By on May 31, 2007

legacygt_front.jpgLet’s face it: Subaru isn’t known for building physically attractive automobiles. Their products are the automotive equivalent of the “butter face” girl: everything is great “but her” face. Fortunately, the new Legacy GT (LGT) avoids the brand’s heavy-handed airplane-inspired refreshes, or the new Tribeca’s po-faced Pacifica pandering. The Legacy GT’s not-so-B9 makeover puts the model in prime position for the legions of more mature automotive enthusiasts desperately seeking Subie. 

With redesigned headlights and taillights and a larger, chrome-ified grille opening, the LGT looks like an edgier, more aggressive Camry (before Toyota beat it with an ugly stick). The LGT’s hood scoop is a restrained version of the STi’s gi-nomous nasal passage. The equally undemonstrative aerodynamic addendum doesn’t invite Civic-driving young’uns to a stoplight race.

legacygt_interior.jpgMore signs you’re in a Subie designed for grownups: the LGT’s portals close with a Germanic whumph. Subaru’s also replaced the nasty ass plastic blighting their rally replicars and off-roaders with soft touch polymers, though the quality has dropped slightly since the ‘05 update. The LGT’s eminently grippable, leather-wrapped steering wheel and moderately bolstered leather seats are a cut above the WRX’. In short, while the LGT’s cabin won’t keep Audi’s haptic hit squad up at night, Volvo knows who’s eating their lunch.

To help justify sticker escalation, Subie’s added a standard telescoping wheel, front/rear climate control and [optional] memory seats and navigation. More basically, the LGT’s astonishingly large front cupholders can accommodate your Big Gulp, sunglasses, cell phone and iPod with room to spare. The door’s equally outsized grab handles add a wikkid— and useful— touch.

si.jpgThe LGT’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is a detuned (smaller turbo) version of the STi’s bonkers powerplant. Subaru attempted to remediate the sluggish nature of their five-speed automatic by providing the “Subaru Intelligent Drive” system, or rather, the “Slow, Interfering Drive” system. The frugal-friendly “Intelligent” setting generates a flatter torque curve. “Sport” and “Sharp” dial it up a notch, providing access to all 243 horses and more acceptable go-pedal response.

If you really want to see ‘er fly, stick to the manual. Even on Sport Sharp, the automatic is over a second slower to sixty from rest. Even shiny new paddle-shifters and rev-matched downshifting can’t fix the harsh reality of a sluggish slushbox. Subaru needs to take a cue from VW, call up Borg Warner and bless the LGT with a DSG paddle shift gearbox or similar.

legacygt_frontthreequarter.jpgSymmetrical all-wheel drive provides all-areas access to the four-door’s thrust, helping it to rapidly outpace similarly-powered FWD cars (I’m looking at you Mazdaspeed3). The LGT’s accelerative head rush and throaty exhaust growl are addictive enough to render turbo lag forgivable, if not forgettable.

Fast? During a trip through the mountains, only another LGT (with local knowledge) could show us a clean set of tailpipes. Fun? See: previous sentence. If the previous LGT stuck to the road like a sucker fish to a stone, the new model adds a dab of super glue. For ’08, Subaru fitted A-pillar braces and stiffer bushings. The more rigid body and tighter suspension endow the LGT with almost STi-quality handling– though the LGT’s long body occasionally gives corner carvers the unsettling feeling that the rear end is about to beat them to the finish line.

legacygt_rear.jpgWhile there’s enough body roll at speed to encourage queasy passengers to check the rear seat pockets for a barf bag, daily driving is a doddle, with excellent composure over moderate lumps and bumps. The LGT’s steering is light and responsive, providing excellent road feel. The previously mushy brake pedal provides ample stopping power, but you won’t want to.

Speaking of Volvo, safety is now one of Subaru’s main selling points. While you can’t fault the LGT’s official crash test ratings (five stars all round), electronic alphabet soup (ABS, EBD, VDC, TCS, TPMS, plus LSD in the spec.B), passenger safety cell or full complement of airbags (side curtains for all), there’s a big old chink in the LGT’s armor: tires.

legacygt_field.jpgThe LGT’s all-season Potenza RE92’s give pistonheads all the dry pavement death grip they’ll ever need. On snow pack or ice, it’s an entirely different story– without a guaranteed happy ending. This website has said it many times: even the world’s best four-wheel drive system– and Subie’s certainly qualifies for that honor– is no substitute for proper winter footwear. Full stop. Or not, as the case may be.

When the fourth-generation LGT was released, it was America’s best-value sub-$50k sporting sedan– especially when you considered its all-wheel drive. The LGT’s punch also made it a suitable STi alternative for penny pinching hoons. With laudable entries like the Mazdaspeed6 undercutting the LGT’s steadily-increasing price ($33k as tested), buyers may wonder if the LGT is worth the price of admission. It is. From the driver’s seat at least, the LGT is a genuine stunner.

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123 Comments on “Subaru Legacy GT Limited Review...”


  • avatar
    turbosaab

    Note the article photos appear to be of ’07 models. Here are a few pics of the ’08. I forgive TTAC for using older photos, as the refresh is admittedly quite subtle.

  • avatar

    My bad. Something's come up. I'll make the switch ASAP. Thanks for your patience. 

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    Excellent review, hit all of the important points and didn’t get hung up on the composition of the plastics used to fabricate the dashboard.
    Would love to read your review of a BMW, Porsche, Corvette, Lincoln, Cadillac and Mercedes.

  • avatar
    ronin

    At that price point it is knocking on the door of the discountable G35X, also with AWD but with a standard RWD bias.

    Although the X is available only with auto transmission, somehow the LGT does not have the panache in the minds of the customer.

    More- at that price point the LGT is knocking on the door of the STI.

    Bottom line, can it sustain a 33k price, or will it be heavily discounted?

  • avatar

    The engines in earlier LGTs with the automatic lulled and surged south of 3,000 rpm. (Well, maybe the engine did the same with the manual, but with the manual the engine spent very little time south of 3,000 rpm.)

    Have they fixed this issue for 2008? Or is part-throttle acceleration at low rpm still lumpy?

    Aside from that issue, I’ve always been a big fan of the LGT, especially the no longer with us stick-shift wagon. (The stick left after 2005, the wagon is gone altogether for 2008.)

    I’ve been seeing low repair rates for these in my site’s reliability research. For pricing, fuel economy, and reliability info on this car:

    http://www.truedelta.com/models/Legacy.php

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Reviews of the Aerio and Enclave have prompted concern over the long term viability of the Suzuki and Buick as surviving brands, and I think the same can be said of Subaru.

    They have many models, and few sales, meaning that their platforms fail to earn the economies of scale that players like Toyota, GM and Honda do. This economic hardship is not sustainable.

    GM dumped Subaru because they refused to give up on their beloved boxer engine, meaning Subaru couldn’t share platforms with the rest of the company.

    I know there are a lot of Subaru fans who love the boxer, but if Subaru wants to survive, it needs to figure out that Legacy means AWD Camry and WRX means AWD turbo Corolla. Sorry.

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    # SherbornSean:
    “I know there are a lot of Subaru fans who love the boxer, but if Subaru wants to survive, it needs to figure out that Legacy means AWD Camry and WRX means AWD turbo Corolla. Sorry.”

    I’m gonna pretend you didn’t say that.

  • avatar
    ATaz

    I love my ’05 manual, it was the perfect option for me as I got it just before I got married, as the wife would not have appreciated an STi. The LGT gives me nearly all the performance that I can reasonably use in a much more attractive package. Now I just have to shake the urge to mod it…

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    “GM dumped Subaru because they refused to give up on their beloved boxer engine, meaning Subaru couldn’t share platforms with the rest of the company.”

    This is exactly why Subaru is a great company. I hope consumers don’t force them to dumb down.

  • avatar
    XCSC

    I feel like one of the lucky ones. My wife and I have a 2005 Legacy GT Ltd, black with beige interior, manual (five speed) WAGON! In ’06 I know Subie canned the color/interior color combo and I believe that’s the year the five speed went the way of the dodo bird.

    Early on we had plenty of “build quality” issues and a few engineering issues. Most of those seemed to have been taken care of. Unfortunately some of them you put up with because regardless of warranty you get tired of taking the car in. My biggest complaint is the durability of some of the materials – exterior sheetmetal, paint, interior pieces and parts (but my wife is brutal on some stuff with her nails).

    Outside of that the car is an absolute blast to drive and looks great. There is nothing quite like taking the onramp at crazy speeds and feeling the awd pull you through and stick like no rear-wheel or front-wheel drive car could EVER do.

    Yes, a bit pricey in my opinion but worth the individuality and performance.

  • avatar
    Detroit

    I’ve owned a few Subarus since 1981, the last being a 1999 Outback wagon bought used with 84k on it. Here’s a summary of my problems with the ‘99, in just 30k miles:

    Unknown, bad chassis vibration at 3000RPM.
    A/C compressor fried, contaminating the whole system.
    Transmission leaks, corrosion of filter/body, and in the end, poor shifting.
    Rear wiper froze up.
    Weird, snap oversteer at a certain steering input, like you crossed a fulcrum.
    Aluminum wheels that leaked air.
    Mileage drops 20% in cold weather.
    Poor cold driveability.
    Speedometer works intermittently.
    Dash lights burned out.
    Power window switches failed.
    Seat bolster’s foam crumbled.
    AWD system is simply FWD till the fronts spin enough, offering no directional stability in snow.
    Rear liftgate handle corrodes and become inoperative.

    Subaru, like VWs I’ve owned, seems to have hit-or-miss reliability. If the overall fleet-score is better then average, then that means there’s a lot of lemons being suffered out there. Too much risk for me; I’m done with Subaru. While the car was fun to drive, and had great steering feel, I’ll never suffer this Subaru-crap ever again. I’ve had it with them.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    SherbornSean

    GM dumped their meager, 9% share in Subaru’s stock because they needed the cash. No other reason, and they hardly had a controlling interest. Subaru doesn’t need to make their vehicles generic to survive, but they really do need to get a hybrid on the market if they want to keep their crunchy-granola-tree-hugging image. They’re a relatively small automaker and don’t need Camry-like numbers to survive.

    Many models? Hardly. They have the Legacy platform, which supplies the Legacy, Outback, and Tribeca, and the Impreza platform, which underpins the Impreza and all its variants and the Forester. They got rid of the Baja. Engines are largely shared between cars, and most of the differences between models amount to performance tweaking and cosmetic differences. There are only a handful of variations, and few custom options. They’re actually pretty lean compared to any domestic automaker.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Sorry, NickNick,
    I don’t mean to offend Subaru loyalists; it’s an issue of business model, not a criticism of Subaru’s competency. If you compare the Legacy to the Accord, Honda sales are 3-4x the Subaru, both in the US and globally. Long term, how can Subaru stay competitive with a company that can spread its engineering costs over so much more volume?

    If Honda drops a turbodiesel and SH-AWD in the TSX/Accord, I think it’s game over for the Legacy. If they do the same in the CR-V, that takes out the Forrester, ditto the Civic/Impreza.

    What’s left, the Tribeca?
    Baha?
    Brat?
    Justy?

