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Subaru future products: Plans focus on U.S.

Tue, 06 Sep 2011

Subaru plans to roll out three new vehicles over the next three years: the BRZ coupe developed jointly with Toyota, a hybrid and a compact crossover.

Subaru executives say vehicles are being developed for the U.S. market rather than for Japan because the company can make a bigger profit in the United States.

Takeshi Tachimori, CEO of Subaru of America, said models previously targeted for Japan weren't big enough or properly equipped to compete in the United States.

So in recent years, Subaru has redesigned the Forester, Legacy and Outback for the United States. The current models are larger and roomier than their predecessors and filled with features U.S. buyers demand, such as iPod and Bluetooth connections.

The 2012 Impreza that goes on sale in November is the last of Subaru's four core U.S. models to be redesigned for this market.

BRZ: The lightweight two-door developed with Toyota will go on sale next spring. The rear-drive 2+2 coupe, about the size of the Mazda MX-5 Miata, will use Subaru's 2.0-liter, horizontally-opposed four-cylinder boxer engine. The BRZ will be positioned between the Legacy and the Impreza and will be the only Subaru sold in the United States without all-wheel drive.

Forester: The crossover will be freshened in the 2013 model year.

Impreza: The redesigned 2012 compact's launch has been pushed back two months until November because of production delays after the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The redesigned sedan and five-door hatchback get two more inches of back-seat legroom than their predecessors. But overall exterior dimensions are unchanged.

A 148-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder boxer engine replaces the 170-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer engine. The Impreza will be available with iPod and Bluetooth connectivity, high-definition radio and navigation.

There are reports that a hybrid will be offered, with the hybrid technology coming from Toyota.

Subaru has priced the 2012 Impreza nearly the same as the outgoing Impreza. The base sticker price is $18,245, including destination, for the four-door model.

WRX/STI: Redesigned versions of the high-performance models are expected in the 2014 model year. According to reports, the redesigned WRX and STI get new sheet metal, sportier styling and will be positioned as high-performance coupes rather than Impreza derivatives. They also will get a new turbo or supercharged engine with nearly 300 hp for the highest trim model.

Outback/Legacy: The U.S.-built Legacy sedan and Outback wagon are only a year old. No changes are expected until the 2014 model year.

Small crossover: A small crossover the size of the Impreza will come to the United States in the 2013 or 2014 model year. A concept version, the XV, was shown at the Shanghai auto show in April. It would compete with the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. Subaru has not decided on a name for the production vehicle.

Tribeca: Subaru officials say they have not decided whether to stick with the seven-seat Tribeca but because of slow sales no second-generation model is in development.

Hybrid: A compact plug-in hybrid will go on sale in 2013 using Toyota technology.

By Diana T. Kurylko- Automotive News