Listen to this article

Every year, tens of millions of new cars are sold worldwide – more of them now than ever before. Representing a fraction of those sales is Subaru, still a small automaker on the world stage. While the company has been around since 1953, it didn’t start making all-wheel-drive cars until 1972. Now, nearly 50 years later, Subaru has reached a remarkable milestone: Last month, it produced its 20-millionth AWD model.

Subaru’s Symmetrical AWD system has become one of the brand’s stand-out features in its arsenal of standard safety equipment, cultivating a loyal customer base. Currently, all-wheel-drive vehicles account for 98 percent of the company’s global sales. Subaru pairs its AWD system with the brand’s other iconic feature – the boxer engine. This combination gives the powertrain a low center of gravity and superior weight balance, which translates to improved handling.

Gallery: 2022 Subaru Impreza

Japan’s first mass-produced AWD passenger car arrived in 1972 in the form of the Subaru Leone 4WD Estate Van. The all-paw tech didn’t arrive in the US until 1975, when it became available in the DL/GL Wagon. It was called Subaru’s “On Demand” 4WD, and it would later be replaced with “Full-Time” AWD, which would be the system that eventually evolved into its Symmetrical AWD system available today. In 1996, Subaru of America decided that it’d offer Subaru’s entire lineup with AWD.

Subaru still adheres to that commitment, though it does make an exception for the rear-wheel-drive BRZ. We’ll allow it. With electric vehicles right around the corner, Subaru plans to continue the tradition of powering all fours wheels, incorporating the AWD tech into its upcoming EVs, including the Solterra that Subaru announced in May. Subaru has been around for over half a century, and while it’s been a niche brand for many of those years, the brand continues to grow.

Got a tip for us? Email: