Subaru may be one of the best-kept secrets in the industry, despite a loyal customer base. Subaru has an entire line of high-quality fuel-efficient vehicles, and virtually every model includes AWD as standard equipment. The Impreza is the most affordable AWD sedan available, while the new BRZ sports car and the WRX allow Subaru to attract driving enthusiasts.
The Subaru BRZ is a small rear-wheel-drive sports car which was jointly developed between Toyota and Subaru. Variants are sold as the Scion FR-S in the US and the Toyota GT86 in other markets. The BRZ is a small coupe with seating for four passengers. Power is provided by a 2.0l horizontally opposed or boxer engine. All models are rear-wheel-drive for performance reasons, which makes the BRZ the only car without standard all-wheel-drive in Subaru's lineup. The closest competitive vehicle is the Nissan 370Z which is similar in size, but has a more powerful V6 engine and a significantly higher price tag.
The Subaru XV Crosstrek is small crossover derived from the Imprezza 5-door. With distinct styling, a higher ride height and roof-rack, the XV has a different appeal than the compact Imprezza and Subaru's compact SUV, the Forester. Power is provided by 2.0l four-cylinder horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine, giving the XV better fuel economy than the Forester. The XV Crosstrek is also offered with a hybrid gasoline/electric powertrain which increases fuel economy to 29/33 (city/hwy). Compared to other small crossovers on the market like the Nissan Juke, Buick Encore and Mini Countryman, the XV Crosstrek has more interior volume and cargo space. The XV is offered in Premium and Limited trim levels with prices starting in the low $20,000 range.
The Subaru Forester is a compact all-wheel-drive crossover SUV with seating for five. Similar in size to the Honda CR-V the Forester has more than enough passenger room and cargo volume to suit a small family. Standard all-wheel-drive adds an extra measure of security in bad weather. The standard four-cylinder boxer engine produces 170-bhp and is now mated to a fuel-efficient CVT transmission. The range also includes a performance-oriented XT model with an additional 80 horsepower and a six-speed automatic transmission. A higher-performance turbocharged model version of the 2.5l four cylinder is included in the Forester XT models. The Forester is well equipped from the Premium trim level and above.
The Legacy is an attractive midsize sedan with standard AWD. A standard 173-bhp flat-4 "boxer" engine (Legacy 2.5i) is coupled to CVT transmission. Legacy 2.5i models turn in a respectable fuel economy ratings. The Legacy 3.6R models upgrade the engine to a 3.6l boxer 6-cylinder. With well-equipped models priced from $24,000, the Legacy is an exceptional value for a roomy, all-wheel-drive sedan.
The iconic AWD Outback Wagon provides all the room and traction that many people need from an SUV without the bulk and poor fuel economy. The increased ground clearance and strengthened suspension improve off-pavement capabilities, but the Outback really excels at traversing deep snowdrifts and muddy roads. The Outback range includes 2.5i models with a four-cylinder boxer engine and 3.6R models with a more powerful 6-cylinder boxer engine. A number of trim levels range from basic to well-equipped. Competitive vehicles include the Dodge Journey, Toyota Venza, and Honda Crosstour. None of these vehicles can match the legroom, cargo volume, fuel-economy and affordable all-wheel-drive capabilities of the Outback.
As an all-around performance value, it's hard to beat the AWD Subaru WRX. Loosely based on the Impreza, the WRX is powered by one of two turbocharged horizontally-opposed four-cylinder engines. The 2.0l engine is rated at 268-bhp, whereas the 2.5l is rated at 305-bhp. Most models equip a 6-speed manual, but a CVT is now offered on some models. The sophisticated AWD drivetrain allows the WRX to provide all weather performance and handling.