Category Archives: 2011 Subaru

2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI: Autoweek – Mid Hudson Subaru

2011 Subaru WRX STI Limited Sedan Photo by: David Arnouts

2011 Subaru WRX STI Limited Sedan Photo by: David Arnouts

Six months into our year with a long-term 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Limited sedan, we’ve discovered that the car still draws attention.

During the second quarter, we were challenged to a street race by a teenager in a modified Nissan 350Z (we declined), were pulled over by a police officer who claimed we were speeding (we weren’t, and didn’t get a ticket) and were cornered in a parking lot by a previous-generation WRX owner who talked our ears off for 15 minutes. Not to mention the countless waves from other Subaru drivers on the road.

We haven’t decided whether we like all of the attention (particularly from the boys in blue), but we do like the STI’s performance chops.

“The car positively loves to be driven hard and responds with a level of agility and reaction that makes it a firecracker waiting to explode down the road,” one editor said. And that was when our STI was still wearing a set of Michelin winter tires. After we reinstalled the Dunlop SP Sport 600 summer rubber, praise for its handling prowess magnified.

“I love the car’s ability to carve up the tarmac as if someone dotted the tires with superglue,” noted one staffer, who also pointed out that the tread switch also knocked out a bunch of highway tire noise.

While some editors initially were disappointed in Subaru for not finding a little extra power in the 2.5-liter turbocharged boxer four-cylinder to go along with the suspension upgrades for 2011, nobody has complained about 305 hp being inadequate. In fact, everyone found power to be potent, especially when SI-Drive is switched to “sport sharp” for maximum power and throttle response.

The six-speed manual transmission was another high point of the STI, with one editor proclaiming it “the best-shifting manual gearbox Subaru has done thus far.”

The second quarter also saw the STI gain its long-distance stripes on a few occasions, including carrying our senior editor for motorsports to Indianapolis for the Indy 500.

While the STI is louder inside than most cars, it’s not unbearable, and having the satellite radio cranked for entertainment helps. The leather sport bucket seats are not only supportive for lateral maneuvers but proved comfortable for extended stints behind the wheel. The navigation system is also fairly intuitive to use and got us to all of our destinations without any hitches.

The stiffened suspension isn’t overly jarring, either. “I think Subaru has hit a decent middle ground in providing both manageable ride comfort and respectable stiffness through corners,” one cross-state traveler commented.

Mechanically, the STI has been a rock, with the only trip to our local service department being for a scheduled service which included an oil change and general inspection. However, we did lose three days to a body-shop visit to replace our front bumper, which suffered a cracked lip while driving through heavy snow accumulation and ice courtesy of a late-winter storm.

Not surprisingly, the larger rear spoiler and near-$40,000 as-tested price of our STI still raise some eyebrows, but complaints have tapered off drastically compared with during the first quarter. Maybe it’s because we finally “get it” and have been indoctrinated into the cult of Subaru enthusiasts. Now, when we receive waves from drivers of other Imprezas on the road, we find ourselves waving back.

 

SECOND-QUARTER UPDATE

2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI Limited Sedan

AS-TESTED PRICE: $39,939

MILES DRIVEN (QUARTER/TO DATE): 6,535/14,522

FUEL ECONOMY (QUARTER/TO DATE): 20.1/20.0 mpg

FUEL COST (QUARTER/TO DATE): $1,354.01/$2,734.69

DAYS OUT OF SERVICE (QUARTER/TO DATE): Three/three

MAINTENANCE: Replace front bumper ($795.04); reinstall summer tires ($83.53); 11,250-mile service including oil change, check and fill fluids, check tires and set pressures ($54.90)

 

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Subaru is KBB Top Brand for Resale Value – Mid Hudson Subaru

Subaru Forester

 

THE RESALE SUPERSTARS

Top Brand: Subaru

Retained value: 39.0 percent
Subaru bests perennial winner Toyota as the top resale brand for 2011. According to Eric Ibara, KBB’s director of residual consulting, this is because Subaru has a newer model lineup and its cars don’t sit on dealer lots for long. The perception of limited supply creates a high demand and, thus, higher resale values.

