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Here’s What Happened To Subaru’s Forgotten Sumo Microvan

The last year for the Subaru Sumo was 1998. The previous year, Subaru entered the market with the crossover SUV Forester. Like the Sumo, it also did not conform to kei car specifications, had a more sizable engine, and featured full 4WD, rather than just being an option for the microvan. The crossover SUV was a relatively new thing in the mid-1990s, with Subaru first dipping its toes into that space with the Outback in 1994, though that was more of a station wagon than a proper SUV. The same could be said about the first Forester, but later revisions quickly turned it into what is now known as a crossover SUV. While it provides much of the space that a van allows, it also has a body more appropriate for a bigger engine for some rougher driving, rather than the city driving that kei cars are most suited to.

Nowadays, crossover SUVs are Subaru’s bread and butter. The company’s website shows nine different models for sale in the United States. Five of those nine are SUVs, and according to Car and Driver, the Subaru Outback and Subaru Crosstrek rank among the top 25 best-selling cars of 2023. Though the Subaru Forester doesn’t make that list, it is still a fixture of the Subaru line, outlasting the 15-year existence of the Subaru Sumo by almost a dozen years.

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