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GM Can't Make Sense of Subaru. Maybe Toyota Can.


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October 05, 2005

GM Can't Make Sense of Subaru. Maybe Toyota Can.

David Kiley

When GM bought a minority stake in Fuji Heavy Industries a few years ago, it was to glom onto the great all-wheel-drive technology that the company puts into its Subaru vehicles. The notion was to co-develop some crossover wagons and small SUVs with the best AWD mechanicals in the business.

What GM found was a stubborn partner that would not cave in on its own engineering prowess featuring boxer engines to adapt to GM's systems. The only thing that came out of the arrangement was the Saab 9-2, which is a warmed over Subaru WRX. And the companies were on track for Saab to market a warmed over version of the Subaru Tribeca SUV. The original idea was for Chevy and or Saturn to co-develop a really slick crossover SUV with GM selling perhaps hundreds of thousands of GM-Subaru developed vehicles to offset the cost of its investment.

GM is selling its stake to raise some cash, and now Toyota will partner with Subaru. I don't bet much. But I'm willing to venture a few bucks that Toyota manages to partner with Subaru in a way that will mesh its quality with four-wheel drive technology second to none and that Toyota will not encounter the same barriers GM did. In short, GM couldn't adapt is systems and tooling to work with Subaru's horizontally opposed "boxer" engine. It makes for a low-slung engine and low center of gravity that is key to Subaru's great traction in the snow.

Subaru is a great brand with terrific vehicles, especially if you are driving in mud and snow. Pity that GM couldnt figure out a way to make that marriage work, especially since GM is light on really good crossover vehicles. But good for Subaru for standing its ground and not muddying up its own brand.

07:18 PM

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Thanks God. It would be too sad to see Shevy-Subaru :(

Subaru is Subaru.

Posted by: Vitas at October 14, 2005 10:30 AM

I agree with Vitas, my Subaru is cheaper and more reliable than any Chevy I'd ever had before it.

Posted by: Rob at October 19, 2005 06:07 PM

Agreed. I have had two used 'Roos - a 78 4WD wagon and an '88 Sedan .... and if I was buying a car, I'd get another in a heartbeat. Proved to be reliable - and just like a Land Rover Series 1-3, able to limp home if there was a problem.

Own ONE new Chevy car ... and it's the last.

Gear box has more whine than a beat up Landie, and noises start at 500mi that the dealer say "are normal for that engine/gearbox combo". Sounds like a poor engineering effort to me.

Posted by: Eoin at November 23, 2005 08:40 AM

It is the unwillingness to change that has caused GM to be where it is now. Biologically speaking, an organism not willing to adapt to it's environment cannot and will not survive.

On another note, I loved the ride of old American sedans. It is probably the reason why I would still consider buying a Cadillac, the ONLY domestic brand I prefer when it comes to sedans.

Lastly, I still have praises for the 'American muscle.' Which I am sure you all know why.

Posted by: Ahsen at April 11, 2006 10:48 AM

Maybe lightweight East Coast snow is Subaru friendly but after 3 snow storms my GM Hummer H2 has helped pull, among others, 3 Subarus out of the snow.

Posted by: ed at January 7, 2007 05:54 AM

I don't know where you come from ed, but after spending the last thirty years in Wyoming, the only vehicle that has managed to keep me and mine safe in times of snow, is a subaru. I've also owned a few GMC trucks that have come apart after only a few years. GM has a history of building vehicles that lack style, build quality and over all attention to detail. Though your H2 (Which is a vehicle only soccer moms and wannabe's gangsters) may have pulled some subies out of some rather high snow, those cars you extricated will remain in one peice for far longer than that plastic insult to the H1 you are currently driving. Do your self a favor and get a real SUV, not a reskined Tahoe with lousy design and quality

Posted by: Greg H at March 14, 2007 07:28 PM

I own a 2000 Subaru Forester SUV all wheel drive.

The second year of ownership we had a snowfall that started early in the morning and continued through the day. By 4 pm we had approximately 9 - 12 inches of damp icy snow in Central New Jersey.

My wife called me to come pick her up at work around 5pm. Her company was closing early and allowing employees to leave. I left and traveled the approximately 23 miles to her work place. As I was turning into her companies property I noticed a car had landed itself into a snowbank and was stopped at an unusual tilt. There was a young woman standing by the car looking like she was in distress, so of course I stopped to see if I could help (of course). All my help and some other "of courser's" could not move the car.

I explained to her that I was picking up my wife and she was welcome to join us and we would drop her off at her home (she had told me where she was headed and her house was on our way).

She thanked and agreed. I picked up my wife and another lost soul that she had offered a ride to and we started our trip home.

I will make this story shorter here by saying that at this point there were more cars being pushed then propelled, and many were just spinning their wheels in vain.

We passed them all. I even took some side roads that had not been plowed yet an blazed new trails without problems. By the time I pulled up to the young lady's house she was so impressed by the Subaru's performance that she told us she was going out to buy a Subaru that weekend. Since she had left her sweater in my card I brought it to her the next week. And there, in her driveway, was a brand new Subaru Forester 2000 SUV.

(oh, the other passenger stayed at our house overnight since he commuted daily to New York. I delivered him, with my wife back to work the next day).

End Story.

Long rein the Subaru.

Posted by: Bert G. at March 18, 2007 11:22 PM

is gm a stake holder in sbaru

Posted by: rolando at March 27, 2007 05:59 PM

if subaru combined with toyota that would awesome. Both companies are great they proved to me to be the most realible vechiles. and it would be cool to see a awd toyota car again.

Posted by: allen at March 27, 2007 08:22 PM


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