Reliability and resilience on and off the road are what make Subaru a car brand seriously worth considering. The car maker has become known for cars that are slightly off-kilter but practical -- on a rally course or in the suburbs. Some models bring the power, too.
Shooting for the stars
The company started after World War II, when a group of manufacturing companies formed Fuji Heavy Industries, according to the company?s history page on Edmunds. Then-CEO Kenji Kita, according to Wikipedia, wanted the company involved in auto manufacturing and started production of a small four-cylinder economy car. A name for the car was difficult to find until he settled on the word ?subaru,? Japanese for ?united,? representing the large consortium of companies contained within Fuji. It is also the Japanese name of the Pleiades star cluster, which is incorporated into the six-star Subaru logo.
The first car, the 1500, was introduced in 1954 but encountered production issues, and only 20 were built. The next car, the 360, was a microcar that bore a significant resemblance to the Volkswagen Beetle and started to sell. Cars that were imported to the United States didn?t sell so well at first but gained a small foothold.
The happiest of accidents
Subaru soldiered on with compact sedans and microvans, but two key innovations set the tone for the company. First, the company introduced the Subaru 1000 in 1965, the first Subaru with a boxer engine. Boxer engines come with horizontally-mounted pistons, and are usually only used in airplanes.
Then, in 1971, the Tohuku Electric Power Company requested a Subaru dealership to modify a 1000 with four-wheel-drive for use in winter. This led the company to the conclusion that it could be worth adding as an option.
Subaru started offering four-wheel-drive as an option on the Leone in 1971. The BRAT, half a compact car and half a pickup, gained a cult following after being released in 1978, establishing the brand as being slightly off-kilter but fun on and off the road, helping Subaru to cement its reputation.
Subaru further added performance models, with supercharged versions of the boxer engines. In the 1980s, Subaru started entering its cars in World Rally Championship events, with three drivers capturing WRC titles behind the wheel of a Subaru.
Seriously worth a look
Buying a Subaru is an investment that most drivers will tell people is worth it. They can handle on- and off-road conditions with equal ease. Subarus are also known for being tough as nails and steadfastly reliable in the long run, which is why Subarus tend to have high resale values. Models range from compact hatch backs, rugged utility wagons and full SUVs. Performance-driven models in the Impreza range are also known for being astoundingly sporty. The line is worth a look.