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About Subaru

The (abridged) history of Subaru

The word “Subaru” is the Japanese name for the cluster of six stars also known as the Pleiades, and there’s strong bond behind the name. In 1953, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI) — now known as Subaru Corporation — was incorporated as an aircraft manufacturing, marketing and maintenance company. Soon after, FHI merged with five other Japanese companies to form a six-sided, diversified conglomerate specializing in a range of different industries, including automotive (through Subaru).

The first prototype car to emerge from this new company was the P-1, which debuted in 1954. Designed to comfortably seat four adults while providing a stable and comfortable ride, the P-1 would eventually be renamed the Subaru 1500 and become the first car in history to sport the Subaru badge. Here’s a quick look at some of the other historical highlights that have powered Subaru over the years.

Subaru Timeline

1950 - 1959

1953

Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) is formed


1954

The FHI P-1 automotive prototype is unveiled.


1958

An instant best-seller in its domestic market, the Subaru 360 is released.

1960 - 1969


1961

The introduction of the Sambar microvan.


1965

The Subaru 1000 is released, highlighting the first use of the horizontally opposed SUBARU BOXER engine.


1969

The R-2 minicar is released.

1970 - 1979


1972

The world’s first mass-produced 4WD passenger car, the Subaru Leone 4WD Station Wagon, is released.


1977

Long before the popularity of crossover vehicles, the Subaru Brat, with a two-seater passenger cabin and small cargo bed, debuts and becomes a cult hit.

1980 - 1989


1984

The popular and economical Subaru Justy debuts.


1986

The third-generation Leone comes equipped with Subaru full-time AWD.


1987

The Subaru Justy showcases the world’s first electro-continuously variable transmission (ECVT).


1988

Subaru Tecnica International (STI) is established.


1989

The Subaru Legacy, equipped with a SUBARU BOXER engine and All-Wheel Drive, is launched to critical acclaim.

1990 - 1999


1990

The first full year of participation in the WRC with the brand new Subaru Legacy.


1991

Subaru introduces the SVX high-performance luxury coupe.


1992

Equipped with the same engine, AWD system and suspension as the Legacy in a smaller and sportier package, the Subaru Impreza is introduced.


1995

The Subaru World Rally Team (SWRT) captures the first of three consecutive Manufacturers’ Titles with the Impreza WRC; lead driver Colin McRae wins the Drivers’ Title.


1995

The handling and practicality of a wagon combined with the ground clearance and the safety of a sport utility vehicle: The Subaru Outback arrives to set a new standard for crossovers.


1997

Subaru introduces the Forester, a compact vehicle that delivers the ride and handling of a sedan blended with the ruggedness of a true SUV.

2000 - 2009


2001

Subaru unveils the Baja at the North American International Auto Show.


2003

The Subaru Legacy is named Car of the Year Japan.


2004

The high-performance, rally-inspired Subaru Impreza WRX STi is brought to North America for the first time.


2005

The Subaru Tribeca, the largest and most luxurious vehicle in the line-up, is introduced.


2008

The 50th anniversary of Subaru.


2009

All Subaru models receive the highest possible rating from the IIHS, a “Top Safety Pick” designation, marking the first of many consecutive years the entire fleet has been recognized.


2009

The 2010 Subaru Legacy and Outback feature the new Lineartronic CVT, which allows both to achieve FWD fuel economy numbers and AWD performance.

2010 - Present


2010

The Subaru Outback is named Utility of the Year by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).


2010

The EyeSight® advanced driver-assist system is introduced in Japan and is named Car Technology of the Year by the Japan Automotive Hall of Fame.


2011

Subaru WRX STI won the SP3T class of the 24 Hours Nürburgring.


2012

The Subaru BRZ is introduced.


2012

The Subaru XV Crosstrek is introduced.


2012

Subaru WRX STI claims 2nd win in the SP3T class of the 24 Hours Nürburgring. This is the first back-to-back win for Subaru.


2012

The North American debut of EyeSight.


2012

The BRZ receives the Car of the Year Japan “Special Award.”


2013

The Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid is released.


2013

Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) marks its 60th anniversary.


2014

The WRX’s BOXER “DIT” engine named Ward’s “10 Best Engines” of 2015.


2015

The Subaru WRX STI captures the SP3T class win at the Nürburgring 24-Hour Race for the third time.


2015

The Subaru Legacy is named “Car of the Year” by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).


2015

For the second consecutive year, the WRX’s BOXER “DIT” engine named Ward’s “10 Best Engines” of 2016.


2016

Subaru Global Platform announced.


2016

The 5th generation Impreza is introduced. It is the first Subaru vehicle to employ the new Subaru Global Platform architecture.


2016

Subaru celebrated the 50th anniversary of the horizontally-opposed BOXER engine.


2016

A back-to-back win for Subaru WRX STI for its class at 2016 Nürburgring 24-Hour Race.


2017

The 2nd generation Crosstrek is revealed. This is the second Subaru vehicle to be built on the Subaru Global Platform.


2017

Fuji Heavy Industries changed to Subaru Corporation.


2017

Impreza named Wards “10 Best Interior” and “10 Best User Experience” for 2017.

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