Nissan Pathfinder and Dodge Durango R/T. Outback was judged superior to the competition in almost every area of vehicle dynamic handling, and excelled in braking and acceleration.

    The announcement, made today and leading up to the Association’s overall Car of the Year announcement in February, was based on testing done by AJAC members at the annual “Test Fest” in October. The evaluation is made under “real world” conditions, and in direct comparison with other vehicles, over a four-day period. Criteria include acceleration, braking, vehicle dynamics, maneuverability and off-road capability.

    “I believe the Subaru H6 - 3.0 VDC represents the best of both worlds,” said journalist Gerry Malloy, head of AJAC’s Car of the Year committee. “It’s a luxury car with all the sport utility capability that anyone is likely to need.”

    “Subaru has put all its efforts into developing vehicles that give the consumer both the go-anywhere ability of a sport utility vehicle and, at the same time, provide the customer with the handling, performance and safety of a passenger car,” said Norio Osakabe, president, chief executive officer and chairman of Subaru Canada, Inc. “We thank the members of AJAC for recognizing our efforts with this prestigious award.”

    Not too bad....

    Greg
  • Great to read all these thoughtful posts on how Subaru can build and grow -- including the criticism

    (Eric, -- your perspective is fascinating. Now I'd like to hear you answer the question from some days ago -- outline your preferences and predictions for the 2005 Subaru lineup model by model. I think it will give all of us even mre to think about.)

    Also, love reading the kudos for Subaru. Strikes me that underlying all this pretty-smart give-and-take is an amazing and well reasoned loyalty for the brand. Everybody seems to be rooting for Subaru. Been reading other brands' sites (Mercedes, Jeep, Mercedes, Taho, etc.) and ndon't see this kind of support. Maybe I should check the Porsche site.

    Okay: Time for another provocative question -- do you believe the current crop of Subaru dealers you encounter are as good as the car they sell? Or do they need improvements to be up to the task of selling this car? If so -- what improvements? Please -- no cop-out answers saying it's a mixed bag.
  • YES!!!

    Tis a shame their bretheren (and sisteren) to the immediate south cannot show the same thoughtfulness.
  • kate5000kate5000 Posts: 1,264
    Pretty much like any other dealer in the area, except Saturn. Salespeople are ignorant at best and rude at worst. Carlsen subaru is better than others but they're a bit more the expensive. I'm on my 3rd Soob, and I have yet to meet a really good Subaru dealer.

    I personally like the Saturn approach (but hate their product), and I know lots of people who bought from Saturn just because of the pleasant dealership experience.

    If Subaru would have gone the Saturn route, plus offer a direct internet order/purchase program from the factory, that would help them, both in image and in sales. It would also help them to bring the Subaru brand out of obscurity.
  • armac13armac13 Posts: 1,129
    has been very positive so far. Sales staff, owner & finance people all quite knowledgeable, professional and pleasant (Docksteader in Vancouver - Canadian, eh). The jury is still out on the service department. I'll be taking Rufus in for a free "pre-winter" check since it includes a tire rotation. I plan to switch to synthetic ATF. Perhaps they will be able to figure out the low gas mileage which is continuing to drift downward.

    Ross
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