  • avatar
    danms6

    I drove a ’06 LGT before I purchased my Speed6 and they are both very quality vehicles. Mazda clearly took aim at Subaru for this vehicle segment and were more or less successful. However they were focusing more on developing new technology rather than record sales. These cars share plenty of similarities, but here are some of the differences I found between the two:

    Speed6:
    -Tighter suspension and slightly better handling, stock
    -6 speed (no auto offering), but the LGT trans is a little more solid
    -Few more neato options, such as keyless entry and ignition and two-tone leather

    LGT:
    -Rear bias AWD, compared to the front bias AWD on the Mazda
    -Much larger aftermarket support for drivetrain and suspension
    -Available in wagon in US

    Performance-wise, they are about the same. The LGT has a few less ponies but also weighs a few pounds less. Each has structural reinforcements over the base model. The LGT is worth its price tag as Megan mentioned, however Mazda really made it an easy decision.

  • avatar
    bobo69

    to ‘Detroit’ you said you bought the car with 84 THOUSAND MILES!! and you are blaming subaru for most of the problems?!?! I’m sorry but I can’t follow your logic on this one.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    The door glass doesn’t rattle when you shut the door? Sounds like Subies are finally worth the price of entry, if you live somewhere where AWD isn’t a big deal.

    While it’ll never be a threat to the Camcord, this is one nice family sedan.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Megan, we can go back and forth over the reason(s) GM dumped Subaru. At the end of the day, the investment turned out to be non-strategic because there were few synergies, given the unwillingness to share platforms. Certainly the cash –although small next to what GM would get from selling other assets — didn’t hurt.

    As far as Subaru not needing economies of scale, do me a favor, name a successful, profitable mainstream carmaker with as few sales as Subaru.
    Or, as few sales per platform as Subaru.

    All I’m saying is that I don’t think Subaru’s business model will lead to long term success. Product updates become less frequent, marketing efforts less well funded, and investments in new technology (like hybrids as you correctly point out) impossible.

    It’s rare that a company dies a slow death from poor strategy rather than poor execution, but it does happen.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    Michael Karesh

    I think there is an ECU re-flash that fixes the issue in the 05 models, but reports on it being successful are sketchy. There is no real fix, save being easy on the throttle (it seems to be related to the turbo spooling up), which is no fun. It doesn’t really bother me much and I have the 05 manual… it’s rough if you accelerate really hard, but otherwise it’s not bad. Small price to pay for such a fun car.

    Sajeev
    No glass rattle at all. Just a nice, solid whumpf. Very satisfactory, really.

  • avatar
    Adam777

    Detroit:

    Firstly ou are inccorect about the Outback being FWD until there is slippage. Subabru, w/ its longitudinally mounted engines, uses a Torsen system which is always working and constantly splits power between all four wheels. This is unlike a Haldex system found on cars like Volovs, the Audi TT, Mazdaspeed 6, Ford Fusion, etc that are based on cars FWD/transverse mounted engines.

    As for all the problems, as a previous poster ponted out, you bought a car w/ 84K and ran it up to 114K. Who knows what that car sufffered though in the miles before you had it. Alsol, most cars lose significant gas mileage durring cold weather. And what does “poor cold drivablitiy” mean?

  • avatar
    brownie

    Long term, how can Subaru stay competitive with a company that can spread its engineering costs over so much more volume?

    Spreading engineering costs over many models hasn’t worked out so well for the (former) big 3. Volume manufacturing is not a viable strategy; it is not a strategy at all. Every first-year MBA learns that. I have no idea why the forget it by the time they have risen through the ranks of our domestic automakers…

    Anyway, Sean, you are assuming that all new technology must be developed in-house, and therefore the big guys will eventually dominate all the small ones. That’s simply not true. Auto companies and niche technology companies license their technology to others all the time (Tiptronic, anyone?). Sure, Toyota has a very nice hybrid drivetrain. But there are small companies that design and license hybrid drivetrains for specialized applications like buses and heavy duty trucks. They were not developed by the big manufacturers because size has its downside as well – certain market segments are too small to pay full attention to. If a hybrid technology becomes (effectively) mandatory, there will be someone out there willing to license it if Subaru can’t develop it on their own.

    Anyway, my point is that there is no reason a company like Subaru must fail with 100% certainty. Smaller companies regularly survive in the face of crushing competition by choosing their battles carefully (Apple?). That’s not saying Subaru will survive (who knows) but I firmly believe they can.

  • avatar
    Cavendel

    Detroit wrote:
    Unknown, bad chassis vibration at 3000RPM.
    A/C compressor fried, contaminating the whole system.
    Transmission leaks, corrosion of filter/body, and in the end, poor shifting.
    Rear wiper froze up.
    Weird, snap oversteer at a certain steering input, like you crossed a fulcrum.
    Aluminum wheels that leaked air.
    Mileage drops 20% in cold weather.
    Poor cold driveability.
    Speedometer works intermittently.
    Dash lights burned out.
    Power window switches failed.
    Seat bolster’s foam crumbled.
    AWD system is simply FWD till the fronts spin enough, offering no directional stability in snow.
    Rear liftgate handle corrodes and become inoperative.

    I own a ’99 Forester and have noticed similar things:

    - right rear bearing has gone 4 times
    - transmission doesn’t shift well
    - engine knocks like a diesel (Subaru says that’s normal)
    - no where near EPA fuel economy (24mpg tops)
    - Speedometer works in warm dry weather only
    - 2 02 sensors and one knock sensor
    - Aluminum wheels leak air
    - Clock failed. I fixed it and it failed again, only to work once the weather warmed up.
    - takes over an hour to replace the spark plugs vs 5 minutes for my Acura.

    having noted all that, my wife loves the car, and it brings a smile to my face as well. That is the definition of quality is it not? I have a set of snow tires that are seemingly unstoppable (I’ve tried), and the car gives a feeling of being rock solid.

    I also own an Acura EL, and the difference for me is that the Acura is very reliable but not durable, while the Subie is Durable and only moderately reliable.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    SearbornSean

    Subaru is not a mainstream brand… it has always been a niche brand, with lower sales. The Subaru division is still turning a profit (vs. losing money hand over fist like some automakers), though 2006 was not as good for Fuji Heavy as 2005. Again, they need a hybrid. Being acquired by Toyota (still rumored to be happening) might help with the cash intake, but right now they’re doing just fine. The Impreza/WRX update should boost sales nicely.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    The Legacy GT is a good car; a really good car except it doesn’t know what it wants to be. It’s too expensive to be a AWD Camry and doesn’t have the chops to go against the new G35 or 3 series. Not that anyone thinks of Subaru as luxury so then why are they hitting luxury prices in a mainstay sedan? The STI can be forgiven its price tag due to its phenomenal performance and while even the spec B legacy is nice and has lots of bells and whistles people are not going to pony up 35k for a Subaru sedan. Acura, Audi, Lexus, Benz, Infiniti? Yes. Subaru? No. And seriously is it so hard to hire a good designer and not make ugly cars?

  • avatar
    XCSC

    Cavendal – My father in-law works for Subaru of America and when I was considering buying a 2000 Legacy GT he warned me about the engine “knock”. I can’t say for certain this is your issue but he told it’s piston “slap” (the rod/wrist pin has a bit of play in it). He was insistant it wasn’t a reliability issue and was doing no harm but it was something I’d hear, especially with cold weather/cold motor. Typically he said it quiets down once warmed up. Not sure what your experience is.

    FWIW he used to work for Mazda as well and he’s said repeatedly, after seeing GM warranty #’s at the dealers he worked with that had dual dealerships with both Mazda and Subaru, that if Mazda or Subaru had the warranty costs that GM had that they’d shut down their plants and bring in engineers and suppliers to figure out the problem before building another car.

    What’s an Acura EL?

  • avatar
    26theone

    Im not sure what Subaru has to do to get me to warm up to their brand. I just cant see myself buying a Subaru. The new Legacy looks like a great car but not everyone needs (or wants to pay for) AWD. I know its good for Subaru to differentiate themselves with the all AWD strategy but in the southern states I just dont see them selling in any quantities at all. I would be curious to see Subaru’s sales figures by state. Im betting they get all their $$ from a few snowy states.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Toyota is looking at buying heavily into Fuji so I think Subaru is safe and will be around for a while. They are working on a diesel boxer and I’m sure we’ll see some hybrid applications come from the partnership with Toyota. With the redesign of the Impreza I’m not sure it’s going to boost sales much. I hope to be proven wrong but the 08 sedan and hatch seem even less attractive than the outgoing model.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    Remind me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the Legacy basically the same car since 1989? I haven’t seen a new platform since, and the greenhouse looks practically the same. With some minor updates now and then, it should be more or less the same. Though the quality seems to be improved. Am I right or wrong? So how come nobody is pointing out that the design is roughly twenty years old by now?

  • avatar
    ejacobs

    Detroit,
    After a drunk driver totalled my beloved ’92 Civic EX sedan (5 speed, VTEC, ABS discs all around), I bought a ’99 Outback with only 50K miles. I noticed that the speedometer worked intermittently (as a result, so did the odometer), went to the dealer and they charged me $400 for a new speed sensor. That was $400 down the drain. I went to another dealer and they new exactly what to do because this was a common problem on ’99′s–faulty speedometer. In addition, the power window switches worked intermittently, dash lights were burned out, the shifter and clutch felt extremely heavy most of the time, the roof rack was coming undone screw by screw (unable to re-screw back in), and the wheel bearings howled and moaned from time to time.

    When you’ve owned Hondas, these problems are significantly magnified. I think Subaru has done much better with the quality of their vehicles recently, but I’m going to be apprehensive before ever getting another one.

    Megan,
    How does the shifter and clutch feel on the LGT compared to competitors (6, Accord, TSX, 3-Series, A3/A4, etc.)? Usually in comparison tests and reviews, the Subies get called out for their shifters being too balky, clunky, heavy, etc.

  • avatar
    carguy

    The Legacy GT is a great drive but is let down by flat seats and the quality of the manual shift. The European/Asian version of this car get great sports seats while the American market gets super wide flat seats designed for the 300lb+ crowd. The manual gearshift also does not do justice to the rest of the car – it has an imprecise action and in combination with the clutch make a clean launch and urban driving a chore.

    Having said that, however, it really is an impressive drivers car that is two minor fixes away from greatness.

  • avatar
    jbyrne

    I had a 2005 outback XT which I gladly trade-ed in last February. Although the engine had some good power I quickly tired of interior buzzes. The rear view mirror buzzed over many road surfaces. The dashboard rattled and I had to stick a rubber stopper between the windshield and dash to quell it. Also the long throw shifter was very vague and I grinded 2nd more than
    a couple times. Also the clutch was so heavy that driving in traffic was a chore.
    And, the mileage was pretty awful, just a little over 20mpg in mixed driving. Although the storage space was quoted as 60cu
    feet, the sloped shape of the rear reduced the usability of this space.
    In short I was really disappointed with my subaru experience.

    I think they do have a bit of an identity crisis. Growing up in New England they were known as frugal, reliable tools for
    tough winters. Now they are not quite luxury and not quite frugal. Fortunately they are still small enough to satisfy a
    niche market but I think it will be tough to grow.

    Jason

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    The Legacy was completely redesigned for the 05 model year. Any gripes about prior years apply to those engines/models only, and are not relevant to the current model year. Subaru is still a top performer as far as long-term reliability and customer satisfaction go.

