With 2009 coming to a close, there are plenty of losers and few winners when it came to auto sales this year. One of these few winners was certainly Subaru. Despite the brand’s quirkiness, its blend of turbocharged power car detailers, all-wheel drive, and fuel efficient engines, have helped Subaru become a popular brand despite dwindling new car demand.
One of the main reasons why Subaru dealers have managed to keep inventory moving was due to recent updates to the five models in its lineup. The updates were part of a balancing act as newer products are intended to appeal to more mainstream U.S. car buyers, while at the same time appealing to existing Subaru customers that love the brand’s distinctive character.
Subaru has seen success with this balancing act. The automaker has received number accolades this year including winning Motor Trend’s SUV of the Year award for the second year in a row, winning five Insurance Institute Top Safety Picks, and winning the corporate responsibility award from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for its gay-friendly advertising efforts. For each car purchased this fall, Subaru also made a donation to charity to further show that the company is truly different beyond just having unique products.
Despite its uniqueness, there are plenty of indications that the lineup is going more mainstream if you ask Tuscaloosa Subaru. First, its products are getting larger in nearly every dimension. Secondly, Subaru has entered a new partnership with Toyota and will jointly build a new coupe together.
While most companies are pushing more into smaller and smaller packages, Subaru seems to offering more with larger packages, and Santa Cruz Subaru dealers say the strategy is working. The latest WRX, Forester, and Legacy, are not only larger than the outgoing models, but they’re also more upscale in terms of look and feel. Unfortunately, this is part of the problem for the most hardcore of Subaru enthusiasts. Performance is one of the areas where the newer Subarus are lacking according to many customers.
Although some may argue that elements of the brand have been diluted, there are still many more changes ahead. The Subaru Tribeca crossover is due to be updated shortly, the aforementioned coupe is due in 2011, and Subaru is also said to be working on its first hybrid model with the help of technology from Toyota.
With changes abound, it seems that Subaru continues to maintain its delicate balance. Hopefully, success will not erode the “love” for what makes a Subaru a Subaru.