Our take: Subaru’s vehicles are capable and reliable, offer useful space and provide the security of all-wheel drive. The automaker is well worthy of this top honor.

Subaru Outback 3.6R

 

THE RESALE SUPERSTARS

Wagon: Subaru Outback

Retained value: 41.3 percent
A wagon segment was added to KBB’s rankings for 2011, and Subaru took the class title with its all-wheel-drive Outback. That’s impressive, given that it went up against entries from AudiMercedes-Benzand Volvo, and it beat them all by at least 6 percentage points.

Our take: Redesigned for 2010, the Outback received new styling and a powerful new 6-cylinder engine. We are impressed by the ride quality and the responsive engine. Plus, its raised ride height helps the Outback avert the stodgy image suffered by other wagons.

Subaru Impreza WRX

 

 

THE RESALE SUPERSTARS

Sports Car: Subaru Impreza WRX

Retained value: 42.7 percent
The Subaru Impreza WRX supplants the Nissan 370Zas the champion in the sports car class. While the WRX has always been a contender, Subaru‘s sales surge and a consistently strong track record catapulted it to the top this year.

Our take: Both WRX trims are fun to drive, with 265 horsepower available in the base WRX and 305 horsepower packed in the tricked-out WRX STI. The STI may be a bit too high-strung for some tastes, though. Both offer useful space, especially in the hatchback body style, and can be driven year-round thanks to standard all-wheel drive.

Hackers break into Subaru Outback via text message – Mid Hudson Subaru

A pair of pros from iSec Partners security firm was able to unlock and start the engine of a Subaru Outback using an Android phone and a process they call war texting.

By setting up their own GSM network, they were able to snatch up password authentication messages being sent from server to car, allowing them the option to ride off in a brand new crossover.

Apparently, your car isn’t the only thing in danger of a war-texting takeover, however, as the team says there are a slew of devices and systems, accessible over telephone networks, that are vulnerable to similar attacks, including A-GPS tracking devices, 3G security cameras, SCADA sensors — and thus the power grid and water supply — home automation, and urban traffic control systems.

Somehow this group of otherwise innocent looking New York texters appears a whole lot more sinister now.

Family Car Guide loves the 2011 Subaru Forester – Mid Hudson Subaru

In recent years, the Subaru Forester has graduated from being a scrappy, utilitarian little tall-roof wagon to something just a little more comfortable and full-featured.

Fortunately, all that’s made this one of the best familyvehicles has stayed intact. With all-wheel-drive security, a versatile, roomy interior, and a more manageable size compared to other crossover vehicles, the 2011 SubaruForester is nearly the perfect vehicle for smaller families and understated, outdoorsy parents—especially those who want a compact vehicle that’s also easy to maneuver and park. On the FamilyCarGuide scale, it’s a 9 out of 10; the only things that kept it from being a perfect 10 were its some not-quite-perfect safety scores, and interior materials that can feel a little bargain-basement.

There’s a lot to like about the Forester’s package in general. Front seats are high and upright, affording a good view out, and there’s a good view around without the need for an array of fancy cameras and sensors. New parents like it as the backseats are also a bit taller than most passenger cars, which makes it a little easier to lean over and belting little ones into place.

The Forester’s forte remains its ability to trudge through deep snow, or even mud (or get to that remote campsite) without complaint—thanks to 8.7 inches of ground clearance—yet handle on curvy roads with the balance and poise of a compact sedan.

For 2011, the base Forester gets a new engine that isn’t really any stronger than the former one but gets slightly better gas mileage. You’ll still see city mileage in the low 20s and around 30 on the highway. Forester XT models get a turbocharged engine that makes 224 horsepower and makes the somewhat frumpy Forester a ‘sleeper’ sportwagon.

The Forester is a longtime high achiever in insurance-funded IIHS crash tests, but it hasn’t done well in the latest federal tests; it only scored three stars for side impact.

