Auto blogSun, 25 May 2014 16:31:00 EST
Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Daihatsu have announced an alliance that will see a push to improve fuel economy from both gas-powered and diesel-powered engines by as much as 30 percent before the end of the decade.
The newly assembled Research Association of Automotive Internal Combustion Engines put the roughly $20-million project together, with the Japanese government committing to half the cost while the eight manufacturers will chip in the rest.
According to Automotive News, the automakers will team up and share basic research on internal-combustion engines in a bid to cut costs. Eventually, the results of the research will find its way into a production vehicle, although it's unclear just when we'll see the fruits of this partnership on the road.
Subaru is taking a bit of a measured risk with its new generation of Legacy and Outback. While they ride on a slightly larger platform than before, with a revised front-end design, neither of them looks to be a radical departure from models they replace. Instead of focusing on exterior styling, the Japanese brand is trying to make the vehicles better to own with more sound deadening, improved fuel economy and more available tech. Pricing for the 2015 Outback isn't available yet, but with the 2015 Legacy pricing as a guide, it's likely a few hundred dollars more than the current model.
We just had our first stab at the new Legacy, which is slated to go on sale this summer, but Consumer Reports managed to snag an early look at the 2015 Outback in a sort of mini-review to get an idea of how the new model shakes out. Like many, we'd wager, CR isn't completely sold on the new styling, but seems otherwise moderately impressed by the upgrades. The improvements to the interior and infotainment system are especially well received by them. Naturally, though, CR notes that not everything is perfect with the high-riding wagon.
Scroll down to watch CR's preview of the new Outback and see what it thinks of this practical family hauler.
Subaru has a problem on its six-starred hands, but you wouldn't know it at first glance. Sales are up; in fact, the Japanese automaker has recorded 28-straight months of increased sales in the United States, leading to the best first-quarter Subaru has ever recorded, and 2014 will almost assuredly be the seventh straight year it has posted improvements. So, what's wrong? The answer is simple, though clearly complicated to resolve. Sedans - specifically, midsize examples - have proven a tough nut for Subaru to crack.
The vast majority of those impressive sales statistics have come from just a few models, namely the Forester, Outback and XV Crosstrek. The Impreza continues to sell at a respectable pace, but it's telling that the XV, after just three years on the market, is already Subaru's third-best-selling nameplate, outpacing the aforementioned Impreza (on which it's based), its high-performance WRX sibling and the Legacy, which is now entering its sixth generation, having been first introduced way back in 1989. It's that last model we're examining today.
Despite the fact that the Legacy plays in a hotly contested market segment that includes such stalwart sales champions as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion and Nissan Altima, Subaru's competitor registers as a barely visible blip on the radars of new-car buyers. Graphically illustrated another way, Toyota sells 17 Camry sedans for every new Legacy that Subaru moves.
The Subaru WRX STI has never let anyone question its intentions. With a gaping hood scoop up front, massive rear wing at the back and often found with gold wheels spinning all four corners at the ground, there was never anything subtle about this Subaru. The latest 2015 version is made up of many new parts, but the formula certainly hasn't changed. Evo's Henry Catchpole aims to find if it all still jives together on some misty, Swedish backroads in a new video.
Surprisingly, the movie eschews Evo's standard shtick of big, smoky powerslides in favor of a legitimate review of the new STI. However, this isn't Consumer Reports. As the screenshot above implies, Catchpole isn't afraid to chuck the car around a little and put two wheels off the road all in the name of testing the severe sedan's limits. He just puts an equal amount of focus into how it actually drives.
Autoblog's Steven J. Ewing fell in love with the Subie when he did our First Drive. Does Catchpole concur? Scroll down to watch the STI snaking through Sweden and find out.
Subaru may or may not produce an STI version of the BRZ. Things seem to go back and forth on the subject. But Subaru Tecnica International isn't the only company with a history of tuning Subies. So does Cosworth, and now the British racing firm appears to be turning its attention to the BRZ and its Toyota- and Scion-badged siblings.
For those unacquainted, Cosworth is more than your average tuning company. It's a racing firm first and foremost, having made F1 engines under its own name as well as Ford's (chief among them the all-conquering DFV 3.0-liter V8 of 1960s and 70s fame), not to mention engines for Indy, rally and even high-performance, road-going versions of the Ford Sierra, Chevy Vega and Mercedes 190E. The list goes on and on, but you get the point.
Now withdrawing from Formula One, Cosworth is focusing its attention on tuning road cars again with the launch of the Cosworth Power Package line, the first of which will focus on the Toyota GT86 (aka Scion FR-S) and Subaru BRZ. We don't know just yet what will be included in the packaged dubbed FA-20, but from the video teaser below, it seems there'll be upgrades to the exhaust, suspension, aero and - if we're lucky - maybe a super- or turbocharger for the 2.0-liter flat-four engine. We'll have to wait and see, but we get the feeling that with Cosworth on the job, it'll be worth the wait. Check out the minute-long video below in the meantime.
