Subaru, to those familiar, is attributed with safety, family, but also rallying. It made a name for itself with the Legacy and Impreza and their excellent AWD systems and flat-fours that surprised the world. Subaru was a small car company selling very few cars in the US in the early 80s, which is when they entered the Legacy into the World Rally Championship. Every one of their vehicles has exclusive characteristics. Subaru is the only car manufacturer to never have sold non-awd vehicles (a couple exceptions) and non flat-cylinder (H) engines in the US. Theirs has always been the best awd system available in passenger cars, used by paranoid parents to “feel planted” and not get stuck, and vape kids to do snow donuts. Even though it can only be used to not get stuck in a straight line Subaru advertises it as a safety thing. This and their turbocharged flat-four engines have been their secret to winning the WRC and also the reason for making quirky and less conventional cars. The Subaru Impreza is a compact car, competing against cars like the Civic, Corolla, Focus, Jetta, etc. The Impreza is very mechanically different from the rest of the segment. They all have a transverse four cylinder and fwd. All of Subaru’s cars have stood out in their class However they are becoming more conventional, with styling that is more inconspicuous and more boring parts. The Forester has grown from a small SUV to a huge size, at the expense of everything but space and safety. The Legacy is only configurable as a N/A midsize sedan with a CVT. No wagon model, turbo model, or manual option. The Outback started as a higher trim option for the Legacy wagon, a bit taller and more luxurious. It has gotten as tall as any other SUV and has nothing to offer as a “different” choice for a large family car. It like the other models have lost their character and the Subaru Weirdness that existed in the 80s, 90s, and 00s with all models but especially the WRX, Brat, Baja, SVX, and Legacy GT. But boring sells. Subaru is selling cars at an all time high as they leave their fun roots behind and sell more bland cars every day. The cars have fewer manual transmissions. They are even making the iconic subaru rumble go away, which comes from the unequal-length headers of a flat four. At this point, why don’t they just use inline engines like the rest of them?
CVTs are becoming the most common transmission in their cars. For a large family car like the Forester and Legacy most drivers won’t even notice. They want a safe car for any weather and will not notice the soulless gearlessbox. But this doesn’t apply to their performance cars, bought only by enthusiasts. The WRX and WRX-STi are very different now from what they used to be. Before, very mechanical, unique, fast, and hard to find a reason not to buy. Now, computerized, heavy, boring, and riding on its old reputation and success. Subaru is now cancelling the STi, the most extreme car they make and offering a CVT with the WRX. This is a big part of the evolution of subaru, who disappoints the car enthusiast more each year. Right there with them is Mitsubishi, but far less graceful, less successful, and more disappointing. Subaru is making their transition well. They are making boatloads of cash by changing their lineup according to what is selling, or what they choose to sell. Mitsubishi is objectively failing at taking the same path as Subaru. Once the direct competitor of the Impreza and WRX, the Lancer and Lancer Evolution were another “different” compact that you could get with turbos awd and manuals. But a bit like the fun Subarus the competitive Mitsubishis were replaced by the most bland and unlikeable CVT crossovers you can find. Another company famous for rallying: Lancia. Their entire brand at this point selects the most boring car from automakers around the world, slaps their badge on it and sells it again. These stories could have you believe that other big rally names like Audi and Ford will be going in this direction as well, but not yet. Not as far as we know.