2018 Crosstrek propels Subaru to best-ever April sales

Next up is the Ascent, which hits showrooms in June

  • Image Credit: Subaru
April was a dismal month for most automakers, with sales declines that ranged from 4.7 percent for Ford to a whopping 28 percent for Nissan. So here comes mighty little Subaru, which claimed the month as the best April in its history.

The gain is entirely attributable to the Crosstrek, which is all-new for 2018. Sales of the compact, raised crossover climbed almost 70 percent for the month to 12,266. Year to date, Subaru has sold 45,728 Crosstreks, an increase of 66.6 percent. That helped push Subaru's total U.S. sales to 53,170 in April and 202,873 for the first four months of 2018, increases of 1.5 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively. It also marks 77 consecutive months of yearly month-over-month growth for Subaru.

All other models saw declining sales for April, led by the Impreza, which was down 27.4 percent.

"Our customers' interest in the Crosstrek continues to increase every month," Jeff Walters, senior vice president of sales, said in a statement. "We're now looking forward to the start of production later this month of the all-new Subaru Ascent at our plant in Indiana."

The 2018 version of the Crosstrek went on sale last August featuring a new 2.0-liter flat-four engine, stiff new chassis, more ground clearance and the EyeSight suite of safety technologies, among other changes. But the Crosstrek has been on a hot streak for a few years now, with sales up 15.1 percent in 2017 and 6.7 percent in 2016. The Crosstrek is Subaru's third top-selling model behind the Forester and Outback.

Subaru spokesman Dominick Infante says the company did not see the sales trail-off last year that's typical of a vehicle at the end of its lifecycle with the Crosstrek. "It was essentially a straight line going up, and it was limited by production," he said.

The difference, he said, is that Subaru is now able to make more of them. The company last year shifted production of the Impreza to its plant in Lafayette, Ind., to free up capacity to build more Crosstreks at its plant in Gunma Prefecture, Japan, which underwent a major retooling. The Indiana plant now builds the Impreza, Legacy and Outback after the expiration of a contract in 2016 with Toyota to build 100,000 Camry sedans annually.

Production of the new three-row Ascent crossover will start in Indiana in May, following a $140 million expansion at the plant, according to Automotive News. The vehicle is due in showrooms in June, Infante said, with sales of 60,000 expected in the first year.

"We're very positive" about the Ascent, Infante said. "We have over 4,000 sold orders on that car, and that's with people never seeing or driving them. In terms of pre-sold orders, that's quite high."

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