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The History of Subaru

Zaki Moulvi posted this on Jun 9, 2014

Despite a very rocky road, Subaru has managed to stay afloat as a leading car manufacturer since 1954.  Named for the cluster of stars English speakers know as Pleiades, Subaru was once part of the Aircraft Research Laboratory, which was founded in 1915.

Over the years, the Aircraft Research Laboratory evolved into Fuji Heavy Industries.  In 1954 then CEO, Kenji Kita, had an idea to break into the automobile industry.  Twenty Subaru 1500’s were manufactured and sold paving the way for the Subaru Motor Company we know today.

Subaru of America was established in 1968 as a U.S. sales and marketing subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries and the Subaru brand.  The plant, now located in New Jersey, is responsible for all of the distribution, marketing, sales and service of the Subaru vehicles sold in the United States.

The first cars made by Subaru were conventional four door sedans.  With a limited market at the time, Subaru changed gears and made a successful leap into the newly founded Kei car class with the 360, a tiny vehicle that had a strong resemblance to the VW Beagle.

From there, it forged its way into the all wheel drive industry, using its own engine design to make these vehicles more affordable, stable and fuel efficient then their competitors could.  As a result, Subaru was able to grasp a corner of the automotive market that no other manufacturer could.

At the core of every Subaru is the boxer engine.  This innovative engine design has the pistons moving horizontally, resembling the movements made when a boxer is throwing punches.  A boxer engine is perfectly aligned over the center of a Subaru giving the car better balance which ultimately translates into better control.

Another benefit of the boxer engine is that the flat layout lets the output from the engine flow directly to the transmission which sits directly behind it.  With less engine components in play to absorb the torque, the Subaru boxer engine is more fuel efficient than a standard engine.  It is its unique design that makes its all wheel drive vehicles so cost effective compared to its front wheel drive competitors.

When you lower the center of gravity of the engine, the center of gravity of the entire car is also lowered.  This makes the vehicle more responsive, especially on sharp turns or evasive maneuvering.  Plus, the opposing pistons are able to help reduce vibrations by canceling them out as they work in opposite directions.

One last thing to note about a Subaru boxer engine, in a front end collision the engine will drop down, not forward into the cabin.  This makes it a safer vehicle to be in in the event of an accident.

Other manufacturers cannot benefit from the boxer engine design unless they were to revamp their entire engine bay.  Porsche is the only other company to use the technology in a few of their models, including the Boxster.  Subaru on the other hand continues to use the boxer engine in all of their vehicles to date.

Subaru Models

BRZ – B as in boxer, R as in rear wheel drive, and Z as in Zenith.  Subaru’s brand new sports car is their only model to have rear wheel drive and a six speed transmission.  The centrally located boxer engine paired with Subaru’s vehicle stability control system lets the BRZ sense the steering and braking inputs giving the driver more maneuverability than any other sports car in its class.

Impreza – The most fuel efficient all wheel drive vehicle sold in the United States is also one of the most economic.  Starting at below $20,000 standard, this roomy, yet compact car comes equipped with 7 air bags, a telescopic steering column and Bluetooth technology.

WRX – Get the kids off to school with speed with a turbo charged, 265 horsepower engine embedded inside a classic sedan or wagon.  0 to 60 in under 5 seconds means you will never have to worry about being late again.  If that’s not fast enough for you, upgrade to the 305 horsepower WRX STi.

Legacy – 32 MPG on the highway is nothing to scoff at from a four door sedan with all wheel drive.   This fuel efficient 4 cylinder, full sized car has a starting price tag in the mid $20,000 range.  You can upgrade to a 3.6 liter, 6 cylinder version if you are looking to get more power.

Forester – Priced to sell from the low $20,000 range, the Forester is the perfect compact SVU.  With its extra height comes a roomier interior and better ground clearance.  

XV Crosstrek – Having nine inches of ground clearance makes it difficult to decide if this is sports car or a toned down monster truck.  Subaru has made the XV Crosstrek a stand out vehicle with its unique bumper and grill design and availability in bold colors not usually seen on automobiles.

Outback – Subaru’s crossover vehicle manages to put the room and capabilities of an SVU on top of the chassis for a sedan.  The $25,000 price tag for a standard Subaru Outback will get you all wheel drive, 17’’ alloy wheels, vehicle dynamic control, fog lights, traction control, and much more.

Tribeca – Based off of the original Subaru vehicles, the Tribeca is the most luxurious in their line.  Standard is a 3.6 liter V-6 engine which is still remarkably fuel efficient given the large dimensions of the car. 

In spite of its obstacles and a turbulent economy, Subaru has persevered where other Japanese car manufacturers couldn’t.  This is due mostly to the added driver control and fuel economy its unique Boxer engine delivers.  Don’t dismiss the Subaru as your next vehicle before taking one for a ride and feeling the difference for yourself.

Categories: Autowiki Auto History