Where I lived in California very few people drove Subaru cars, but when I moved to Montana I started to see them everywhere. I asked a local why Subaru’s were so popular in Montana and he said that it was because they are great cars for driving in snow.
What secret does Subaru have that makes their cars superior in snowy conditions that other car companies haven’t figured out yet? Or is their reputation from the past?
They also have a very low center of gravity due to the transverse mounted flat-4 engine and a good torque distribution system. They are also the cheapest (at the low end) of all wheel drive sedans and wagons, have a generally good reputation for reliability, and excellent safety ratings. As there is a lot of commonality between models and model years, the parts are also readily available and not overly expensive (compared to, say Audi or Volvo) even though production volumes are sustantially less than the Big Three domestic automakers or imports like Toyota and Honda, and they are designed for ease of maintenance.
That being said, they are not off-road vehicles, and should not be mistaken for such. They lack the necessary low end torque and although ground clearance on the Outback and Forester models is comparable to many SUVs, it is not sufficient for trail running or rock hopping without substantial modification. Their abilities on slick pavement are good but the stock tires are typically terrible and beg for immediate replacement.
Subarus are very popular in New England as well. We own two Subaru Outbacks (a 2003 with 208,000 miles, and a 2013). The older Subaru has been fairly reliable, but not quite as reliable as my 2004 Toyota 4Runner with comparable mileage.
We just bought a 4Runner and never even considered getting a Subaru because we wanted an SUV, but we also had an AWD Toyota Highlander and I don’t see nearly as many of those as I do Subarus… of course they are a lot more expensive (I think).
Branching off what everyone else says, Subaru makes a range of small and affordable AWD cars. Plenty of other automakers sell AWD cars, but they tend to be expensive upgrade options and/or larger SUVs.
Love my Subaru Outback. Damn thing is just about unstoppable in snow. And it’s a great dog transporter. And it has two features any car that you are counting on for cold weather use should have. Really good seat warmers, and wiper heating elements built into the windshield.
Did I mention the unstoppable AWD? It goes through snow better than the Jeep Grand Cherokee I had before.
Subys have had issues with burning oil in recent years, requiring either a new head gasket (or two, there are two for boxer engines). My two Outbacks didn’t have that problem, and I believe it has been fixed, but you’ll hear people talk about that.
As said… they’re sturdy, they’re mostly handsome-to-bland (as opposed to, say, Aztek), they all have AWD that works well, they have wheel clearance for serious bad-weather tires, they have high safety ratings, they’re fairly cheap and they’re fairly nice cars to drive. Every other car up here in the woodsy northeast is a 'Ru, and there’s one out in the driveway that I am happy to have my California-girl daughter driving in snow and slush.
Having a successful World Rally team helped too. *"The team was historically an extremely strong one, competing in the WRC longer than any other manufacturer team in their current form. It has won the manufacturers’ championship three times, in (1995, 1996, and 1997), and the drivers’ championship three times, in 1995, 2001, and 2003.*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subaru_World_Rally_Team
They dropped out after that when they weren’t doing so well, but their reputation remains, as does the engineering lessons they learned.
That seems incorrect to me, I think they were mostly, if not all, FWD/4WD, like the one I had. Mine ('79) had a lever to switch between the two. Full-time 4WD is a bad idea, the transfer case had a slightly lower gear ratio for the rear wheels, which would wear tires faster and waste gas.
One thing a lot of people liked about Subarus was that they were clean burning and did not require a cataclysmic perverter until the EPA actually mandated them in the '80s.
While there’s a slight and arguable difference between AWD and 4WD, there are many cars that have continuous drive to all four wheels without any unusual handling or tire wear issues. Subarus are one of them.
They used a thermal reactor - kin to a catalytic converter - between 1974 and not much later than 1980, IIRC. Might have been even earlier.
So yes, red-blooded patriots could keep burning leaded gas in them and not put up with any of that pussywhipped unleaded stuff. Too bad the lead in the environment caused sweeping damage we are only now beginning to really understand, including making people so stupid they thought unleaded was a commie plot.
There were two separate issues. Several years ago there was a problem across several models that required new head gaskets. More recently 2011-2014 models have had severe oil consumption problems. There is a class action lawsuit. I had the problem. After getting the run around for a few years they finally admitted to the problem and they gave me a new engine block free of charge.
There is a hidden cost with AWD if you have never had a car with it. It is generally harder on tires and it is recommended that all 4 get changed out at the same time.
I just read this. I’ll have to disagree. And so does the service section of my dealer. Although the wear on tires isn’t nearly as bad as some 4WD it does go through tires faster than other cars. Seems like about 10,000 miles quicker.