    When the LGT came out in 05, there was a base model LGT and then the limited edition, which we got for about… $26k? I don’t recall exactly. Getting rid of the base model bumped the price upwards, and now it costs the same for an LTD as it did in 06 for the spec.B. The price creep is a killer… when it first came out, a lot of fun could be had for less than $25k.

  • avatar
    XCSC

    Our ’05 GT Ltd has the manual and I find it to be a bit notchy and bulky at the same time. Obviously the factory OEM shifter should be right to start with but Subaru actually makes a “short throw” shifter that I’ve heard is a bit better and there are also a few others that make these short throw shifters that get good reviews. Of course this is with the 5spd and maybe if they stuck the 6spd in there it wouldn’t be the issue it is. Oddly enough we replaced the orginal shifter knob with a Subaru/Momo aluminum knob and that took a great deal of vagueness out of it. As for the clutch, it was great when we drove it out the dealers door but at 40k miles I’m not a fan of it anymore – but my wife isn’t exactly easy on it and it’s “her’s” so I don’t drive it much. And I have a 2000 Passat V6 with a 5spd manual and I think it’s the best shifting car I could imagine…only to have some magazine tell me how bad it was and how the Subaru’s was great. Tells you how much I know.

  • avatar
    Alex Dykes

    My only complaint about the Subies is that damned 4 cylinder boxer. It’s just not a smooth sounding engine. I wish they would spend a bit more time on the much nicer 6 cylinder boxer engine, it’s the winner in my book.

    I agree that Subaru needs to keep the boxer engines, it’s an eccentricity that gives the brand much of it’s character. Volvo wouldn’t be as funky if they didn’t have 5 cylinder turbos, Honda wouldn’t be Honda if they didn’t have tiny four pots.

    In my estimation Subaru exists in an interesting niche. With both Volvo and Subaru treading up market, Subaru is still in the same place: a notch below Volvo with the twist of AWD. This isn’t a bad thing, people after permanent AWD, a touch of environmental concern and a bit of safety in the mix will be well served. I don’t think they need to beat the Camcord to survive. Still, being that middle-of-the-road near luxury specialty company would make me feel nervous…

  • avatar
    omnivore

    I don’t think Subaru is going anywhere. In the great snowy north (New England, upstate NY, Michigan, Minnesota, most of Canada) people are fanatical about them for their reliability and their cold-winter prowess. And there are a lot of people living in those places. People in southern climates tend to think of Subaru as a wacky nitch performance brand, but for people in the north, an Impreza is a smart Corolla, a Legacy is a smart Camry, and the WRX or GT is just icing on the cake. My extended family all lives in the snowbelt in upstate NY and more than half of them have Foresters (some are on their second or third) and won’t buy another car until Subaru stops making them.

    Megan’s right, Subaru is a smart automaker who has (1) figured out their brand niche and stuck to it and executed their products well within that niche and (2) has developed an almost fanatical following amongst gearheads and snowbelt residents and (3) has scaled their production and distribution operation properly for the scope of their business. They don’t need to sell in Camry-like numbers to be stable and profitable, just like Porsche doesn’t. Their have figured out their schtick and they do it well and that bodes well for their long-term future.

  • avatar
    jet_silver

    Subaru’s having a little trouble figuring out who they’re selling to in the US. There is no longer a Legacy wagon – if you want a wagon you have to buy an Outback. I’m another of the lucky souls who got a 2005 wagon with 5MT. This is exactly the car I had been longing for ever since I bought my ’93 Legacy wagon: plenty of power but otherwise retaining all the virtues of the ’93: much better handling than you would think, excellent visibility and tremendous stability even at 100+ mph.

    The boxer engine has a neat characteristic: it keeps the car’s CG low. Sometimes it sounds like a piece of farm equipment. That is not such a bad trade-off for its advantages.

  • avatar
    gfen

    Adam777:

    Depends on the model of Subaru, its engine output and transmission options.

    Some of them, like the regular Impreza with the auto, are as Detroit says, and then some of them, like the Impreza STi, are as you say.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    RE: the shifter, ours has the short throw, and I’d recommend getting that over the standard. The regular throw is too long. Getting the short throw gets rid of the vagueness and makes shifting much tighter. It’s a lot heavier than a Honda (I could literally flick my fingers to put the Integra into gear, not so with this), but not much more than other cars. It does take a bit of muscle though.

    jbyrne
    There is a TSB out for the dash rattle. It takes them about 3 hours to take the dash apart and fix it, but it’s worth it. Ours developed the rattle/squeak about a year in and the fix has made highway driving much nicer.

  • avatar
    miked

    Adam777: “Firstly ou are inccorect about the Outback being FWD until there is slippage. Subabru, w/ its longitudinally mounted engines, uses a Torsen system which is always working and constantly splits power between all four wheels. This is unlike a Haldex system found on cars like Volovs, the Audi TT, Mazdaspeed 6, Ford Fusion, etc that are based on cars FWD/transverse mounted engines.”

    Nope, Adam777 you are wrong. The Audi Quattro (on their higher end vehicles) uses the Torsen system (and Haldex on their lower end vehicles). Subaru has employed a number of different strategies. All MT Subarus use a 50/50 viscous center differential that can bias the power to the non-slipping axle on demand, but is normally 50/50. Early automatics used a 90/10 setting which, through the different clutches, could go to 50/50 if needed, but couldn’t go more than 50% to the rear wheels. (In fact, it 1st gear, the computer would set the bias to 50/50 for better acceleration and then drop it to 90/10 for better economy). Now you see that Subarus are advertised with “symmetric all wheel drive” and that just means that both the autos and MT Subarus have a 50/50 viscous differential that can bias the torque accordingly.

    I have a 1999 LGT and it’s a blast to drive. Granted I get nowhere near the power in the new LGTs, but I really don’t need more than the 160HP or so that I do have. There’s this great mountain that I take my LGT up, it starts out at about 6000 ft and tops out near 12,500 with countless switchbacks. One day I was approaching the mountain and a 5.0 Mustang comes up on me real fast, so I decided to see if I could keep him behind me up the mountain. It was really funny, he’d always pull up real close on the straits, but as soon as we’d hit a switch back, he was hard on the brakes and I was just cruising through the turns (at about twice the suggested speed). After that day, I realized that I didn’t really need more power, and the handling is what you buy a subie for.

  • avatar
    Detroit

    Reply to all and bobo69, Adam777, all:

    Look at my list of things wrong. What could a previous owner abuse? “Seat bolster’s foam crumbled” is the only item I can see, if the owner weighed 300lbs (I fixed that ;myself with a rolled up carpet-scrap). All the other problems are clearly Subaru’s fault. My Subaru was, for the most part, “fine” when I bought it used. All these problems came during my (non-abusive, intending long-term) ownership.

    I didn’t base my Subaru ownership opinion on comparing new cars I’ve owned, to my 84k mile Subaru purchase. My opinion/experience was based on my nearly always buying high mileage used cars. Proper design for durability doesn’t “magically” happen only to cars purchased new.

    My highest mileage car ownership so far was a 1989 LeSabre T-Type, purchased at 67k, that I gave away at 235k in 2005. This car was my best ‘cost-miles-transportation value’ I ever had in a car. The Subaru was a joke compare to the LeSabre in this category. By the way, when I bought the LeSabre, I had been in at least three accidents before me and obviously hadn’t been cared for to well (but, the price was right).

    As for the Subaru AWD, Subaru uses two systems. For manual transmissions it works all the time, for automatics (mine) it works only at front wheel slippage. I could clearly feel the AWD not working on snow-rutted roads, and I could clearly feel it engage the fronts when I intentionally spun them. The Subaru automatic transmission AWD system, in my opinion, is inferior to the GM Smart-Trak systems that I have used (“used” as in 80MPH in 3 inches if snow).

    I love the way Subarus drive. Heck, they have to drive that good to compensate for the suffering many owners experience. I’m just not going to reward Subaru with my cash for such spotty durability anymore.

  • avatar
    socsndaisy

    Ive always like the LGT. I disagree completely that it doesnt have the “chops” to compete with BMW or infinity. There are a large # of people who dont care about, or give any thought to the jones-status of the make. I dont…and shop BMW, Subaru, and Mazda pretty consistently. They all offer a thrill, different degrees of practicality and value.
    Regardless, I must agree that Subies are a slightly expensive and I havent been impressed by the dealer experience. As such, I have bought Mazda again and again….no regrets.

  • avatar
    jim3480

    With apologies in advance to Subaru loyalists, I cannot for the life of me, figure out why anyone would buy a Subaru. IMHO, across their entire line of vehicles, they make up the ugliest models on the road. Now, the Legacy GT is clearly the best of the bunch – the reviews always maintain that this is a fun vehicle to drive – and it is the most attractive of all the Subies. However, I still think it is bland and generic-looking.

    The Tribeca (even post-refresh) is still ugly and don’t even get me started on the various wagons and crossovers..etc. Man – they look like their beaten with an ugly stick.

    A couple of years ago, I explored the Legacy GT when I saw how driving enthusiasts love the car. On forums, I saw multiple complaints about a foul smell coming from the Boxer engine. That did it for me considering a Legacy.

    Personally, I would not be sad to see this brand go away – it would reduce the visual pollution on the roads.

  • avatar
    ejacobs

    jim3480,
    Live and let live, man! If I wanted all cars that I think are ugly to go away, there would be much less automotive diversity on the roads out there. To me, that’s not a good thing.

  • avatar
    TreyV

    To all wishing their subie’s manual shifter was more notchy, there is a mature aftermarket of short-throw shifters available (particularly from one small company that makes them for practically everything Subaru post late ’90s.) Believe me, it will probably be the best $100 and 30 minutes you ever invest in your car.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Joe consumer who is going to spend 35k on a sedan is not going to typically head to the Subaru dealer. Some of that is the cache of a luxury brand name while some of that will also be resale value. There is more of a demand for a used luxury car like a 3 series, C class or A4 than a used Legacy.

    Don’t get me wrong I like Subaru, used to have a 02 Outback which was very reliable. It’s just that they need to rethink what they want to be. Are they the AWD performance brand, the rugged AWD safety brand or the AWD near luxury brand? Other than AWD Subaru doesn’t have a clearly defined target audience or mission.

    Volvo you think safety
    BMW you think performance luxury
    Lexus you think Luxury
    Mazda you think performance (poor man’s Porsche or BMW)
    Subaru you think AWD and that’s about it.

  • avatar
    ejacobs

    There’s a huge demand for used Subies here in Colorado. They also hold their value very strongly.

  • avatar
    TreyV

    Man, the haters are coming out of the woodwork.

    On the other hand, Subaru can’t exactly be on the wane if this thread has managed to shoot out to five pages before lunch time.

  • avatar

    SherbornSean: I don’t mean to offend Subaru loyalists; it’s an issue of business model, not a criticism of Subaru’s competency. If you compare the Legacy to the Accord, Honda sales are 3-4x the Subaru, both in the US and globally. Long term, how can Subaru stay competitive with a company that can spread its engineering costs over so much more volume?

    If Honda drops a turbodiesel and SH-AWD in the TSX/Accord, I think it’s game over for the Legacy. If they do the same in the CR-V, that takes out the Forrester, ditto the Civic/Impreza.

