In October 2021, I made the decision to sell my beloved MINI Cooper. It was not because I grew tired of that car or had an issue with it. My decision to sell it was because the used car market was hot, and Carvana was offering stupid money for it. Sounds sensible, right?
Carvana was not the only source that was willing to pay me more than normal market value, but they were the highest. I chronicled that process in the article, I Sold My MINI to Carvana, so I won’t go into any more detail here. My choice for a replacement vehicle took many turns, and one or two of my friends were mystified with my decision to buy a Subaru Outback.
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For me and many other buyers, Subaru represents more than just a great vehicle. It is a brand with a familiar story–one that resonated with me.
Like any good car shopper, I did my research. I liked that the Outback was actually a lifted wagon and not an SUV. This makes it unique to me. The Outback also comes highly recommended by Consumer Reports for safety and reliability.
That’s important because both attributes also translate to greater resale value. Couple that with Subaru’s standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, and you have the making of a safe, reliable go anywhere utility vehicle.
All wheel drive is a hallmark feature of Subaru since the beginning of time, and is what makes a Subaru a Subaru. It is what gets buyers in the door. How they are treated from there cinches the sale.
During my 32 years at General Motors, I had the privilege to work on the Saturn brand team. You may remember Saturn’s tagline: A Different Kind of Company, A Different Kind of Car. In the back of my mind, I saw so many similarities between Saturn and Subaru that it seemed natural to buy one of their vehicles.
Saturn was more about the customer experience than the cars, which is why we had such a loyal following. Our retailers followed a consultative selling process, which included a No Haggle/No Hassle pricing philosophy that was well liked by our customers. It did not stop there…the many owner events, car clubs and two Homecoming festivals made every owner feel included and special.
Thinking about the Saturn experience, the above picture found on the Subaru website conjured up my days at Saturn. The tagline, “More Than a Car Company” feels suspiciously like Saturn’s noted above. Subaru explains their “Love Promise” as follows:
Subaru and our retailers believe in making the world a better place and the Subaru Love Promise is our vision of respecting all people. This is our commitment to show love and respect to our customers and to work to make a positive impact in the world.
Clearly, I bought into this brand positioning, but was I alone?
What Do Other Owners Say?
As you can see, my decision to buy a Subaru started with the reputation and capability of their vehicles and was solidified with the brand promise. I was curious how other owners felt, so I reached out to a group of them on a Subaru forum. I started a thread with the title, “Why Subaru?”
In almost every one of the 64 responses, the theme went like this:
- I wanted a reliable and safe vehicle with all wheel drive
- My Subaru retailer was genuine and sincere during my shopping process
- Subaru takes care of me when I have a problem with my vehicle
That seems straightforward enough, and aligns with my observation as well. The responses were fun to read and very positive overall. Here are some of the comments posted to my question:
“I wanted an affordable, dependable car to get me anywhere and go on long trips with good mileage. Subaru offered it all and more.”
“I have a great dealership – there have been a few situations now where they could have charged me for parts and service that were not needed or not done and I would not have known better – but they didn’t.”
“I follow a lot of automotive forums. Each one has its characters, but the Subaru forums and Facebook groups are consistently more helpful and positive. I noticed a more productive and positive group here. It seems the Subaru vehicles are what brought us to the brand. The type of people who buy them make it an enjoyable place to be.”
“I wanted to piss off Jeep owners.”
I found that last statement funny. Jeeps are designed to provide an exceptional off road experience (rock crawling, dune running), while Subarus are built to get you to your off road experience (hiking, skiing, cycling). I think Subarus are more capable than advertised, and at least one other owner thinks so too!
Subaru Delivers on Their Promise
The sample of owners in the Subaru forum suggests that Subaru is on the right track with their owners. You don’t have to believe that forum group…Subaru provides the following proof points:
- Kelley Blue Book rates Subaru the Most Trusted Brand for seven years running
- J.D. Power lists Subaru with the highest Overall Brand Loyalty in the automotive industry for three years in a row.
- Subaru donated more than $225 million over 14 years during the Subaru Share the Love Event.
- When I bought my Outback, I was offered a chance to pick a charity to receive a $250 donation from Subaru (I picked a local dog rescue). My Subaru retailer matched the Subaru corporate donation. Pretty cool.
- 100 million meals have been donated to Feeding America.
- 1 million trees planted in the wake of forest fires.
- 100,000 blankets and 50,000 pairs of socks donated to homeless shelters nationwide.
Badge of Ownership
A couple of weeks ago, I discovered that Subaru provides owners (at no cost) with a “Badge of Ownership” showing which number Subaru you own. This is ordered through Subaru and customized with up to five icons that show your passions in life. You are encouraged to share this with the community of Subaru owners.
Pictured above is my Badge of Ownership with the icons for cycling, hiking, dogs, road trips and kayaking.
Subaru recommends you stick these on the tailgate of your vehicle, but I have a different idea to display my new badges:
I found that other Subaru owners display their Badges Of Ownership on Instagram (#badgeofownership). Here is a small sample:
I shopped for a lot of vehicles after I decided to sell my MINI, but none of those brands (or dealers) shared the love quite like Subaru. Based on everything I have learned since my purchase, I can see why people connect with Subaru. I look forward to my ownership experience.