Subaru is in the process of designing a new 7-seat SUV that will compete with the strong selling Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder and Honda Pilot. Automotive News spoke with Subaru executive Nobuhiko Murakami, senior vice president of global marketing for parent company Fuji Heavy Industries, who said the new 7-seater will be built because that mid-size SUV market “Is so strong.”
What Subaru is deciding on now, is what the new SUV will look like. It won’t likely look like the new Exega that made it launch in Japan last year, but will it resemble the new 2015 Outback? Subaru is being tight-lipped about the future project, but Masayuki Uchida, the Senior Product General Manager of Liberty (Legacy in the U.S.) and Outback products in Australia, told Motoring that the Tribeca's replacement could be based on a modified version of the platform used by the Liberty and Outback.
Will New Flagship SUV resemble Outback?
Subaru’s new 2015 Outback has been a resounding success and Subaru is looking at its success in the U.S. Automotive News says Subaru is trying to deciding whether to make the new crossover a "big brother" with Outback or if the new 7-seater should get distinctive styling similar to the strategy with the Forester, Subaru’s smaller SUV. Uchida did say, "The Three-row SUV has to be bigger than Liberty and Outback."
With the new SUV competing against vehicles like the Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Nissan Pathfinder, Mitsubishi Outlander, Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot, Subaru will need to set itself apart. Murakami went on to say, "How can we differentiate the position of our product? That is the fundamental strategy."
New 7-seater will be larger than Tribeca
The new flagship SUV from Subaru would need to be larger than the outgoing Tribeca because of its cramped third-row seating and limited cargo capacity. Murakami said the new vehicle will be primarily build for the U.S. market. He told AN, "Our resources are limited, and we have to develop our product by putting our major focus on the United States. This is the only way we will survive."
Subaru is expanding production capacity at their Indiana plant in the U.S. and the new seven-seat Subaru SUV will be built in the U.S. Expansion at the Indiana factory will be completed by 2017 and would be ready to handle production of the new model. Subaru executives have acknowledged there will be strong interest from many other markets, including Australia.
There have been rumblings that the new Subaru 7-seat flagship model could be unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show 2015 possibly in concept form. The new vehicle will arrive in the U.S. as a production version and could be in U.S. showrooms in late 2016 or early 2017. Will the new flagship SUV look like the new 2015 Subaru Outback? The Tokyo Motor Show 2015 runs from October 29-November 8, 2015. Stay tuned.