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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Subaru Efficiency Sets The Standard....

Set amid tawny popcorn and soybean fields, weathered barns, and rusty silos, the Subaru of Indiana Automotive plant cuts a swath. A 3.4-million-square-foot monolith abutted by railroad tracks, SIA has a mountain of compost and the occasional coyote skittering through the surrounding 832 acres of woodland.

Step inside, though, and you'll discover why this might be the most exemplary car factory in America

In its 22-year history — a period that has spanned three recessions, a global financial crisis, massive U.S. auto bankruptcies, and the departure of Isuzu, a founding partner, from the operation — SIA has rolled out more than 3 million vehicles and has never resorted to layoffs. Instead, it's given workers a wage increase every year of its operation.

Staffers also enjoy premium-free health care, abundant overtime ($15,000 each, on average, in 2010), paid volunteer time, financial counseling, and the ability to earn a Purdue University degree on-site — all in a state that has lost 46,000 auto jobs and suffered multiple plant foreclosures in the past decade.

And the truly astonishing thing is how it achieved all this: through a relentless focus on eliminating waste. "This is not about recycling, or a nice marketing to-do," says Dean Schroeder, a management professor at Valparaiso University who has studied the plant. "This is a strict dollars-and-cents, moneymaking-and-savings calculation that also drives better safety and quality."

 @Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fuji Heavy, Chery agree on China Subaru deal -sources

BEIJING, May 24 (Reuters) - Fuji Heavy Industries has agreed in principle to make Subaru vehicles in northeastern China with Chery Automobile, the country's largest independent automaker, two people with knowledge of deal said on Tuesday, marking the latest foreign manufacturing tie-up in the world's biggest auto market.

The Chery deal, if it goes ahead, would give the Japanese automaker a foothold in China, joining the ranks of General Motors and Volkswagen , which had already carved up a major chunk of market where vehicle sales had topped 18 million in 2010. "Chery and Fuji have agreed on the major terms and conditions of making Subarus in the city of Dalian and are now communicating with Chinese regulators to seek their endorsement," one person briefed on the matter told Reuters.

The terms and conditions were similar with what had been previously reported, the person said, declining to elaborate.

The Nikkei business daily reported in late 2010 that the two companies were in advanced talks to build a 30 billion yen ($366 million) China plant, with initial annual capacity of 50,000 units, rising to 150,000 eventually.

New auto manufacturing ventures in China need to be approved by government bodies, including the top economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which oversees major industry policies.

Another person close to the companies told Reuters that Fuji Heavy was still occupied with recovery efforts after the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami, contributing to a postponement of the announcement of its China tie.

Like all the other Japanese automakers, Fuji Heavy suffered from the disaster. Disruption to the supply chain had snapped its sales momentum, causing a loss of some 15,000 units in car sales in the few weeks remaining in the business year that ended on March 31.  A Fuji Heavy spokesman said the company had no further comment after admitting late last year that Chery was among its potential partners in China.
Chery spokesman Jin Yibo said he had no information on the deal.

A formal announcement of the deal is expected in the coming months. It will make Chery the latest Chinese car maker to have a foreign partner, joining bigger auto groups SAIC Motor Corp , Dongfeng Motor Group , Chongqing Changan Automobile among others.

China, which eclipsed the United States as the world's top auto seller in 2009, is too important to miss for most industry players, including top Japanese brands Toyota Motor , Nissan Motor and Honda Motor which formed their local alliances years ago.

Fuji Heavy, has been seeking a tie in China, where only imported Subaru models, such as Legacy, Forester, Impreza and Tribeca are offered via select agents, including Pangda Automobile Trade Co , China's largest publicly traded auto dealer.
The smallest Japanese automaker had previously approached a number of Chinese automakers for a possible tie, including SAIC, a long-time partner of GM and Volkswagen, industry sources said.

Chery Auto, best known for its hot-selling compact car QQ, had explored opportunities to export Chinese-made small cars to developed markets under the Chrysler badge.

But the deal was called off after Chrysler, now controlled by Fiat , reached a similar pact with Nissan Motor . Chrysler's bankruptcy amid of a steep industry downturn in North America was also cited as a reason.
In 2010, Chery sold 682,058 vehicles, up 36.3 percent year-on-year, outpacing a 33.2 percent gain in China's car market as well as Warren Buffett-backed BYD , which sold 519,806 cars, up 15.5 percent.

Geely Automobile , whose parent owns Volvo Cars, sold 415,286 cars last year, up 27.1 percent.
Chery, which started selling cars overseas in 2002, is now China's biggest auto exporter with year-to-date shipments exceeding 500,000 units. It operates 16 assembly plants overseas, including a $400 million facility in Brazil that will eventually be capable of making 150,000 cars per year.

In 2011, Chery aims to ship 120,000 cars overseas, mostly to developing markets in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and South America, up over 30 percent from 2010.

 By Fang Yan and Ken Wills

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Just a song I found...

This may not be everyone's cup of tea but the name of the song alone dictates that I like the tune.

Without further ado.......North End Subaru presents........


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The World's Worst Weatherman...

All-wheel drive is to North End Subaru's brand identity what cheesecake is to Junior's. And that has a lot to do with why the brand has been so strong, traditionally, in snow states. But in recent years, Subaru has made inroads in other regions as it has focused as much on cars on the Legacy platform as on its core Forester and Outback crossovers for which the brand has been known.

Now the Cherry Hill, N.J. automaker is making its symmetrical all-wheel drive underpinnings central to a humorous new campaign that makes light of nature's vicissitudes, or at least the TV weather announcers who bring us the predictions.

The campaign, "The World's Worst Weatherman," has the central idea that you can't count on predictions, but at least you'll be able to get around if you have a Subaru. Via AOR Minneapolis-based Carmichael Lynch, it includes TV, the home page at, Facebook, mobile applications and YouTube.

The ads feature a borderline incompetent weatherman, reminiscent of the Ted Baxter character on "The Mary Tyler Moore" show of the '70s -- who can't even get his geography correct, much less talk turkey about weather. In one spot, he starts to talk about weather in Washington, "our nation's capital," except he's pointing to the state. He mispronounces Boise but is obviously proud that he knows the city is in Idaho. In another video, he has absolutely no idea what the temperature numbers mean on the weather map, and the newscasters roll their eyes.

There are also Subaru-produced videos at that position Subaru against Toyota, Ford, Nissan and Honda for harsh-weather handling. The site also has games: "Conversation Starters," offering opening lines having to do with other things than the weather; "Time Wasted," a calculator for how much time you spend worrying about the weather; and "Weather Odds" that works out the probability of a person encountering inclement weather in their current location.

Alan Bethke, director of marketing at Subaru, says the campaign has a role in expanding the brand beyond the snowbelt, which has been Subaru's traditional stronghold.

