Subaru adds models to global platform
Subaru Corp., with the three-row Ascent on sale and Crosstrek deliveries running hot, turns its attention to the Forester, which has been redesigned for the 2019 model year. The fifth-generation crossover will be critical to the brand's continued U.S. sales growth, with Subaru executives targeting eventual volume of 200,000 Foresters a year here.
Elsewhere in the lineup, the Crosstrek plug-in hybrid arrives late this year, the first electrified model on the Subaru Global Platform to arrive in the U.S.
The continued rollout of the platform marches on in 2019 with expected redesigns of two lineup mainstays in the Legacy and Outback. Subaru of America is on track to post its 10th consecutive year of record sales in 2018 and the influx of fresh product is key to maintaining the brand's momentum.
BRZ: The low-volume coupe, along with the jointly developed Toyota 86, likely will be redesigned in 2021. When the second generation arrives, it's expected to have more power, a lower center of gravity and possibly Subaru's EyeSight safety system, according to Japanese press reports.
Impreza: The compact, available as a sedan or hatchback, is set for a freshening in 2020 followed by a redesign in 2022.
WRX/WRX STI: Subaru's performance duo will continue to be based on the previous Impreza platform for the time being. A redesign is likely in 2020 when they will jump to the Subaru Global Platform. For the 2019 model year, Subaru is adding standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to both, while also making EyeSight standard on WRXs with a continuously variable transmission. The WRX STI receives a new air intake and high flow performance exhaust, increasing horsepower to 310, from 305.
Legacy: All signs point to the midsize sedan being the next nameplate to be redesigned onto the Subaru Global Platform. Spy photos from July indicate that the 2020 Legacy will retain styling similar to the current version, but the face appears to have been retouched to better match the redesigned Forester and other nameplates on the platform. The rear also appears sharper. The redesigned 2020 Legacy is likely to debut in early 2019. For the 2019 model year, the Legacy gets EyeSight standard.
Crosstrek: Subaru's increasingly popular subcompact crossover will receive a version for the 2019 model year. The variant will feature partner Toyota Motor Corp.'s hybrid system combined with Subaru's four-cylinder, direct-injection boxer engine, all-wheel drive and a new transmission. It will also have unique styling, Subaru says.
The Japan-made plug-in hybrid initially will be sold only in U.S. states that have adopted California's zero-emission vehicle regulations. The variant is expected to go on sale by year end and will likely debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
The regular 2019 Crosstrek, on sale now, received few changes. EyeSight is available on the base trim with a CVT and is standard on the Limited trim. A freshening is likely in 2021.
Forester: The redesigned 2019 Forester will begin arriving in the U.S. in November. The crossover will be bigger, with a 105.1-inch wheelbase, up from 103.9 inches, and rear-seat legroom increasing by 1.4 inches. All Foresters in the U.S. will be powered by a freshened 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer engine that produces 182 hp and 176 pound-feet of torque, up from 170 hp and 174 pound-feet. The Forester will be available with a CVT only. The previously offered manual, as well as the XT trim and its turbocharged engine, did not make the jump with the redesign.
EyeSight is now standard across all Forester trims, while Touring gets a new safety feature called DriverFocus. The cabin monitoring system uses facial recognition software to identify signs of driver fatigue or driver distraction and can recognize up to five drivers to store their presets for seat position, climate and infotainment.
The redesigned Forester will include a Japan-only electrified variant called e-Boxer. Eventually, Subaru also plans to sell it in China.
Outback: Subaru's flagship model is expected to be redesigned in 2019 for the 2020 model year, making the midsize crossover and the Legacy the last of the automaker's bread-and-butter models to join the global platform. The Outback, a pioneer in the crossover segment, now faces more direct competition, adding to the next generation's significance. As with the Legacy, Subaru has made EyeSight standard on all 2019 Outbacks.
Ascent: The three-row crossover, the largest Subaru ever offered, went on sale in June.
Electric vehicle: Subaru is developing a full-electric vehicle, due in 2021. The EV, built on Subaru's flexible platform, likely will be a variant of an existing nameplate, but it is unclear which one.
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