Feature article

Best Subaru Cars Available in NZ: Buying Guide

Subaru cars are suited to NZ conditions thanks to the brand’s line-up of models, all of which feature all-wheel drive.

Last updated: 14 May 2024

Subaru cars are well suited to New Zealand conditions thanks to the brand’s line-up of models, all of which feature all-wheel drive. That sees them fit in just about anywhere, especially in places where you get four seasons in one day. And those more remote parts of the country where roads aren't paved and where winter often brings snowy conditions. And yet they are all a perfect fit for life in the city as well.

Even the brand’s smallest car, the Impreza, comes equipped with all-wheel drive, it being one of the few compact, five-door hatches that does. But it's the range of SUVs that are more popular.

This starts with the more compact Crosstrek (which until recently was known as the XV) before moving up in size and price to the popular Forester. And then there is the larger Outback. A bit more niche, but more exciting perhaps, the WRX still delivers for the drivers out there while Subaru recently introduced an electric vehicle in the Solterra.

Being a well established brand, there are numerous dealers up and down the country and all new cars sold are supported by a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty. Subaru also offers three-year service plans to lock away your maintenance costs at the time of purchase. And doing so means you can extend your warranty out to six years, giving you extra peace of mind.

Is the Forester a good SUV for NZ?

It sure is, and is Subaru’s entry into New Zealand's most popular segment of the new car market, that being the mid-size SUV. The five model Forester range starts at $46,999 and moves up to the $57,490 Premium eBoxer hybrid model. Yes, Subaru does a hybrid, the powertrain option adding an electric motor to boost torque and help trim fuel use. The regular Forester runs with the proven 2.5-litre boxer four, hooked up to an efficient CVT type auto, which aids driveline refinement. Forester is not too bad on gas consumption, expect it to return around 8 to 9L/100km overall, while the hybrid is a little better (7-8L/100km). Like all Subarus, all Forester models have permanent four-wheel drive for on road security in all conditions. Conventional models can tow up to 1800kg while the hybrid is good for 1200kg.

Subaru’s camera-based Eyesight active safety system ensures it is on the look out for danger, and Forester has a five-star ANCAP rating. While the entry level model misses out on a few features, the rest of the range is well equipped with things like reverse automatic braking, front view camera, adaptive high beams and lane keeping.

The Forester has a great ride quality on all sorts of roads, the long travel suspension well suited for rougher trails. And with its permanent all-wheel drive, it delivers great traction in slippery conditions. And like most Subarus, the dynamics are well sorted. This is a well-formed five-seater SUV, measuring just over 4.6m long with 498L of boot space, which can be expanded out to 1768L.

Read the Forester review

View listings on Trade Me Motors: Subaru Forester

What about the Outback?

For those wanting something bigger, that would be the Outback. This is a large AWD wagon with a raised right height to give it an adventure-ready 213mm of ground clearance. The range starts from $49,990 and rises up to $70k for the XT Touring, complete with turbocharged grunt.

While it is nice to have the extra power, the regular 2.5-litre boxer four does the job nicely without excessive fuel use, with an average around the 9-10L/100km mark. The XT adds a turbocharger to the mix which aids the mid-range torque with 350Nm and that gives the XT an easy-going nature, although it does have more of a thirst for fuel.

The big five-seater wagon offers generous rear seat space and in the cargo area you can hold 522L. Outback has nifty built-in roof racks to carry extras on top, and it will tow up to 2000kg (the XT good for 2400kg).

For a big wagon, it drives well with Subaru’s usual compliant ride over all sorts of road surfaces. And there’s plenty of traction, especially when the conditions get iffy while Subaru’s X-mode helps when off-roading.

It's replete with all the safety equipment, some of it a little too cautious perhaps. The Touring models come with just about everything and all models are sorted on the connectivity front.

Read the Outback review

View listings on Trade Me Motors: Subaru Outback

WRX - one for the drivers

The WRX has evolved over its generations and is now a sophisticated and refined sporting drive. It still has its good old turbocharged boxer engine at its heart, all-wheel drive is a given and there's a wagon version available again now too.

Don't write it off on account of its CVT, it works well in the WRX, not taking the shine off what is a good driver's car. The boxer engine delivers a handy 202kW backed up with 350Nm of easy torque. And combined with that transmission, it makes for an easy drive on the daily commute.

However, up the ante by selecting the Sports sharp drive mode, and this thing can tear across the country side. It has communicative steering, compliant sports suspension just about perfect for New Zealand roads and the performance is backed up with reassuring brakes.

WRX is also loaded with features, safety gadgets and up to the minute connectivity. There’s a level of refinement you wouldn't associate with the early models, while the Ts variant has a sports luxury theme going on. The sedan offers a spacious interior and a good boot too with 414L. If that’s not enough, the wagon has up to 1400L on offer when the seats are folded. Prices start from $59,990 or $64,990 for the more highly specified Ts and wagon.

Read the WRX review

View listings on Trade Me Motors: Subaru WRX


Kyle Cassidy
Kyle Cassidy
Editor NZ Autocar magazine - autocar.co.nz

Kyle has been reviewing cars since starting at NZ Autocar magazine in 2003 and has been editor since 2009. In that time he’s become an expert on what makes for a good vehicle while also gaining insights into the local automotive industry.