"It's about getting people to understand what the Symmetrical AWD System can do for them, regardless of where they live -- not just in snow and ice. It's good for any road condition. Even for a dry road, it enhances the way the vehicle handles." He says that the brand, which has had three record sales years, recession notwithstanding, has also seen its share grow in the southern states.

Melissa Schoenke, account director at Carmichael Lynch, says the campaign includes five national TV ads that are also available for dealers. "There are also ads more appropriate to certain parts of the country," she says, adding that the creative will reflect the season. "Right now there's an emphasis on rain." Rather than a one- or two-month effort, the campaign will be extended and reflect the changing seasons, per Bethke. "We see it as something long-term; with fall and winter coming into play we see it as something with a long shelf life."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Central Massachusetts carshoppers finding fewer cars available.....

Buyers hearing that summer vehicle shortages are occurring earlier than they had planned, are visiting dealers to get the cars they want. April sales, which where reported last Monday, are expected to be up 19 percent from last year. Dealers say the increase is at least partly due to anxious customers.

The Japan earthquake is on peoples’ minds, said Adam Skolnick, general manager at Toyota Scion Watertown in Massachusetts. “There is more of a sense of urgency because they don’t want to be left without a vehicle,’’ he said. The March 11 quake devastated Japanese suppliers and shut down production at automakers for weeks. Analysts estimate production has fallen by about 500,000 vehicles and will continue to grow.

Toyota will not return to a regular production schedule in Japan until November at the earliest. Although Japanese automakers are the hardest hit, Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler have all curtailed production.
“As inventories rapidly deteriorate, April could be the last month that we’ll see strong sales numbers until late summer or early fall,’’ said Jessica Caldwell, an senior analyst.

Yesterday, Honda warned dealers that the 2012 Civic and other models will be in short supply this summer. It also pushed back the fall launch of the CR-V small SUV by at least a month.

The primary impact will be on brands and parts manufactured solely in Japan. Small cars such as the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris and Subaru Impreza could be in short supply, said Jesse Toprak, vice president at “Recovery from this crisis is difficult and constantly evolving … ’’ John Mendel, Honda’s US executive vice president, told US dealers in a letter.

The crisis is beginning to translate into a shortage of most cars and trucks on US dealers’ lots. Prices are inching up on some brands and models, including Mazda, Toyota, and Subaru. For now, there is in many cases, less than a two-month inventory of many models.

Subaru of America, Inc. Supports MS 150

In late September, thousands of bicyclists made their treks in southern New Jersey to help raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Subaru has supported this MS 150 ride for more than 12 years.
Named official vehicle of the MS 150, Subaru provided:
  • Twelve vehicles for the organization’s use
  • Teams of volunteers
    • More than 20 employees participated in the ride as a bike team
    • Approximately 60 employee volunteers helped at rest stops, which were stocked with fruit, snacks, and beverages

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Diesel Subaru for the U.S.?

Rumors and innuendo have swirled around the idea that Subaru could bring its much-anticipated diesel engine here to the U.S. for  over three years now. Between then and now, the company has remained indecisive due to high diesel fuel prices and stringent emissions requirements here. Needless to say, the diesel boxer is still nowhere to be found stateside, but this might change soon.

The company's first horizontally-opposed boxer diesels have rolled out in Europe, and Subaru's executive vice president Tom Doll said, "the diesel engine is a hot seller over there, so much so that Subaru total sales are increasing." Doll tempered our excitement by saying Subaru is not confident that the U.S. is ready for the oil burner just yet and that bringing the power plant here will require a lot of things to fall into place perfectly. Doll told Ward's Auto what will need to happen:

"The emissions requirements in the U.S. are significant. And given the price of diesel fuel, where it is right now, it really does not pay to bring the vehicle into the U.S. We're trying to see what happens. As the market sorts itself out, we'll get ready, and then look at bringing the car (here)."
Our chance of getting this power plant seems slim but new CAFE regulations requiring upwards of 35 miles per gallon by 2016 could convince Subaru that the time to offer Americans a diesel is now.

(Source: Ward's Auto)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Welcome to the Subaru Family......

North End Subaru is very proud to welcome the Benson family into the worldwide Subaru family.

When Peter Benson of Richland, Wa. purchased his 2010 Subaru Outback he began a domino effect on his family here in Massachusetts. While the matriarch of this family, Patricia was visiting her son she had the opportunity to experience the Outback firsthand. She must have liked it.

fr. left: Patricia Benson, Laura Benson, North End Subaru Salesman Bob Waite, Kathy Benson
Just a few weeks ago Patricia decided to replace her car and naturally chose a beautiful 2011 Subaru Outback. She was quickly followed this week by new Subie owners Laura Benson and her sister Karen Benson with their 2011 Subaru Forester's.

When asked why they picked Subaru, all three ladies sited the standard All Wheel Drive and the overall sportiness of the Subaru crossover vehicles. " I really love how my Forester feels" said Laura, "with my new son I was really concerned about safety and the Subaru's have all the features I wanted.

Is your family a Subaru Family? Drop us a line and we will tell your Subaru family story here.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Ken Block and his Subies....

 North End Subaru favorite Ken Block and co-driver Alex Gelsomino have both been taken to a hospital for examination after the Monster World rally Team driver crashed heavily during yesterdays Rally of Portugal shakedown stage.

A spokesman from the Monster team said: "Both Ken and Alex have been taken to hospital in Faro for precautionary checks. All I know is that they rolled, but they're okay." 

Just for fun let's take a look at a few of Ken's Subaru adventures...



Monday, March 21, 2011

Quake hits U.S. output; Japanese scramble to recover and prices could rise

As Japan's escalating disaster comes ashore in North America, automakers, suppliers and dealers are preparing for shortages of parts and vehicles.

-- On Thursday, March 17, American Honda Motor Co. Executive Vice President John Mendel sent a memo to U.S. Honda and Acura dealers saying the disaster in Japan will disrupt dealer orders into May.

-- General Motors' Shreveport, La., factory, which builds the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups, closed because it ran out of a Japanese part that it did not identify.

-- Toyota Motor Corp. and Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. slowed North American production to ration their parts.

-- At Sonic Automotive Inc., the nation's third-largest dealership group, Jeff Dyke, executive vice president of retail operations, said Sonic "is prepared to supplement our new-vehicle inventory with quality nearly new used vehicles should the manufacturing disruptions interrupt new vehicle inventory supplies longer than currently anticipated."

-- Last week U.S. Customs directed all port operations to begin screening arriving Japanese sea and air cargo, including vehicles and auto parts, for radiation contamination. Customs will turn away containers or people if unacceptable levels of radiation are detected.

