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2015 Subaru Outback offers more room and better econ behind that new face

Thu, 17 Apr 2014 10:55:00 EST

While its new front fascia makes the biggest obvious impact, Subaru says changes to the entire 2015 Outback package make it roomier, more powerful, more efficient and quieter. The hexagonal grille gets it in line with the corporate template, to go along with a new shape to the lower grille and fog light cladding, a sharp crease for a shoulder line and a faster rake to the windshield. The rocker panel cladding and its 'toothed' molding remain, but it now also doubles as a step for when you want to place items on the roof rack.
Under the aluminum hood will either be a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder boxer engine with 175 horsepower and a carryover 174 pound-feet of torque, or a 3.6-liter inline-six-cylinder with 256 hp and 247 lb-ft exclusively in the 3.6R Limited model. Paired to the lower-friction Lineartronic CVT that is the only shifting choice, and aided by features like the active grille shutter system and electric power steering, Subaru estimates fuel economy for the four-cylinder at 25 miles per gallon city, 33 highway and 28 combined, an increase of 1/3/2 mpg over the outgoing car. The sixer is pegged at 19 city, 27 highway and 22 combined, an increase of 2 mpg across the board.
The Outback has grown in every dimension, but never by more than 0.7 of an inch. The passenger cabin grows by 2.7 cubic feet, though, so occupants have more shoulder, hip, elbow and legroom. The cargo hold is enlarged by 1.2 cu-ft with the rear seats up, by 2.0 cu-ft with them down and the load floor is flatter. Accessing it is made easier by the memory height function on the power tailgate and new release handles for the rear thrones. Cabin ambiance is improved by sound abatement measures like an acoustic windshield, thicker panels and more noise-insulating foam.

Subaru previews rally-ready WRX STI for Global RallyCross

Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:00:00 EST

Subaru's long and distinguished history in the world of rallying is about to get another chapter, as it's set to field a team in the Global RallyCross Championship. The car? The all-new WRX STI.
Yes, Subaru will be fielding a GRC challenger, with drivers Bucky Lasek and Sverre Isachsen at the helm. This particular car was teased earlier this week, and is a preview of the eventual GRC model which will launch this fall. The race-ready STI boasts a custom widebody kit with a carbon-fiber rear wing. The roof scoop and the mirrors are also made of carbon fiber, while the wheels are provided by Method. As with all GRC contenders this year, the WRX STI is shod in Yokohama spec rubber. It's not clear what sort of engine sits under the scooped hood, although we imagine we'll find out before the season kicks off in a few months.
Perhaps even more exciting is word that Subaru will also prepare a version of the WRX STI for stage rallies, with Travis Pastrana and David Higgins fielding the new car in the Rally America Championship. That car should arrive later this year.

Subaru teasing STI surprise for NYC show?

Mon, 14 Apr 2014 14:15:00 EST

Subaru is no stranger to the Special Edition car, least of all where its vaunted WRX and STI are concerned. From Spec C to Prodrive to 22B, more than a handful of STI's around the world have been released as limited-run editions, often with stirring results. So, while we were more than a little bit surprised to see that big-wing crop up on the Subaru Twitter page today, we can't say as though its not true to the brand's history.
However, while most of the interesting WRX STI variants have been offered to Europe and Japan only, whatever is wearing that carbon-fiber-lipped wing is set to debut at the New York Auto Show this week.
We don't have a clue as to the precise nature of the car in front of that wing, save to say that it's likely based on the STI. We can guess, however that the extra vertical supports and the use of carbon fiber indicate a higher-performance version than currently exists. Anything from a racing application to some new goodies for the aftermarket are in the realm of possibility.

Subaru might build WRX hatchback after all

Fri, 04 Apr 2014 11:01:00 EST

The 2015 Subaru WRX is awesome. Really awesome. We told you as much in our first drive of the new sedan back in December. Honestly, our only complaint about Fuji Heavy's new performance machine is that it's no longer offered as a hatchback - the new WRX is a sedan-only affair, despite the more functional five-door variant accounting for some 50 percent of sales in the car's last generation.
But there's hope on the horizon, if a report from Australia's Motoring.com is to be believed. Speaking with Masuo Takatsu, Subaru's general manager for the WRX, the company is now re-considering putting the "hatch" back in its hot hatch.
"We have received strong interest from the US, where the hatchback was 50 percent (of previous-generation WRX sales), so we're now considering," Takatsu told Motoring, noting that the United States is Subaru's main target for this car. Additionally, Takatsu said the company's decision to only offer the sedan was the result of limited engineering resources, echoing statements we've previously heard from Subaru's US arm.

2015 Subaru WRX and WRX STI configurator comes online

Thu, 03 Apr 2014 16:28:00 EST

Subaru fans, get your clicking fingers ready - the configurator for both the 2015 WRX and the WRX STI are live on the company's consumer website.
With three trims of the standard WRX and two of the WRX STI available, customers can price out their ideal rally rocket. Aside from choosing a trim level, there's not a whole lot for dreamers to do here. A single interior trim (black) can be paired with a decent spectrum of colors. Each trim level only comes with one optional package, which ranges from $2,000 to $2,500 and includes some combination of navigation, a Harmon/Kardon stereo or push-button start. There are also a number of dealer-installed accessories available, as well.
Hop on over to Subaru's US consumer page, and start building your perfect road-legal rally car.

