Subaru Celebrates 20 Million All-Wheel-Drive Vehicles – From Leone to Solterra in 50 Years

By Steve & Tamami Laser

Subaru achieved an amazing milestone last month by building its 20 millionth vehicle equipped with all-wheel drive. We’ve experienced the traction-enhancing benefits of AWD firsthand, behind the wheel of our own Forester and Outback long-term test cars.

Subaru has produced some exciting performance vehicles over the years, like the 2005 Impreza WRX STi Type-UK, shown above. Yet a Subaru Leone 4WD Estate Van has the distinction as Japan’s first mass-produced AWD passenger car, when it was built in Sept. 1972.

Subaru says that about 98 percent of its global vehicle sales are fitted with the latest Symmetrical AWD system, teamed with a horizontally-opposed Boxer engine. A wide range of Subaru AWD models are offered across the globe, from the XV, Levorg, and Forester, to the WRX, Outback and Ascent.

Subaru says that with Symmetrical AWD and horizontally opposed Boxer engine, the powertrain is mounted with side-to-side symmetry, while the transmission sits back from the front axle within the wheelbase. This layout optimizes longitudinal-transverse weight balance, providing stable traction on a wide range of road surfaces and driving conditions, with responsive cornering and control.

The WRX STI brought rally proven technology to the street, with a turbo Boxer engine, Driver Controlled Center Differential (DCCD), and Symmetrical AWD. The 2021 Saigo WRX STI is a very limited edition with just 20 units offered for Subaru of New Zealand customers. It’s fitted with an STI rear wing, 19-inch forged gold alloys, Recaro® seats, silver Brembo® brakes, EJ25 Final Edition engine bay badges and more.

In its continuing quest to develop electrified vehicles, Subaru offers hybrid AWD models in Japan and other regions, including the Forester e-Boxer, shown above. The e-Boxer combines Subaru’s Boxer engine with electrification technology, with a compact, high-performance electric motor and a compact lithium-ion battery placed in line on a Symmetrical AWD layout.

The future looks bright, with the all-electric Subaru Solterra, developed with Toyota, planned to go on sale next year. Riding on a new battery electric vehicle (BEV) e-Subaru Global AWD platform, Solterra is expected to be available in Japan, the U.S., Canada, Europe, and China.

Note: Launch timing and availability of future production models is subject to change without notice

Additional notes: Total production figure includes AWD systems other than Symmetrical AWD. 98 percent figure is based on 2018-2020 global sales, excluding OEM-supplied vehicles

News sources and photos courtesy of Subaru Corp., Subaru (UK) Limited, Subaru of New Zealand

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