Last post on Jul 24, 2010 at 4:57 AM
You are in the Subaru Legacy & Outback
What is this discussion about?
Subaru Outback, Car Safety, Wagon, SUV
#169 of 2086 Subaru Upscale?
Mar 24, 2001 (5:55 am)
There seems to be two proven ways to go upscale: (1) spin off a luxury line (e.g., Toyota's Lexus, Honda's Acura, Nissan's Infiniti, etc., or (2) build it from within by offering something that the consumer is willing to pay more for, e.g., luxury, performance, or (preferably) both. The best example of the latter strategy is VW. Before the 1990s, the Passat was a second thought for VW and not much of player in the mid-size sedan market. It's chief competitors were the Taurus, Camry and Accord. Before 1998 the Passat was a niche player in the market--a decent performer, but with questionable reliability, i.e, nothing special. However, the B5 Passat (built on an Audi A4/A6 platform, using an Audi engine, and with many of the amenities of the Audi line) developed a reputation as a very good performer and at the same time VW improved its reliability. It's priced higher than the camcord, but people are willing to pay the exrta price because of the perceived value--better handling, reliability, Audi bloodline. The new facelift of the Passat has reinforced this upscale approach. The W8 version will push the envelope even further, as I'm sure the redesign in 2004 will as well.
Now to Subaru: I think the H6 is a winner, just not in the VDC. Compared to the Auto Limited, for 2k more you can move up to the LL Bean and get a larger engine and a few more bells and whistles. It's also a very good value compared to the competition. (Yes, the engine performance between the H4 manual and H6 auto is not that great; however, I think that the LL Bean is a no brainer if you are going the AT route, especially if you are moving alot of bodies or seriously interested in towing.) The problem child is the VDC. It's cheaper than the "competition" (VW 4mo, Audi A4 Avant, Volvo), but falls off in terms of performance and luxury items (add those HIDs Subaru!). However, I don't think that these vehicles are the true competitors since you are comparing performance vehicles to a vehicle more geared towards utility. The big problem is that the VDC competes against the LL Bean, and to a much lesser extent, the Forester. If Subaru is truly serious about moving upscale, then they should merge the VDC/LL Bean (and add content) and beef up the Legacy GT (add a 6-sp manual H6+, leather, automatic climate control, HIDs, etc.) to better compete performance wise with the big boys. This strategy would allow Subaru to confront its competitors in the "utility" and "performance" markets head-on.
#171 of 2086 RE: Upscale Subaru?
Mar 24, 2001 (8:02 am)
The spin off brand is not as cool as people think. I used to think thats what Subaru should have done but people here set me straight. They are a huge gamble and cost tons of capital which Fuji is not going to float Subaru. Lexus has been very successful but Acura less and Infiniti even less. The flagship Q45 can frequently had for invoice and does not hold resale. Avanti (Mazda) failed before it even got a car out (except the Millenia). They cost lots of money. So we have 1 great, 1 good, 1 fair, and 1 fail.
You said it better than I could: "something that the consumer is willing to pay more for." To this point based on all the LL Beans on our dealers lot that have been there a while I dont think people are willing to pay the premium. This is where Subaru miscalculated. At the rate prices a are falling for the Bean and VDC they are going to be selling south of invoice pretty soon (if not already). Our dealer sold his last VDC for under $30k and I think thats pretty common around here. Not that this is a bad thing!!! BUT it does look bad when one is trying to move upscale. Honda/Acura, Audi, BMW, Toyota/Lexus, and other "preimum" brands sell at MSRP or over in come cases (like the MDX and the 330i sedans). The demand has to be there. Again I like what you said: "people are willing to pay the exrta price because of the perceived value."
In the case of the VDC and Bean I'm just not seeing the demand.
I believe most people will not pay:
more than $700 for the H6
more than $300 for the stereo upgrade
more than $500 for the VDC system
I guess what it comes down to is I dont really have a problem with the H4 auto. 2-3 times a year we put about 800lbs of people, animals, and gear in (including roof cargo box) the car and drive 2k+miles round trip. We racked up 24k+ miles in one year doing stuff like that. It does not seem to have much trouble pulling the mountains of PA on I76. Ofcourse if you are driving around 70-75mph you may see 5000rpm every once in a while but its never had any trouble pulling hills even at the load limit (which is either 800 or 900lbs but I cant rememer). I can always maintian my speed and even accelerate up steep grades. The caveat is that you do have to push it hard sometimes which one would not have to do with the H6 I'm sure. I think that some people are afraid to push the H4 and lose the real pep of the motor which seems to come in after 4000rpm.
Highway acceleration is not the problem with the H4. From 65-85mph you can tear around all you want even in 4th. The H4 seems to have a weak spot from 35-55mph when combined with the auto. The 5spd fixes this and so does leaving it in 3rd with the auto when you need to merge or something. I hated the index shifter at first but its pretty good for dropping to 3rd.
I dont know how the H4 would do at the load limit + a trailer. If I was towing and carrying a full load I think in that case the H4 would choke. If you are towing and loaded then its worth the $2k. Then again I live in the mid-west. Its pretty darn flat and very easy to cruise at 85mph with the H4 without any trouble at all.
Totally off topic, if you load the OB about to the limit it looks lowered and kinda cool.
Subaru does know what they are doing most of the time (WRX, Outback, GM merger, and so on). I'm sure they did all kinds of market research and stuff....but they did not ask me!!! How rude!! I have opnions on everything and I dont charge anything. The best recent example of good thinking is the WRX. In that case I think they rated the engine correctly at 227hp. Several mags have put the WRX to 60 in under 6sec at over 3100lbs. Its also running 14s.