    I’m not a Subaru loyalist, far from it, but I think these cars are different enough that they are not likely to be swallowed up. The Forrester, for example, is the plaid flannel shirt of automobiles–ugly but oh, so practical. I can’t think of a car that provides better visibility in all directions, plus Abe Lincoln could probably have worn his stovepipe hat and still fit in the driver’s seat. The Civic, on the other hand, looks cool with that shallow, shallow, wind screen, but a few flakes of snow will blind you, and in summer it and that football-field sized dash are a solar cooker–don’t leave your dog in there for even five minutes!

    I don’t see Sube losing its loyalists.

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    SherbornSean:
    May 31st, 2007 at 9:53 am

    “I don’t mean to offend Subaru loyalists;”

    Oh, no offense taken. I’m just afraid that you might have a point, so I’d rather go into denial.

    For right now, I think Subaru is in an OK spot. A corolla can be had for $15K and an Impreza will be $20K. If Subaru doesn’t have the economies of scale that Toyota does, it should still be fine because the Impreza is so far from the Corolla that the $5K doesn’t matter. However, if Toyota does offer AWD in the Corolla for $17K, Subaru may have a problem. I’m not sure where the Matrix story fits into all of this.

    I worry that an AWD Corolla will be a dynamically inferior vehicle compared to the Impreza and that the buying public won’t care. They’ll just see AWD (and it’s a toyOta!) for less money and Subaru will evaporate.

  • avatar

    jim3480 and ejacobs I read in our paper a list of 10 best selling cars by city and Boulder Colorado stood out by having a Suburu as one of the top 10.

    My guess is that AWD is pretty important in Colorado. It isn’t down here in Florida but thats probably Suburu’s niche.

  • avatar
    Brendan

    I love Subarus, but when it came to buy recently, I couldn’t bring myself to buy one. The Legacy is about $5K over their natural competitors, they get terrible fuel economy, and the automatic is totally unacceptable.

    By going their own way with the boxer, they have worked their way into a corner, much like Mazda has with the rotary. If either of these powerplants were truly superior, don’t you think they would be more popular? Wouldn’t BMW and Honda have Wankels and boxers?

    Like I indicated, I’m not a hater. The WRX is still the king in the bang-for-the-buck department. But the Legacy lacks that extra 5% of polish that people expect at that price. Subaru has their work cut out for them.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    On forums, I saw multiple complaints about a foul smell coming from the Boxer engine. That did it for me considering a Legacy.

    The smell doesn’t come from the engine, it comes from the clutch. If you regularly ‘burn’ the clutch (i.e. let it slip a lot), the LGT will reward you with a most unpleasant pungent odor. Learning to drive a clutch properly fixes the problem. Has nothing to do with the engine or its reliability.

    Subaru has an entire ad campaign focusing on the safety of all of their models. AWD == safety, to a lot of people. It just also happens to make for some wicked grip in the twisties, which lends itself to performance vehicles. If you’re in an area where AWD is uncommon, you’ve probably never heard of Subaru and have no idea what the fuss is about. But if you’re in that portion of the population that lives above the mason-dixon line, you probably care a bit about how a car handles in the snow, and you probably know quite a bit about Subaru.

    Yes, there are faster cars, and there are safer cars, and there are more luxurious cars. But for the money you pay and the car you get, it’s an incredible value proposition. Until the MS6 came out, no one could touch the LGT for the cost and performance. And even then I think the MS6 and MS3 are inferior. But with the steadily increasing price, and increase in competition, it’ll be hard for the LGT to compete in the coming years. Subaru needs to up the value proposition again.

  • avatar
    foobar

    Great review, indeed. I have two questions: first, there are some confusing references in the review to this as the “new” Legacy GT and to the “previous” model. We’re talking here about a model that was redesigned for the 2005 model year, right? (And so the previous model is the 2004?) Or has something more than a subtle refresh happened for 2008?

    Second, what do you think of the base Legacy/Outback 2.5i? Good value for the money, or too sluggish to contemplate?

    (Edit: also, regarding your caption on the first image, calling this the best looking Subie ever, I’d like to remind you of the SVX. Although this is pretty clearly the second-sexiest Subaru ever made.)

  • avatar
    gfen

    VAG’s AWD uses the Torsen differential in longitudinally mounted engines (ie, the A4 or the Passat). They use Haldex in the other models, where the engines are mounted east/west, such as the TT or the Golf.

  • avatar
    Jim H

    Subarus are doing EXTREMELY well here in Colorado. The 06 spec-B’s were usually sold within a weekend of them arriving on the lot. I think folks are getting confused on the Legacy GT and the Legacy GT-Limited. Many folks arrive at the Subaru lot looking to get a nice $22-$25K Legacy or GT (one is turbo, one it not). Often times, their mind is already made up…they want an all-wheel drive. Being able to test drive the different models is a great asset for the Legacy.

    A $33K-$35K Acura is an amazing car, but not as sporty as the Legacy and definately not as small. (some of us still like small, sporty cars :) )

    For those who haven’t driven the 06 and up Legacy GT’s that are manuals, it’s not realistic to compare them to your older model non-GT.

    I left a 99 Acura TL in favor of a 06 Legacy GT Spec-B. At $32K, the 06 Acura TL didn’t match the performance. Sure, the Acura beat the Subaru in Luxury, but that’s exactly why I didn’t buy it. Should Subaru change to compete with Acura, BMW, etc.? The fact that you are already comparing them means they’ve succeeded. To get the equivalent power and performance (without the AWD) in an Acura is $37K…the TL type S. The BMW was $40K, Lexus was $40K and much less power…

    Personally, I love the way Subarus look, love the way they feel inside, and definately love the way they handle in snow.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    I’ve been a Subaru fan for a while. And, before I realized I needed a pick-up truck for a while, I owned a 2003 Impreza wagon, which functionally was great but suffered in areas of fit, finish and perceived quality. Still the drivetrain was great and the car never failed me or required repair.

    I like the Legacy in both regular and GT form. It may be on my short list when the time comes to buy again. But I have to admit I wish they didn’t add that cheesy-looking plastic, that’s trying to look like metal, to what used to be a PERFECT steering wheel. The wheel-mounted control buttons can go as well.

    Finally, in what for me could be sacralige (sp?), I would consider the automatic if I bought a Subaru again. Some posters here have observed a notchiness of the manual shifter. I understand that has been worked on for 2008. But, for me, the action of clutches in manual-transmission Subies is a point of contention. I’ve found that the point of engagment is about an inch from the floor – with almost no response on either side of that point. That, again for me, makes it difficult to drive smoothly and takes a big bite out of driving satisfaction.

    Just my two cents worth. But I still like Subies overall.

  • avatar
    Joe O

    Wow…those were alot of comments to read in a short period of time…

    Some input on a few things: symmetric all wheel drive does not signify that the drive power is split 50/50. Symmetric AWD signifies that the drivetrain is symmetrical…as in, the boxer engine mates to the all-wheel drive system in the exact center of the left-right axis of the car, and then all moving parts are evenly split between left and right.

    The boxer engine is one of the finest creations out there, and you basically have two choices of where to get it. A Porsche (all porsche car 6 cylinders are boxer in design) or Subaru.

    The boxer 4-cyl is not a model of refinement. Whether it’s the previous 2.0 liter turbo, the 2.5 liter N/A, or the 2.5 liter turbo. It’s rough on the low rpm side of town. The 2.5 liter turbo is a low compression engine (I think it’s 8.0:1 compression ratio) so you get almost no power down around 2000 rpms and it’s still rough. Not a pleasant place to be. But when you get the engine above 2500, especially above 3000, the turbo boxer becomes a beautiful thing. It’s smooth but is still full of character, and has a truely engaging acceleration curve.

    If you haven’t driven it, let me put it this way. In a Lexus IS350 you have 306 HP…but it’s such a smooth acceleration that it doesn’t engage the driver. It just moves quickly. The Subaru has such a swell in acceleration that you feel that you are moving much faster. But don’t be fooled. You are moving very quickly. This car gathers speed incredibly fast.

    I test drove an 07 5-spd Subaru Legacy GT a few months ago. Megan mentioned “germanic feel” when shutting the doors, and all I can say is that that has to be an 08 feature.

    The 07′s had frameless windows; I think the 08s are now framed, but I’m not sure. Shutting the door on an 07 did not make you feel like spending 28k. That being said, the materials and ergonomics inside are extremely well executed, not spartan but not overly done like the new Infiniti G35 and their ubiquitous 8 inch screen and flood of buttons.

    The Subaru costs 28-29k (MSRP, Limited GT 5-spd version). It offers a level of driver involvement that is absent from the current BMW 3-series (it’s become so refined), G35 (more luxury oriented now), and other “sport sedans” in a similar price bracket.

    But it’s definitely not a bargain by today’s standards. Except, of course, in the summer of 08 when they’ll be selling for 3k off sticker…

    On a side note: for those of you who like to add a few “tasteful mods” to their cars, check out cobbtuning.com

    For $600 you get an accessport, a handheld plug n’ play device that allows you to remap your Legacy GT (or any turbo subaru) ECU on the fly. It goes from 243 flywheel HP to around 285, and it produces around 300 ft/lbs of torque. For $600.

    They also sell a $200-300 double adjustable shifter, that allows you to adjust the height of your shifter as well as the length of the throws.

    This is the car for the guy/gal who loves driving, wants to be responsible, and DOESN’T want the snob appeal/cost of the luxury brands.

    Joe O.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    foobar
    I meant current gen, but previous years (since the redesign in 05). Ours is an 05 and has a lot of quirks that got worked out, and is missing a lot of features the newer ones have. And has a few nice touches the newer ones are missing (nicer plastics, momo steering wheel, etc). Like the review mentions, Subaru stiffened up the body and suspension for the 08, compared to previous years of this gen. Does that clear it up?

    The base model is a decent vehicle in and of itself. The AWD adds some unnecessary weight, and it doesn’t get very good gas mileage, but if you want subaru and don’t want to spend too much, it’s adequate. If you go looking for one, don’t drive the LGT… you’ll never want to drive the vanilla version again. We made that mistake.

    The SVX was… uh… unique. :) I’ll give you that. But I like the look of the LGT… not as hawt as a G35, but the hood scoop does it for me.

    For everyone else:
    Prior years of this gen. offered a ‘base’ LGT along with a Limited edition that offered leather heated seats, a sunroof, and other goodies. Subaru did away with that a year or two ago and now there’s just the LGT LTD. The only real option on the LGT LTD is Nav or no Nav. If you get the automatic, you can only get it with Nav, unless you get the spec.B. Clear as mud. But it all means steady price increases and a higher cost of entry.

  • avatar
    McGilligan

    My mother is currently looking to replace her ’04 Acura TSX when the lease expires. She wants something similar in size and price. She also thinks she needs AWD (having never had it in her ~60 years of existenceand accident-free driving) and a certain level of luxury and snob appeal. When I suggested she check out the Legacy she made the same face one might make when they smell a skunk. (Same for the Lincoln Mark Fusion- can’t say I blame her for that one, though.) Subaru just hasn’t any cachet. At the price they’re charging (CDN$ 41k) for the GT they’re up against some heavy hitters.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Megan,
    By mainstream, I meant that the pricing was in the $15-30K range — like Honda, Ford, Toyota, etc. — as opposed to a premium brand.

    Premium carmakers like Porsche or Land Rover can get away with small (relative) volumes because they charge $60-100K a copy.