If factory shutdowns spread, says Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends at, U.S. retailers should prepare for higher transaction prices on new vehicles in the next 60 days. "Not just Japanese-brand vehicles but all brands," Toprak says. "If there is going to be scarcity of Japanese models, then you will see their incentives fall. And if incentives fall on those brands, you can be certain they will fall everywhere."

Toprak estimates that the average transaction price of the Toyota Prius, which is built only in Japan, will go from $1,732 below sticker last week to $800 above sticker by April 30. One of three Japanese battery plants supplying the Toyota Prius was damaged by the quake. "We have a Toyota dealership that sells 25 Prius models a month, and we have 13 in stock," said a dealership group executive who asked not to be identified. "What do you think will happen?"

Some of the transaction price increases reflect rising gasoline prices. Many of the models now threatened by production disruptions in Japan are among the automakers' most fuel-efficient, including the Honda Fit, Insight, Civic Hybrid and CR-Z. forecasts that the discount off sticker on a Honda Fit will shrink from an average of $1,188 last week to $400 by April 30, effectively a price increase of $788.

Ford Motor Co. declined to speculate what impact future parts shortages would have on its sales. "We don't want to be drawn into what potential impact it might have because this situation is moving so quickly," says Todd Nissen, a Ford spokesman. Ford has not experienced any parts' shortages that would force it to suspend production at any plants, Nissen says. But he warns: "It's a situation that changes constantly and we're monitoring it daily with hourly contact with our suppliers, shipping companies and all the others that are part of the logistics system." He declined to quantify the percentage of parts used by Ford that come out of Japan.

Multiple Shocks

Vehicle producers in Japan quickly inspected the damage at their plants last week after the multiple shocks of two earthquakes, a tsunami and the unfolding nuclear power-plant disaster. Assembly plant shutdowns there will mean more than 285,000 units of lost production, just through March 23, predicts global forecasting firm IHS.

But as the week ended, Japan's auto companies were still struggling to get information from their thousands of suppliers around that nation -- companies that also export materials and components to U.S., European and Asian customers. In some cases, purchasing managers in Japan couldn't even communicate with suppliers let alone assess the damage to the parts plants. "Most of us have a pipeline for a while," said an American staffer at a Japanese automaker in North America who asked not to be identified. "But when those run out, there's going to be trouble. You have to consider that even our American suppliers get parts out of Japan."
Japan exports 2 million transmissions a year to North America and another 6.5 million to other world markets, IHS estimates. The forecasting consultant estimated last week that as many as two-thirds of Japan's 72 engine and transmission plants had stopped production.

Two of them belong to Jatco, a transmission maker owned by Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Jatco's two plants south of Tokyo escaped unscathed from the first 9.0-magnitude earthquake on March 11, the ensuing tsunami and the succession of earthquake aftershocks that continued last week. Then they were damaged by the second, 6.2-magnitude earthquake in the middle of last week.

Jatco produces some transmissions in Japan for Nissan's U.S.- and Mexico-made vehicles, but a spokesman for Nissan North America was not able to say what production might be affected because of the problem.
Aisin Seiki Co. supplies transmissions to the Shreveport pickup plant GM shut down because of a parts shortage. Chuck Sanders, assistant vice president of Aisin's U.S. unit, said Aisin's transmissions were not part of the shortages.

Delphi Delays

Delphi Automotive has identified 20 of its 200 Japanese suppliers as being within 100 miles of the epicenter of the initial earthquake. "With the continued shortage of power and water in the area, we anticipate delays and/or that potential disruptions may occur and could impact much of the automotive supply chain," spokesman Lindsey Williams wrote in an e-mail to Crain's Detroit Business, a sister publication to Automotive News.

In addition to still uncounted damage to buildings, machinery, bridges, roads and utilities, companies in Japan face rolling electrical blackouts. Toyota, Nissan, Honda Motor Co. and others halted production at some undamaged plants last week because of utility interruptions. That problem was caused by the shutdown of damaged nuclear reactors in Fukushima, Japan. And that crisis, in turn, caused an entirely separate problem as corporations, residents and international governments began to fear radiation contamination.

As of late last week, Japanese nuclear power authorities had not publicly addressed the issue of how bad the radiation leakage is or could be. Nissan said it has begun monitoring all vehicles and parts for traces of radiation. Germany's BMW AG and Volkswagen Group recalled all German personnel from Japan.
Toyota, Honda, Mazda Motor Corp. and Suzuki Motor Co. say most or all of their Japanese plants will remain down until the middle of this week.

But uncertainty overshadows the discussion for many. Steve Curtis, a spokesman for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc., said the automaker will "re-evaluate" on Tuesday, March 22, whether to restart production in Japan. The dicey future in Japan is illustrated by the case of the Japanese assembly plant the farthest from the earthquake's epicenter.

On Friday, Nissan reopened its Kyushu plant, which builds the Rogue and Murano crossovers, the new Quest minivan and other models. But Nissan plans to run the plant only until available parts are depleted.
It also said its North American plants will run normal schedules this week. But after that, production plans are uncertain.

Jesse Snyder, Jamie LaReau, Mark Rechtin and Dustin Walsh contributed to this report.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Natural Disasters Sure To Affect Prices Of Imports...

U.S. shoppers could see prices for some of the more popular Japanese built hybrid and fuel-efficient vehicles such as the Toyota Prius and the Subaru line up rise in the coming weeks.

The cost of the imports are likely to go up as earthquake-related production shutdowns in Japan are reducing the supply of the autos at a crucial time for fuel prices.A time when consumers are increasingly shopping for gas-sipping models.

"The Prius will go from selling under invoice just a couple of weeks ago to over the sticker price a couple of weeks from now," said Jesse Toprak, an analyst with car price information company

While Japanese automakers build most of their bestsellers in the United States, some models are still assembled and shipped from Japan. A handful of those vehicles are already in tight supply in the U.S. because they are either hot sellers, such as Subaru's Forester and
Impreza, or fuel efficient vehicles, such as the Prius or Fit.

"We are doing a wait and see," said Dianne Whitmire, fleet director for Carson Toyota. "They are still assessing the supply issues in Japan. I hope it doesn't go back to dealers' marking up over sticker. But it looks like cars are heading back to MSRP."

Consumers will start to feel the crunch at the end of this month and into April, and the length of any price spike will depend on how quickly, and how completely, the Japanese auto industry can get back on line, analysts and dealers said.

In at least one measure of sales, Prius prices have already risen $169 to an average of $25,629 in the last week, according to's listing of upfront, "no haggle" deals.

The Subaru models already have inventories of fewer than 30 days, and that's making dealers nervous.

"We are very concerned. We have no idea when we will see production start up again," said April Somers, general sales manager of Timmons Subaru in Long Beach. "Subaru was getting them here as fast as they could, and we were selling them real quick. Probably prices will rise."

The dealership has enough vehicles for a couple of weeks, "but we will really feel this in 30 days."