Subaru has increased features and equipment in the Forester, with an integrated Bluetooth hands-free interface, Bluetooth audio streaming, iPod controls, and satellite radio now included in all but the base model.

Subaru has high expectations for rest of year – Mid Hudson Subaru

With six months of sales results in the book, and the effects of a parts shortage in Japan behind them, the second half of 2011 will bring increased production and additional hiring to Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. in Lafayette.

“During the first six months of the calendar year we built about 115,000 (Subaru and Toyota) units,” said Tom Easterday, executive vice president at Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. in Lafayette. “That’s less than what we originally forecast, because of the parts shortage. We really needed to be running overtime.”

A March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan disrupted parts production and exporting from that country. It also impacted sales results for some vehicles, including Subaru models and the Toyota Camry which are built at SIA.

With the parts problem solved, SIA is planning to ramp up production soon by returning to daily and Saturday overtime hours for some associates at the Lafayette plant where the workforce numbers approximately 3,550.

“We’ll have about 150 new people added by mid-July to the end of August,” although a breakdown of additional Subaru and Toyota associates hasn’t been made, Easterday said. “We’ll also have a Subaru line speed increase in the first week of September and a model launch of the 2012 Camry in the first part of September.”

A report released Friday by Subaru of America Inc. shows the company sold 19,794 vehicles last month. That’s 8 percent fewer than were sold June of last year.

“Customer demand hasn’t let up and our dealers did a terrific job selling cars as soon as they arrived at their stores,” said Bill Cyphers, senior vice president for sales at Subaru of America. “We continue to outperform our initial expectations for this period thanks to more production arriving than we first anticipated and better efficiency in getting our cars to dealers and out to customers.”

Among vehicles built at SIA, June results showed:

• Sales of the Legacy increased by 15 percent, to 3,471 units.

• Sales of the Outback rose by 21 percent, to 7,914 units.

• Sales of the Tribeca gained 3 percent, to 180 units.

Among the company’s Japanese-made models, sales of the Forester fell by 28 percent, to 5,466 units; while sales of the Impreza line dropped by 35 percent, to 2,763 units.

Through the first six month of 2011, Subaru sales totaled 132,049 — an increase of 5 percent over the January-June period of last year.

Six-month sales figures for vehicles built at SIA show customer acceptance of the Outback grew by 25 percent, to 51,239 units, while the Legacy posted a 12 percent increase, to 21,284 units; and the Tribeca lost 3 percent, to 1,274.

“We still have record demand for our product in dealerships, however we are still working through a low inventory period after the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan,” said Thomas Doll, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Subaru of America.

“Our dealers managed to be incredibly efficient with the inventory available and the situation is improving all the time. We expect 2011 will still be the second best year ever for Subaru in the U.S.”

2011 Subaru WRX STI: Obnoxious fun – Mid Hudson Subaru

Subaru-WRX-STI-front.jpg

 

If I didn’t know better, the Subaru WRX STI might just be the silliest gas hog of a little car there is. It’s a cocky, pheromone-swilling show-off, with a hood scoop ready to inhale pigeons, a foot-tall rear wing, and all that booming, ear-splitting braaap from the four exhaust tips.

This is a car that acts like a frustrated teenage boy and is priced for a well-paid man in his 30s, albeit a single and slightly nerdy guy who likes a good deal. Because for all its tackiness — and this is after Subaru canceled the gold pimp wheels for 2011 — the man who buys a WRX STI does know better. He’s getting a street-legal race car, and all the gut-wrenching performance of a Porsche 911 for half the price.

What’s with all those wings and scoops and fender bulges? They widen the regular Impreza’s body for improved stability, add downforce at high speed, channel air to the massive intercooler, and cool the huge brakes. In rally competitions, this makes the STI fit to barrel through narrow mountain roads against maniacs in similar cars.

Unlike regular racing, where the crowds pack in grandstands, rally fans stand on the roadside so their favorite drivers spray dirt in their faces. A few people get killed this way, but most times everyone jumps for joy as the screeching Subarus zoom past. If your neighbor brings home an STI, you have every right to bring the kids inside.

