The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

14 January 2004

Et tu, Subaru?

The pavement-inhaling WRX aside, Subaru, perhaps more than any other automotive marque, gets respect from the Greener Than Thou crowd, inasmuch as it makes generally sensibly-sized vehicles which eschew the more egregious frills one finds on other brands; Fuji Heavy Industries, the manufacturer, is viewed as the Anti-Detroit. (The fact that General Motors owns a small chunk of Fuji is either overlooked or ignored.)

So there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth when word gets around that there will be just enough modifications made to the 2005 edition of Subaru's popular Outback wagon and sedan to qualify them under Federal regulations as light trucks, subject to a less-stringent fuel-economy standard. The reason for this is blindingly simple: there's a horsepower race on, and Subaru doesn't want to be left behind. The wagon, at least, might pass for a truck, given the proliferation of crossover quasi-SUVs, but the sedan?

One wail has already been heard. The Sierra Club's Daniel Becker, seeing shades of 1984 in these 2005 models, pronounced: "This is a new low for the auto industry and it would make George Orwell proud." I would remind Mr Becker that when you have stupid rules (and Corporate Average Fuel Economy is the poster child for stupid rules), you can expect stupid stratagems to get around them.


Posted at 7:54 AM to Driver's Seat

i was struck by the similarity of the new Chrysler Pacifica to the station wagons of my youth. of course, it has a higher ground clearance so it's a truck. right?

Posted by: rammer at 8:19 PM on 16 January 2004

That's the, um, dodge; anything with ground clearance over 20 cm (8 inches or so) is a light truck by Federal definition. I don't know how the new Dodge Magnum, the wagon version of the upcoming Chrysler 300C sedan, will be classified yet.

The Chrysler PT Cruiser, on the other hand, is a light truck because it has a flat load floor (provided you yank out the rear seats). A number of minivans qualify on this spec.

Posted by: CGHill at 8:36 PM on 16 January 2004