Subaru has long produced some of the most capable cars available, aimed at the niche outdoor enthusiast market with its standard all-wheel drive system as a principal selling point for its vehicles. In the past couple of years, however, Subaru’s popularity has skyrocketed, to the point that the brand — largely owned by Japan’s Fuji Heavy Industries — is looking to up its production at its facility in Lafayette, Indiana.
“We’ve got a little extra capacity,” said Subaru of America President Tom Doll to Automotive News on the heels of Subaru’s unveiling of its new 2015 Legacy sedan. The company is shooting to put out 60,000 units of the Legacy this year; in 2013, Subaru produced 125,554 Outback wagons and 40,800 sedans at the plant.
“We would like to close that gap” to have a better balance between the wagon and sedan, Automotive News quoted Doll as saying. All told, the plant has the capacity for about 310,000 units annually, by company figures — that includes a production line reserved for building Toyota’s (NYSE:TM) Camry sedan, of which 97,000 Camrys were made at the facility last year. Toyota is a partial owner of Fuji Heavy Industries.
“Today we are celebrating that we are also a sedan company,” Doll said at the launch, per Automotive News. “We’re celebrating the 2015 Legacy sedan as a true player and the smart alternative in the mid-sized sedan segment.”
Subaru has been catching some flack from brand loyalists who feel that the company has been swapping out its characteristic quirks and nuances for a more mainstream approach, as Subaru seemingly prides greater sales numbers over adventurous design.
An especially contentious decision was to drop the hatchback form of the WRX for the 2015 model year, a blow made larger by the fact that the production model didn’t live up to fans’ expectations based on Subaru’s WRX concept. It’s a similar concept with the new Legacy: Subaru has played it exceedingly safe with its design language to appeal to a greater audience, for better or for worse.
Additionally, Subaru has dropped the manual transmission option for the new sedan, replacing it with the company’s continuously variable transmission. While these decisions will be making the brand more appealing to the average sedan buyer, it’s a bit of a wallop to the Subaru faithful who have fallen in love with the brand for its unconventional styling and functions.
Nonetheless, the car doesn’t look bad by any means, and it still comes with Subaru’s tremendously capable AWD system as standard; it is also the most fuel-efficient all-wheel drive sedan on the market, with 26 miles per gallon in the city and 36 on the highway.