You've got to hand it to Subaru for not simply dominating a corner of a market, but actually creating the niche. Subaru single-handedly transformed the station wagon from nerdy, wood-paneled, family-toting suburban cruiser to an active, all-wheel-drive (AWD), bicycle-toting mountain scaler.

New for 2000, Subaru rolls out updated versions of the simply dominant Outback and Legacy. Both vehicles come in sedan and wagon variants, sport a 2.5L boxer 4-cyl. engine and the signature AWD. They have led the carmaker to 45% growth since 1993.

But Subaru has seen the top of the mountain. The very niche that catapulted the automaker to its peak has ensured the sky won't be the limit. There are only so many people willing to consciously snub the sport/utility vehicle craze for a $25,000 wagon, and those who collectively fit the niche have proved to be a finite number.

Subaru's big chance: once again finding the next niche and be there waiting when the customers arrive. Subaru's formula has done wonders for its once-flailing fortunes, but it appears that without trucks or full- blown SUVs to expand volume, the growth days are numbered.