Last post on Oct 15, 2012 at 3:22 PM
You are in the Subaru Forester
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Subaru Forester, Future Vehicle, Wagon
#2850 of 3747 Time.com Article
Jan 13, 2009 (6:00 am)
Subaru's customers are, the company admits, a little oddball. How else do you explain the fact that Subaru of America was the only car company to increase unit sales last year? Subaru buyers tend to be overeducated; they buy less car than they can afford and hang on to it forever. "They pay cash, and then you never see them again," says Tim Mahoney, Subaru of America's chief marketing officer. At least not for an average 7.3 years, when they return like migrating carbirds to buy another one. Recession or not.
You know, of course, that Detroit is on its knees. But Stuttgart, Tokyo and Seoul aren't faring particularly well either. Toyota's U.S. sales were off 16% last year. Yet Subaru was positive to the tune of 491 cars. The company sold 187,699 vehicles last year, led by value-driven models like the Forester SUV and Outback wagon ($19,995 to $22,295) and the muscled-up Impreza WRX ($24,995), a small sedan. (Read TIME's biographies of Detroit's Big Three CEOs.)
That's an increase of just 0.3% over 2007. But in a disastrous year for the industry, it boosted Subaru's market share to 1.92%, from 1.2%. In the auto industry, that's a huge increase — and a higher market share than Cadillac, for instance. Subaru did it without giving away the store too. For 2008, the company decided to roll back its list prices and back off the rebates. The sticker price of the 2009 Forester, for instance, was lowered to $19,995, from $21,295. "We had to bring down our incentive costs and stop selling based on the deal," says Tom Doll, executive vice president of the company, which is a division of Japan's Fuji Heavy Industries.
Loyalty can help you do that, and Subaru has leveraged its existing customers, who identify more with their cars than perhaps is healthy. "If you stop a Subaru owner at sporting event, ski slope, shopping center, they'll tell you, 'I love this car,' " says Mahoney. And being the opinionated-bumper-sticker type, they are more likely to recommend the brand than even Toyota or Honda owners.
Certainly, it's a perfect era for a car company that is green (it boasts zero-landfill production plants), safety-focused, and can deliver a fair amount of value and performance. In the snow belt regions of the Northeast and intermountain west, Subaru has long had a following because of its all-wheel-drive portfolio.
But Subaru has successfully expanded both its geography and demography, becoming a more national car company and getting a broader customer base.
To accomplish both, the company expanded its safety-first image to one that includes better performance and more fun. After all, who wants to motor around in the equivalent of all-wheel-drive bubble wrap? California, a vital auto market, discovered Subaru courtesy of models like the Impreza WRX. All-wheel drive is terrific in the Sierras, but in the Los Angeles Basin, it's more about performance, which the 265-hp, intercooled, turbocharged WRX could address. The muscle models scored well with younger drivers and allowed Subaru to get more exposure for its full line.
Having more than weathered the dreadfully bad 2008, Subaru officials aren't planning on lowering sales this year. At Detroit's North American International Auto Show, Subaru unveiled a concept car that will likely evolve into a midsize sedan version of its Legacy. And on a broader note, Doll says that more available credit and Barack Obama's stimulus package should get additional buyers into showrooms. Of course, if all else fails, there are always those folks who bought an Outback 7.3 years ago — and are ready to return.
#2851 of 3747 Re: Time.com Article [tinycadon]
Jan 13, 2009 (8:09 am)
Interesting read. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.
#2852 of 3747 Re: topping off tank [bigfrank3]
Jan 13, 2009 (9:41 am)
That sums it up pretty nicely.
When I installed a trailer hitch on my '98 Forester, I actually had to remove and replace the actual canister. It's a black plastic box about the size of an air filter.
If any of the tubes leading in or out of that canister are disconnected, you'll even get a check-engine light.
#2853 of 3747 Re: Time.com Article [tinycadon]
Jan 13, 2009 (9:44 am)
Was interesting, for sure, and was the full article (apparently a short topic for Time).
#2854 of 3747 Re: Time.com Article [tinycadon]
Jan 13, 2009 (11:26 am)
Nothing surprising in that at all - that's pretty much what I would have predicted as the profile of a Subie owner. The funny thing is that impressions like that are so often wrong.
Jan 13, 2009 (12:28 pm)
I am looking to replace my VW 02 Passat. The Forester is one of many I am looking at. I am concerned about the many posts regarding rattles and cheap interior materal. The Passat has a smoot and quiet ride compared to my Wife;s 09 Matrix. Can I expect a smooth and quiet ride in the Forester? Does anyone think some of the problems in the first year will be corrected in 2010? Based on the question of quality in the 09 I can't feel comfortable buying one this year. I can wait as my Passat still runs OK after77,000 miles. I am also interested in the new Toyota Venza which looks good but again who knows about first year problems. Any advice will be appreciated.
#2856 of 3747 Re: Forester search [DON__FLORIDA]
Jan 13, 2009 (12:42 pm)
Your Veedub has an upscale interior, so you're definitely a price class down in terms of materials.
Then again...if you check out a Tiguan, it's not any better than a Forester. That sort of surprised me, but then again I expected to see an interior like your Passat's in the Tiguan - that is definitely not the case.
So compared to your Passat, they may seem like a step down, but compared to its peers, this is par for this class. Step up to a Tribeca if you want a soft headliner (Tribeca's is identical to the VW Phaeton) and other soft-touch materials.
I will say that the perforated leather on our Limited's seats is very nice, as are the seat heaters. The peach fuzz headliner and plastic sun visors may disappoint you if you are used to the Passat, but so would a Tiguan.
#2857 of 3747 Re: Sitting inside [pathtomax]
Jan 13, 2009 (1:02 pm)
My post No. 1973 of July 20, 2008, follows up my search for suitable cupholders. I uploaded photos of a product I have found satisfactory.
#2858 of 3747 Veedub vs Forester
Jan 13, 2009 (6:03 pm)
hey Don, I had an 02 Passat and an 06 Passat. great cars when they are not in repair! I bought my first Subaru product last May..An 09 Forester LLBean (limited). I have been very happy with its performance,MPG , and cabin comfort. I am happy to be rid of the turbo lag and premium gas. The AWD, so far upstate new york has been incredibly great. The cargo space is a nice treat as well. I do find the interior to be on the cheap side, however I have looked at many others , and plastic is what they are all using.even VW. I do not think you could compare the Venza to the Forester . The four cylinder AT, performs smoothly and is more than ample for me. I find myself doing 80 very easily and needing to slow down. Go test drive one and see
#2859 of 3747 Re: Forester search [DON__FLORIDA]
Jan 13, 2009 (6:10 pm)
The Venza is comparable in size with the Outback, and is much larger than Forester or Tiguan. It's a first year car too so expect some minor issues.
To Subaru's credit, they've so far been pretty good about addressing first year issues with my Forester, via my servicing dealer.
Wrt any new car, I would thoroughly research the local dealers and make sure they provide good after sales service. For Subaru in my area, I've the choice between a crummy one and a good one (the good one's a bit farther away); the good one gets all my business