Launching the little Subaru from its lumpy, rumbling idle to a ferocious, 7,000-rpm whine is a wild time. While heavier than the race car, the street STI actually makes more power. The 2.5-liter four cylinder engine — its pistons horizontally opposed, or “flat” like on Porsches — makes a screaming 305 horsepower that’s only tapped by tearing the six-speed gearbox to shreds.

Of course, that won’t happen — what metal Subaru left out of the tinny doors they packed into the manual transmission, stiff suspension, and beefy all-wheel-drive system.

2011-Subaru-WRX-STi.jpg

(Clifford Atiyeh/Boston.com Staff)

Ordinarily, the STI feels kind of sluggish. But that’s because the car’s SI-DRIVE system is desperately trying to save fuel by reducing power. That’s “Intelligent” mode. Flip the rotary knob to “Sport” and you’ll get the ride you paid for. Flip it again to “Sport Sharp” and a pack of fire ants run onto the throttle, instantly making the STI frenzied and jumpy when getting on and off the pedal. While not a great idea in traffic, on a clear stretch the surging Subie is unstoppable.

Subaru even lets the driver fiddle with the torque split, with a multitude of settings designed to either push more power to the front or rear. No other car company lets you do that. I didn’t have a safe area to try it out — plus our car wore harder winter tires with far less grip than the standard summer rubber — but STI owners claim they feel the difference when it’s wet or on tight back roads.

I can report that overall grip is astounding, the suspension firm yet surprisingly compliant, and the brakes phenomenal. The steering is quick but not that accurate, and the shifter’s throws are a bit long and a little vague. These aren’t deal breakers by any means. This is a $35,000 sports sedan that’s faster and more exciting than a $50,000 Audi S4.

Subaru-WRX-STI-interior.jpg

(Subaru). Click photo for larger version.

Shown is the full leather interior, versus our test car’s suede and leather seating.

 

Inside, Subaru passes on the savings. Picture a TI-83 calculator in a pile of scrap plastic, and you’ve nailed the STI’s interior. Save for the pieces your limbs touch — the leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, the classy aluminum pedals and red-stitched, suede-lined seats — everything is brittle and bone hard. There really is a scientific calculator in the infotainment display, and when you try to adjust the stereo, you get a 1980s graphic equalizer and sound filters so complicated you’ll crash. The headliner is as supple as a U-Haul moving blanket.

2011-Subaru-WRX.jpg

(Clifford Atiyeh/Boston.com Staff). Click photo for larger version.

The 2011 Subaru WRX, in “regular” guise.

 

The regular WRX, with “only” 265 horsepower, doesn’t include the STI’s fancy hardware and costs $8,500 less. The huge wing is reduced to a small lip on the trunk, and while it’s still fun, the engine’s drone gets tiring on the highway because there’s no sixth gear. Oddly enough, highway mileage improves to 25 mpg.

In either sedan or hatchback form, the STI is admirable because it won’t please everyone, most certainly not the conservative, Forester-driving set in New England. But like any unfettered child, while the STI’s explosive nerves can be annoying to live with, at the right moments, it’s an utterly outstanding piece.


2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI


THE BASICS 

Price, base/as tested (with destination): $34,720 / $36,520.
Fuel economy, EPA estimated: 17 city / 23 highway.
Fuel economy, Globe observed: 16 mpg
Drivetrain: 2.5-liter F-4, six-speed manual transmission, all-wheel-drive.
Body: Four-door, five-passenger sedan. 

THE SPECIFICS
Horsepower: 305 @ 6,000 rpm.
Torque: 290 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm
Overall length: 180.3 in.
Wheelbase: 103.3 in.
Height: 57.9 in.
Width: 70.7 in.
Curb weight: 3,384 lbs.

THE GOOD:
 Incredible performance hardware, fast and very collected, embarrasses expensive European sedans

THE BAD: poor interior and fuel economy

THE BOTTOM LINE:
 A very raw and capable sports sedan for the few who care about it