    Subaru is–from a strategic perspective–stuck: unable to sell in enough volume to stay consistently profitable and unable to increase price to premium levels.

    So they are passed around from corporate owner to corporate owner until the end.

    Think AMC.

  • avatar
    blautens

    Suba-who? Can’t recall the last time I saw a Subaru Legacy in sunny south Florida.

    Before the WRX became an import tuner dream car, I could have said the same thing about Subaru as a whole.

    I went to the local Subie dealer to shop for a WRX in 2003 – to say it was like a ghost town is an understatement. Especially in contrast to the Toyota dealer who was unfortunately right across the street.

    I know it sells well elsewhere (I went to Colorado once, and apparently you’re actually legally obligated to buy at least one Subie to get a driver’s license there), but it’s amazing to me how geographically specific some cars can be.

    As someone earlier posted, I’d love to see sales numbers based on location.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    Joe O

    They’re all frameless. Yeah, it’s not as nice as a sound as it could be if it was framed, but miles above any other frameless door I’ve had the pleasure to slam shut.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    I like Subaru overall, The Outback and Forrester are great vehicles and the WRX is king of bang for your buck (evo tops out the STI IMO). The Tribeca is so-so and the baja is a failure. The Legacy is good but could be alot better with some focus. Either push the peformance envelope or find a way to reduce the price. Its a middle child and as such only attracts a select buyer. All IMO of course :) I’d take a Subie over a Ford any day of the week.

  • avatar
    Joe O

    Megan-

    I owned a 2005 Saab 9-2x Aero (it’s 100% a WRX Wagon). Even with the improved sound deadening, it was like riding in a tin can. The frameless windows shuddered everytime you closed the door, as did the upper portion of the door.

    If they managed to make it sound good while maintaining a frameless design, kudos to them.

    By the way, how much of a difference did you notice from your 05 in power delivery? I’ve heard that the LGT was retuned somewhat, and that the 08 might have gotten a modified turbocharger from the old one.

    On a side note, apparently the 08 has a heavier steel hood compared to the old aluminum one. So there is that :)

    And you didn’t mention that the seats fold down now (as of 07/08) all joking aside, that really is a plus, as many in this segment of pricing have non-folding rear seats (G35, 3-series without the cold weather package, etc.).

    Anyway…I’m a big fan of the car. I think it needs direct injection to up the compression ratio so low down power is decent, and a slightly more refined engine. Otherwise, it’s almost the perfect “tweener” vehicle.

    Living in PA, we have a fair amount of subaruers. It’s got cache here….a nice Legacy GT, Forester XT, or loaded up Outback Eddie Bauer is respected as a well nice car for anyone, of means or not. Subaru has the image of someone who wants something better than the toaster-oven camry or accord, but is reasonable in their desires. Just my opinion.

    Joe

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    Subaru isn’t going anywhere. Toyota bought a chunk of GM’s stake-they aren’t known for backing losers.

    As for Detroit’s 1999 Outback which had lots of problems between 84k and 134k-while that doesn’t scream “reliable”, having non-fatal problems that late in the life of a vehicle is not a clear indication of “unreliable” either.

    Consumer Reports’ surveys tend to put Subaru just below Toyota/Lexus/Scion and Honda/Acura, but above everybody else, in terms of reliability.

  • avatar
    Cavendel

    XCSC – Yeah, it is the dreaded piston slap. Start up the Forester on a nice cold morning and you get a Clack-Clack-Clack engine note. Doesn’t really bother me, but not the car to impress a Lexus owner.

    An Acura EL is the Acura version of the Honda Civic. Only sold in Canada. Mine has been amazing. 150K miles and I’ve replaced the front brakes once. No other repairs. It is finally in the shop again today to have all the brakes re-done. I feel that the car will run until the seats fall through a rusted frame.

    The Subie might last forever too, but it might cost me a lot to find out.

    Megan mentioned the bad smell being the clutch. Mine stinks also, and it is an auto. I think it may be the four wheel drive system, cause anytime I really use the power in the snow or rain, I meet a great stink when I leave the car.

  • avatar
    beken

    Subaru’s Legacy is on my shopping list to replace my family sedan. If I could find a dealership not too far from my place and is convenient to get to, I might go and test drive it. I’ve had good experiences with Subaru in the form of an XT quite few years back and won’t hesitate getting another Subie except for the quality of their interiors, though the Legacy’s is greatly improved. Of the Sedans on my list of cars I’m interested in buying, the Legacy has the least amount of trunk space. This will play against my annual camping trip needs and is the main thing , along with finding a dealer that’s convienient to get to, holding me back from having it a the top of my list.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    Joe O

    Well, there’s your problem. :) Totally different vehicles. The Legacy is a big step above the WRX in terms of quality.

    Subaru has allegedly tuned the engine more (it’s all the same though), and it is supposed to deliver the power more evenly (I say supposed to because others are still complaining about the stuttering engine). The SI-drive has improved the feel of the automatic, but as far as the manual goes, there’s not much difference. There is plenty of room for improvement, naturally, and I wish Subaru would squeeze some more HP out of the engine already. Maybe they aren’t wanting to pay out too much in EPA fines.

    I can only cover so much in 800 words. :) Yes, the rear seats fold down now, which is a major gripe I have about our 05. The body doesn’t feel that much different around corners… maybe a little more flexing… which is why they made them fixed in the first place. There are a lot of convenience things in the 08 that I wish our 05 had.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Subaru is right to keep its engines. They are some of the only auto engines tough enough to be used by plane builders. The stresses on aircraft engines are really intense compared to those on cars. (Other common auto conversions used in planes include the old VW air cooled engines, Corvair engines and the LS1 which GM actually built to run at constant high RPM is looking like a new player)

    Also, having lived in Houston and Denver I can tell you that where you live may make a HUGE difference in how you percieve subaru. I see no reason to buy one in Houston unless it’s for performance. Weather in Houston means flooding, so you need height – awd is just wasting gas. In Denver, the Subaru rules with the awd and now with electronic stability control added (don’t get one without it).

  • avatar
    zoomzit

    To Geotpf’s point. Those who choose to post a comment on a forum tend to have very positive or negative opinions about the issue at hand (Legacy in this case), this is selection bias. It is far better to base reliablity of a vehicle on CR or JD Power than to rely on the positive/negatives posted by a select few on a forum. Pretty much all reliablity studies place Subaru high and that is probably a better indicator of it’s quality.

    I will however take my personal experience of my WRX to make a larger point. I can personally attest to the tinny doors, lots of road noise, subpar interior and balky clutch. However, I don’t think Subaru should focus these issues if this means increased price.

    Subaru should stand for somewhat inexpensive AWD that is quirky and fun to drive. They should not go upmarket. The sales of Saabarus vs. Imprezas should tell them this (with the Saabarus being a slightly upmarket impreza).

    To me, the Legacy should be just slightly upmarket of Camary’s and Accords for owners who are willing to sacrifice a bit of refinement for quality driving dynamics.

  • avatar
    omnivore

    SherbornSean: Subaru isn’t being “passed around from corporate owner to corporate owner until the end.” Automakers are taking turns buying minority stakes in the company for purely business reasons. It’s just business as usual, and absolutely does not reflect on Subaru’s health.

  • avatar
    Kman

    I love the Legacy GT and most of the new Subarus, except this overly-ambitious pricing. Just like VW, Subarus have crept up into price points where they’re suddenly up against different, “luxury” competition. I’m not sure i’d opt for an LGT over any of
    - BMW 328xi
    - Infiniti G35x
    - Audi A4 2.0T
    - Lexus IS250
    - Volvo V50 T5 AWD
    … etc…

    The LGT should have been at the 28K price-point, you pick a couple o’ options, you’re at 30K and that’s it.

    I haven’t ran the numbers, but considering their different residual values, I wouldn’t be surprised if a BMW 335 leased better than the LGT.

    Dont’ get me wrong, I love the LGT… I just wouldn’t buy one.

  • avatar
    Joe O

    Kman -

    I would rank the LGT far above the A4 in terms of driving capabilities. I would also say, for the 07 model (I haven’t been in the 08) that the interior materials in the Legacy are better than the A4.

    Now, I know thetruthaboutcars.com has used the word “haptic” in about 300 reviews when referring to Audi interiors. I was just in a 40k Audi A4 wagon s-line package. It was a tan interior, which tends not to hide cheapness. And cheap plastic abounded. Not shiny plastic mind you, but hard plastic with a hollow sound was all around the area between the seats.

    The LGT has a far more ergonomic interior design, and in my opinion is much more pleasing (in dark colors) than the A4.

    Also, the LGT comes pretty loaded up at 28k. You can opt for the automatic and navigation, which will bump you up.

    But a 328xi similarly equipped? A solid 7-8k more.
    Lexus IS250 AWD? Same thing.
    Infiniti G35x? Unavailable with 5-spd. 4k more on average, but worth it in my opinion.

    Volvo S40/v50 T5 AWD? They are kinda 2 different cars in feel. On paper, alot of the basics appear similar. But the drive is very different

    Megan – I wasn’t comparing the Saab 9-2x aero to the Subaru Legacy GT…sorry, didn’t mean it to sound that way. Both the 07 LGT and Saab 9-2x had shuddering doors when you closed them. Heck, my 06 Honda Civic SI puts them to shame in the “thud” department.

    And, good point, I forgot you had only 800 words :)

    Joe

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    I haven’t ran the numbers, but considering their different residual values, I wouldn’t be surprised if a BMW 335 leased better than the LGT.

    I doubt it. I don’t remember all the numbers but we’re paying $360 a month for a 4 year lease on our 05 LGT LTD. I’d be amazed if i could get a 335i for that money.

  • avatar
    kph

    I don’t think Subaru is intentionally competing with luxury brands, but it has to distinguish itself from the mainstream brands. A high end Camcordtimata6 has quite a long list of features, and the Legacy GT needs to keep up while selling its premium of AWD, driving dynamics, and safety.

    Unfortunately for Subaru, questionable styling and shuddering doors will definitely detract buyers at the Legacy’s price range.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Suba-who? Can’t recall the last time I saw a Subaru Legacy in sunny south Florida.

    Same thing here in Texas, too. The brands of my northeastern youth (Saab & Subaru) are no-shows here, carrying the distinction of “cold weather” cars not able to acclimate to the heat & humidity.

    Oddly enough, during the spring and summer daily rains the road oils react to the heat and moisture by creating the most challenging “faster than ice” road surface you can imagine for the first 5 or 10 minutes of a storm. AWD would serve us well……

  • avatar
    Brian E

    The Legacy is a larger threat to Saab than Volvo, in my opinion. Volvo’s lineup is attractive, the build quality is good, and features are generally competitive with other European makes. Saab, on the other hand, has lousy quality and reliability and isn’t offering AWD.

    The biggest threat to Subaru would be a TL with SH-AWD. The G35x and 328xi still cost several thousands more than the Subaru when competitively optioned, and Audi’s long-suffering reliability reputation is surely enough to drive some people to Japan.

    One oddity I found when comparing cars is that Subarus are quite expensive to insure – about $20/month more than the Acura, despite the Acura’s higher sticker price.

  • avatar
    Jim H

    WRX (impreza) wagon versus a GT (legacy) luxury sedan are apples and oranges. After test driving both the WRX-STi and Legacy GT Spec-b, I was sold on the spec-B. Sure, the WRX-STi is awesome power and performance, but the other 95% of the time I really love my sunroof, GPS (with loads of functions), leather seats, added comfort (even with 18″ low-pro tires), etc.

