Why Is The New Subaru Forester Wildly Successful With Only One Engine? It's Not A Unicorn
When Subaru dropped the sporty Forester 2.0XT turbocharged trim level in 2019, we thought it would hurt new fifth-generation Forester sales, but it’s had the opposite effect. The 2020 Forester is now Subaru of America’s number one selling model and has passed the popular Outback wagon. Forester now accounts for 30 percent of all model sales. Why is Forester more successful with only one engine? Isn’t it better to have two engine options?
Doug Betts, president of J.D. Power’s automotive division, says more is not better. He says automakers should have fewer or no unicorns (low-volume configurations) and offer less engine and transmission options for customers. “Low-volume configurations are a drag on sales performance and costs,” says Betts.
It was a brilliant move by Subaru Corporation when they dropped the low volume Forester 2.0XT. Sales have increased after deciding to offer the compact SUV with only one engine, the natural aspirated 2.5-liter Boxer with 182 horsepower. The new 2020 Forester also comes with only one transmission, the Lineartronic CVT automatic. They were also wise when they dropped the 6-speed manual transmission in the Forester, Outback, and Legacy models in 2018.
We originally thought Subaru dropped the Forester 2.0XT and manual transmission to increase fuel mileage in its lineup and that was partially true. But Subaru was thinking long term about trimming down the Forester lineup to concentrate on models that sell in high volumes. The Forester 2.0XT was a unicorn and the automaker only sold a few hundred models a month and even fewer with a manual gearbox.
It’s almost as though Subaru Corporation saw the global coronavirus epidemic coming two years ago. “As assembly plants reopen, they face the possibility of parts shortages because supplier factories have been idle, too. Consequently, it would behoove automakers to shorten vehicle configuration menus,” Betts says.
Subaru’s strategy has paid off big as they move forward into a post-COVID-19 world. They have positioned themselves with a lean, niche lineup of all-wheel-drive SUVs that appeal to a broad range of shoppers. The 2020 Subaru Forester is thriving with only one engine.
Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his reports are archived on our Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Subaru Report. Check back tomorrow for more Subaru news and updates at Torque News!
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Photo credit: Subaru