Subaru Wins Big on the Boom in "Crossover" SUVs

Why Subaru is posting its best-ever U.S. sales right now -- and why that should continue.

Aug 10, 2014 at 1:20PM


Sales of Subaru's Forester SUV have been white-hot since the all-new model rolled out last spring. Forester sales were up 47% last month. Source: Subaru.

SUV sales are booming, and some commentators have suggested that the industry is headed for another crisis. 

But there are good reasons to think those concerns are wildly overblown. For starters, this time around, Detroit hasn't neglected its small-car lineups. For another, the SUVs that are seeing booming sales aren't just big trucks from Detroit. 

Nearly all of the major automakers are reaping the benefits of this market shift -- including one brand prized by fans for (among other things) fuel efficiency: Subaru.

A crossover boom for the company that pioneered the idea
We've seen booming sales for Fiat Chrysler's (NASDAQOTH:FIATY) stalwart Jeep SUV brand, and big year-over-year increases in SUV sales at Ford (NYSE:F), Toyota (NYSE:TM), BMW (NASDAQOTH:BAMXF), and others.

Those gains have (mostly) been driven by the new wave of "crossover" SUVs, all-wheel-drive capable vehicles built on platforms shared with car models. But the company that helped pioneer the "crossover" idea hasn't been left out of the fun.

Subaru said last week that July of 2014 was its all-time-best sales month in the U.S., following on a gain of more than 16% in the first half of 2014. 

In a way, Subaru's recent success is more good evidence that this new SUV boom isn't like the last one.

Subaru's hot seller at the moment is the Forester, a small crossover SUV that was all-new last spring. That new version got strong reviews from the likes of Consumer Reports, and it has proven to be very popular with buyers.

Forester sales long trailed those of the Outback, but as you can see, as the all-new Forester started arriving at dealers in the first half of 2013, sales surged.

Outback And Forester Sales Chart

Source: Subaru

That surge has continued into 2014. Year-to-date sales of the Forester are up almost 47%, a huge jump for a product that has always been among the brand's more popular models.

But the Forester isn't Subaru's only hit right now. Dealers now have good supplies of the all-new Legacy sedan, and sales were up almost 49% in July -- even though the 2015 Legacy's marketing campaign is just beginning. 


The all-new 2015 Subaru Outback is now rolling out around the country. Expect strong Outback sales to drive more gains for Subaru in the second half of the year. Source: Subaru.

The Legacy's sibling, the ever-popular Outback wagon, is also all-new for 2015. It's just now starting to arrive at dealers in quantity. Outback sales were up 12% in July. Will its gains increase as the year goes on? 

The 2015 Outback should drive more gains as the year goes on
The Outback -- essentially, a Legacy wagon with added off-road capability -- was one of the first "crossover" vehicles to find a big market. It has been among Subaru's best-sellers for most of the last two decades, and the company has big expectations for the all-new model.

The old Outback's sales growth slowed a bit after the all-new Forester made its debut last spring, suggesting that the new model was stealing some sales from its sibling. How will the Forester fare alongside the all-new Outback? It'll be interesting to see.

But Subaru is certainly going to put some marketing muscle behind its new crossover. Earlier this year, Yasuyuki Yoshinaga, CEO of Subaru parent Fuji Heavy Industry (NASDAQOTH:FUJHY), came to New York to explain why the Outback is key to Subaru's efforts in the U.S.

Right now, Subaru's marketing is focused on the all-new Legacy. But I think it's a safe bet that we'll see a big marketing push for the Outback this fall. Will sales follow? Stay tuned.

Leaked: Apple's next smart device (warning, it may shock you)
Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some early viewers are claiming its everyday impact could trump the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts 485 million of this type of device will be sold per year. But one small company makes Apple's gadget possible. And its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know investors. To be one of them, and see Apple's newest smart gizmo, just click here!

John Rosevear owns shares of Ford. The Motley Fool recommends BMW and Ford. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.


Compare Brokers