We're all familiar with the Subaru catch phrase, "_______, it's what makes a Subaru, a Subaru." Fine marketing aside, what really does make these cars stand out above the competition, both on and off the road? I've driven quite a few different Subis over the years, honestly as many as I could get my hands on. Personally I've owned three, spanning several generations. Going in order of manufacture, '95 Impreza Outback (pictured), '03 Impreza WRX, and an '08 Impreza Outback Sport. In these I have observed several qualities that carry through the years, Longevity, Versatility, and what I like to call "Fun Factor".
Starting with Longevity, it's no secret that Subaru's last a really really long time. With proper maintenance and care a Subaru can live well into it's 300k's and still be a plucky little ride! My '95 was well into it's high 200's when I picked it up for $300. Yes, three hundred dollars. It needed an alternator and the third gear syncro was gone. Since I paid so little for the car, I was barely concerned about being nice to the car and I beat the thing into submission. I did whatever I wanted in that car, sliding down dirt roads, smashing through snow drifts, bounding down two tracks, scampering through sand pits. I wasn't worried about scratches or dents, any damage incurred could easily be fixed with parts found at any junk yard, and pulled off just about any Subaru from the time period. When I replaced the alternator, I grabbed two off of two different Subis neither of which matched my model, and guess what? Perfect matches! I only grabbed two in case one turned out to be no good. And they were cheap, I might have paid $50 for both. Maybe a half hour in the backyard with simple hand tools and problem solved. If this poor little car had a better early life I bet I'd still be raising hell on the local back roads. Unfortunately, by the time I picked her up, she had suffered years of neglect and was on her last leg. With a little extra cash I salvaged enough to give her one more year of life before hitting the crusher.
Versatility. How versatile can a little Japanese car be? Well, my outbacks both served multiple purposes during my ownership. They were campers, work trucks, kid shuttles, road trippers, tow cars, moving vans, and most importantly daily drivers that just got me from A to B. If it needed doing I could get the Subi to do it...within reason of course. I mean if you have large furniture that needs to be moved the Outback might not be the best choice. Short of that, I made those wagons work for whatever I needed to do. I know, one could just buy an SUV and do most of these things. Go ahead, buy an Explorer, I'll see you at the gas pump as I warble by with twice the miles on my trip, twice as much gas in my tank, and huge grin on my face. Which leads me to my next point.
Fun Factor. Even the most basic of my three Subis was insanely fun to drive. Probably because it was such a junker I wasn't exactly concerned about ditches and such. I really have a hard time deciding which Subaru was the most fun to drive, it's a close tie between the '03 and the '95. The '03 had a good amount of power and when that turbo spools you get thrown back as the speedo shoots up and the scenery flies by. Don't ask me how I know, but that particular car topped out around 145mph. Not exactly a supercar figure, but why would you need to go any faster? Besides, top speed isn't as impressive or fun as rapid response and superb handling. Sure, a Mustang or Camaro could walk me from the line on a straight, but throw a few curves in and the Subi outshines the fancy muscle cars, and it will look and sound better doing it. No noise will ever bring a smile to my face as quickly as the throaty growl of a flat four with fat exhaust and no Cat. Everything about driving a Subaru is fun, you don't even have to be driving fast or out of your comfort zone to have a good time. Simply downshifting around a tight corner and giving it a little throttle will bring a smile to your face and make you feel like a pro-rally driver.
So, What does make a Subaru a Subaru? They last forever when properly cared for. If you treat your Subi right she'll treat you right and be still there to pass on to the kids when you finally decide buy a new one. They can do it all. Day to day errands, running a business or just running the snowy back roads. And finally, they are so much fun to drive it's almost not fair to the other cars. Next time you're looking for a car, new or used, I highly recommend joining the ranks of millions of satisfied and returning customers. Treat yourself to more than a car, treat yourself to car that will make you happy. Buy a Subaru, you won't be disappointed.