Outback sales should be going up, but they dropped to start the new year. The 2023 Subaru Outback midsize SUV received new upgrades, while the older 2023 Subaru Crosstrek subcompact SUV returned as a carryover model with no changes or upgrades. Subaru of America reports the Outback dropped in sales, while the older Crosstrek is setting new records.
Outback is still behind the Crosstrek
The newly-upgraded Outback can't catch the older Crosstrek to start the year, similar to the finish last year. Outback finished second in the SOA's lineup in January, and the race wasn't close. The Outback midsize SUV dropped 1.1 percent, with 10,414 models sold to start the year, staying the second best-selling model in the lineup. Outback had 10,527 sales in January 2022.
The older Crosstrek, needing new upgrades, had impressive sales to start the year and achieved its best January ever with 12,706 vehicle sales, surpassing its previous record set in January 2021 (10,431).
The second-generation Crosstrek subcompact SUV is on its last legs before the next-generation model arrives, and it's not cooling off. Crosstrek continues its impressive sales run into the new year, and the old model, like a fine wine, improves with age.
Is there a problem with the Outback?
Why isn't the 2023 Outback midsize SUV that received new upgrades ahead of the 2023 Crosstrek that returned as a carryover model with no changes or upgrades? The Crosstrek is positioned well in price and fuel mileage and offers the utility of an SUV.
The newly-upgraded Outback should be a hot model in Subaru of America's all-wheel-drive lineup with its new improvements and the outdoor-themed Outback Wilderness trim level. But the midsize SUV still needs to catch up with the aging Crosstrek.
In Subaru of America's recent meetings with its U.S. retailers last week, Subaru executives talked about some Outback issues, but they were kept private. Jeff Williams, owner of Williams Subaru in Lansing, Michigan, made a few comments to Automotive News that reveals some issues retailers have with the Outback.
Subaru of America even gave retailers a glimpse of the next-generation 2025 Outback showing they have fixed what issues they have with the current generation Outback.
"That's the most excited I've been about a vehicle heading here in a long time," said Williams, who declined to reveal any specifics about it. "I will say that (Subaru engineers and designers) seemed to have addressed every issue we've brought up with the Outback. They seemed to listen to us, which gives me confidence in how the next-generation Outback will perform in the marketplace."
Williams told Automotive News that if production constraints fade away by the redesigned vehicle's introduction, the Outback will return to its perch as Subaru's top-selling model.
Should customers avoid the 2023 Outback?
Whatever issues Subaru retailers have with the current generation 2023 Outback, they aren't serious issues that customers should be concerned with now. We know Subaru had a recent stop-sale of the 2023 Outback pertaining to the vehicle's SOS button.
The SOS button is used when a Subaru owner is in an accident or needs roadside assistance. The button is connected to the Subaru Starlink connected services where there have been issues. A statement from Subaru of America says, "Specifically, when the SOS button is depressed, it does not operate as designed, failing to make a connection."
The Outback stop-sale is likely the issue Subaru retailers wanted Subaru of America to address. The automaker fixed the problem, but there was a wait for parts, and customers could not take their newly-purchased vehicle home.
We expect the 2023 Subaru Outback to return as the top-selling model in Subaru of America's lineup this year. Stay tuned.
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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report, where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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