Toyota and other automakers in the beleaguered nation extended manufacturing suspensions Wednesday as they continued to assess the damage and to conserve energy to help Japan deal with multiple nuclear reactor generator failures.

IHS Automotive, an industry research firm, estimates that that as many as 185,000 vehicles were not built since the quake and that the number will continue to grow. March is typically the biggest month for Japanese auto production.

Automakers on both sides of the Pacific Ocean also are trying to figure out whether damage to the supply chain — the thousands of small companies that build components for vehicles — will create production bottlenecks that could delay production both in the U.S. and Japan.

"Once you start looking at the small suppliers in Japan, you see a lot of problems for the automakers … the small ones that might have been washed off the map and no one even knows yet," said David Sullivan, a product analyst with the consulting firm AutoPacific.

The lack of a single part can shut down an entire assembly line, Sullivan said. One of the crucial areas is that Japan remains a major source for automotive electronics, even for cars built in the U.S.

"Cars today can have upwards of 30 microprocessors in them. If some of those are coming from Japan it can have a ripple effect through the entire industry here," Sullivan said.

This is a worry even for European manufacturers. There is now a six- to eight-week supply of the semiconductors available to plants in North America and Europe, said Brian Johnson, an analyst at Barclays Capital. One automaker told Johnson that it would be a least a week before the manufacturers know the status of their semiconductor suppliers.

He said the "supply chain impact" of the quake is the biggest concern for the auto companies at this point.

Another issue is electrical power. Japan is going through a series of rolling power cuts that will continue at least until the end of April, officials of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. said. Auto factories and semiconductor plants are huge users of electricity and don't like power interruptions. The ovens in an auto plant paint shop can take as long as 10 hours to reach the correct temperatures, said officials. Having periods in which the power might go off makes it difficult to plan vehicle production, they said.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Japan's Earthquake and Tsunami affect Automobile Production...

When I arrived at work this morning the gossip on the lips of all the Salesmen was a variation of how bad these catastrophe's would affect Subaru production.  Now it's not just gossip.

News coming out of Japan is that as a result of the quake and tsunami, Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Subaru all suspended production at plants in Japan today and are assessing the damage caused. It is reported that the shutdown could affect exports to the United States of many models including the Toyota Yaris sedan, Scion xB, Scion xD, Honda Fit, Honda Accord sedan and the Honda CR-V. Production of the Acura and Infiniti lineups will also be affected.

Toyota said that it has evacuated workers from several factories affected by the quake zone. Toyota has two part plants in northern Japan.

The status of those plants was being evaluated, Toyota spokesman Dion Corbett said. “We are still trying to get information from them,” he said. Lack of communication in the quake zone has made it hard for companies to get a clear picture of the extent of the damage.

Subaru, one of Japan’s smallest automakers, closed five factories. According to the latest word from the world’s largest automaker the plants that have stopped production are Toyota subsidiary plants that produce parts and vehicles, including:
  • Toyota Motor Hokkaido Plant
  • Toyota Motor Tohoku Plant
  • Central Motor Corporation Miyagi Plant, which also produces the Yaris model.
  • Kanto Auto Works Iwate Plant, which also produces the Scion xB and Scion xD.
And, according to yet another Reuters piece, Toyota’s low inventories of Lexus luxury vehicles could be especially vulnerable to interruptions. And, according to Automotive News.

But so far, the worst news comes out of Honda and Nissan, namely that at least one person died at Honda’s research facility and fires erupted at two Nissan plants.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Subaru and MESP, Inc. partner on Mud Run Series

AGOURA HILLS, Calif., March 8, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --

MESP, Inc. is proud to announce a multi-year partnership with Subaru of America, Inc. as the Presenting Sponsor of the Merrell Down & Dirty National Mud Run Series, held annually in nine cities across the nation.

Subaru will be the Official Automobile partner for the series. "Subaru and MESP, Inc. share the same drive and passion for outdoor activities," states Michael Epstein, president of MESP, Inc. "The partnership will be a perfect fit because of their unique identity with active lifestyle consumers and their willingness to help this unique consumer achieve their thirst for fun, fitness, friendship and adventure."

The Merrell Down & Dirty National Mud Run Series presented by Subaru consists of nine events in major cities around the country in which athletes compete in 5k and 10k runs through a fun off-road, muddy course with military style obstacles. This unique event has proven to test participants in conquering several challenges and mud pits on their way to the finish line all while supporting the troops through Operation Gratitude.

Operation Gratitude, the series official charity partner, is an organization that sends individual care packages enclosed with snacks, entertainment items and personal appreciation letters to U.S. Service Members deployed overseas.

Subaru recently announced its own PR (personal record) with another year of record sales in 2010. "Given the reliability and durability of our all-wheel drive products, Subaru owners continue to be passionate about outdoor events," said Tim Mahoney, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Subaru of America. "This in turn drives our commitment to support runners, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts, and it's why this partnership is a great fit."

Subaru owners also seek new outdoor experiences. "This run provides a very unique race opportunity," says Melissa Trotto, outdoor lifestyle sports marketing coordinator for Subaru. "Through this partnership, we will help people meet their fitness goals and have fun at the same time."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Burma Shave ads...

For those not familiar with the Burma Shave signs of years past: Burma Shave was a shaving cream product which featured a novel advertising method.

They placed small signs on the roads, spaced about 50 yards apart, in groups of 5 or 6. Motorists reading them would be rewarded with a somewhat humorous or philosophical ending at the fourth or fifth sign and then a reminder that it was brought to them by Burma Shave at the last sign.

Here is a selection of  Burma Shave's "slogans" for you to enjoy.

Henry The Eighth
Prince of Friskers
Lost Five Wives
But Kept His Whiskers
Burma Shave

Grandpa's Beard
Was Stiff And Coarse
And That's What
Caused His
Fifth Divorce
Burma Shave 

You'll Love Your Wife
You'll Love Her Paw
You'll Even Love
Your Mother-in-law
If You Use
Burma Shave

If U Don't Know
Whose Signs These Are
U Can't Have Driven
Very Far
Burma Shave

Famous Last Words
Bright Lights That Shine
If You Won't Dim Yours
I Won't Dim Mine
Burma Shave

Don't Lose Your Head
To Gain A Minute
You Need Your Head
Your Brains Are In It
Burma Shave

Diplomacy Is
To Do And Say
The Nastiest Things
In The Nicest Way
Burma Shave

A Peach Looks Good
With Lots of Fuzz
But Man's No Peach
And Never Was
Burma Shave 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Subaru Tops Resale List....

When shopping for a new vehicle, a buyer's attention usually goes to price, monthly payments, styling and the amount of rebate.

But one of the often overlooked factors is resale value. How much the vehicle is projected to be worth after three, four or five years is key if you are the kind of driver likely to sell or trade the vehicle in after a few years.

