Posts Tagged ‘tribeca’

Subaru Planning a 3-Row Outback for 2018? We Hope So

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

2015 Subaru Outback

2015 Subaru Outback

According to Nobuhiko Murakami, Subaru’s senior VP of global marketing, the rogue Japanese automaker is currently in the throes of making the most difficult, high-impact decision they’ve had to make in the past 10 years. The news comes from an interview between Murakami and Automotive News (subscription required), where the former is explaining the two answers Subaru is mulling for this one question:

What will replace the Subaru Tribeca?

No one was surprised when Subaru removed the Tribeca from their lineup at the beginning of 2014. Their large crossover was an extremely low-seller for a couple different reasons. First, it just looks too weird; families didn’t like it. Strange looks work in segments where drivers value innovation, not when you’re dealing with a conservative audience and facing off against such well-established competition. Which brings us to the second reason…

As Murakami told AN, competition in the large crossover segment is “so strong”. Whatever SUV Subaru offers in this segment will need to stand out from the likes of the Toyota Highlander and Nissan Pathfinder, along with the upcoming third-generation Honda Pilot.

So, whatever Subaru comes up with needs to simultaneously be conservative enough to appeal to families, but distinct enough to stand out from the competition. Apparently they’ve narrowed it down to two options:

Option 1 is to develop an all-new three-row SUV from the ground up with its own distinct look and feel. Basically, this is exactly what they did with the Tribeca back in 2004.

Option 2 is to keep it simple – just make a bigger Outback and keep it in the Outback lineup.

2005 Subaru Tribeca

2005 Subaru Tribeca

The advantages of option 1 are that Subaru would be able to develop an offer around specific features that may not be available in the current Outback. The disadvantage would be extra R&D costs, presumably extra manufacturing costs, and of course the risk that they will pull another Tribeca incident.

The advantages of option 2 are that Subaru already has a highly successful, proven platform in the form of their Outback that they could use for development, manufacturing and even promotion/sales. You can almost see the conversation on the dealership floor: “Ma’am, if you’d like we have that Outback with an extra row of seats.” The only possible disadvantage would be if Subie wants a large crossover with a feature, chassis or layout that can’t be simply transformed from the current Outback. But that seems unlikely.

When you look at it like that, the answer seems pretty simple. A three-row outback is a natural fit for the lineup, and should be more than capable of hitting the Tribeca’s original sales goal of 36,000 units per year. Whatever Subaru does though, it’ll be tough to do worse than the 732 Tribecas they sold last year.

Subaru Teases VIZIV 2 Concept Ahead of Geneva Motor Show

Posted by Stephen On Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

Subaru Viziv 2 Concept Car

As the 2014 Geneva Motor Show grows closer and closer, more and more Japanese car previews are making their way out of the shadows. Today, we’re going to talk about the newest concept to be teased ahead of the year’s first major European auto show – the Subaru VIZIV 2.

As you might expect, the Subaru VIZIV 2 is the sequel to the original VIZIV Concept (pictured below), which we actually saw for the first time at last year’s Geneva Motor Show. However, what you might not expect is that the VIZIV 2 is actually the third iteration of the VIZIV Concept, the VIZIV EVOLUTION having made its debut late last year at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show. So, they really should have called it the VIZIV 3.

Subaru Viziv Hybrid Diesel Concept

What separates the new Subaru VIZIV 2 from the original concept and its second evolution? (And when is Subaru going to come up with a different name for concepts? I really don’t want to see a Viziv 36 at the 2031 Geneva Show!)

Well, the biggest difference is that Subaru has guaranteed us that this concept will definitely become a future-generation crossover. In other words, the VIZIV 2 is reportedly much closer to production than its predecessors. And, just remind you, the VIZIV is expected to herald the replacement for the Subaru Tribeca crossover.

In case you’ve forgotten, the VIZIV name is intended to evoke the phrase “vision for innovation”, and as you can see Subaru has made some innovating changes to this new crossover concept. Since the two teaser photos only show the front fascia, however, that’s really the only area where we can actually see those changes. From what we can tell, the VIZIV 2 gets a new headlight configuration complete with C-shaped LEDs, and circular foglights also surrounded by LEDs. The front grille also looks like it might have been tweaked a bit.

All in all, the VIZIV 2 definitely looks much closer to production than the first two. It looks as if it’s maintained much of the flair of the originals, and perhaps even brought some new design enhancements and technologies to the table.

Speaking of technologies, the original VIZIV Concept featured a 2.0L turbocharged diesel combined with a trio of electric motors – one for each rear wheel and one for the front wheels. The VIZIV EVOLUTION, meanwhile, had a 1.6L direct-injection turbo boxer along with semi-autonomous driving technology. Which powertrain and which technologies will make it into the VIZIV 2 remains to be seen, although Subaru has virtually guaranteed us that the tri-motor configuration will definitely make it into production.

Outside of the VIZIV 2 Concept, Subaru has a couple other goodies planned for Geneva. The WRX STI is set to make its European debut, along with a racing version of the sports car which will compete in this year’s Nürburgring 24 Hours race.

We’ll be sure to keep you updated as soon as we see the new Subaru VIZIV 2 Concept in the metal, so sit tight for a couple weeks and we should have the full scoop. Until then, thanks for reading!

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!