What’s so Special About Subaru?
It is impossible to meet a Subaru driver and hear anything negative about it. All you will hear is praise and acknowledgment of how good a Subaru car is. There’s a good reason why Subaru owners would rather die than talk down the brand, no matter how bad their head gaskets are. But what’s so special about Subaru, or is the brand not as good as the fanboys would have you believe?
From aircraft to scooters to cars
Subaru’s parent company, Fuji Heavy Industry, originally built aircraft and also served the Japanese army in World War 2. Reorganization after World War 2 saw the company turn into Fuji Sangyo Co., Ltd., and created the Fuji Rabbit, a motor scooter, with spare aircraft parts from the war. Again, between 1953 and 1955, the merger of five of its twelve divisions led to the creation of Fuji Heavy Industry, where its CEO wanted the new company to be involved in car manufacturing.
The Subaru 1500 was the brand’s first automobile. Due to several supply problems, just twenty were produced. After that, the company made a lot of different cars, like the 1500 in 1954, the small air-cooled 360 in 1958, the Sambar in 1961, and the 1000 in 1965, which was the first car to have a Subaru boxer engine.
In 1968, Nissan acquired stakes in Fuji Heavy Industry, and thus a partnership was built that lasted for years and saw Subaru emerge as a distinct car manufacturer. Nissan liquidated its shares in 1999, and GM was the new partner.
With its help, Subaru’s market share in North America boomed and Subaru gained traction in the car market. It was a rather short-lived partnership, as in 2005, GM sold its shares to Toyota, making it Subaru’s new ally. This proved successful because Toyota and Subaru are getting along well to this day.
Subaru of America
A wacky little 1-and-a-third-seater car that got 61 miles to the gallon in 1958 was Subaru’s first American offering, back when fuel efficiency was cutting edge. Throughout its pricey color TV commercials, Subaru proudly announced to the Western world that the little Subaru 360 was “cheap and unattractive.” It was easy to use, cheap, and even included suicide exits. This wasn’t a good thing, though, back in those days.
Looking back, they haven’t really gone off the rails. With the 2017 WRX, Subaru is making a concerted effort to reclaim the stigmatized “ugly” label, and yet the company continues to produce vehicles of undeniably great quality that are simply unparalleled.
This doesn’t mean they’re the best in terms of dependability or usefulness; rather, they provide services in line with the expectations of their niche market and never deviate from this path.
A boxer engine and all-wheel drive. You just need to hear these words, and the first thing that comes to mind now is, “Subaru.” But there is much more to it than just this. A reliable and dependable car (the exception being engine gas kits), an oddball among the ocean of cars, and most importantly, rally racing swag; all of this makes it an attractive car and easy to fall in love with.
Let’s get into the details of how Subaru makes you not hate it, even if it’s a mainstream car manufacturer.
1. Heart of a Boxer
All Subaru cars are powered by the legendary Subaru Boxer Engine, which is known for its precise engineering, quiet operation, and quick acceleration.
Subaru is confident that the horizontally-opposed engine layout provides the best possible driving experience. By being arranged in a symmetrical pattern around the crankshaft, the pistons cancel out vibrations from each other and create a quiet, steady ride.
Subaru’s Boxer engine placement is lower than that of conventional in-line engines, creating a more even driving experience on both the left and right sides of the automobile. It also lowers the center of gravity of the car, making it safer, more comfortable, and more fun to drive.
The thing is, you don’t see every other car on the road with a Boxer engine (except when you get left behind by a Porsche 911 or Cayman/Boxer). Its technical advantages and disadvantages aside, just the fact that it uses a unique engine makes it special. There is a feeling of being different from everyone else yet being just like everyone else.
2. All four wheels are supposed to work
This is undoubtedly the best reason to buy a Subaru for many Subaru owners. There’s good reason Subaru cars have a solid reputation for reliability and performance. Symmetrical all-wheel drive has been a staple of Subaru’s lineup for decades (BRZ excluded).
With the Symmetrical AWD, you’ll feel safer, more in charge, and have more fun behind the wheel. This is why Subaru cars are so popular in the harshest regions of the United States. Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive gives drivers an unbeatable sense of control in snow, ice, rain, or other slippery conditions.
Compared to standard AWD systems, it constantly sends torque to the wheels that are more stable, giving you an advantage in any weather.
The benefits of the symmetrical AWD system do not stop with use in bad weather. You may avoid frequent issues like oversteer and understeer with the help of symmetrical all-wheel drive, which provides constant power to all four wheels even on dry roads for a sensation of balance and rapid response.
In a nutshell, Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive provides a level of safety, precision, and confidence that is unmatched by other vehicles, allowing you to feel more in tune with the road than ever before.
