Subaru is paying the price of surging popularity.
Subaru Canada has issued 16 recalls this year. Problems range from Takata airbag issues to Subaru-specific problems that involve windshield wipers, portions of the electrical system, a minor knee guard bracket, hood latches, the turbocharger air intake duct, and steering column components.
In the latest Consumer Reports Auto Reliability Survey, Subaru dropped to “reliable” from “more reliable,” falling behind Kia, Hyundai, Mazda, Honda and Toyota. Subaru’s No. 11 ranking is ahead of Aura, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz, but for the first time since 2010, Subaru has slipped out of CR’s Top 10.
What of J.D. Power and Associates big quality studies, the three-year Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) and the 90-day Initial Quality Study (IQS)? In the latest VDS, Subaru ranks well below average, down there with perennial quality laggards Fiat, Jeep, Land Rover. In the IQS, Subaru ranks 23rd of 33 brands. Subaru ranked below average in both 2015 studies, too.
Subaru is struggling to manage success. As Subaru Canada notes, “sales rose to unprecedented heights this fall.” Subaru Canada is “on track for its fifth consecutive annual sales record.” Through the end of October, sales were up 6.5 per cent to 42,074.
For a brand that boasts industry-leading resale values based on safety and quality, a surge in recalls and a slump in quality have combined to deliver a black eye. Resale? Subaru ranks first among mainstream brands in ALG’s Canadian Residual Value Awards (RVA), and Subaru also ranks well in a rival study by Canadian Black Book.
The quality problem has been noticed by Yasuyuki Yoshinaga, CEO of Subaru parent Fuji Heavy Industries. Strong growth has contributed to quality issues, he tells Automotive News, therefore Subaru will “strengthen” its “effort to ensure high quality.”
We’ve heard from Subaru’s top boss now. Look for improvements to follow.