    It’s like driving a 2005 Honda Civic and saying you don’t like the 2007 Limited Edition Honda Accord V-6 (huge power difference). It’s two different cars. Granted, you may not like either car, but hopefully it’s for different reasons. :)

    P.S. I have frameless windows in my spec-B…but nothing rattles when I close the door unless the window is cracked about an inch or two since the glass doesn’t hit the rubber. Or are we comparing back to the WRX again…impreza and legacy are very different cars?

  • avatar
    chriscraftfreak

    A lot of interesting opinions here,many seem to be untrue. I own probably the most despised Subie ever; the B9 Tribecca ! I absolutely love it. I am a car freak,since birth.After recommending Subarus to many of my clients ( yes,I sell cars too.Not Subies,just the most famous Boxer engine purveyors of all ) I took the plunge and bought the B9 without even test driving one. After reading the reviews on Edmunds I was sold after the car had only been out 30 days back in '05. Delivery of a a loaded 7-passenger Limited with every option available took place August 10th,2005. I now have just over 50k miles,and I am still amazed at how well its' held up,especially with an aggressive driving wife,2 kids,3 dogs,and even getting in 2 fender benders ( now you know why there is not a a Cayenne in my garage)I am still completely satisfied. I hammer it into turns (thank-you Boxer 6-cylinder,dont go away) and push it like my other cars,and it never disapoints. Maybe the seats are a little flat,but thats the only complaint about the interior. Its a well thought out dash that has a lot of style,and the ergonomics work great. Nice materials for the most part too. And the exterior is what I love most,sorry. I love Alphas,and this car has plenty of that look to it,front to rear. Why did they cave in and give it a boring snout at this point in its life for '08,just when it appears to have taken off in sales,somewhat. I have driven Saabs for 20 years too,and this car feels more like a Saab should feel than current Saabs do.Very sad that this car did not become Saabs' 9-6X as was planned,as it would have worked very well for them. My point is,Subaru,like Saab,has never been understood by the mindless-masses that buy the typical boring appliance to drive. These cars appeal to those of us that appreciate something different,that not everyone else drives,and not be ashamed about defending our positions of our purchases. Luckily,Fuji Heavy seems to understand this and are continuing to build cars that appeal to us car-freaks that are unconventional,non-conforming people in the first place. Japanese Audis,without the unreliability issues that plague the Germans. The biggest problem is with the dealer body,at least in my neck of the woods. Been to 3 within a 100 mile radius,and they all seem to suck. And thats where the potential downfall lies with the Subie product; cars are great,but the dealership experience is enough to make you go elsewhere. I hope that they can get some standards set and hold the dealers accountable to them,as that is why I will probably not get another. The cars are near bullet-proof from my experience with my car,as well as probably 25 others.But when you would rather pay Porsche labor rates to keep from going to the Subie dealer,something is wrong there. So people,wake-up and give a Subie a try. Just check-out your local dealers' rep. Hopefully they can live up to their products' reputation.The cars wont disapoint !

  • avatar
    kjc117

    Things are looking good for Subaru with the redesign of the B9, the Legacy 3.0R arriving soon, and Toyota ownership.

    The Legacy GT wagon is one of the best style cars.

  • avatar
    LastResort

    Toyota ownership isn’t happening anytime soon, nor should it. Toyota now has access to FHI’s new lithium ion technology, and were planning on using these in the new Prius, this apparently has been delayed. Toyota also is using spare manufacturing capacity in the US Subaru plants.

    Subaru is doing pretty well, despite the low volume nature, and is inappropriate for mass market vehicles. There is nothing wrong being a niche market, and I would rather them concentrate on improving their products, and making them generic.

  • avatar
    bobo69

    My point is,Subaru,like Saab,has never been understood by the mindless-masses that buy the typical boring appliance to drive. These cars appeal to those of us that appreciate something different,that not everyone else drives,and not be ashamed about defending our positions of our purchases.

    Couldn’t have said it better myself!

  • avatar
    jbyrne

    Anybody ever have problems with the ABS in very low traction situations on their legacy? I have found that in these situations the ABS tends to apply NO brake at all. Below probably 3mph it seemed to turn off the ABS and the car would promptly stop.
    I think they got overzealous when they set it up and I believe in these situations it’s better to allow a little lock up. This was with new all-season tires too. Now I have a toyota 4runner and I don’t experience the same problems.
    I never had a car that I liked less. Another stupid thing with the subaru is that the radio is part of the whole climate control head unit. Good luck putting in an aftermarket stereo!

  • avatar
    Qwerty

    Suba-who? Can’t recall the last time I saw a Subaru Legacy in sunny south Florida.

    In the Rocky Mountain area (Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming) it seems like half the vehicles at trail heads are subies. They are everywhere. Among all the outdoor sports people I know, Subaru is by far the most popular vehicle make.

  • avatar
    steve2112

    I’m 39 and enjoying my 350whp/375wtrq modified 05 STi. When I grow up, my next step will be a Legacy (modded with COBB maps just like my stage 2 STi!) Maybe once I hit 50 I will grow up.

  • avatar
    zoomzit

    Anybody ever have problems with the ABS in very low traction situations on their legacy?

    This happens with WRXes, at least with the 2002 and 2003. For the WRX, there was a “unofficial” recall on it, where you can get adjustments to the ABS if you requested it. I’ve had this done to my WRX, and although it improves the ability of the ABS, it isn’t perfect. In my personal opinion, this ABS is a big issue with Subarus and they should be doing a recall to replace brakes and/or abs systems to rectify it. I think the National Highway Administration has been made aware of this issue, however, they have not forced a recall.

  • avatar
    johnnycam

    What is up with the Subie dealers? I was talking to a woman today about cars – I have a Volvo, she has a Subie – she loves it, but she is so ticked with the dealer that she is likely going to buy another brand. I believe that in almost every service of the car, the dealer has screwed up in some way including denting a brand new car on its first oil change. This is in Canada, so Subaru seems to build good and interesting cars, but cares little for the dealer experience. That can kill a car company as well as poor product.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    The Legacy GT spec-B is the finest variant of the car which to the current generation, is the equivalent of the 1955-’57 Chevrolet. The “basic” GT is all right but not quite there.

    The Legacy GT spec-B was recently chosen by Denise McCluggage, longtime AutoWeek columnist and one of the finest sports car racers of the late Fifties and early Sixties, recently for a speed record attempt.

    As far as Subaru going for the safety aspects of automobile engineering and design pioneered by Volvo, that’s no surprise. Certainly, Subaru has noticed that both marques are being bought by the same demographic. That’s why longtime Volvo aftermarket parts supplier, iPd (Portland, Oregon) also started offering Subie parts, a few years back.

    But my money is on Volvo to keep pushing the edge on safety – at least, the passive aspect of it.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    To one of the first posts – I don’t think Subaru can keep the LGT around $33K. The somewhat similar Mazdaspeed6 has barely sold and is being discounted in some markets. There is a market for these kind of cars, as the smaller WRX and Evo have shown, but those two have legions of fans from the rally series, existing owners, and people with Playstations and XBoxes. When you tell someone you plunked down 33,000 for a speed6 or LGT, it just doesn’t carry the “Oh Wow” factor of having an Evo or WRX STi. Drop the price to around “nice-Accord” range of $26-7 and we’ll talk.
    Bring back the SVX!
    I frequently rent from Hertz and over the past two years, they’ve added more than a few Subarus to their fleet. I personally am rather impressed at the smoothness and economy of their standard 4-cyl boxer engines…haven’t had the chance to test any XT models. I do agree with the flat seats of their cars, but I haven’t heard the squeaks and rattles of other drivers and I’ve had them as abused rentals.
    I am considering taking a further look at the LGT and maybe there will be some better deals than $33K since as others have written, a certain redesigned Infiniti starts to appear. (Good luck with that Subaru…)
    One other thing – are they really on crack when they price those cars? That B9 “thing” was by far the worst example of overpriced and underengineered junk to come out of Indiana.

  • avatar
    kph

    Markets ultimately are local, and will vary by geographic location. Therefore Subaru’s competition varies by geographic location.

    In areas with snow, if you want an AWD car (not SUV/crossover) less than $30k, Subaru’s up against the Toyota Matrix or the new Suzuki SX4. I can’t think of any others at the moment.

    If you just want a good handling sedan for $30k or less, there’s a lot more competition.

    MSRP of new cars, however, is national. So what’s priced right in one market could be overpriced in another.

  • avatar
    jbyrne

    My subie dealer was useless. They didn’t tighten the oil drain plug after an oil change and I notices drips on my driveway.
    So I had to pull it up on ramps and tighten it. Upon telling the dealer they just said sorry about that. They didn’t even offer me a free oil change.

    Also subaru doesn’t send out surveys or call to measure satisfaction. I have already gotten about 3 surveys from Toyota for my new 4runner.

    I live around Boulder Colorado and certainly do see a lot of subaru’s. After owning one I’m starting to think that it’s herd mentality. They get piss poor mileage (much worse than EPA), mine had a dangerous ABS issue in snow, and have lots of annoying interior issues like rattles and panels that break.

  • avatar
    XCSC

    jbyrne: I find that to be unacceptable. If you are really upset I can get you a name that may cause that dealer to jump when you say “jump”. I have a family member who works for SOA and services the area (Denver I know for sure and I assume Boulder). Obviously I’d rather not put the name out there so if you’re interested let me know and we can figure something out.

  • avatar
    jbyrne

    I appreciate it but I traded the car so no longer an issue!
    Thanks anyway,
    Jason

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    Also subaru doesn’t send out surveys or call to measure satisfaction.

    Then your dealership isn’t playing by the rules. We get a survey from Subaru even if we so much as have the oil changed at a Subaru shop. They mail one out every time you go in. Call SoA and look into it.

    Yes, the STI/EVO is faster, but try driving around in one all day long. The LGT is much more refined (like I said in my review), and much more pleasant in day-to-day driving. *That* is why people are opting for these over its faster sibling.

    And a lot of times why Subaru gets worse than advertised mileage is because people tend to drive them in less than a responsible manner. :) FWIW we’ve gotten the advertised mileage, and even into the 30+ range in the mountains.

    And I haven’t had problems with the ABS on the Legacy. I believe the ABS problems on the WRX were triggered in fast-stop conditions where the road surface was uneven (like gravel) — hit a bump while the ABS is activated, and the pedal will drop right to the floor w/ no stopping power. The only way to correct is pick your foot up off the brake and try again, which is highly unintuitive. Unless there is another ABS problem on the WRX that I’m not aware of. That actually kept us away from that run of WRXs because my family lives in the country and the roads are… uneven, to say the least.

    The $33k price is for the automatic LGT LTD w/ Nav, which puts it about $3k+ more than a manual LGT w/out Nav. If you’re looking for a deal, some dealerships still have 06 models on the lots and are desperate to move them. Rumor has it there’s even a few 06 spec.Bs floating around.

  • avatar
    ejacobs

    jbyrne,
    I live and Denver and have to say that I agree with you about the “herd mentality” here in Colorado when it comes to Subies. People eat these things up out here, but I owned an Outback wagon once and found it to be heavy, sluggish, and completely not fun to drive. I like good gas mileage (at least 30 on every tank), so I just run Bridgestone Blizzaks on my Civic Si in the winter and go anywhere I need.