Kelley Blue Book tracks a models resale value, and recently issued their list of the best brands and individual models for resale value.

Subaru named Best Overall Brand

The Japanese brand is best known for having all-wheel-drive standard on all of its vehicles. The Subaru Outback is ubiquitous in Minnesota, Maine, New Hampshire and Oregon — states that experience regular snow, lots of spring mud and rain. But Subaru also limits its sales rebates and other incentives, which means that owners are able to sell their vehicles for the biggest percentage of the original purchase price of any brand.

Of course, Subaru is also known for their owners hanging on to their vehicles well beyond 100,000 miles.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Subaru Reports Record Sales....

Subaru of America, Inc. today announced continued record-breaking sales for February, up almost 20% compared to the previous year.  

February sales records were set by Forester, Impreza, Legacy and Outback. Impreza WRX volume more than doubled compared to the prior year and helped lead the Impreza carline to an impressive 40% increase.

Feb '11
Feb '10
% chg







"This is by far the best start to a year we've ever had," said Timothy M. Colbeck, senior vice president of sales, Subaru of America, Inc. "We have been working to get more units to our dealers, but every time we think they will build some inventory, they increase sales instead.  With the exception of the Cash for Clunkers comparison in August, this is our 12th consecutive record month."
Thomas J. Doll, executive vice president and COO, Subaru of America, Inc. said, "While we are proud of our February results, we are also very excited that our entire organization - from Subaru of America, to our region and zone offices and independent distributors - is committed and poised for the continued growth of our franchise."

Monday, February 28, 2011

What can your Scoobie Do?

I've seen some odd ones over the years. Especially while living in Alaska before vehicle inspections were required.

This one appears to able to plow while under water. Pretty handy, eh?

What is the strangest car you've ever seen/owned?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Crested Butte to host Subaru Freeskiing World Tour...

Crested Butte, Colorado was the first ski resort in the lower 48 to have an extreme skiing competition.  Lots of history with guys like Seth Morrison , Dean Cummings and Shane McConkey tearing up the slopes in these parts.  I'm pretty sure Senor Morrison is still pissed he didn't win this event.  These days, the good folks at the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour run the show and what a show it is.  You can watch a live feed of the event everyday, from qualifiers to the finals right here on the ski channel.  How cool is that!  While you're working you can catch the action and witness the insane level of skiing going on these days. 

Part of the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour (FWT), a Mountain Sports International (MSI) series, the U.S. Extreme Freeskiing Championships in Crested Butte is the longest running event of its kind, hosting male, female, junior and masters competitors. Bragging rights and a cash purse totaling $20,000 – the largest on the freeskiing circuit – ensure a talented field and edge-of-the-seat excitement as competitors descend steep, technical lines in CBMR’s legendary Extreme Limits terrain.

 “We’re very excited about the continued growth and success of freeskiing. The U.S. Freeskiing Series is the first major U.S.-based freeskiing tour, and we’re honored to have Subaru step up as title sponsor. Locations like Crested Butte, combined with huge increases in prize money, will bring the sport to a whole new level,” says MSI founder and president Adam Comey.

“This is an iconic event for CBMR,” said Daren Cole, vice president of sales and marketing for the resort. “Many of the best-known freeskiers in the world have carved out a place in history at this competition. The Extremes are such a unique aspect to the resort and this week they get the spotlight.”

Subaru is proud to be the title sponsor of both the U.S. Freeskiing and U.S. Skiercross series,” said Rick Crosson, vice president of marketing, Subaru of America, Inc. “These tours bring the top Big Mountain and Skiercross competitors in the world to center stage at some of the best resorts in North America.”

Over the years, these competitions have helped launch the careers of skiing legends such as Shane McConkey, Kent Kreitler, Ingrid Backstrom, Seth Morrison, Hugo Harrison, and Reggie and Zach Crist.

For results, photos, athlete profiles and more  you can always go to

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Subaru Partners With KICKER® for Performance Audio Upgrades

Northend Subaru is pleased to announce that Subaru of America, Inc. will partner with KICKER Performance Audio, a 30-year industry leader in mobile audio, to supply Subaru customers with original equipment (OE) upgrades for specific models.

The high-performance Subaru audio upgrades made by KICKER are compatible with all 2008-2011 Impreza™ sedans, Impreza WRX™ sedans, 2011 WRX STI™ sedans, and all 2008-2011 Impreza, Impreza WRX and WRX STI 5-door™ vehicles with navigation or non-navigation audio systems.

"KICKER has been providing the industry with quality after-market audio accessories for many years," said Jay Gelletly, Subaru Accessories Marketing Manager. "We are pleased to offer another high quality upgrade for our vehicles that our enthusiasts will enjoy."

The audio system includes a 10-inch powered subwoofer in a molded enclosure made to fit in the trunk or cargo area of the specific model leaving plenty of trunk cargo space available. The subwoofer is powered by an integrated 100-watt, high-efficiency digital amplifier that is tuned to specifically match the size of  the enclosure; resulting in deep, powerful bass from a small space, enhancing overall performance and accuracy system-wide.  The amplifier connects into the existing Subaru audio system using a true plug-and-play wire harness.

The audio upgrade kits are now available through Subaru dealerships. The upgrade kit may either installed at the factory port processing facility, or at the dealership prior to delivery.  

Monday, February 21, 2011

Subaru Offers 1.9% Financing Incentives for February

During February, Subaru is offering 1.9% financing incentives and low cost leases on the whole lineup of all-wheel-drive cars and SUVs. If you’re still fighting snow where you live, a capable Subaru is probably looking very good right now.

The 2011 Subaru Impreza is available during February with 1.9% financing for 24 months. The 2011 Impreza can also be leased for $179 a month on a 42-month lease with $1,178 due at lease signing.
During February, the turbocharged 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX is available with a $299 per month lease incentive on a 42-month lease with a down payment of 1,998. The WRX is also available with 1.9% financing incentive for 24 months
2011 Subaru ForesterThe 2011 Subaru Legacy comes with the choice between a 1.9% interest rate for 24 month loans or $199 monthly lease payments for 42 months with a $1,498 down payment due at lease signing.
This month, the 2011 Subaru Outback can be leased for $279 a month with a $1,979 down payment on a 42-month lease. The 2011 Outback can also be bought with a 1.9% interest rate incentive on 24-month car loans.

The 2011 Subaru Forester is available with a $229 per month lease incentive with a down payment of $1,929 on a 42-month lease. The 2011 Forester is also available with a 1.9% financing incentive on 24-month loans.
During February, the 2011 Subaru Tribeca is available with a 1.9% interest rate incentive for 24 months. The Tribeca can also be leased for $359 a month on a 36-month lease with $3,269 due at lease signing.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Subaru dealer sells sumo wrestler-damaged Forester...

