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For half a century, Subaru has dedicated its engineering efforts to perfecting one feature. The brand’s symmetrical all-wheel drive system is legendary and future-proof by design. All but one model produced by the automaker are available with all-wheel drive. Recently the company hit a significant production milestone that shines a light on 50 years of development.

The name Subaru is synonymous with all-wheel drive

A snow-covered Subaru logo badge on the front grille of a car
Subaru Logo | Robert Alexander via Getty Images

Subaru is known for its iconic symmetrical all-wheel drive system. It’s a feature that sets the brand apart and defines it. All-wheel drive vehicles make up 98% of the automaker’s overall sales. 

 Subaru’s system brings the center of gravity low and as close to the vehicle’s center as possible. Combined with the symmetrical boxer engine, this gives Subarus outstanding balance and handling. The brand doesn’t build all-wheel drive systems for its vehicles. It builds its vehicles around an all-wheel drive system.

Subaru’s reputation for reliable all-wheel drive vehicles makes the brand more popular in regions with frequent rain or snow. 15.8% of vehicles in the U.S. are all-wheel drive. As outdoor activities continue to grow in popularity, so will Subaru’s share of that market.

A milestone half a century in the making

The first All-wheel drive Subaru debuted in 1972. It didn’t hit the American market for another three years. Two years later, the Brat was released and planted the seeds for the brand’s reputation for making cars for young outdoors people. 

In 1996, Subaru began offering its entire lineup with an all-wheel drive option. The brand has stood behind that choice with one exception. The rear-wheel-drive BRZ is the only model that breaks the tradition.

After 50 years of perfecting the symmetrical all-wheel drive system, Subaru quietly hit a significant milestone. Last month, the brand’s 20 millionth All-wheel drive vehicle rolled off the production line. Five decades of dedicated design experience back the brand as it moves into the future.

The perfect marriage of past and present

The Solterra EV badging on the back of the all-wheel drive electric SUV
Subaru Solterra EV | Subaru

Subaru announced the all-electric Solterra in May 2020. The EV SUV will come with all-wheel drive standard. Brand enthusiasts are excited to see what Subaru can do with a dedicated electric vehicle.

Building an all-wheel drive system for an EV is much easier and more straight forwards than creating one for a combustion-powered vehicle. EV batteries significantly lower a car’s center of gravity. Individual electric motors on each wheel make it simple to push power to each one independently. 

Electric cars marry beautifully with the symmetrical all-wheel drive concept. It stands to reason that the automaker best known for perfecting this system will get extraordinary results from an electric vehicle. This engineering advantage could have a more significant effect on the market share that these vehicles take up.

Because it’s so easy to equip in an EV, all-wheel drive may become more common as a standard feature as more EVs enter the market. Buyers are eager for electric vehicles to become more affordable. Many are ready to make the switch from IVE. Could the Solterra usher in a new age of all-electric all-wheel drive performance vehicles?


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