It took just less than 50 years.
Subaru is renowned for its sophisticated all-wheel-drive technology, which is standard for off-roaders like the Forester and Outback and helps improves the stability of the high-performance WRX STI sports car when it's pushed hard. The Japanese automaker has been building awesome all-wheel drive cars for nearly 50 years and is now celebrating a major production milestone.
Last month, the 20-millionth AWD Subaru rolled off the production line, though the Japanese manufacturer hasn't said which specific model achieved the production milestone. Considering it's Subaru's best-selling global model, we wouldn't be surprised if it was a Forester.
The impressive production milestone was achieved 49 years after the Leone 4WD Estate Van debuted in September 1972 as Japan's first mass-produced AWD passenger car.
Globally, AWD models now account for 98 percent of Subaru's sales, despite the BRZ sports car being offered exclusively with a rear-wheel-drive setup for maximum driving enjoyment. All of Subaru's all-wheel-drive models are equipped with a unique full-time Symmetrical AWD system, which features a symmetrically laid-out drivetrain paired with a longitudinally-mounted Boxer engine. The position of the Boxer engine provides a low center of gravity, while the weight balance of the symmetrical drivetrain helps maximize stability and traction when navigating treacherous conditions.
Since the Leone 4WD Estate Van launched nearly 50 years ago in Japan, Subaru's AWD system has evolved and is now more advanced than ever. In Japan, the 2022 Subaru Forester is offered with an electrified e-Boxer powertrain combining a 2.0-liter gasoline engine with an electric motor that increases the precision of the AWD system, resulting in improved traction when driving on snow, ice, and rough roads.
Subaru will continue using electrification to enhance the AWD capability in upcoming models like the Solterra, Subaru's first all-electric SUV launching in 2022, as well as new hybrid vehicles launching in the mid-2020s.