It was all about crossovers for Subaru in 2016.
Between the top-selling Subaru Forester and Outback, and the still-popular XV, high-riding soft-roaders accounted for almost three-quarters of Subaru sales. There were various ups and downs, with the mild drop-off in Impreza sales towards the end of its life countered by demand for the newly arrived Levorg. Add it all up, though, and it was a memorable year for Subaru, which at the end of November was poised to post a new sales record for the brand.
2016 SALES: 47K
2016 YTD results: 43,110 sales, up 7.8%, 4.0% market share
2017 forecast: 50K
RANKING: 9th; 50,000 sales (up 6%), 4.2% market share
It’s all about the new Subaru Impreza and its crossover XV stablemate for 2017. Having arrived just before Christmas, Subaru will be looking to boost sales of its new small car, but it’s the XV that holds the most hope. The higher-riding version of the Impreza hatch with revised bumpers for more visual aggression typically outsells the Impreza by about two-to-one. The new XV – complete with active safety gear, better refinement and a classier interior – arrives mid-year, providing a second-half springboard to boost sales. The loyal Outback market should continue to flock to what is a good car, while the WRX should benefit from a refresh before it’s phased out, leading to some run-out deals. Then there’s an updated BRZ, which will breathe some sales life into the low-volume 86 lookalike.
Fending off the competition will be Subaru’s biggest challenge. It has some great cars, but the competition is more intense than ever, so it’s a matter of maintaining momentum on existing models and forging ahead with new arrivals. The small-car market has some excellent rivals, for example, one of which will be an updated Volkswagen Golf mid-year.
A solid result from a brand with a loyal customer base and a good reputation. But Subaru has to keep the throttle mashed to maintain momentum.