Say Goodbye to the Subaru Tribeca; Say Hello to the Subaru WRX

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

After an awesome week talking about roadsters from Mazda, Honda and Nissan, we’re going to start this week on an unfortunately pessimistic note about a slightly less-popular Japanese brand, Subaru.

You see, it was officially confirmed this week that 2014 will be the last year that Subaru manufactures their Tribeca mid-size SUV crossover. (This model started life as a US-only model, and was later introduced to Australasia, Europe and South America.) Furthermore, it seems more and more likely that the upcoming 2015 Subaru WRX, which looked so fantastic in concept form, may end up being less than what we’d hoped. But one thing at a time.

Why Subaru is Axing the Tribeca

Subaru Tribeca

We wish that there were some really interesting reason here, but the truth is that Subaru is simply trimming the fat from their lineup.

On the whole, Subaru has experienced consistent sales-growth every year since 2008, but the Tribeca continues to remain stagnant. Since its original release in 2005, less than 78,000 Tribeca SUVs have been driven off dealership lots in the US. Sales were astonishingly low last year with well under 2,000 units sold by year-end, and only about 1,200 have been sold so far in 2013.

As to exactly why sales of the Subaru Tribeca continue to lag behind, you only need look at the SUV to get a picture of the problem. Simply put, the design is boring… It looks too much like everything else, and in a bad way. And things aren’t much better on the inside either – the SUV was originally meant for five people, and when Subaru bumped it up to a three-row, they didn’t leave enough room for the rear passengers. So it’s uncomfortable AND ugly.

When the Subaru Tribeca originally launched back in 2005, the automotive media had a general consensus of, “This is good, but let’s hope it gets better.” Then, when it was refreshed in 2008, we almost had high hopes – Subaru sold over 16,000 Tribeca crossovers that year. But eventually everybody realized it was the same car in an even weirder-looking package, and sales began to plummet once again.

All that to say, January 2014 will be the last month that Subaru manufactures the Tribeca mid-size SUV, and the last delivery to dealerships will be in February. So, if for some reason you really want a Tribeca, now is the time to get one.

There are rumors that Subaru will be back in a couple years with a Tribeca sequel, but let’s leave that one for another time. After all, 99% of sequels are worse than the original ….

2015 Subaru WRX Coming Soon… But is that a Good Thing?

As you may or may not know, Subaru plans to unveil their new 2015 WRX sports car before the end of the year. If you’ll remember, the production model is supposed to be based on the concept shown earlier this year at the New York Auto Show, pictured below:

Subaru WRX Concept

As you can see, the concept is one slick lookin’ car. And here’s why what it looks like is so important: The WRX has traditionally been one of those cars you absolutely love to drive, but that has inferior aesthetics. You could stereotypically describe the WRX as an Impreza with a hood scoop, and you’d be almost spot-on. The new WRX is supposed to change all that. But, just as we feared, it seems more and more likely that Subaru is going to dash our dreams once again.

According to Carscoops, what you see below is a very likely a Subaru WRX production prototype:

Subaru WRX prototype

Does that look like the concept? Or does it look more like an Impreza with a hood scoop?

The image was taken from a Japanese news story showcasing Subaru’s EyeSight technology, and the pictured car was one of the vehicles used in the demonstrations. It was introduced as an Impreza… But no current Impreza has a hood scoop!

Now, maybe this is just nothing, and we’ll honestly cross our fingers that it’s not the upcoming WRX. But, “that feeling” is getting harder and harder to shake – the feeling that the next WRX is going to be another letdown.

Either way, we’ll know more when the Subaru WRX makes its official production debut at either the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show or the 2013 LA Motor Show (assuming Subaru is still on target for that unveiling). Until then, stay tuned for more Japan car news, and thanks for reading!

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