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When you think of iconic off-road brands, where does Subaru fall on your radar? Somewhere in the middle? Perhaps near the bottom? Don't worry, you're not alone. Until recently spending some time in Bend, OR, where we drove the all-new 2015 Subaru Outback, we never really pegged the Japanese automaker to be a highly lauded brand among off-road enthusiasts, despite many of the company's products actually being quite capable when the going gets rough.

But the data says we're wrong. According to a 2013 J.D. Power study, Subaru vehicles have some of the highest use off road compared to other brands – of course "off road" here just means anything not on a paved road, so even gravel trails and tame two-tracks count in these statistics. Nearly 29.5 percent of its cars are used on trails and dirt roads, with only the Ram and Jeep brands besting that statistic, at 30.2 and 31.0 percent, respectively. Said another way, Subaru sold 424,683 vehicles in the US in 2013, meaning that some 125,281 saw off-road use. Mainstream brands like GMC, Ford and Chevrolet all trail Subaru, and even Land Rover comes in at less than 20 percent.

Some 34.7 percent of Outbacks are taken off paved roads, according to J.D. Power data.

With the Outback, specifically, similar 2013 J.D. Power data shows that the tall wagon has the highest use on unpaved roads compared to its entire competitive set. Some 34.7 percent of Outbacks are taken off paved roads, compared to its next-closest competitor, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, at a distant 21.1 percent. Trailing further behind those two are classmates like the Volvo XC70, Ford Edge, Hyundai Santa Fe Sport, Toyota Venza and Audi Allroad.

Subaru owners are "190 percent more likely to do outdoor activities than other brands," Michael McHale, Subaru's director of corporate communications, tells Autoblog. And in Subaru's top markets – places like the Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountain regions and New England – it's extremely common to see Outbacks and Foresters covered in mud with bikes or kayaks on the roof.

This sort of data absolutely shows in the company's sales figures. Look at 2013, for example – the marque's three best-selling products were the Forester, Outback and XV Crosstrek, in that order. The butch XV handily outsold the Impreza on which its based. The Outback outsold the Legacy nearly three to one. The Forester outsold the Impreza, Legacy, WRX and WRX STI combined. 2013 marked Subaru's sixth consecutive year of record sales, and through June 2014, the company has posted 31 straight months of year-over-year sales increases.

Of course, that's easy to do when you're still a smaller automaker like Subaru. But "we like being small," McHale tells us. Straying from its strong suit has proven problematic for the automaker (see: SVX, Tribeca), while staying focused on its core models has proven successful, especially as the broader market has really come to embrace the crossover lifestyle. With strong new products like this Outback on the horizon, the momentum is sure to increase.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 74 Comments
      Solarmike
      • 1 Year Ago
      I have a Beetle tdi with a 2" lift kit, 1"taller than stock truck tires and engine chipping and I do live in Bend and my Beetle (SUB) has seen way, way more miles off road than ANY SUV! It has also towed 60 cords of firewood in its life time, hauled away a chimney and pulls my camper better than my friends Rover. Did I mention 235,000 on the odo and 40mpg tank average? When Subaru comes to America with a diesel they will pull me away from my VW. I have videos on you tube to prove it. Mines the green one.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Solarmike
        Somebody actually makes a lift kit for a Beetle?
        FuelToTheFire
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Solarmike
        It's OK that you're gay, LMFAO.
        normc32
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Solarmike
        Subaru does nothing any other car could do. The marketing makes people think they are outdoorsman or something.
        Basil Exposition
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Solarmike
        Sounds interesting, and certainly unique. I kinda want to see pics - do you have a link?
      Robert.Mauro
      • 9 Months Ago

      Loving my Subaru Outback... loving off-roading in it... and I'm not talking about gravel roads... 


