Out of all the automakers doing business in the US, Subaru is the one that has carved out the most interesting niche for itself in the minds and lifestyles of buyers. Outdoorsy types, dog lovers and active families alike flock to Subaru's rugged nature and all-wheel-drive utility – and they're fiercely loyal, which is probably why Subaru has become a success story.

But Subaru is still a relatively small player in the US market, and with recent profits surging, parent company Fuji Heavy Industries is facing a dilemma: continue on with the successful niche market Subaru has carved out for itself, or attempt to go mainstream and give big players like Nissan and Toyota a run for their money. According to Carscoop, Japan Times and Bloomberg News are reporting that Fuji Heavy is beginning discussions this month to determine which direction Subaru will take.

To deviate from the current model lineup would likely mean making cheaper cars and sacrificing some of the features that have made the brand so well loved. As Fuji Heavy President Yasuyuki Yoshinaga told reporters, "We're not a carmaker that can grow as big as Toyota. And even if we could, reaching that sort of scale would mean we'd stop being Subaru."

What do you think? Should Subaru stay its current course or sacrifice its cult-like following for a bigger piece of the pie? Have a say in our poll below, then sound off in the Comments!



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 149 Comments
      Kimura
      • 1 Year Ago
      If you go mainstream you lose the reason(s) for buying a Subaru, and it just becomes another car.
      SethG
      • 1 Year Ago
      Subaru should not loose their focus. They are making cars that lots of people want to buy. They are making cars that customers are incredibly satisfied with. And they are growing. Subaru should continue to focus on AWD, safety, value and reliability. Then let the marketing people convince more of the market that these are desirable attributes. While there's little doubt that Subarus have become more mainstream over the past generation or two, Subaru's success has been more a result of the market moving towards Subaru than Subaru moving towards the middle of the market.
      thyservant
      • 1 Year Ago
      I bought my Outback a month ago. First Subaru. I love it. The 2.5 is fine for my commute and the light trails I do; this is my first CVT and I'm still wondering what all the negative screaming is about. Sure, it behaves differently than a 4, 5 or 6 speed auto. I like how it settles quickly at around 2000 rpms. It never seems to strain; I guess if I pulled a boat or pop-up the 3.6 would be better suited. While we rarely get snow (for long) in Houston, our torrential downpours wreak havoc with the oils in the tar. The first few rains I have been very impressed with how confident the car handles. I buy cars every 11-14 years. This purchase was the culmination of 2 years of research and test driving. The Outback 3.6 drove similar to the Volvo XC60 and Audi Q5, although their interiors were certainly a step up from the Sube (for $7-8k more....). I will say the sound and nav systems are great for me, but there's been some criticism that Subaru traditionally is not on the forefront of electronics. Their Eyesight option is a direct take-away from Lexus technology. What sold me on the Subaru (besides the test drive) was the boxer engine as well as their approach to AWD. I'd love to see the Outback grow about 4" taller and an inch or so wider. And get a diesel hybrid (yes, seriously). For all their environmental concerns, Subaru is sorely lacking in the hybrid department. Now that they partner with Toyota, the technology is available. Other hybrid options (several mentioned above) - Tribeca replacement Ridgeline competitor Mazda5 competitor
      Winnie Jenkems
      • 1 Year Ago
      Without a doubt, Subaru should stay unique. Don't mess with a good thing, right? Sales, and by extension profits, are going through the roof lately. Cheapening/diluting the brand would be a grave mistake, and one that would likely cause them to lose their loyal core followers. That being said, there is one major opportunity for improvement - styling. Lose the derpy looks (looking at you, Outback) and start making attractive cars again, and the sales growth will continue. The BRZ and 2014 WRX concept are a step.. no, a leap in the right direction.
        rsholland
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Winnie Jenkems
        Subaru sales are great, but I can't imagine how much greater they would be if the cars had stunning looks. Then again, Subaru factories are running full speed. Currently they don't have the production capacity to expand much more. They need more factories—NOW!
      Gettin Randy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Subaru just needs to focus on their roots and keep moving forward. Their sales are absolutely off the charts compared to just a few years ago and their cars are as astounding as ever. As great as their advertising and marketing is, it still doesn't sell anywhere near as many cars as the the cars do all by them selves. All you have to do is drive one for a week and you'll get it. And if that particular model doesn't do it for you, then there is probably something else they make that will. Sooner or later you'll have that AHA moment and never look back. I have worked on and driven basically every kind of car out there and for my money, there will always be a Subaru, or five, in my driveway. It isn't just me either, everyone in my family has a Subaru, and for good reason. There may be other cars out there that are better at one thing or another, but overall, Subaru just has the whole package. They are safe, fun to drive, reliable, relatively fuel efficient and are next to unstoppable in poor weather. The sense of confidence you get while driving one is hard to describe. You just KNOW that you can get where you need to go in one piece. And I don't know about you, but I like driving a car that is a little quirky looking. Who on earth would want to drive the same thing as everyone else? I know I don't. That is just plain boring. And I don't think Subaru builds an 'ugly" car. They're just different. Different is good. Without it, nothing interesting would ever happen. Keep up the good work Subaru. You still have an owner for life!