  • avatar
    robert_h

    Since folks are jumping in with horror stories on Subaru reliability, I thought I’d jump in with my own experiences. I own a 2000 Legacy, purchased new in ’99, now has about 80k miles. 2.5 liter engine, 4-speed automatic. No turbo; they didn’t offer those back then, though I’d love to have one. The normally aspirated engine coupled with the four speed auto make for sluggish acceleration, though it’s fine for freeway cruising. Everything about the car works today just as well as when it was new.

    The only thing it’s required beyond routine maintenance & tires is that the Subaru front brake rotors seemed to warp easily. I eventually replaced them with some good-quality aftermarket rotors, and that fixed the problem. The front of the headliner, near the windshield, is starting to detach. That’s the extent of my troubles after eight years. I get 24 mpg in town; just took a long road trip with four people plus luggage and averaged over 28mpg. The AWD works beautifully in snow, sand & mud- still no substitute for real snow tires.

    My dealer’s been great, but I started doing my own maintenance to save a little $$. The car is designed to be easy to maintain. The oil filter couldn’t be more accessible. The auto transmission has a drainplug and an externally-mounted filter- why doesn’t everyone do that?

    I’d love to have a turbo, but at this rate, my Legacy is going to last a long time…

  • avatar
    ktm

    I thought TTAC had a policy that reviewers did not test drive their own vehicles? It helps to eliminate, particularly in this review, reviewer bias.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    ktm:
    TTAC is all about bias
    that’s why folks come here

    some to agree, others to argue

  • avatar
    Joe Chiaramonte

    I’ve owned two Legacies – an ‘89 2WD 4-door, and a ‘90 4WD wagon. They were both excellent cars, but for a couple of design flaws, one of which kept the “Check Engine” light on terminally – faulty placement of the purge canister solenoid. I drove the 4-door to 173k miles, and she still had some life left in her. We did have plenty of trim issues with the wagon, which I think was built in Indiana (I firmly believe the issues were related to “local content.”). The sedan was built in Japan.

    Because of local dealer issues (Seattle had the BEST Subie dealers! San Jose, not so much.), I chose out in the next round. But, I continue to pay attention to the model, and if I needed AWD, I’d be back.

    I was really surprised to see a couple of Legacies competing in the ST class at the Sports Car Invitational at Laguna Seca a couple of weeks ago. “Whose Mom brought these?” Surprise turned to awe when, near the end of the race, the Subies were catching up to the Acura TL leader, shaving off 5 seconds per lap, one eventually placing 8th. Not bad for a dowdy sedan!

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    KTM

    I do not own a 2008 Subaru Legacy GT LTD, 5EAT transmission, w/ Sat Nav, which is the vehicle I reviewed. As you may have seen from my comments, I own a 2005 Subaru Legacy GT LTD, with a manual transmission. They are considerably different vehicles, and I would definitely rate mine differently were I reviewing it… lower, in fact, since Subaru has improved much in the last 3 years.

  • avatar
    Joe O

    Megan,

    Yours is one of the few and far between for gas mileage. If you check out the legacy forums, the GT owners are regularly getting 20-22…with 24-25 reported for highway and 18-19 mpg for city.

    I think the 2.5 turbo engine desperately needs an injection of a few technologies, such as dual variable valve timing (I think only the intake valves are varied now….could be wrong), direct injection to up the compression ratio, and maybe some lighter weight drivetrain components. Much like the Porsche Boxster went from 20/29 mpg to 23/32mpg with their improved engine management on their 2.7 liter, I think the legacy needs to be able to pull in a 22/29 EPA rating.

    Joe O.

    On a side note, as is my thing, my 06 Honda Civic SI regularly averages 25-26 MPG in aggressive mixed driving, and that’s premium. It sounds good until you realize it’s a 2800 pound FWD car with a small frontal surface area and a low drag coefficient.

  • avatar
    jsudler

    As a subie enthusiast since buying a 2005 Legacy Gt wagon, I can say no one should be buying a subie for MSRP. My car was purchased in Dec 05, and stickered for about 33k. The invoice price was 28.5k, plus a 1500 rebate. So I got it for 27k. Now, can someone show me where i can buy a new car with this much performance and safety for that kinda money?

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    KTM,
    You appear to fail to see the value in getting an impartial reviewer and brand evangelist all in one package.

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    The EPA’s stated mileage is 20/27, HOWEVER, that is under the previous system, hence why the review states that official numbers are not available yet. The ‘new’ numbers should adjust out to 18/25, which is astonishingly close to the real world numbers LGT drivers have experienced, including myself. How many people do you know that have ever gotten the EPA rated mileage on a car? I don’t know a whole lot, that’s for sure, and I never have unless I was driving under the most optimal of conditions. We all know the EPA numbers don’t mean anything.

  • avatar
    rollingwreck

    Just to defend subaru’s reliability (a little bit), i’ve got two Legacies, a 1996 and a 2003. I’ve owned the 96 since new, its got a gazillion miles on it & has had the snot beaten out of it (and has survived 10+ years living outdoors in the northeast). It’s not stylish, nor fast, nor particularly refined. But it is very reliable. and unstoppable when shod with blizzaks. i can see it surviving for at least another 5-10 years before hitting the scrap yard. It was also $17k out the door.

    The 2003 has also been reliable and is much more stylish and faster, though as someone noted above the brakes are weak & tend to warp. And the 2.5l engine apparently has an appetite for head gaskets, though engine has been OK so far. The car was also significantly more expensive than the 96 ($24k) despite not being that much more “useful” than the older generation of Legacies.

    Subaru has been steadily creeping upscale and leaving their core audience (skinflint hippie survivalists who live in arctic conditions) behind.

    I’ve loved my last two subes, but with prices creeping up into the mid-30s, and I know the brand is no longer for me. Does Toyota still make the Matrix AWD?

  • avatar
    quiksilver180

    I test drove an 08 Legacy GT automatic and it was amazing… not as fast as my STI, but much more comfortable and luxurious. The ’08′s look MUCH BETTER than the previous style. The Subaru Intelligent Drive works really well, and it’s nice to have the Sport Sharp button mounted on the steering wheel. I was informed by some people at Subaru that you can upload your own “map” to this setting so you could have more than 245hp without modifications when you press Sport Sharp.

    I do agree that the GT needs a DSG to get some extra speed, and a possible STI option (or at least a more powerful turbo). And it needs the pull door handles. Other than that, it’s awesome!

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    SearbornSean

    Disagreeing with your belief that Subaru is on its deathbed hardly makes me an evangelist.

  • avatar
    Nemphre

    “How many people do you know that have ever gotten the EPA rated mileage on a car?”

    I have on both of the manual tranny cars that I’ve owned. I pulled in 42.5 mpg on a Corolla a couple months ago (EPA 41). Also an Integra (didn’t you mention owning an Integra as well?) GSR that I had a record 37 mpg on, and averaged at least 33 (EPA 31). I’ve never been able to get EPA with an automatic though.

  • avatar
    Kman

    Re: LGT leases near a 335i

    Man you guys have got it good in the US (as far as cars go only ;-) )

    Just so y’all don’t think I’m talking nonsense when I speculated that, with the Subie’s poor residual values, it prolly leases close to a 335i, I went onto Subaru’s and BMW’s canadian sites and built one of each. For the 335i, I even splurged on the Sports Pkg ($2,500), and I got the numbers below.

    It’s aggravating, as I would love to own an LGT, but there’s no way in hell I’ll have a payment that close to a 335i and not go for the 335i.

    Built on Subaru.ca:
    ——————-
    LEGACY GT Spec.B
    Price: $44,995
    Lease APR: 1.9%
    Monthly pmt (on 36mos): $813

    Built on bmw.ca:
    ————
    Price: $54,800
    Lease APR: 4.9%
    Monthly pmt (on 36mos): $830

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I had a 5-speed 2002 Legacy L AWD that literally took forever to sell. It was a lot of fun to drive, but the noise level on it was more reminiscent of a Neon than with a midsized sedan.

    Oh, and if you want to get value in a sporty vehicle buy a 5-speed, 4 to 5 year old Subaru sedan in the South. The cost difference between here and the great white North is between $1500 and $2000. There’s also a lot less wear on them as well.

    Every other Subaru I’ve ever had has sold within a week of my putting it up for sale. Forester’s, SVX’s, and Legacy/Outback models have amazing price premiums and very strong demand in the used car market.

    They attract many of the same buyers who would typically buy a Toyota or Honda, but want something just a little bit different.

  • avatar
    LamborghiniZ

    The Legacy is hands down my favorite in the family sedan/mid size sedan class, has been for a while. It’s such a breath of fresh air in this field.

  • avatar
    tenmiler

    The earlier post about driving a car that not everybody drives does NOT apply in Colorado. Here in the Rockies (not in Denver, but in the real mtns), this car is so ubiquitous it’s the source of jokes around here.

    And to me it really is ‘herd’ mentality plus a bit of utilitarian (need for AWD, wagon) necessities as well.

    But I will say the LGT is NOT, surprisingly, a very popular car even up here in AWD land (Summit County, Colorado). It’s the Outbacks that are everywhere. I won’t try to say I know for sure why, but my guess is that the sedan’s curb appeal is really not as interesting as, say, an A4 sedan’s. But when you get to the wagons, the only real competition to Subaru’s Outback is the XC70 or the A4 or A6 wagon.

    I test drove the XT Outback in 04 when I was in the market. Loved the car, but was shocked at the price (pushed into 40K for a loaded XT!). Compared to the XC70 and the dealer’s willingness to budge on price (the Subie had just come out with their redesign), the XT Outback was about as expensive as the XC70 I ended up buying, but I felt I was buying a more up-market car that was certainly more unique and fitting for me.

    (Note: this is why car reviews are subjective when it comes to design, and even Megan’s review, as a proud Subaru owner, needs to be taken with a grain or two)

    Fast forward to the past two weeks. A friend who has an 07 Outback stick, could not drive it because of knee surgery. So I traded my XC70 for his Outback and thought it would be fun to have a sporty stick for a bit.

    Two weeks with the Outback was interesting, but I have to say I missed my Volvo quickly.

    While the Outback was fun to drive for a bit, the base 4 banger engine is truly uninspiring at 9600′ whereas my 5cyl. turbo XC70 flies with no oxygen (the XT would have been the better comparison but I know the mileage on the XT is substantially worse than the XC according to those who own one). The Outback has 15K miles to my XC’s 27K, and was generally quiet driving to match Volvo, which was a surprise to me–this mfr. definitely has improved it’s build quality. But I found the cold starts horrendous on the Outback (even late spring we’re in the 30′s and this car wants a full five minutes before it will let it’s RPM down), and wondered if it was a mech. issue.

    Silly things like putting the parking light switch on the steering column instead of with the lighting cluster baffled me, as does the nonsense of having driving lights in day that turn to headlights at night but you only get instrument lighting when you turn the full lights on. The intrusive seat belt chime won’t let you get five seconds with no belt on. These along with the awful slope on the rear windsheild–making cargo room a fraction of my XC–simply feel quirky like the SVX’s window shields.

