There's another factor that could start affecting crossover sales.
Ford’s recent announcement that it will soon quit traditional sedans (and some hatchbacks) made many wonder whether other automakers would make similar decisions. That might still happen, but Subaru won’t be one of them. Motor Trend caught up with Subaru’s national manager of production communications, Dominick Infante, and asked him whether its two sedans, the Impreza and Legacy, still have a future. But before we get to Infante’s response, he also pointed out another vital factor: increasing gas prices.
Larger and heavier crossovers typically use more fuel than traditional sedans. “Gas prices are starting to come up now,” Infante first said. “So a good hedge for better economy is having a sedan. So we will make the Impreza and the Impreza hatchback. They do get better gas mileage than say a comparable CUV like the Crosstrek so we do sell those so if the market does change that’ll help sales of sedans.” Speaking of the Crosstrek, it’s now the automaker’s best-selling model with sales up by 66.6 percent in the first four months of this year. At the same time however, Impreza and Legacy sales dropped by 16.3 percent and 13.9 percent, respectively. WRX/STI sales were down by 8.2 percent.
Meanwhile, the Outback, essentially a raised Legacy wagon, saw its sales increase by 2 percent. The outgoing Forester fell by 9.7 percent, but that figure is expected to correct itself once the new model goes on sale. It’s also important to remember that Subaru, unlike Ford and Japanese rivals Honda and Toyota, is not a big automaker, but rather more of a niche player. It does what it does very well and has very loyal customers. Although Subaru’s sedans are also experiencing a sales drop like the segment at large, it wouldn’t be wise to kill them off. Otherwise, Subaru won’t be protected by potential negative market forces, like increased gas prices which would leave it totally exposed.