Subaru of Canada made the ad I featured in my last blog with sumo wrestlers lounging on the hoods of new Foresters. Funny, but not as much to a customer who bought one of the Foresters and found sumo-related dents after he took it home.

The owner told a Subaru forum that he didn't even know his car had been used as a sumo sofa until he complained, "So I picked up my new 2011 Subaru Forester last weekend. Drove it home, parked in the sun to get a good look, and much to my dismay, noticed small imperfections in the hood... as if someone placed something heavy on the hood. Not really dents... just areas where the light reflections show up shallow imperfections. At first I wasn't going to complain, thinking "it's not noticeable unless you really look..." but every time I looked...there it was."
He continued, "I drove back to the dealer (Don Docksteader in Vancouver), and they said, "no problem, we will take care of that for you... must have happened when we shot the latest Sumo Wrestler Ad...","

The estimates for traditional repair run $2,500, thanks to that magical body-work inflation where one dent ripples across several panels; apparently the dealer had six other vehicles that will need fixing due to the shoot. Maybe Subaru Canada should always try animation first.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Subaru Lampoons Supermodel Ads With Sexy Sumo Wrestlers

 NORTHEND SUBARU — In a hilarious volley that appears to be aimed at Nissan and Lexus, Subaru of Canada has debuted a 2011 Forester ad populated by thong-wearing sumo wrestlers. The ad lampoons the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue automotive tie-ins featuring supermodels launched earlier this week by Subaru's Japanese competitors.

The Subaru ad is being met with praise by online auto observers. "Unlike the bikini-wearing models in other ads, you're not left wondering where the car is," wrote Motor Authority on Thursday. "If anything, your eyes seek out the Forester, if only for aesthetic relief." It notes that the hood of the Forester appears to be "surprisingly strong," bearing up well under the tremendous weight of the sumo wrestlers.

With "Boys Wanna Be Her" from the 2006 album Impeach My Bush by Peaches pounding in the background, the Subaru ad shows the sumo wrestlers in a variety of seductive poses. They frolic on the hoods of the Foresters, eating ice cream, nibbling on strawberries and assuming the lotus position while the car is parked on a beach.

"Sexy Comes Standard" is the advertisement's tag line.

Earlier this week, Lexus unveiled a much more serious video showing a Lexus LFA facing off against a bikini-clad Dutch supermodel in a tie-in with the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Nissan also partnered with the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, debuting a tongue-in-cheek video pitting supermodels wearing heels and bikinis in a comparison test with the Nissan Juke.

Just the Facts:
  • Subaru of Canada debuts a 2011 Forester ad populated by sexy sumo wrestlers, lampooning the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue tie-ins at Nissan and Lexus.
  • The sumo wrestlers are shown on the hood of the Forester, seductively eating strawberries and being hosed down with the car at a car wash.
  • "Boys Wanna Be Her" from the 2006 album Impeach My Bush by Peaches provides the spicy musical accompaniment to the commercial.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

2011 Subaru Forester 2.0 First Drive

Boxer engines? You can't call them an oddity — not when a top-10 brand in the U.S. uses them — but they're not exactly mainstream, either. The closest the boxer engine has come to that was back in the '60s, when the VW Beetle was the country's super-dominant import and GM offered a larger-scale alternative to the Bug in the elegant shape of the troubled Chevrolet Corvair.

But with Subaru coming off a record year, having sold 263,820 vehicles in the U.S. during 2010, the horizontally opposed engine is enjoying a modest 21st-century renaissance. Now the Japanese automaker is launching its third-generation boxer engine — the first of the company's flat-4s appeared way back in 1966. Designated FB (for "Fuji future" in parent company Fuji Heavy Industries' native tongue), this engine will eventually supersede the outgoing EJ engine, which has been around since 1989.

The FB boxer engine actually debuted last fall in the 2011 Subaru Forester, which uses a 2.5-liter version. Subaru chose not to make a song and dance about it, though, because it produced only modest mpg gains despite providing a broader power band. However, for the smaller 2.0-liter version we're sampling here, the automaker is promising more significant mileage advances. Although we won't be getting this engine in the Forester, this engine is definitely U.S.-bound. Subaru will show a car at the 2011 New York Auto Show that uses it, and the 2.0-liter will see duty in the next-generation Impreza.

Cleaner Breathing, Reduced Friction, Low-Weight Reciprocation
Subaru's wish list for this all-new FB-series engine included improved environmental performance (it claims best-in-class CO2 emissions for the 2.0-liter installed in this European-spec 2011 Forester), better fuel efficiency and enhanced drivability. And the key to all of this is a longer piston stroke, which Subaru was keen to achieve without increasing the physical size of the engine, which would force costly changes on its cars' body structures. And that's no small challenge.
This feat has been achieved by designing more compact cylinder heads (of which a boxer engine has a pair, of course) and redesigning the cylinder block. Shallower pistons, fracture-split connecting rods and amazingly tight clearances between the crankcase help, too, as does a new chain-driven cam drive whose cam sprockets are smaller, further reducing the engine's width. Chain drives reduce maintenance requirements, too.

The longer stroke results in an engine whose bore and stroke are now undersquare in contrast to the very oversquare EJ it replaces. This approach is all about improving efficiency and low-speed torque, as the resulting combustion chambers are more compact and thus suffer less heat loss. In other words, during combustion, a greater proportion of the fuel's energy is converted to useful work in the cylinders. Reducing the size of the heads has forced narrower valve angles and the use of roller-rocker cam followers, and they're aided by a comprehensively rethought variable valve timing system.

Internal friction has been reduced by 28 percent, thanks in part to mass reductions in the rods and pistons. Cylinder distortion has been reduced by an improved manufacturing process, and revisions to the cooling system include independent circuits for the block and head which provide more even cooling, particularly around the cylinder liners. This ensures that the bores remain cylindrical when the engine reaches operating temperature, improving the piston rings' sealing characteristics. The roller-rocker cam gear and an oil pump that more closely matches the engine's lubrication demands further reduce friction and parasitic power consumption.

The combustion process has been sharpened through the introduction of unusual flaps in the intake ports, which induce tumble flow as the air makes its way to the combustion chambers. These flaps work in concert with tumble-generator valves that intensify charge motion during part-load conditions for increased combustion efficiency. A new, water-cooled exhaust gas recirculation system increases EGR density to reduce pumping loss.

All this and plenty of detail work produce a 148-horsepower, naturally aspirated engine that's said to be 10 percent more fuel-efficient than before (Subaru has been selling 2.0-liter Foresters in Europe and Japan for years). Mind you, the fractionally increased 146-pound-foot torque peak still doesn't appear until a lofty 4,200 rpm. And direct injection, increasingly a feature of gasoline engines, is still to come.
The redesign has provided a chance to reduce weight. The intake manifold is plastic rather than aluminum, and the new pistons are 20 percent lighter. The upshot is that this more complex engine is only fractionally heavier than the outgoing EJ unit.

