After years on the fringes of buyers’ consideration lists, Subaru has struck a chord with Americans and their love of crossovers and all-wheel drive. That love could grow far deeper once the company introduces a three-row SUV like the Subaru Viziv-7 Concept SUV.
Shown Thursday at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the Viziv-7 apparently previews a forthcoming seven-seat Subaru set to be made at the company’s plant in Indiana, going on sale in early 2018. And if it builds on the following the immensely popular five-seat Subaru Outback has, the Viziv-7 is destined to be another hit.
Subaru’s last attempt at a seven-seat crossover was the Tribeca, which was last sold for the 2014 model year. Competition is fierce in this class, however, with the Ford Explorer, Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander finding the most new homes. And there’s a crop of new players such as the redesigned Mazda CX-9 that went on sale this year and the Volkswagen Atlas that’s here in the spring. Subaru is playing catch-up, but early indications are that it’s done its homework.
The Viziv-7 is longer than most of its rivals, with a generous wheelbase that’s sure to allow good legroom for passengers in all of the rows, as well as decent cargo space when even the third-row seats are up. It’s too early to tell, however, if Subaru has incorporated some of the better tricks among these vehicles, such as seats that slide and recline and fold with one handle to ease cargo and people loading.
Undoubtedly, Subaru’s calling card will be standard all-wheel drive and a rugged appearance that doesn’t give in too much to modern styling trends, even if the Viziv-7 boasts typical concept-car levels of flashy details.
But we’ll know more next year when we see the production version of Subaru’s long-awaited seven-seater is unveiled, and whether it can capitalize on the affection (and sales) of the Outback.