Subaru goes XXL with big SUV concept

Henry Payne
The Detroit News

Los Angeles — To get bigger, Subaru is going bigger.

Subaru VIZIV-7 SUV Concept

Determined to expand sales by 30 percent by 2020, the Japanese maker of affordable, all-wheel drive vehicles is introducing a spacious, three-row sport utility vehicle into its lineup. The VIZIV-7 SUV concept previews a full production model that will be shown next year and hit showroom floors in early 2018.

True to Subaru’s iconic “love” ad campaign, Americans have embraced everything Subaru has thrown at them — except a large SUV. Subaru’s first attempt at the three-row segment, the Tribeca, went out of production in 2013. This time, Subaru promises to get it right.

“The Tribeca was too small, too underpowered for its class,” said Tom Doll, Subaru’s president and CFO for North America, on the Los Angeles Auto Show floor. “This is sized perfectly with seven- to eight-passenger seating. It will compete against the Toyota Highlander and Ford Explorer.”

Subaru VIZIV-7 SUV Concept

Indeed, the concept telegraphs the production ute’s proportions with huge 21-inch wheels and an expansive, 117-inch wheelbase — 5 inches longer than the Explorer. The concept brings the ritual concept bling like sky-blue lighting tinsel. But overall it conforms to Subaru’s new design language — split-wing logo in grille and c-clamp headlight signature — wrapped in a package that dwarfs the little Impreza compact and Legacy sedan that made Subaru’s mark in this market.

No details on drivetrain or interior were released, but look for the production version at another car show soon.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at or Twitter @HenryEPayne.