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.
1950 - 1959
Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) is formed
The FHI P-1 automotive prototype is unveiled.
An instant best-seller in its domestic market, the Subaru 360 is released.
1960 - 1969
The introduction of the Sambar microvan.
The Subaru 1000 is released, highlighting the first use of the horizontally opposed SUBARU BOXER engine.
The R-2 minicar is released.
1970 - 1979
The world’s first mass-produced 4WD passenger car, the Subaru Leone 4WD Station Wagon, is released.
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
The popular and economical Subaru Justy debuts.
The third-generation Leone comes equipped with Subaru full-time AWD.
The Subaru Justy showcases the world’s first electro-continuously variable transmission (ECVT).
Subaru Tecnica International (STI) is established.
The Subaru Legacy, equipped with a SUBARU BOXER engine and All-Wheel Drive, is launched to critical acclaim.
1990 - 1999
The first full year of participation in the WRC with the brand new Subaru Legacy.
Subaru introduces the SVX high-performance luxury coupe.
Equipped with the same engine, AWD system and suspension as the Legacy in a smaller and sportier package, the Subaru Impreza is introduced.
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.
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.
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
Subaru unveils the Baja at the North American International Auto Show.
The Subaru Legacy is named Car of the Year Japan.
The high-performance, rally-inspired Subaru Impreza WRX STi is brought to North America for the first time.
The Subaru Tribeca, the largest and most luxurious vehicle in the line-up, is introduced.
The 50th anniversary of Subaru.
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.
The 2010 Subaru Legacy and Outback feature the new Lineartronic CVT, which allows both to achieve FWD fuel economy numbers and AWD performance.
2010 - 2019
The Subaru Outback is named Utility of the Year by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).
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.
Subaru WRX STI won the SP3T class of the 24 Hours Nürburgring.
The Subaru BRZ is introduced.
The Subaru XV Crosstrek is introduced.
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.
The North American debut of EyeSight.
The BRZ receives the Car of the Year Japan “Special Award.”
The Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid is released.
Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) marks its 60th anniversary.
The WRX’s BOXER “DIT” engine named Ward’s “10 Best Engines” of 2015.
The Subaru WRX STI captures the SP3T class win at the Nürburgring 24-Hour Race for the third time.
The Subaru Legacy is named “Car of the Year” by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).
For the second consecutive year, the WRX’s BOXER “DIT” engine named Ward’s “10 Best Engines” of 2016.
Subaru Global Platform announced.
The 5th generation Impreza is introduced. It is the first Subaru vehicle to employ the new Subaru Global Platform architecture.
Subaru celebrated the 50th anniversary of the horizontally-opposed BOXER engine.
A back-to-back win for Subaru WRX STI for its class at 2016 Nürburgring 24-Hour Race.
The 2nd generation Crosstrek is revealed. This is the second Subaru vehicle to be built on the Subaru Global Platform.
Fuji Heavy Industries changed to Subaru Corporation.
Impreza named Wards “10 Best Interior” and “10 Best User Experience” for 2017.
Subaru WRX STI Type RA NBR Special Sets Sub-Seven Minute Nurbürgring Lap.
The Subaru Ascent makes its first Canadian debut as Subaru’s new 3rd-row SUV. This is the third Subaru vehicle to be built on the Subaru Global Platform.
The 5th generation Forester makes its debut. It is the fourth Subaru vehicle to be built on the Subaru Global Platform.
Subaru takes home class victory in Nürburgring 24-Hour Race.
Subaru Canada announces its first-ever plug-in hybrid vehicle.
The 7th generation Legacy is unveiled. It is the fifth Subaru vehicle to be built on the Subaru Global Platform.
AJAC announces Subaru DriverFocusTM as Best Safety Innovation for 2019.
The 6th generation Outback is revealed. It is the sixth Subaru vehicle to be built on the Subaru Global Platform.
Subaru Legacy named 2020 Midsize Car of the Year by Auto123.
2020 - Present
Subaru awarded three 2020 Canadian Residual Value Awards from ALG Canada – Best Compact Car (Impreza), Best Sports Car (WRX/WRX STI) and Best Subcompact Utility (Crosstrek).
AJAC awards Subaru Best Large Car in Canada for 2020 (Legacy) and Best Mid-Size Utility Vehicle in Canada for 2020 (Outback).