      ...onto the trails and beach for me. :-)


      On the beach with my Outback

      • 1 Year Ago
      This story is a total fabrication! I am the founder of an offroad club called Pacific Northwest Twisted Axles and we have a little over 350 members. None of us have wheeled with a Subaru. Many vehicles travel on dirt roads or gravel roads but that doesn't make the vehicle qualified for offroad usage. I dare any Subaru to follow any of my members where we wheel. I dare the president of Subaru to follow me!
        • 1 Year Ago
        Thats awesome. maybe you should look at offroad subaru alliance (244 members) Hella Functional subarus (98 members) subarus offroad (310 members) or one of the many other groups. I mysel an an admin to Houston subaru club (632 members)
        rsholland
        • 1 Year Ago
        So in your mind only severe off road driving, like rock crawling, Rubicon/Moab climbing, etc. as being considered as *off-road worthy*. Tell that to the thousands of campers, fishermen, hunters, hikers, mountain bikers, kayakers, skiers, farmers, etc. who use their Subarus to deliver them to their favorite off-road locations. There's a huge world of off-roading out there that's beyond 'solid-axle-only' driving.
          GR
          • 1 Year Ago
          @rsholland
          The problem is that "offroading" here is loosely defined. I love Subaru and have driven an Impreza and a Legacy quite a bit on trails and "offroad". However, I also used to own a Suzuki 4x4 SUV and took that many places that would have destroyed my Subarus. For real offrroading, you really want a SUV with a full range 4x4 system including low gearing among other suspension and chassis characteristics. Honestly, I know Subarus can take you far out there, but if you've really offroaded before like I have, you simply just know there are trails that no Subaru could make it on. This is where vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler come out and play. I think Subarus are cars that can do most things very well, but in the extremes, you want a more purpose-built vehicle.
        • 1 Year Ago
        Found the Jeep owner who dumped $30,000 into his TJ!
      Zack
      • 1 Year Ago
      Is there a link the full list anywhere?
      Kevin Chen
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wait, Land Rover had less than 20 percent? Must be those gravel driveways ...
      AcuraT
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is not surprising. Subaru in their promotions targets the offroad people, and in their marketing to existing customers, hightlight that aspect. The only cars they build not intended for offroad are the BRZ (a decent selling small sports car) and the Tribeca (a too small crossover three row SUV that does not sell).
      wilkegm
      • 1 Year Ago
      Not really a revelation- the #1 Brand only sells SUV. The #2 Brand only sells trucks. Most of Subaru's volume is in the Outback and Forester- both SUV/SUV-ish. Not having seen the JDP study, GMC is probably also close, since they don't sell cars. The real sad sack here is Land Rover- every one of its vehicle having acclaimed off-rad prowess, which is heavily marketed.
      Robert.Mauro
      • 9 Months Ago

      Loving my Subaru Outback... loving off-roading in it... and I'm not talking about gravel roads... 


      ...onto the trails and beach for me. :-)


      On the beach with my Outback

        Myface Yourbook
        • 8 Months Ago
        @Robert.Mauro

        Sucker kicks ass off-road too,My wife's 4runner kicked my ass in the woods but in the end I trashed the 4runner getting out of the woods. Light and fast on the Crosstrek.

      JanaN
      • 5 Months Ago

      I love my Outback! My kids and I make an adventure out of just about every weekend in my car. I was introduced to Subaru back in 2009 when I purchased my first one from Subaru Greensboro NC and I've been a fan ever since. 

      Myface Yourbook
      • 8 Months Ago
      I compare Subaru to Apple. Apple people are so closed minded that when Apple introduces an upgrade "appledone"'  go crazy not knowing the technology was there years ago. My point. I owned Toyota's ( My Apple) for ever and that is a great vehicle!! but now own a Subi (Windows) and so far I love it. Why did I switch ? Try something different. But thus far.... Love that Subi, 
      FuelToTheFire
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't understand why people consider Land Rover an off road brand. Their "SUVs" re nothing more than sedans with an loft kit. I'm pretty sure nobody that off roads takes them seriously.
        _I_I_II_I_I_
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        you really do not know what you are talking about
        Jmaister
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        Land Rover is the only luxury brand that has usable offroad SUV.
        smilez1105
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        Man you are stupid
        • 1 Year Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        [blocked]
      vwkid4life
      • 1 Year Ago
      Lesbians love camping
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