Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Subaru Dream Rally: The cars

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As a long-time Subaru driver, it was interesting hearing the inside scoop on the brand. It was also a bit creepy how much DH and I fit the mold of typical Subaru owners.

The typical Subaru owner is:

Educated (check)

Leads an active, sporty lifetsyle (um, maybe a little stretch here)

Lives in the "snow belt" (check)

Wants a quality car at a price that fits within their budget, meaning they often pay cash (check)

Doesn't return to the dealer very often, because the car holds up well (check)

The last two items are a bit tricky for the company. They want satisfied Subaru owners like me to visit their showroom and oogle the shiny new, souped-up, low-emission models. My gosh, they had to fly me out to Whitefield, New Hampshire just to get me to look at them!

And the new cars are cool. And soooo clean and shiny. But, you know, my chipped and dented eight-year-old Outback with a back seat permanently stained from melted crayons, covered in crumbs and with pint-sized athletic cup that no one can remember to bring back into our house is running pretty well.

And I feel really safe driving my all-wheel drive Outback in heavy winter snows and on icy, slushy roads. My husband is unemployed, so we're not buying a new car right now, but the Subaru brand is worth considering if you are.

Because I don't go into the Subaru showroom very often, I hadn't learned about the PZEV feature. PZEV stands for Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle, or vehicles that meet California's Super-Ultra-Low-Emission Vehicle exhaust emission standard. And (I'm taking this from their website) Subaru offers PZEV-certified Legacy, Outback, and Forester models for sale anywhere in the U.S. These vehicles have 90% cleaner emissions than the average new vehicle.
Gasoline vehicles meeting PZEV emissions standards sometimes have even lower emissions than hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles. PZEV vehicles achieve such tight pollution controls, and the burning of fuel is so complete that in very smoggy urban areas, exhaust out of the tailpipe can actually be cleaner than the air outside. (Does anyone remember the old SNL fauxmercial in which Gilda Radner couldn't stop sniffing a car's perfumed exhaust? PZEV reminds me of that.)
Subaru PZEV vehicles are also U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Certified SmartWay™ Vehicles. And the Outback, Forester, and Legacy are honored in the EPA's Green Vehicle Guide.

Who knew, right?

Subaru also runs a clean plant in Indiana- that means they send no waste from the manufacturing process to the landfill. Okay, not quite zero, but according to the website, 99.3% of the waste goes is reused or recycled and .7% gets incinerated in a process by which the heat generated is used to generate steam which, in theory, is used to turn turbines and make electricity, though I'd have to look into it to find out how or if the steam is used.

I'm also impressed with many of the company's partnerships, including one with Greensgrow, an urban farm in Philadelphia. Sustainable and urban agriculture are current interests of my dear hubs. We are so Subaru!

Before we set out for our wild rides, they gave us an overview of several models. We started with the affordable, sporty Impreza sedan (which you can see one of the twins driving on Desperate Housewives) and worked our way up to the three-row Tribeca, which is also sporty, but much larger.

The Subaru folks did a couple of interesting demos with the Forester, including one in which they loaded a HUGE box into the rear space. A box, which, they also demonstrated, did not fit into the hatches of its competitors. The Forester is perfect for those Costco trips! Speaking of which, we did recently fit a really large, boxed electric piano from Costco into my Outback (seats down, no kiddos).

They also explained what make Subaru cars so safe and then it was off to the classroom (post below) for a few lessons before we put the Subaru line-up to the test.

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