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Subaru 2005 Outback Classified as Light Truck

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CHERRY HILL, N.J., Jan. 1, 20043, 2004 -- Subaru of America, Inc. today released the following statement in response to various media reports regarding the vehicle classification of its new Outback Sedan and Wagon:

The primary reason the 2005 model year Outback will be classified according to NHTSA as a light duty truck is because it was completely redesigned to meet customer demand for more SUV-type features.

Subaru pioneered the crossover vehicle category back in 1995 with the Legacy Outback -- the World's First Sport Utility Wagon. Today, the crossover category is the fastest growing segment in the auto industry. Through our market research, we know that customers don't want to sacrifice fuel economy, comfort, ease of entry, or ride quality; but desire SUV-like features such as dark-tinted side rear windows, higher ground clearance, and approach and departure angles suitable for off-road driving. Customers frequently choose Subaru Outback over conventional truck-based SUVs because of its outstanding fuel economy, performance, handling, and safety. The new Outback will continue to deliver the best of both worlds to the popular cross-over segment and remain a strong alternative to SUVs.

The new Outback, to debut at the Chicago Auto Show in early February, was designed to be a light duty truck. In fact, both the Outback Wagon and Sedan will exceed the NHTSA light duty truck standards on 4 of 5 requirements including break over angle, departure angle, running clearance, and axle clearance.

Subaru has always made fuel economy a top priority in its product development process. Subaru has a track record of producing superior crossover vehicles that meet stringent federal safety and emissions standards. The new Outback is no exception. The base model Outback is expected to have improved gas mileage for model year 2005, while we will also offer a model with enhanced performance characteristics for those customers that have expressed that desire. The new Outback Sedan and Wagon will meet federal emissions standards for light duty truck -- which is as stringent as emission standards for light duty vehicles as defined by the EPA and ARB. However, final testing by the EPA for emissions compliance and fuel economy label calculations for model year 2005 Outback has not yet been completed and therefore is not available.

Subaru is committed to developing advanced technologies that improve fuel economy and emissions as evidenced by the new Sequential Series Hybrid Electric (SSHEV) propulsion system in the B9SC and the urban commuter electric vehicle R1e concept cars featured at this year's Detroit Auto Show. In addition, the new Outback released later this year will feature advanced engine technologies such as Active Valve Control System (AVCS) that improves overall engine efficiency. Further, the newly designed Outback body structure reduces overall vehicle weight by as much as 180 pounds.

Subaru always has been and will continue to be committed to safeguarding the natural environment that so many of our customers avidly enjoy.