Across Subaru's lineup, drivers from Hollywood to La Plata, MD, can find different models for a variety of needs and purposes. But while each offers its own unique experience, there are a few attributes common to all; attributes that make a Subaru a Subaru, like Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive and EyeSight® technologies. However, the most fundamental of these is the SUBARU BOXER® engine. But why does Subaru use the BOXER® engine, and what even is one in the first place? Let's find out!

Boxer Basics

Also called a flat engine, boxer engines feature a horizontal layout with pistons that move toward each other at a 180° angle, as opposed to a standard inline-four's (I4) vertical arrangement or the V engine's 60-90° angled orientation. Compared to I and V layouts, a boxer engine is vertically compact, has a low center of gravity, and exerts less weight on the crankshaft.

A (very) Brief History

The boxer engine's provenance goes back to 1896 when Karl Benz (of Mercedes-Benz) design the first flat engine for his racing cars. In 1933, Ferdinand Porsche (yes, that one) used a flat-four in the Porsche Type 32 prototype, then again five years later when designing the first Volkswagen Type 1 (later known as the Beetle). In 1948, Porsche GmbH used the flat-four in its first-ever production vehicle, the 356. In 1966, Subaru introduced its first boxer engine in the Subaru 1000 compact car and has used it ever since. Today, Subaru and Porsche are the only car manufacturers to use the design.

Boxer Benefits

  • Low Center of Gravity: The engine's lower positioning, brings down the vehicle's center of gravity, contributing to improved stability and handling, less body roll, and better road grip.

  • Even Balance: In addition to lowering the center of gravity, a boxer engine's flat design spreads its weight more evenly, giving it better balance than an upright engine.

  • Smoother operation: Because the pistons are horizontally opposed, their firing motions cancel out, resulting in less vibration. And unlike inline engines, boxer engines don't require special parts to counteract vibration, reducing cost and weight.

  • Space and Cost: While a flat-four engine costs a bit more to produce, its compact size permits easier fitting of Subaru's signature All-Wheel Drive components into the chassis. Thus, Subaru can build AWD vehicles for only a little more than FWD models.

Which Subaru Models Use a Boxer Engine?

Every Subaru model, from the Legacy and Outback to the WRX and BRZ, finds its motivation in a SUBARU BOXER® engine. For assistance finding the perfect Subaru for your daily drives in Prince Frederick or Mechanicsville, MD, contact Ourisman Subaru Waldorf at your convenience. And if you'd like to try one for yourself, we'd love for you to schedule a test drive. We'll be happy to give you a tour.

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