Slick Shifts Produce Smooth Power
We got to try the new FB boxer engine in a Euro-spec 2011 Subaru Forester 2.0 XS, which also gets a fresh grille for 2011, along with new side mirrors and revised 17-inch alloy wheels. Subaru has also fiddled with the suspension tuning to improve cornering stability while calming the ride.
On the road, the discovery that the 2.0 Forester feels pretty similar to the 2.5-liter version is good news — you don't sacrifice a huge amount of pulling power for a worthwhile improvement in fuel consumption. That said, our test vehicle's solid acceleration in the five-speed manual transmission's first two gears is somewhat undermined by rangier gearing in 3rd — the Forester 2.0's performance is flaccid unless the engine is pulling 3,800 rpm or more. Acceleration in 4th and 5th is often leisurely enough to require some slick downshifting if you need to overtake; although the boxer engine's lightly eager warble is compensation. Annoyingly, revs tend to hang when you've released the accelerator, so you need to lift off earlier than you'd expect during gearchanges or while coasting to a stop. This quirk aside, though, the Forester 2.0 is an easy drive, and power delivery is noticeably smoother and more civilized than with the older EJ engine.

They Built a Better Boxer
You need to carry your momentum with you as you drive the 2011 Subaru Forester 2.0, and the compact crossover's well-tuned chassis makes that easy. This year's suspension tweaks allow it to round bends with surprisingly little sway. Factor in steering that's unusually precise for an SUV, quietly confident turn-in and sure-footed all-wheel-drive traction, and you can make rewardingly brisk cross-country progress. The impressive body control doesn't come at the expense of comfort, either, as our Subaru Forester 2.0 took on ice-damaged roads with a calm pliancy.

By the same token, the FB engine brings a new level of sophistication to the Forester without completely muting the endearing boxer soundtrack. We still wish the engine's torque curve peaked at a lower rpm, and we await the day when Subaru releases a direct-injected version that should undoubtedly deliver even more horsepower and torque, while further reducing fuel consumption. And of course, we're curious whether the economy-slanted FB architecture can be successfully tailored for the inevitable turbocharged variants.
For now, though, there's no denying that this is a better boxer engine than the aged EJ engine still found in most U.S.-market Subaru's — and credit is due to the FHI engineers who packaged these improvements within the same mechanical envelope.

By Richard Bremner, European Correspondent | Published Feb 7, 2011 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Subaru Named Heal the Bay Corporate 'Superhealer' of the Year

Northend Subaru is proud to announce that Heal the Bay, a nonprofit that uses science, education, community action and advocacy to improve water quality and protect marine life in the Santa Monica Bay. Subaru, a company that already utilizes zero-landfill plants for all of its car production, has worked with the group in a number of ways to promote clean water programs in Southern California.

Subaru recently sponsored the group's fourth annual "A Day Without a Bag" program to encourage use of reusable totes in place of single-use plastic bags. Also, in conjunction with Heal the Bay's "Coastal Cleanup Day," Subaru donated $50 from consumer test drives at various Southern California dealerships to the nonprofit. The company also recently donated a new 2010 Subaru Outback for live auction at Heal the Bay's annual gala fundraiser, "Bring Back the Beach."

"We enjoy helping our community and are really dedicated to maintaining an environmental policy that extends beyond just meeting environmental laws and regulations," said Mike Campbell, Subaru Western Zone Director. "We work hard to integrate sound environmental practices in all of our business decisions. We are honored to be chosen as Heal the Bay's Corporate Superhealer."

Subaru of America, which recently announced a record sales year for the brand with 263,820 units sold in 2010, an increase of 22% year-over-year and 50% in two years, through programs such as Heal the Bay and its Share the Love campaign, is dedicated to giving back to its communities.

About Heal the Bay
Formed in 1985, Santa Monica-based Heal the Bay is a nonprofit environmental organization making Southern California coastal waters and watersheds, including Santa Monica Bay, safe, healthy and clean. They use science, education, community action and advocacy to protect the ocean for the people who play, swim and surf in it, and for the animals that make it their home. With more than 12,000 members, Heal the Bay is one of the largest environmental groups in Southern California.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Subaru Sponsors Puppy Bowl VII...

CHERRY HILL, N.J., Subaru of America, Inc. walked a different path for the face-off at Cowboys Stadium, resulting in a 500% increase in planned social and viral engagement.

In conjunction with its sponsorship of Animal Planet’s “Puppy Bowl VII,” Subaru invited owners across the country to walk their dogs on game day. Supporters pledged to participate on and through the company’s Facebook page. More than 116,000 people signed up for the dog walk – a social engagement record for the company. English mastiffs, huskies, beagles and more from Charlotte, N.C. to San Bernadino, Calif. to South Padre Island, Texas enjoyed game day walks. In fact, more than 250 people like Rebecca Simon of Ambler, PA posted about their walk on the Subaru Facebook page.

“It’s great that Subaru invited us to walk our dogs on game day,” said Simon, the owner of a Subaru Outback and her dog, Eli. “I like being part of a community of dog and Subaru owners across the country.”
While other car companies spent three million dollars for 30 second ads, Subaru leveraged its social community and unique brand positioning. Innovative marketing has helped the company achieve new sales heights with the Subaru brand setting yet another sales record in 2010 and giving the company the distinction of being the only car maker with sales increases for the last three years.

“Subaru owners tend to be active and enjoy the outdoors,” said Brian Johnson, advertising manager for Subaru. “The Dog Walk event was an ideal opportunity to connect the community with our new ‘Dog Tested. Dog Approved.’ campaign.”

The “Dog Tested. Dog Approved.” spots - featuring Subaru’s canine stars, Olive and Zelda, performing doggie driving stunts - aired on Animal Planet on Super Bowl Sunday during “Puppy Bowl VII.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

AAA Names Forester One of its Top Vehicle Picks for Dog Owners


With more than 80 percent of dog owners taking their canine companions along in their vehicles on errands, leisure rides and day trips, many drivers are taking the safety and comfort of man's best friend into consideration when shopping for vehicles. To aid in motorists quest to find a vehicle that meets both their needs, as well as their dogs, AAA has released a list of its top vehicle picks for dog owners.
"More than 45 million households in the U.S. have a dog, and many are taking Fido along for the ride on a regular basis," said John Nielsen, AAA National Director of Auto Repair and Buying Services. "There several vehicles with features that can help keep pets safe, comfortable and easy to clean-up after while also addressing other driver desires such as sportiness, adventure or luxury."
AAA Auto Buying's team of experts, who test drove and reviewed hundreds of vehicles for  AAA ,  have compiled a list of their top vehicles picks for dog owners based upon a wide variety of factors such as crash test ratings, safety features, fuel economy, ease of animal ingress and egress, cargo area size, availability of tie-down hooks and easy-to-clean interiors.
The list is divided in six categories to help motorists with a variety of lifestyles identify a vehicle that best meets their needs.

