The Outback wagon was the top-selling vehicles in Subaru’s lineup last year and it’s looking like the SUV-alternative wagon will do it again in 2017. It’s still strange to see a wagon leading Subaru’s stable of all-wheel-drive vehicles in sales. The 2018 Outback was the number one selling vehicle again last month, and the wagon just had its best August ever. It’s not only the best-seller in Subaru’s stable, it’s the #1 selling wagon in America.
The Outback doesn’t seem to be getting older, it’s getting better with age. Why is the wagon leading Subaru’s lineup? The Outback seems to be defying conventional wisdom. A wagon isn’t supposed to be popular with American consumers. No other wagon is pulling off what the Outback is doing.
Analyst IHS Markit predicts the wagon market will remain insignificant with U.S. consumers for the long term. Last year wagons captured just 1.1 percent of total U.S. sales, and IHS says things aren’t going to change anytime soon. Yet, Subaru is getting a massive chunk of the mainstream wagon market. Why?
What's the secret to Subaru's dominance?
The Outback wagon is the number one selling vehicle in states like Washington, Colorado and Maine, where Subaru has built a cult-like following of customers who use their vehicle for outdoor recreation. Buyers are choosing the Outback because of it’s all-wheel-drive, all-weather capability, but also for its superior safety record and because it’s more of a crossover than a wagon. It’s an SUV-alternative recreation-purposed vehicle that offers superior utility and cargo/passenger room and even higher ground clearance and X-Mode for off-road adventures.
What about the competition?
The closest competitor is the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack S AWD and the VW Golf SportWagon, but the big complaint is its small back seat. Compared with the Alltrack, the Outback comes out on top when it comes to cargo carrying capacity. Alltrack: 30.4 cu ft (66 cu. ft w/rear seat folded) vs Outback: 35.5 cu. ft (73.3 cu. ft w/rear seat folded).
U.S. News & World Report is very impressed with Outback and named the all-wheel-drive vehicle one of their “Best Car for Families” beating the Audi Allroad and Volkswagen Golf SportWagon in the Best Wagon category to take the top honors. Most impressive was, the Outback wagon has taken the award six years in-a-row.
Other competitors come form the luxury wagon segment. Wagons like the Audi Allroad, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Volvo V60, and Volvo V90 Cross Country. But sales of premium wagons have sunk to all-time lows (19,985 in 2015) from 62,218 in 2000, according to JATO. To put it in perspective, Subaru has already sold 124,161 Outback wagons in the U.S. through August with 4 months to go.
The 2018 Subaru Outback has arrived in showrooms and look for it to continue to dominate the U.S. wagon market. Buyers are choosing the Outback because of it’s all-wheel-drive, all-weather capability, superior safety record and because it’s a recreation-purposed vehicle that offers superior utility and cargo/passenger room, higher ground clearance and X-Mode for off-road adventures.
Photo credit: Subaru USA