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2015 Subaru Outback wading into NY show fray

Tue, 11 Feb 2014 09:15:00 EST

The current-generation Subaru Outback was never going to win any beauty contests with its blend of rugged SUV looks and station wagon design. Still, it's found lots of fans - even five years after its launch, the Outback was Subaru's second-highest selling model in 2013. With the reveal of the next-generation 2015 Legacy at the Chicago Auto Show, it should be no surprise that Car and Driver says Subaru will reveal the next Outback at the New York Auto Show in April.
If previous generations are any indication, the next Outback will likely borrow liberally from the new Legacy, including its platform and engines. In addition to its five-door, station wagon design, the Outback will almost assuredly feature added body cladding and a higher ride height than the Legacy. Subaru's big push with the new Legacy will be to improve interior quality and comfort with liquid-filled engine mounts, an acoustic glass windshield, increased sound deadening, new infotainment systems and new safety tech. All of these will probably appear in the Outback as well.
After its rumored New York reveal, the 2015 Outback is expected to go on sale around the same time as the new Legacy in the summer of 2014.

2015 Subaru Legacy is fresh-faced and more frugal

Thu, 06 Feb 2014 11:30:00 EST

While Subaru posted its best sales year ever in the United States in 2013, over half of its sales came from the success of the new Forester and popularity of the Outback. Its midsize Legacy sedan, on the other hand, saw sales tumble 10.3 percent. The company known for its all-wheel drive models hopes to right that trajectory with the 2015 Legacy. The all-new sedan sees a slight bump in fuel economy and a commitment to giving buyers a better product to compete against segment stalwarts like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.
The refreshed sedan wears Subaru's new design language, which was teased by the Legacy Concept at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show. However, the production version takes the hard, crisp lines down several notches, and it is bordering on boring at first glance. The best detail of the new design is the new hexagonal shield grille at the front that lends a little upscale panache over the current car's simple, rectangular front end. The coupe-like roofline has also been toned down from the concept, but it does smooth out the rear better than the current gen.
The Legacy's engines are carried over almost identically from last year's car. However both flavors of manual transmission are finally bowing out; all models now come with Subaru's Lineartronic CVT. Output from the 2.5-liter boxer four-cylinder sees a slight bump to 175 horsepower (2 hp more than last year's model) and 174 pound-feet of torque. The 3.6-liter boxer six-cylinder is unchanged at 256 hp and 247 lb-ft. Fuel economy benefits from the new platform with the 2.5-liter model rated at an estimated 26/36/30 miles per gallon city/highway/combined, a boost of 2/4/3 mpg, respectively, over the previous generation. The 3.6-liter also sees a modest rise to 20/28/23 mpg, 2/3/3 mpg better respectively. Fairly impressive figures for an all-wheel-drive, midsize sedan.

Consumer Reports says Toyota, Ford, Honda and Chevy are big winners in brand perception survey

Wed, 05 Feb 2014 06:00:00 EST

According to Consumer Reports, the automotive brands that stand out in the minds of car buyers are, in order: Toyota, Ford, Honda and Chevrolet. This news comes after the magazine polled its readers, asking them to take into account vehicle quality, safety, performance, value, fuel economy, design/style, and technology/innovation - which are the factors that car shoppers are most influenced by.
It's important to note that this award is only about perception. In other words, it's perceived quality, not actual quality. "Often, perception can be a trailing indicator, reflecting years of good or bad performance in a category, and it can also be influenced by headlines in the media," said Jeff Bartlett, Consumer Reports deputy automotive editor.
The brand that made the biggest jump in perception amongst Consumer Reports readers is Tesla, which posted an impressive 47-point gain to finish in fifth place. Subaru is also notable for finishing in the top 10, despite being one of the smaller manufacturers doing business in the US. Scroll down below for all the details from Consumer Reports, if you're so inclined.

2015 Subaru Legacy spills out ahead of Chicago

Tue, 04 Feb 2014 09:50:00 EST

Subaru has been one of the industry's hottest automakers, recording record sales month after month. Those handsome figures have come largely on the backs of its crossover lineup, however - models like Forester, Outback and XV Crosstrek have been carrying all the water. The Japanese marque has seen less noteworthy performance out of its midsize sedan, the Legacy, but a new one is slated to be revealed later this week at the Chicago Auto Show, and it hopes to improve the company's family sedan fortunes.
Leaked here in these first photos, the 2015 Legacy picks up some cues from the brash Legacy Concept revealed at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show, but it loses some impact and gains a pair of rear doors versus the showcar. There's little new visual ground broken, but the overall look is more harmonious than its balloon-fendered predecessor. As is often the case, it has features that make us think of other cars, but overall, it looks to be a handsome (if conservative) design. We particularly like the sleeker roofline and the bold front grille treatment - the latter will likely serve well as the face of the next Outback.
Subaru has traditionally offered function-over-form interiors, and while the new dashboard remains visually staid, it looks to have picked up a number of nice new features, including improved HVAC controls, a new steering wheel and freshened touchscreen navigation system.

Subaru teases all-new Legacy ahead of Chicago debut

Thu, 30 Jan 2014 09:56:00 EST

Following the debut of the Legacy Concept at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show, it appears Subaru is now ready to show us the real thing. The Japanese automaker has just confirmed that a production-spec Legacy sedan will officially bow at next week's Chicago Auto Show.
All we have to work with right now is the teaser image you see above, as well as some general overview-type stuff from Subaru in regards to its new model. According to the company's press blast, the next Legacy "is a midsize sports sedan which offers enhanced driveability and functionality while achieving a design required for a flagship model with a quality feel." In other words, it's a brand-new Legacy.
The Legacy Concept was a decidedly attractive thing, combining coupe-like styling elements and a new design that sort of reminds us of a Buick Regal GS. Of course, Subaru has a storied history of creating excellent-looking concept cars, only to later unveil very watered-down production versions, so we fully expect its new midsize sedan to be quite a bit more boring than the show car we saw in LA. Let's hope we're wrong.