Subaru Viziv 2 presages Tribeca replacement with diesel hybrid tech

Mon, 31 Mar 2014 18:28:00 EST

Subaru is in the middle of a new product bonanza. It has recent replacements for the Impreza and Forester at dealers, and soon we're getting the WRX, Legacy and if rumors are right the new Outback as well. Now, there are rumblings that there could be two more models from the Japanese brand on the way with styling inspired by the Viziv 2 concept from the Geneva Motor Show.
According to a company insider speaking with Motor Trend, the crossover concept shows the way for the brand's future design language. The shape would be used on a smaller CUV that is still being kept quite secret, and a second, larger one that would replace the recently axed Tribeca. The bigger model is the first priority and is planned as a new technology showcase.
It's rumored to use a turbodiesel, four-cylinder boxer engine that would be boosted with one electric motor on the front axle and two at the rear, with a plug-in hybrid system sourced from Toyota. It should provide a great mix of torque and fuel economy. A smaller flat-six engine would be a second powertrain option. Though the Viziv 2 concept only seats four, the production version would probably offer three rows.

Factory Five's Subaru WRX-based 818 kit now on sale [w/video]

Fri, 21 Mar 2014 13:28:00 EST

The Subaru WRX has always needed a dash more style, and the do-it-yourself carmakers at Factory Five are looking to accomplish a lot more than that with their new mid-engine, rear-wheel drive 818. The sports car started with a contest in 2011 to create the shape for the company's next vehicle, while sticking within certain limits. A designer named Nouphone Bansasi had his entry chosen, and first cars were completed last year.
The 818 is named after its target weight of 818 kilograms (1,803 pounds), and it's offered in two forms. The S starts at $9,990 and is meant for street use, with two seats and a basic interior. The R model for $10,990 is more track-focused and features a tiny windshield and full roll cage. The company claims that complete cars can be built for around $15,000, after factoring in the donor Subaru. Performance is very brisk, with acceleration to 60 miles per hour in under four seconds, according to Motor Authority.
The kits are meant to be something that even a relative novice could put together. All the builder needs to provide is a 2002-2007 Impreza or WRX. The car donates its turbocharged boxer four-cylinder engine, transmission, axles, brakes, steering and other major components. Factory Five supplies the spaceframe, body, suspension, lights, windshield and some interior trim. It doesn't even need paint, thanks to its gel-coated fiberglass body panels. The company also offers a laundry list of options, including carbon fiber aero components, upgraded suspension parts, improved brakes and more. Kits can be ordered in either left- or right-hand drive.

Factory Five's Subaru WRX-based 818 kit now on sale [w/video]

Fri, 21 Mar 2014 13:28:00 EST

The Subaru WRX has always needed a dash more style, and the do-it-yourself carmakers at Factory Five are looking to accomplish a lot more than that with their new mid-engine, rear-wheel drive 818. The sports car started with a contest in 2011 to create the shape for the company's next vehicle, while sticking within certain limits. A designer named Nouphone Bansasi had his entry chosen, and first cars were completed last year.
The 818 is named after its target weight of 818 kilograms (1,803 pounds), and it's offered in two forms. The S starts at $9,990 and is meant for street use, with two seats and a basic interior. The R model for $10,990 is more track-focused and features a tiny windshield and full roll cage. The company claims that complete cars can be built for around $15,000, after factoring in the donor Subaru. Performance is very brisk, with acceleration to 60 miles per hour in under four seconds, according to Motor Authority.
The kits are meant to be something that even a relative novice could put together. All the builder needs to provide is a 2002-2007 Impreza or WRX. The car donates its turbocharged boxer four-cylinder engine, transmission, axles, brakes, steering and other major components. Factory Five supplies the spaceframe, body, suspension, lights, windshield and some interior trim. It doesn't even need paint, thanks to its gel-coated fiberglass body panels. The company also offers a laundry list of options, including carbon fiber aero components, upgraded suspension parts, improved brakes and more. Kits can be ordered in either left- or right-hand drive.

New Subaru Outback spied for the first time

Fri, 21 Mar 2014 10:00:00 EST

The Outback has been a strong seller for Subaru, especially in its most recent generation when it combined station wagon utility with crossover looks. The model is getting an imminent redesign just like its platform-mate the Legacy, and here are the first spy photos of it testing in Europe against an Audi Q5.
The cladding makes it very hard to tell what exactly Subaru is doing with the styling, but it's clear that they are sticking to the combined wagon/CUV look from the current gen. Many parts appear taken almost directly from the new Legacy like the door-mounted mirrors, creased hood and angular headlights. The windshield also appears more steeply raked than today's Outback, and at the rear the taillights look thinner and more vertical.
We are expecting the new Outback to use the revised 2.5-liter four-cylinder and possibly the 3.6-liter boxer six-cylinder from its sedan counterpart at launch. However, a previous rumor indicated the possibility of a smaller six-cylinder and a turbocharged four-cylinder being added to the lineup, but these new engines might still be a few years away.

Toyota tops Consumer Reports best, worst used car values

Tue, 18 Mar 2014 17:14:00 EST

We often mock Toyota for building boring, soulless cars, but a new study by Consumer Reports suggests that regardless of whether that's true, the company has some of the best used cars on the market. In its report on used cars from 2004-2013, the Japanese automaker had 11 vehicles among its brands on the list - more than any other automaker.
CR breaks the list down by cost and vehicle size, and Toyota has at least one entry at every price point and in nearly every segment. To score a recommendation, a vehicle had to perform well in the magazine's initial tests and score above-average reliability results. It also tried to only suggest cars with electronic stability control. Of the 28 recommended vehicles, Honda/Acura had the second most mentions at six, and Ford, Hyundai and Subaru managed two each.
The Detroit brands also made it to the list, but not in a positive way. Consumer Reports compiled a list of 22 vehicles it wouldn't recommend because "they have multiple years of much-worse-than-average overall reliability." General Motors had the most unrecommended models on the list at six, but Chrysler and Ford weren't far behind, with five cars each from their brands not making the grade. The full list of recommendations is available on CR's website.