      Durishin
      • 1 Year Ago
      412% growth and you'd change the formula? Whaaaaa? That is how successful businesses collapse themselves. Subaru, you are great -and growing- because you bring go-anywhere, anytime confidence to drivers who cannot imagine the cost, inconvenience or attitude of ownership of Audi, BMW, Mercedes AWD. So, just keep doing what you're doing. Bring us a nice new WRX, a refreshed Legacy GT Spec. B AND, perhaps a GT Spec. B wagon?
      Krayzeeass
      • 1 Year Ago
      If Subaru stays niche, they should just say "screw it" and give us some of that BRAT action.
      rayv
      • 1 Year Ago
      what i love about subaru is how they don't go out of their way to please eveybody.there's no fun in homogenized product that caters to the lowest common denominator.
      normc32
      • 1 Year Ago
      So the article states Toyota is cheap car maker? Interesting...
      jinushaun
      • 1 Year Ago
      Going mainstream is a race to the bottom. When Subaru becomes just like everyone else, they will have a hard time differentiating themselves in the mind of consumers, and they'll eventually get stuck in the price game. That's not a fun place to be in. No matter how great your cars are, someone else will always make a cheaper car. I'd rather have loyal customers than non-loyal price-sensitive ones as my customer base.
      GR
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't agree that Subaru is all that much of a niche brand as much as it has a niche IMAGE, especially in the US. I think it originates from the marketing that Subaru has focused on. When Subaru first arrived, it was distributed at a small scale. In fact, the first importer to the US was Malcolm Bricklin and his business partner who later sold the rights to Subaru of America. In England, they were first sold among tractors and farm equipment. In the 90's Subaru was the first in the industry to focus marketing to the LGBT community. The response was good and Subaru even became known as the Lesbian car. The brand was relatively small and popular in the North East and North West because of the AWD offering. Stereotypical drivers of Subarus were college professors and Lesbians. In the early 2000's Subaru FINALLY introduced their sportier models. In 2002, the bugeye WRX debuted. This helped to change Subaru's image once again and with the introduction of the Legacy GT and STI in addition to the WRX, it gained the attention of the sports compact and tuner scene. I was living in Southern California around that time and finally saw Subarus on the road other than in the mountains. People were buying them for the performance instead of the AWD or focused marketing response. Now, the brand is gaining popularity because people are FINALLY realizing what many Subaru owners like myself knew all along; Subarus are just as reliable and good as Toyotas and Hondas. With the recent recalls from Toyota and Honda, people started looking at Subarus as an alternative. Subaru also lost much of their competition from their small Japanese rivals such as Suzuki (now defunct in the US) and Mitsubishi (dwindling due to a tiny line up). I believe the combination of recalls from the bigger rivals and the diminished market presence of their smaller rivals has put Subaru in a sweet spot. Subaru also enjoys an independent image from their small, focused roots. I don't think Subaru should expand their line up too much. There is no need to chase the big boys of Nissan and Toyota to offer a full range. I can't imagine much interest in a V8 truck with a Subaru badge. Honda is living proof you can be wildly successful and not offer a full range. Honda does not even offer a 8 cylinder engine in North America, even in its Acura line up. The main issue is whether Subaru should stick to all AWD. Personally, I think the issue is going to answer itself soon with the increasing use of electric motors in AWD. Despite the AWD reputation in North America, Subaru offers 2WD cars in Japan and always done so. Japan is also a country were non AWD models for North America are offered with AWD but through electric motors. For example, the Nissan Cube is offered in AWD in Japan in this configuration. This adaptation in the NA market may be the answer to retaining AWD, but in a more economical fashion that does not result in powertrain inefficiency when not needed.
        normc32
        • 1 Year Ago
        @GR
        Forgot about the LBGT thing. I don't see many lesbian couples in them as there are not many Bajas around. Truth! I here you on the Japanese recall scare that has cause Camry incentives to skyrocket. One can only handle so much free coffee and donuts/bagels. With Honda and Toyota swapping place for most recalled cars, along with the legal cases in the news now, it is only time before the fanboi's, like Adam, are the only ones still defending them. Defending an automobile manufacturer is like defending a sports team or political party as at the end of the day you can buy a ticket and go to the game wearing their swag or cast your vote at the voting booth, you have little impact on the outcome.
          GR
          • 1 Year Ago
          @normc32
          The Lesbo scene with Subaru far preceded the Baja. I learned to drive in a late 90's Outback owned by my lesbian aunts. I also once helped a bisexual girl find an used car and when we looked at a white Impreza 5 door, she immediately stated with fondness that it was a car to get in touch with her LGBT side. I later advised against the car after the test drive because the brakes were shot and the shady dealer refused to reduce the price. Regardless, I think the niche marketing worked for them.
      BColdMan
      • 1 Year Ago
      They should keep doing what is giving them sustained organic growth. That's what makes their current owners loyal and what wins them new customers. If they want to challenge the big boys they should build a separate sub-subaru brand to protect the baby from the sub brand's beige-water.
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