Subaru unveiled the 2015 Legacy at this year's Chicago Auto Show, and while the company was happy to tell us all about its new platform and features, it kept pricing a secret until now. The new all-wheel drive sedan arrives at dealers this summer with a starting price of $22,490, which includes its $795 destination charge, a $400 increase over last year's model with the CVT.
The Legacy takes advantage of a slightly larger, new platform, which Subaru claims is quieter. The 2.5-liter boxer-four-cylinder and 3.6-liter flat-six engines are carried over from the previous generation, but they see slight boosts in fuel economy. All models also now come standard with a CVT, and, of course, Subaru's Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive.
The range starts with the basic 2.5i trim at $22,490 that comes standard with more airbags than before and a 6.2-inch infotainment system with Bluetooth and iPod integration. The $24,290 2.5i Premium trim really improves things with standard dual-zone climate control, power driver's seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 7-inch infotainment system and more. For $27,290, the 2.5i Limited adds a leather interior, 18-inch wheels, a Harmon/Kardon stereo, heated rear seats, fog lights, wood grain trim and more. A top-spec Legacy 3.6R Limited goes for $30,390 and comes with standard HID low beams.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles isn't the only big name in the auto industry releasing details on its future plans. Subaru, and its parent company Fuji Heavy Industries, is aiming to bump its North American sales up from 478,000 to 600,000 by 2020. Now, that seems pretty reasonable, especially in the face of FCA's hugely ambitious goals for Alfa Romeo and Maserati. It's how Subaru will go about increasing the sales, though, that has us intrigued.
A focus on more fuel-efficient, direct-injection engines will complement a new platform, while the company is contemplating expanding capacity at its Indiana factory, which will now have more room since Toyota Camry production will be ending there.
As for that new platform, it's called the Subaru Global Platform. Original, we know. It's a modular deal and will eventually underpin a vast range of future Subies following its debut in 2016. The new platform may also end up underpinning a seven-seat SUV, which would serve as the successor to the Tribeca and debut between 2016 and 2020, according to Automotive News.
It was back in 2007 that Subaru of Indiana Automotive, under contract from Subaru minority shareholder Toyota, built the first Toyota Camry at its plant in Lafayette, Indiana. Rumblings of the end of that contract work have been around for a while, as Subaru talked of expanding capacity to build more units and add a line for the Impreza, and Toyota talked of moving Camry production to its Georgetown, KY plant. The news was official internally last November when SIA Executive Vice President Tom Easterday told the Louisville Courier-Journal that Camry production would end. Now, Automotive News reports that both automakers have admitted publicly that the end will come in 2016.
SIA currently has a 170,000-unit capacity devoted to the home-brand Legacy and Outback models, while a $400-million expansion increases that to 300,000 units to prepare the facility for Impreza production in two years. Freeing up the 100,000 units of production devoted to the Camry means a 400,000-unit capability, which is far more than Subaru needs at the moment, but the Toyota exit will allow it to expand any way it sees fit. Subaru has said it will absorb the workers on the Camry line and no jobs will be lost, the mayor of Lafayette saying the development could change the timetable for the expansion.
Okay Toyota, make up your mind. Figure it out. Quit playing games with our heart. Either build a bunch of variations of the excellent GT86 (also known as the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ) or don't. At this point, we're just tired of the back and forth. After no shortage of denials, an Australian website is claiming that Toyota is reconsidering convertible, four-door, turbocharged and all-wheel-drive hybrid variants of the GT86. Kindly pass all the salt.
It's not that we don't want to believe the Aussies; we do. But when the story lists the same "sources in Japan" as a lot of the other denials and confirmations about GT86/BRZ/FR-S variants, well, there's a certain sense of the "Boy That Cried Wolf," here. Ignoring all that, then, what does Motoring.com.au claim to know?
Sources claim the GT86 Convertible will arrive in October 2014, while the turbocharged and hybrid sedans are slated for 2016.
In case you're wondering, no, the woman didn't actually hit the dog. This is just a commercial, and a fairly clever one after you get over the perceived canicide, that's meant to show off the desirability of Subaru's lifted Impreza wagon, the XV Crosstrek.
We'll try not to spoil it for you, because it is a fairly humorous piece, but you have to make sure to watch it from start to finish. The found-footage angle of it, which sort of presents it with the same quality as a Russian dashcam video, just adds to the video's ridiculous premise.
We aren't sure if this is an actual ad from the Russian arm of Subaru, as it seems to be posted from an independent account with only one video to its credit. Still, have a look below, and let us know what you think.