Its a new niche here but the new era muscle car has been around in Asia for quite a while. In this case it was a no brainer....boy racers will eat Ramen noodles for 2 years to spend money on cars.....then they spend more money in aftermarket stuff. Like drug addicts. Its what I did with my old Mustang GT 5.0L. Its a horrible habit.
Soon (I hope) Mistu will bring over their Lancer Evo. so the games can begin. In US specs that car should have 250hp and 3200lbs from a 2L. I'm sure more of the genus will show up as the import racing scene grows. The question becomes what are Honda/Acura and Toyota going to do about it? Even their type Rs and GT-S versions are going to get torched by a SUBARU. Subaru KNOWS how to set the bar (WRX). They just did not set the bar with the VDC or Bean versions. They could have like with the WRX but they did not. They just put out cars that are fine...but does not make me want to run out and get one. They are not Honda/Toyota yet. I think the execution was a mistake but not the idea.
I guess I'm really not knocking the VDC or the Bean as they are fine cars. I'm knocking the effort because I know Subaru could have done better. Keep in mind if the VDC was around at $29k or under when we were getting our Ltd. we may have picked it over what we have now.
#172 of 2086 Clearance and power
Mar 24, 2001 (8:36 am)
Found a nugget in the owners manual:
7.9in (200mm) of ground clearance in H6 models!
That's almost as much as the Audi allroad at maximum height! Yet the overall height is no greater than the H4 OBs.
Power: Our VDC seems to really start pulling at 3500-4000 RPM.
We looked seriously at a 2k OB LTD and were underwhelmed. It was a hot day at 5kft. (We virtually never drive below 4500ft.) We also looked at an A4 Avant 1.8T w/ sport package. For less money we got:
more room, better stereo, comparable performance, better fuel mileage, better reliability, more dealers to choose from, ...
Mar 24, 2001 (9:55 am)
I am seriously considering buying a VDC...I go with my wife tomorrow to test drive... have read this board and the problem boards... Just have a couple of questions, bear with me here...
There was some talk of some problems with cold starts awhile back... think it was related to an em problem.. Was this truth or fiction..?.... Also there were some questions as to how the DC handled in snow, where the vdc could actually work against you...Anybody know what I'm referring to, or is this 52 year old man lost it,,One last question relating to the ground clearance..The previous poster indicated 7.9 in VDC model, any material on the subject I see says 7.3...Any and all help would really be appreciated..THanx..Rod
#174 of 2086 In reference to post #161
Mar 24, 2001 (8:45 pm)
I too experienced the lunging affect during a 12 mile test drive of the VDC. Happened once at stop sign and twice when backing into the parking space at dealership. Drove the Bean 20 miles and it never happened. Dealer admitted sales are off and offered to sell a little over cost.
#175 of 2086 ECU, clearance, snow/ice, etc.
Mar 25, 2001 (10:58 am)
There is a confirmed problem with the programming of the ECU for cold weather. They are working on a fix and will be issuing a recall sometime in the near future. The workaround is to run on regular unleaded during cold weather instead of premium.
The ground clearance number is from the specifications section of owners manual. There is a separate sub heading for 3.0 H6 models in the ground clearance heading. However, Subaru reports 7.3 in the specs section of their current web site for the VDC. May be a misprint in the manual.
I took our VDC out on an iced-over ski area parking lot and pushed it to see what it would do. I was able to get it to drift by really stepping on the gas and yanking the wheel. I don't think you'll find the VDC getting in the way unless you really do want to spin donuts.
#176 of 2086 Thanx Theo
Mar 25, 2001 (2:21 pm)
Me and my better half took the VDC out for a spin today... We both liked it. We are currently driving a 98 Bravada and wanted to get little more civilized and protected... We still both like the AWD idea and the BB seemed like a real nice compromise... But the best my dealer would do ( in the great state of CT) was take 1k off msrp and offer me around 12.3k on a trade in ( Bravada good shape 22k)... For a 36/12mile lease they had me into it for 504 a month!!!!!.... can get into a 01 AL I type with Acura for about 450, and a seville for 549...Now I realize we got 2 different auto idea's here, but still...Assuming this ecu thing gets cleared up I'm still willing to consider the OB, but got to get a better deal then the one I was offered....If there are any CT dealers out there who are willing to talk to me, I'll listen..Email..r22549webtv.net...Thanx again Theo,...Rod
Mar 25, 2001 (2:35 pm)
"Where the engine could easily be improved to give it a peppier feel is in the gearing...add that 5-sp manual or 5EAT Subaru! (By the way, does Subaru have a proven 5EAT?"
Unfortunately no, but on 4EAT Japanese WRXs, they have a tiptronic-like auto-stick, plus the F1-style shift buttons on the steering wheel. It's weird that if Subaru has that sitting around, they didn't bring it over to the US, for either the VDC or WRX. That'd be nice to have.
On the other hand, the current gated shifter makes it a lot easier to control what gear you're in vs. the old straight shifter like I have on my '97 4EAT OB Ltd. If you use it right, it'd be almost as good.
Speaking of stuff that didn't get brought over for the US WRX though...it's so annoying. All the Japanese-spec sedans have rear windshield wipers, while the US ones don't. There's a neat pop-up DVD GPS Navigation system available. MD stereo systems available (too bad MD never got big in America). The aforementioned auto-stick stuff. The 6MT from the stock STi's... All missing!
Mar 25, 2001 (5:20 pm)
Boy, I hope Subaru reps read these postings! Obviously, while many people are satisfied with their H6's, many people were expecting more. Subaru does not make many mistakes but pricing/performance with the H6 may be one of them. Another one is the lack of variable intermittent front wipers on my '00 Outback (non-limited). Hell, my wife's Cavalier has them. Why do you have to get a Limited to get them. At least they finally brought over the WRX!