• Apr 12th 2010 at 1:02PM
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2010 Subaru Legacy – Click above for high-res image gallery

Consumer downsizing is a term automakers use to describe the current trend in car buying. In the real world, it means searching for small, efficient cars to replace gas guzzling behemoths. For Subaru, this trend continues to lift sales up at a remarkable rate.

Subaru has witnessed a 40 percent sales increase from last year and reported 2010 first-quarter sales of 57,494 units, a three-month all-time sales record for Subaru. The company's recent introduction of the continuously variable transmission (CVT) has increased mileage ratings across most models and contributes to near best-in-class efficiency. The company doesn't credit all of its recent sales successes to efficiency alone, since miles per gallon can only get you so far (ba-da-bing!). Subaru executive vice president Tom Doll told Ward's Auto:
Our cars have always done well in the used market. Our cars have always done well in crash-testing. But now we're finally being recognized, and that's driving a lot of people to take a look at our products. And we've got cars with all-wheel-drive capability and outstanding fuel economy – what's not to like? And in this market today, when people are coming out of SUVs and trucks, we're filling that void.
Subaru has reported sales gains in eight of the past ten months and appears to have found that magic formula for success in a weakened economy – efficiency, safety, resale value and positive vehicle reviews. Mix all four just right, add a pinch of something special, and sales just might skyrocket.

[Source: Ward's Auto]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's true. Subaru gas mileage is bad. They have joined the ranks of the likes of GM, who have decided, rather than improve fuel economy, to just SAY that their cars are efficient (and say it over and over). Plus they call their cars trucks. Bad Subaru!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I like to think it is the blandification inherited from their new Toyota masters that's helping.

      The legacy is a dog. Few color choices. Fat ass. Heavy. No interior color choice. Hardly any sticks. Turbos on the way out. No wagon.

      They might as well re-badge the Camry and call it good.

      Note: I drove an '05 Legacy for five years. The LGT was awesome, and it was indeed bland to some, but I preferred it to this new abortion. When I needed a new family car I found no turbo wagon from Subaru so went elsewhere. Their loss.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I believe having a diesel option in the US would spur sales even more. Our "Bring Subaru Diesel to the US" Facebook fan page is only a few weeks old and there have been a lot of people joining in hopes that Subaru will get the message that we want the diesel boxer and we want it now. Our family owns 4 Subarus, all but one has over 100K miles. I'd really like to trade in one of the higher mileage Subarus for a diesel version. Unfortunately, my only real option right now is to get either an Audi A3 TDI or VW Sportwagon TDI.
      • 5 Years Ago
      As @jeffzekas says, Subaru "efficient powertrain" is currently a joke. My 1998 Impreza Outback Sport gets 20/27 MPG, the same model DROPPED to 18/26 for most of the 2000s, for 2010 it's back to 20/27. BFD. Just putting the CVT from the Legacy will increase those numbers by 4 MPG. In Europe the 6-speed diesel Impreza gets 6.4L/100km vs 8.4L/100km for the gasoline CVT, so that's another decent bump.

      AWD hurts MPG, so manufacturers tend to leave it off their fuel-efficient models, e.g. the Audi A3 TDI (30/42) has no AWD (the Audi A3 quattro 2.0 gas model gets 21/28).

      The Ford Escape Hybrid currently is the most fuel-efficient AWD in the USA with 30/27, but it's an ugly-ass "compact" SUV. The upcoming Mini Crossman should do worse in the city and better on the highway. Toyota or Lexus should easily win this segment, but they only offer hybrid versions of their fat-ass SUVs. 27/25 for a 7 passenger Highlander is amazing, so where's the RAV4 or Matrix AWD Hybrid model?

      It seems AWD lets manufacturers bypass Toyota's transmission advantage by offering a "through the road" hybrid with separate ICE and electric powertrains on front and rear axles. This layout has shown up on lots of concept cars, but AFAICT no one actually sells one..
      • 5 Years Ago
      If they bring that little boxer diesel over here, they won't be able to keep them on the showroom floor. VW figured it out, I just can't figure out what Ford, Honda, and Toyota are thinking. A forty+MPG Subaru would just kill Ford, Toyota and Honda's small FWD cars, and if history is any indication, they won't react until they get their ass handed to them again! In case you haven't noticed, their guy is right, those little Subarus rate pretty high..
      • 5 Years Ago
      I know I may be in the minority here, but I like CVT's for everyday use (granted, I've only driven Nissan and Subaru CVT's, which I hear are better than most). When it comes down to it, given the same engine in the same car, a CVT will provide both better accelleration and better fuel economy.

      While traditional transmissions may offer pleasing sensations and it was weird getting used not shifting at first, I have a feeling we will see CVT's catch on more and more...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Sadly the only significant change has been the styling. That is what is selling more of them. Good car that is finally attractive.

      Nothing wrong with the boxer engine though. Best car and engine I have ever driven was a WRX. Amazing performance and handling. What does not get good fuel economy is AWD. Sorry, but you guys comparing the fuel economy of a Subaru, to 2WD cars with engines and bodies half the size are...well, what is wrong with your reasoning power? And why don't you understand that it is hard for a tiny car company to pay for the engineering needed to develop new engines and cars? Or even new markets. An unsuccessful marketing venture of their diesel engine in the US could put them out of business. Easy decision to keep going they way they are when their sales are increasing. Baby steps is all you can expect from a small company like Subaru.
      • 5 Years Ago
      They've eked out about as much mpg as possible with a naturally-aspirated gasoline engine powering a full-time AWD drivetrain.

      Unless they move to gasoline-electric hybrids or bring their European turbodiesel engine over here they'll be paying some hefty CAFE fines in the future.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Glad to see better MPG is driving sales. Now Audi and BMW are combining sport and MPG. I feel this approach will drive better sales. MPG combined with another deliverable, like all wheel drive with sell better than MPG alone.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ironically, Subie petrol mileage is NOT that good! - 22 to 23 mpg in town? HORRIBLE! My 1958 Volkswagen Beetle got 25 mpg in town, and 35 mpg on the highway - and all that with 1930's technology!!! We own Subies for their all-wheel-drive, and the fact that Subaru is a relative bargain, compared to competitor Audi - but "good" gas mileage? HA! When Subaru can equal the MINI or Honda Jazz (nee Fit) with their 30 plus city mpg - THEN - Fuji Corporation can brag about "downsizing" - in the meantime: Subaru gas mileage is TERRIBLE for a small car! Of course, if there were a DIESEL Subaru - THEN - Subaru will have bragging rights!
        • 5 Years Ago
        The 2.5 boxing 4 engine is crap.
        Subaru's CVT has way too many gear meshes, and it doesn't have four wheel drive-there is no center differential.
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