That’s why Subaru has become the go-to name when it comes to all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicles and making the most of life’s adventures. For the price of a similar rival car, you get an impressive true all-wheel drive system. That makes it a no-brainer if your commute is traction-demanding.
3. You can count on Subaru
Subaru’s engineers work in a unique way compared to their competitors. You won’t find any gimmicks or extra features to set them apart. They have a captive audience of people who want a safe and reliable vehicle to replace the one they bought. It’s not a bad thing that the platforms rarely evolve and eliminate bugs rapidly; in fact, that’s what makes them so reliable and long-lasting.
Subaru keeps it within the Impreza to Ascent parts-sharing range, which covers the hatchback to mid-sized SUV market, whereas Chevrolet must adapt to producing everything from Sparks to semis.
Their rides are more consistent and user-friendly, they get higher gas mileage, and the all-wheel drive is easier to control and it’s more difficult to accidentally disengage. All of this makes the Subaru a dependable and reliable car that fulfills what it promises, and that’s all you need from a car you bought with your hard-earned money.
4. Rally Heritage
Maybe Colin McRae is a name that’s familiar to you. And what about the Subaru STI 22B? Subaru is the manufacturer with the longest history of participation in the World Rally Championship, and their performance in Group A rallies is renowned.
Previous successes include three consecutive Manufacturers’ Championships (1995–1997 and 2001–2003) and three consecutive Drivers’ Championships (1995–1996, 2001–2003). They have a total of 46 rallycross victories to their name.
Nevertheless, Subaru really knows what they’re doing when it comes to fast driving and maximum control, and it’s hard to see any other brand coming close to matching them, except maybe the Lancia Delta.
You don’t see many manufacturers take a deep interest in motor racing, but Subaru holds the WRC close to its heart. That’s where they learn to make exceptionally good cars. For most Subaru die-hard fans, this alone is enough, as it gives them assurance that it has all the right things to make it a dependable car.
5. Wild Appeal
Subarus can outperform rival cars their size and price range. Even when hitting boulders and snowbanks, you feel tank-like. Stock clearance is where Subarus shine. The Forester, Outback, and Crosstrek are all 8.7″ tall—0.6″ more than the RAV4. The more terrain you cover, the more you’re astonished. The automobile enters, centers, and exits well.
Smooth off-road riding is easier with more travel. Bigger shocks are more comfortable than pricey ones. If all that clearance isn’t enough, the Outback and Forester Wilderness feature a skid plate.
All in all, in addition to all-wheel drive, you get reasonable hardware to make the Subaru wilderness capable, if not in an off-roader sense. It is more capable than any of its rivals in stock form, and this is where Subaru stands out. You don’t need a special vehicle or to pay extra money for it; just a Subaru is enough. Remember that Subaru is a long-standing player in rally racing, something not everyone is.
6. Subaru Culture
Imagine a car culture that is so fervent that hundreds of devotees travel to six separate areas to celebrate the sheer possession of their vehicles. The attendance at each of these events, as seen on social media, is astonishing. What other organization supports fully name-brand-only races and circuits for their own makes and models?
This Subiefest is only one example of how Subaru owners’ affinity unites them. One such branch is so large that it is simply known as “Wicked Big Meet,” and yep, it is only for Subarus. Subaru owners may not throw their arms around as Jeep owners do, but they still take tremendous pride in their vehicles because of the wonderful sensation that comes with owning and operating a Subaru.
Whether you love it or hate it, Subaru has a fan base that is loyal for all the good reasons.
The Subaru Method involves extensive research, testing in the Japanese snow or on rally stages, and waiting until the competition has sold many unsuccessful versions of a technology before releasing their own successful variants, such as continuously variable transmission (CVT), their first all-wheel-drive system (AWD), or even an opening sunroof.
As you can see, Subaru drivers don’t care about frills like lane keep assist and air-conditioned seats, but they do value a vehicle’s character, and in this regard, Subaru is consistently reliable.
It all boils down to the fact that buying and owning a Subaru is more of a conscious decision than just buying any other car because you don’t just end up owning one. If it’s simply a car you’re in the market for, you might decide to buy a Honda, Hyundai, or something else that’s a little more mainstream.
If I see you driving a Subaru, I can tell it was a more deliberate choice. It isn’t the least expensive vehicle in its class, and they are all somewhat uniquely styled. There’s some great value for money to be had in the current lineup, but only if you want and need AWD capability. Some people just don’t like to follow the crowd, and if you buy a Subaru, you’re certainly not part of the herd.
They’re very good vehicles and the brand’s rally heritage is legendary, so check out a Subaru today to find out what you might have been missing, but only if you can live with how they look.