Scion trying to build business case for FR-S convertible as Subaru bows out

Tue, 28 Jan 2014 09:16:00 EST

Hope may remain for a convertible version of the Scion FR-S, according to a report from Ward's Auto. You'll recall that rumors were swirling about the feasibility of a rear-drive Toyobaru convertible as early as October, and that back in November, Subaru - which makes the FR-S, Subaru BRZ and Toyota GT86 - essentially nixed the idea of an open-topped variant.
"We make the car, so if we don't make it, it can't happen," brand chief Yasuyuki Yoshinaga told Automotive News, according to Ward's, at the Tokyo Motor Show. "Our engineering department told me that losing the entire roof requires a complete redesign of the structure. It would need a big change."
Despite Yoshinaga-san's arguments against a droptop variant, Toyota is apparently still considering the model. Speaking to media at the 2014 North American International Auto Show, Scion's US vice president, Doug Murtha, hinted that the rear-drive droptop was in the works.

Revisit the charms of the 1978 Subaru Brat

Mon, 27 Jan 2014 19:30:00 EST

The Subaru Brat is the automotive equivalent of a teenager with a mullet: weird, a little reckless but brimming with enough self-confidence to make it cool.
The Brat came from Subaru's desire to compete in the burgeoning light pickup market of the late-1970s. To get around the so-called Chicken Tax that added a 25 percent tariff on imported pickup trucks, Subaru threw two seats in the bed, which technically allowed it to be classified it as a passenger car. The result was a great, weird combination of a complete lack of safety, with a low price and lots of driving fun.
In the video below, Motor Trend's Johnny Lieberman takes a 1978 Brat through the desert and shows just how much fun a little pickup can be.

Subaru updates EyeSight system with color-detecting cameras

Sun, 26 Jan 2014 09:00:00 EST

Subaru is giving its EyeSight driver assistance camera system a major upgrade for the 2015 model year with new color cameras, as well as reducing its size by 15 percent over the rather bulky original system.
Subaru locates its EyeSight hardware inside the vehicle at the top of the windshield, which is unlike most other camera-based systems that have their hardware mounted somewhere in the front fascia. The benefit is that these rather expensive components are protected from any detritus that may hit the car, but the original system's size ate up a chunk of the driver's outward view. Thus, the shrinkage should be appreciated by new owners.
The upgraded stereo cameras have a 40-percent longer and wider detection range than the original system's cameras, and their ability to see color allows the system to recognize brake lights at a speed differential of 30 miles per hour, instead of 19 mph before. And as before, EyeSight continues to offer adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and pre-collision breaking that can slow the car automatically if an imminent accident is detected, even bringing the vehicle to a complete stop.

Motor Trend pits Subaru WRX vs. Ford Focus ST

Thu, 23 Jan 2014 20:00:00 EST

The Ford Focus ST has enjoyed a relatively calm, if brief, reign in the world of hot hatches. With nothing else in the class (in the States, at least) but the aging Mazdaspeed3 and Subaru Impreza WRX and the slow-selling Volkswagen Golf R, the Blue Oval's 252-horsepower five door has been the go-to vehicle for those that don't need the high-octane lunacy (and expense) of the rally bred Subaru Impreza WRX STI and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X.
Now, though, as the new Subaru WRX (it's not an Impreza anymore, though, neither is it a hatchback...) starts to arrive at dealers, the Focus ST appears to be under threat for the first time. Naturally, Motor Trend is here to figure out which one is the best, with another one of its Head 2 Head videos. Host Jonny Lieberman puts both cars through their paces, going above and beyond, quite literally, at the very end of the video.
Have a look below and let us know what you think of MT's verdict in Comments.

Comedic Hasselhoff car ad leads to a dream job in Sweden

Fri, 17 Jan 2014 10:30:00 EST

Last month a guy in Florida posted a homemade ad for his 1996 Nissan Maxima online and Nissan bought it from him. This month a guy in Sweden posted a homemade ad for his 1985 Subaru Justy J10 Trendy online and got a job with Swedish car magazine Auto Motor und Sport. When Nils Jangan relocated to a new city and couldn't get a job, the financial drain eventually demanded he get rid of his car. Looking for a way to convince anyone to purchase a 29-year-old hatchback, he enlisted the help of Mordor, Saruman and, naturally, David Hasselhoff giving the thumbs up.
The picture was accompanied by text describing the "Japanese mountain goat" that was "hand-forged" by "the Saruman of carmakers," and its "54 frighteningly well-hung horses." One of its other advertised features was "I.D.N.R.I.S" seat belts, the "Instant Death No Retardation Impact System" meaning the occupants would never have to worry about long-term care if they were "in any collision at speeds higher than 12 km/hour." He asked 10,000 kroner (about $1,500 US) for the beauty, but he was also willing to trade for a job.
After posting the ad on Blocket, a Swedish craigslist, and having it shared throughout the community, Jangan got a ton of interest in the car and a job offer from Auto Motor und Sport, which he accepted. As for the Subie, it ended up going to a local repair shop for just a few hundred kroner, but we imagine Jangan's gets a decent work-related loaner or two to make up for it.