BMW 3 Series Wagon – This wagon offers handling and agility that rival some sports cars along with a comfortable, if firm, ride and quiet cruising. Owners will find a wide range of accessories available to make the car more suitable for pet transport including rubber mats for the cargo area and sturdy dividers that can keep a dog comfortably confined to the cargo area and away from distracting the driver. Some available dividers even have an added division to transport two dogs while keeping them apart. The interior is cozy, so the BMW 3 Series wagons may be a better choice for medium to smaller breeds.
Volvo XC60 – In addition to refined and well-performing engines, this is the first vehicle in the U.S. with "City Safe," a safety feature that will compensate for driver inattention by automatically applying the brakes in traffic situations at speeds up to nearly 20 mph in an effort to eliminate or mitigate a rear-end collision. The Volvo XC60 has a roomy cargo area ideal for transporting most canines in comfort and a nicely finished interior. Accessories include rubber mats for the cargo area and a pet barrier that fastens securely above the raised rear seats to keep pets from distracting the driver.

Active Lifestyle
Subaru Forester – This Forester offers roomy, comfortable accommodations for people and their pets. The ride is stable and comfortable, the handling is predictable, and the all-wheel drive delivers reassuring traction under all conditions. This wagon is even up for mild off-roading treks that can get the dogs into the country. The Forester's cargo capacity with the rear seats folded is an impressive and inviting (for pets) 68 cubic feet. The floor, at just over 27 inches off the ground, also is lower than many sports utility vehicles making it easier for many dogs to get in and out. There are ample tie-down points to secure a kennel.
Hyundai Santa Fe – This SUV features a nicely finished interior, a choice of new engines for 2010 and competence both on and off road. The third row seat option is no longer available, but the cargo space is good for even some larger breed dogs. Buyers will find that both Hyundai and aftermarket suppliers offer many accessories to make rides with the family pet easier and more comfortable. These range from sturdy rubber mats for the cargo area to beds and pet dividers that will keep the dog in place. As an added the bonus, the ride and handling should be agreeable to both people and their canine passengers.

Kids, Dogs & Everything Else
Honda Element – Originally designed for males in their late teens and early 20s, the Element seems ready to handle anything. The interior features surfaces and upholstery that can be hosed out, if necessary. The clamshell side doors also can make getting pets in and out easier. The Element offers a pet lovers' accessory group that includes a ramp, which is ideal for helping older dogs get in and out, second row seat covers that are even easier to clean than the standard upholstery and a soft-sided kennel that can be secured to the vehicle. It features a spill-resistant water dish and an electric ventilating fan. Debits include a busy, choppy ride and higher than average noise levels. Handling is good, however, and the utility factor, including the height of the cargo area, makes this relatively small car suitable for larger breeds, even those dogs that like to get muddy while romping in the wild.
Toyota Venza – Somewhere on the team that developed the Venza is at least one pet lover. Consider the long list of pet accessories that Toyota offers for this cross between a station wagon and a crossover utility vehicle. Among the items are a ramp to ease getting in and out through the rear tailgate, waterproof seat covers, an adjustable harness/booster seat pet restraint system, an adjustable pet barrier and a dog tether to keep canines from jumping into the passenger area.
For the driver, Toyota offers a choice of V-6 or 4-cylinder power and front- or all-wheel drive. Handling is predictable and cruising is quiet, though the ride can turn busy in the V-6 model with its 20-inch tires. Also, styling takes a toll on rear visibility. A backup camera is available and recommended.

Efficient and Fun
Mazda3 5-Door: Among compacts, the Mazda3 is a standout. Handling is sharp, the ride is very good and the interior, if on the small side, is very nicely done. The hatchback is exceptionally flexible, though its suitability for larger breeds is in doubt. Still, the wide opening rear doors, tailgate and robust interior makes this yet another vehicle that would be attractive to many pet owners. These buyers, however, will have to go to aftermarket suppliers for many pet accessories. Fortunately, there they will find a wide range of mats and kennels that both fit and enhance the Mazda3's utility. The 2.0-liter engine is peppy and the 2.5-liter engine is even more powerful. The Mazdaspeed3, with its turbocharged motor, could well be a match for the fastest hound around, though the ride in this performance version is abrupt and noise levels are higher than average.
Mini Clubman – Consider this the Maxi of Minis, at least until the Countryman arrives. The longer body structure, foldable rear seat and rear barn doors all contribute to making it easy to get even a larger breed in and out of the vehicle. And once in, dogs will find more than 33 cubic feet of space with the rear seat folded. Most kennels will fit with ease and, once in, can be secured using the factory-installed tie-down points. As for the driver, this maxi Mini is great fun to drive. Its handling is crisp and immediate, acceleration is brisk and braking secure.

 Ford Escape Hybrid – The large and squared-off SUV cargo area is perfect for dogs of nearly all sizes, while the hybrid drivetrain delivers fuel efficiency that few SUVs are able to approach. Ford actually promotes the cargo area as being ideal for "…a big, wet dog…" and offer photographic evidence that even the largest canines fit here comfortably. The company goes on to note that the hybrid's battery pack is completely sealed, so there is no need to worry about wet pets or wet cargo causing a problem. Accessories are available from many sources, including Ford. Floor mats and a pet divider head the list of items that make the Escape more "pet friendly." The ride is a little choppy but, for overall practicality, the Escape Hybrid is hard to beat.

Kia Soul – It's roomier than its exterior dimensions suggest, which makes the Soul a good choice for transporting smaller and mid-size breeds. Aftermarket accessories to make the trip easier on both the pet and its owner are also easily acquired. These include thick, heavy-duty mats and pet-resistant seat covers. Some owners also have gone for vehicle-specific pet cages and dividers, often imported from Europe. The ride is decidedly firm, but the handling is good and the engine is both reasonably responsive and economical. Noise levels are higher than average, but the larger than expected windows make for a good view to the sides.
Nissan Cube – This vehicle casts a small shadow at noon, but its height and boxy design more than compensate. The interior is surprisingly roomy and should be good, with the back seats down, for even larger breeds. Note, however, that when folded, the rear seat does not form a flat load floor, so owner supplied padding to level the cargo area would probably be necessary. Buyers will find many aftermarket accessories that can be used to enhance this car's utility as a pet hauler. These range from cargo area mats to hair-shedding seat covers. As you would expect from an entry level vehicle, the ride and handling won't equal true sports and luxury cars but, its ride is comfortable and secure.

As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 51 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.