Literally every manufacturer claims their products are the best you can buy. But how many of them can actually prove it without lacing their reasoning or chosen stats with bias?
The answer is unfortunately many, except for Subaru. Subaru has been one of the few brands consistently winning awards from several different countries for different reasons.
Leaving a few important questions: who does Subaru really appeal to? Who is their target audience? Do they even have one? With a little bit of research and perspective, I hope to help possible consumers come to a reasonable answer.
In case you didn’t know, Subaru really got its fame (and reputation) by incorporating their own AWD systems into the cars imported into America back in 1968. With an ongoing mission to make their cars, “inexpensive and built to stay that way,” Subaru gave Americans a flavor for Japan’s idea of a cheaper, more fun and safer car to drive. Americans, of course, ate it up.
In Europe, it was the Impreza that set a fire in the hearts of young Americans with the impressive (or should I say, ‘imprezive’) capabilities Subaru’s AWD had competing in the World Rally Cross. The Impreza brought home many a trophy home for Subaru back in the day, and even still, breaks records as one of the sport’s most recognizable competitors with the WRX.
The AWD that’s been a standard for all of their models (excluding the fairly new addition, the BRZ) quickly became appealing to those who lived or frequently traveled to places that had less than favorable conditions. Snow, mud, dirt and even rocky terrain presented little challenge for Subaru’s AWD system.
What started as a purchase of necessity for some people split off to be a purchase of desire, as there became a market for thrill seekers. Their inclusion into the outdoorsy scene changed the way they advertise their vehicles, and even began to manufacture accessories for those in that group.
With such a rich history of churning dirt and taking names, it’s not impossible to see why every off-roader can acknowledge Subaru’s seemingly unattainable prowess as an off-road vehicle.
Noteworthy achievements for this audience:
The 2018 Subaru Crosstrek won an award in Russia for being the best overall vehicle for its off-road capabilities, while it’s sibling SUV, the Forester, won an award the same year for being the most reliable car that Russians can buy.
This is a big deal for Subaru when the demanding and extreme conditions of several regions in Russia endure throughout the year are taken into consideration. The northern mountainous regions (where Subaru saw a an explosion of increased sales after the Outback and Forester won awards in the same category) experience unwavering amounts of severe winter storms and deep snow – all of which, the Outback, Forester, and now their Crosstrek proved to be able to traverse without incident.
This victory speaks volumes for the AWD capabilities perfected by Subaru, as it’s clearly dominating competitors in both the AWD category and the 4×4 category. With all the other options presented to the Russian population, such as Jeep, Land Rover, Audi, Honda, Mitsubishi, Hyundai or even Volvo, not being able to measure up to Subaru’s compact SUV.
Protecting What Matters Most
Remember the montage commercials with sappy music where a family would put their newborn baby into the back of a Subaru, and then years later the baby is now a teen learning to drive the family Subaru?
That’s not just a genius marketing strategy – there’s plenty of merit behind their heartwarming depictions. Subaru has some of the most reliable and longest lasting cars in the US, with 97 percent of cars sold in the last 10 years still on the road.
How can a brand so deeply immersed in dirt culture also be the chosen chariot for soccer moms? Well, logically speaking, if a Subaru is supposed to be able to dance around tight corners at 60-70mph on dirt, it should come with reassurance that it wouldn’t kill you if you missed a gear or went into a turn too hard.
So, to make sure their rally drivers were able to stick around for another victory, they were especially careful to make safety a top priority. This, naturally, carried over to their domestic products, winning award after award for how safe Subaru engineers their vehicles.
If a Subaru owner chooses to leave their vehicle’s rally lineage on the back burner, the full-time symmetrical AWD will keep a car full of kids (or dogs – sometimes both) safe and secure in all conditions. The entire Subaru lineup has awards for how safe they are, which is why Subaru’s are also a popular brand among families. Going for the annual ski trip with the twins and Fido in the Subaru is always a safe (and fun) bet.
Noteworthy achievements for this audience:
In America, all of the models Subaru has to offer have won awards for being some of the safest cars you can get. In Japan, it was awarded as the safest cars those of the island can buy.
For 2018, Subaru’s EyeSight technology in addition to the steering responsive headlights earned Subaru recognition from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) as a Top Safety Pick.
Kelley Blue Book has awarded the manufacturer as the Most Trusted Brand for four years running. On KBB’s website, they define this by saying, “Makers of long-lasting vehicles that can go more places with more confidence, it’s easy to see why KBB.com visitors have named Subaru their Most Trusted Brand for the fourth year in a row.”
A lineup for all ages and purposes
Next to nature enthusiasts and families, Subaru wasted no time in enticing the hearts, minds and eyes of the youngsters. With fast, responsive and stylish models like the BRZ and the STi (stick only, no autos), the young guns are eager to become enthusiasts of speed. We can’t forget the WRX, either – the trophies aren’t for being the slowest on dirt, after all. And with a reputation for safety, it’s a smidgen more attractive to parents.
When the turbo was introduced to the Forester in the early 2000’s, the model was able to shake itself free from the granny wagon reputation that followed it since its release. Now, it had a lot more horsepower and a stylish body kit, which brought more eyes on the mom-mobile. Now, a kid could look cool driving it, and it could still be used to haul groceries all in the same day.
These cars don’t come without versatility, though, as even the smaller and faster performance models still come with a sizable amount of cargo space. And while they’re not in the Prius league for mileage, their numbers don’t suck, depending on which model you get and how law abiding the driver really is.
Price wise, used Subarus (depending on the model, STi’s and WRX’s are their most expensive models) are affordable for students on a budget looking for a safe, fun and multi-purpose vehicle.
While these models aren’t anyone’s first choice to do hours worth of commuting in, it’s arguable that they still retain enough of the well-roundedness present in the other models to be a good daily driver. Looking cool while being practical while doing it is a pretty good deal, if you ask me.