Consumer Reports didn’t think highly of the Subaru 360

By Colin Wood
Jan 24, 2022 | Subaru 360, Consumer Reports, Car Review

What did Consumer Reports have to say in its review of Subaru 360, the car maker’s first production car and one of America’s earliest exposures to the kei car?

Two words: “Not Acceptable.”

Why such harsh criticism? You can read the full review below or by clicking here, but even in a time when urban traffic congestion was on the rise (due in part to a decline in decent public transportation offerings) and there was a demand for compact, efficient city cars, the Subaru 360 fell short in a number of key categories when compared to pretty much every other car on the road–namely in speed, driving dynamics and passive safety.

So, is this valid criticism, or was Consumer Reports being too harsh on the little Subaru 360?

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Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
1/24/22 2:33 p.m.

That MSRP of $1357 comes out to a little over $10,300 in today's money. So yeah, that's some pretty cheap transportation.

Type Q
Type Q SuperDork
1/24/22 2:54 p.m.

When I was in Japanese documentary about the development of the 360. It was designed for a particular place and time. 1960's US roads were not it. For the US market, I don't think CR was too harsh on it.    

Tom1200 UltraDork
1/24/22 3:00 p.m.

It wasn't really intended for the US market and given the year the test was done it's no surprise they found it unacceptable.

Throw in the idiosyncrasies of a two stroke and it was never going to get a good rating here.

adam525i GRM+ Memberand Dork
1/24/22 3:01 p.m.

That little 360 cc fan cooled twin 2 stroke always looks so familiar to me as my '88 Polaris Indy Trail had a 488 in it made by Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru), naturally I think someone needs to swap in an 800 Triple along with CVT setup out of an Indy Storm with 3 glorious expansion chamber pipes coming out the back.

nocones GRM+ Memberand UberDork
1/24/22 3:13 p.m.

That is a shockingly thurough takedown.  I don't think they liked it much.  

I enjoy mine, though it's slightly modified.  

nocones GRM+ Memberand UberDork
1/24/22 3:14 p.m.

In reply to adam525i :

My Autobianchi needs an engine.  This is one of the ideas floating in space.

Duke MegaDork
1/24/22 3:54 p.m.
Colin Wood said:


I love how the swing axle already has the rear tire rolled up onto the sidewall when the car is just parked there.

Yes, I realize that the car is empty, but still.


Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/24/22 9:24 p.m.

In reply to Duke :

The 4wd models of the 80s (and the Loyales from the 90s) specified up to two degrees of positive camber in the front.

Subaru used the same control arms and uprights on the 4wds and 2wds, they merely used taller springs and said "Yep, that'll work" for the resulting alignment.



I wonder if CR tested the Ford Prefect and judged it to be "Mostly Harmless".

dculberson MegaDork
1/24/22 10:03 p.m.

I feel like Consumer Reports, in a relatively rare occurrance, got it 100% right with this car. It's pretty terrible. I also think "NOT ACCEPTABLE" -Consumer Reports would be an excellent Lemons theme for a Subaru. Not a 360 because they're not Lemons legal.

Appleseed MegaDork
1/24/22 11:48 p.m.

CR called the Toyota Matrix's engine smooth and peppy. The Pontiac Vibe got a harsh and buzzy. Same year. Same engine. SAME CAR.

CR holds zero water with me. Although  they are probably right about the 360.

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