Subaru is a Japanese manufacturer of vehicles that flaunt the added safety of all-wheel drive. In North America, every model in their product line-up is equipped with the company’s Symmetrical AWD system as well as engines that feature a horizontally-opposed cylinder layout, called ‘flat’ or ‘boxer’. Subaru vehicles are recognized for their durability and build quality.
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An affiliate of Fuji Heavy Industries, the first car to bear the brand’s name was in 1954 with the development of the Subaru 1500. The rear-engine, rear-drive 360 microcar appeared in 1958, followed in the ‘60s by the Sambar microvan and truck, the 1000, first front-drive Subaru equipped with a boxer engine as well as the R-2 microcar. Meanwhile, the 360 started being imported to the United States in 1965, three years prior to the establishment of Subaru of America.
New models were introduced in the ‘70s. The Rex minicar replaced the R-2, while the Leone was introduced in a variety of body styles and was the company’s first model to offer four-wheel drive. Subaru vehicles started to arrive in Canada in 1976.
It was redesigned in 1979, and as the only model in North America through the eighties, the car was simply named DL, GL, GL-10, GL Turbo and RX according to trim level. Sedan, wagon, three-door hatchback were offered as well as a pickup version called the BRAT. The 3rd-generation version appeared in 1984, but a 2nd-gen hatchback continued to be sold for a few years as the Chaser.
A new coupe called the XT arrived in 1985 with naturally-aspirated and turbo flat-4 engines. The XT6 appeared in 1988, equipped with Subaru’s first 6-cylinder engine in North America. The 3-cylinder Justy subcompact, which also offered four-wheel drive, was launched in North America in 1987.
Subaru also started to participate in the World Rally Championship in 1980, a successful effort that has become part of the brand’s heritage.
In 1989, Subaru introduced the mid-size Legacy sedan and wagon, which bought new customers to the brand and increased sales. The new car was built in a brand-new assembly plant established in Indiana. Meanwhile, the existing compact DL/GL models were renamed Loyale.
And all-new luxury sports coupe called the SVX was launched in 1992 to replace the XT. In addition, a new compact car named the Impreza was introduced in 1993, replacing the Loyale, and offered in coupe, sedan and wagon variants. An all-wheel drive, high-riding version of the Legacy wagon dubbed the Outback was unveiled in 1995, to great commercial success. The Forester crossover also appeared in 1998 to round up Subaru’s product line-up of the ‘90s.
The turn of the century brought new and bigger versions of the Impreza and Legacy models as well as the introduction of the Tribeca sport-utility, which seats up to 7 passengers. High-performance versions of the Impreza, the WRX and WRX STI, finally arrived on North American shores in 2002 and 2004, respectively.
The company’s Indiana plant was designated a Backyard Wildlife Habitat in 2003, and obtained ‘zero-landfill’ status a year later, a first for an automotive assembly plant. Subaru also developed PZEV versions of their flat-4 engine, which stands for Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle.
Today, Subaru’s product portfolio consists of the compact Impreza sedan and 5-door hatchback, the compact Forester crossover, the mid-size Legacy sedan and Outback wagon and the Tribeca mid-size SUV.
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