    Further on the interior side of things, the seats were ok, but unadjustable for much other than the standards. I could not help noticing the hollow feel of the cabin and the controls felt just plain cheap inside compared to the fit and finish of the Volvo, down to the knobs of the radio. This felt like an econobox and my 15 year old nephew thought it was a rental.

    The Subie does beat my Volvo as far as responsive suspension and steering goes, which the XC is not known for. But for me, that tradeoff is not worth giving up the Volvo’s delightfully driveable turbo engine, more solid and frankly safer driving feel.

    After three years of a lease that ends next month, I’m in the market for another AWD wagon.

    I’ll be likely going back to Volvo, or looking at Audi and the BMW AWD wagons, and even the CX-7 for fun.

    But because of my test drive experience, and the sheer fact that in Colorado you see yourself coming and going every five seconds on the road, albeit a good looking competitor, Subaru won’t be on my list.

  • avatar
    jacob

    This sounds like a great car but it’s debatable whether it was America’s best-value sub-$50k. Previous generation Infinity G35 and BMW 5 series had AWD versions for under $50k, and don’t forget the (recently discontinued) Volvo S60R.

  • avatar
    Seth

    Only problem with Subaru is that their rear seats are cramped and not wide enough. If you want to fit two adults and a car seat in the rear, you will know what I am talking about. Only exception is Tribeca which is not handsome, costs more and is expensive to run (premium fuel atleast on previous one). For same money as forester (and much less than outback), you can buy an outlander xls with third row and you will get a lot more features not to mention room. Subjective thought but an outlander is handsome and utilitarian than a forester (which is less than outback) for same money.

  • avatar
    bfg9k

    Seth:
    Only problem with Subaru is that their rear seats are cramped and not wide enough. If you want to fit two adults and a car seat in the rear, you will know what I am talking about.

    That’s not a problem unique to Subaru, probably the majority of 5 passenger cars cannot do 2 adults + car seat (at least not the larger convertible seats) across the back.

    Subarus do tend to be narrower than other makes, perhaps because they sell the same model to the Japanese market as they do to us fat Americans?

  • avatar
    Megan Benoit

    The intrusive seat belt chime won’t let you get five seconds with no belt on.

    Subaru finally got rid of the ‘idiot ping’ this year. I rejoiced. There is nothing I hate more about our LGT.

    Here in Atlanta, even with driving 30 miles round trip to work every day, I have only seen 3 other LGTs, and a couple regular ones. I see more outbacks than anything, with the occasional STI (i see more of those than the WRX) and Forester. But I see hundreds of Volvo wagons a day. Literally. They might be rarer in the mountain states, but they won’t get you stares here. As far as design, Volvos have the most astonishingly boring designs I’ve ever seen, save the new C30. Even now, their station wagons look like throwbacks to a far bygone era where aerodynamics hadn’t been invented yet. People may criticize Subaru, but I’m not the only person that thinks that the Legacy has a unique, attractive design.

    The LGT is a blast in the mountains and got us insane gas mileage… we got 30-33mpg in Yellowstone and the same through Rocky Mountain National Park and the front range. I’m sure the automatic is worse, but it will be on any vehicle. You simply can’t compare the normally aspirated Outback to it. Also, the LGT LTD has 8-way adjustable seats w/ adjustable lumbar support.

    I must be the only Subaru owner that doesn’t mind the flat seats. Most car seats don’t fit me very well, being narrow and long-legged, and too much support in the thigh area causes my feet to go numb. The only thing I’d change is to make them more bolstered and w/ cloth or suede inserts. Freshly cleaned leather is a bit slippery.

  • avatar
    sophia

    I feel lucky my wife went car shopping alone when pregnant for a wagon(mommy mobile). She did not like Subaru but wanted to at least try an Outback(non-turbo). She drove it three minutes and handed back the keys and said this is what my mum or grandma would drive.

    They gave her the keys to 2005 Legacy Wagon GT with manual tranny and she drove it home for me to try on a half day test drive. We fell in love.

    Apparently not a hot seller as it was offered to us for around invoice – $1500 rebate coming in at $24k otd.

    We plan on hanging onto this car as long as possible.

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    Although I’m no longer a Subie owner I have to say I admire the brand immensely. Mom and brother both own Impreza TS wagons with over 50k and no problems whatsoever.

    My own experience is pretty much the opposite of Detroits: ’99 Outback Wagon purchased used with 43k, used hard in Colorado and Wyoming, no problems other than the weak seat foam that crushed down and became uncomfortable shortly after I started driving it. AWD worked fantastically in the nastiest of weather and the only time it ever let me down was when we got a 28″ blizzard that stranded everything without tire chains. Mileage was not outstanding but I did manage to beat the EPA estimate of 21/27 on my AT-equipped Outback most of the time. City mileage was 22-24 even in Winter (where 10% ethanol causes everyone’s mileage to drop) and 28-29 on the freeway (with a couple of tanks at 30 or 31.) While that’s not exactly Honda Civic territory, my Outback wagon was much bigger than a Civic and had an AT and AWD to boot.

    Go to any college campus in the Rockies and you will quickly see that Subarus are replacing Volvos as the car of choice for professors and staff members. Among students, it’s not uncommon to see 15-25 year old Subarus still being used to ferry their gear to and from the mountains every weekend.

    So, based on what I’ve seen around here, Subaru is looking extremely healthy. In fact, as a current Toyota driver, I’d welcome the marriage of my two favorite brands, since I think they both bring something to the table.

  • avatar
    Jim H

    There is a market for these kind of cars, as the smaller WRX and Evo have shown, but those two have legions of fans from the rally series, existing owners, and people with Playstations and XBoxes.

    I smiled after I read that. :) At 38, my family thinks it’s funny I play X-box and X-box 360, yet opted for the Legacy Spec-B rather than the WRX-STi.

    So far this tank, I’m at 30.3 miles per gallon.
    So far since the last oil change, I’m at 28.5 (we had some snow storms that really bring mileage down when you are in 3rd gear doing 25).
    Last oil change readout was 28.2 mpg for roughly 3,500 miles (5 snow storms…ugggh! I drove downtown a lot more as well…and may have…just MAY HAVE, been in a race on the interstate one time – the vette still wins, but we had fun until other traffic was visible)

    Now if you jump on the turbo every red light, yes…the mpg goes way down. But with timed red lights, what’s the point of speeding to the next one and stopping instead of driving right through? :D

  • avatar
    CABUSA

    From a European(well, UK) view – interesting to see all the comments on this site – I have a`99 Legacy 2.0 wagon which I discovered after buying in 2000 was a Subaru of America product – not Japanese at all. Bought it to replace a `92 Ford 4×4 wagon of similar size -a bit smaller in fact, but Ford`s better packaging made it a better load carrier.

    Experience? Well, I still have the Ford after 11 years( it had four when I bought it) and 250,000 miles. Good car – German built – but the test due October will cost, and it`s only worth $600.

    But a better car than the Subaru. Usual list of Subaru negatives applies – windows, seats, noise, mileage, gutless engine, low gearing, sticky gears, rattly pistons, maintenance costs: plus some of my own – very poor brakes, low slung bumper, cam belt(!), dodgy ignition, poor air-conditioning, oil leaks etc.

    Haven`t had the dreaded head gasket problem yet – the vehicle`s only done 90,000 miles – US sources suggest the critical point is 100,000, so we`ll see!

    So why`s the Ford a better car for me? You folk all seem to rubbish US car makers – why?

    I get better seats, far away better thought out design, higher gearing, stronger engine – the Euro 2.0 liter Ford twin cam feels like the 2.5 liter 2005 Legacy I tried – nicer gears, much better seats, quieter at cruise (90mph), less tyre roar, better air-con, more room inside for loads, etc.

    Paint not as good as Subaru, but a much older car. No repairs to drive-line needed, no wheel bearings failed, no clutch failures etc, etc.

    That`s why we kept the Ford – for long distance trips – the Subaru is great for shopping, and towing the horses – (but the Ford does that just as well).

    So I just do not understand all the hype from the subaru lover`s forum; take a way the AWD and all you have is a jumped up Datsun. And problems with the AWD can be VERY expensive – as my daughter found. Whereas the Ford`s Ferguson 4×4 system is in separate parts, with Subaru it`s all in the one transaxle; and not repairable by ordinary folk.

    To be fair to Subaru our`s has been relaible so far and the suspension (if not the steering and cornering) is vastly better – a real plus feature none of your contributors have mentioned.

    Perhaps you just have better roads than we do – or don`t drive so fast on them.

    AS

  • avatar
    dgduris

    OK! This has been a lot to read and there are some pretty accurate responses and some very inaccurate responses in here – per my experience.

    I am on my…1,2,3,4,5th Subaru and here are a couple of things I can say without hesitation:

    1. The frameless windows/ doors DO NOT RATTLE – idiots! Jesus! SVX windows sometimes get a little streak of grease on them from the rollers inside the door.

    2. Subarus are DURABLE. Very Durable. My first SVX had 90k (yeah, the tranny slipped – they all did that – they fixed it). My 1997 LGT 5 speed had 120k miles put on by 2000. The alternator packed it in at 62k (2k past warranty) the fuel distributor packed it in at 95k. The dealer fixed both: NC. My 2001 OUTBACK went 120k before I sold it for my Spec. B. I did a 4,000 mi oil change at 115k. 6 quarts (6-cyl) came out – exactly the capacity of the engine.

    3. Yes, the LGT lists at $33k-ish. Wow that’s close to the list of a 3-series. BUT THE $33k Subaru comes with LEATHER, SUNROOF and CD Changer – STANDARD. Find a 3-series, new, with that stuff for less than $38k!

    4. Baseline torque distribution has varied by year and transmission-type, but there has been a general trend at Subaru moving it rearward, which has reaped great rewards in driving dynamics. Audi/ VW should learn this lesson, but they have a weight distribution problem which prevents it.

    Finally, an oil change for my Spec. B costs me $29.95 at the dealer and they invariably hand me a cup of coffee or a can of Coke while I wait.

    BTW, I have also owned a 318i, 325e, 325ic, 325ix, Maserati Merak, XJ6, E-Type, Alfa 2000, Camry, Taurus, Discovery (terrible), F150 and a Kubota B1550 HST.

  • avatar
    subaruguy8508

    For all of you ney sayers out their about the boxer, hear this. I previously owned a red 2005 subaru legacy gt ltd the first year it came out, and i enjoyed nothing more than going to the strip and kicking rice burners asses!!! Their is not one competition car american made for the same price that can kick it. Take into mind the options you get for the price to include AWD. The subie boxer is what makes subaru unique because year to date no one has built a more dependable engine. My bro has a 95 legacy with more than 240000 miles on it. Keep in mind original engine and tranny, with only normal wear and tear. Try getting that out of camry or an infiniti.

    I recently traded in my subie on a silverado for hauling purposes and HATED IT!!! I could not stand CHEVY. So I just customed ordered a 2008 Subaru Legacy GT LTD Black on black. I have an SPT intake for it, which by the way sounds fantastic, at least it did on my 05′, so i can’t wait for this car to get here. The boxer is unbeatable for reliability, but does lack in performance, but the turbo more than makes up for it. You put a honda against a subie, and all you’ll have is a sweet victory for the subie. One more notch on the belt.

  • avatar
    huy

    boxer = reliable
    boxer turbo = not reliable

    i was one of the very first WRX owners and not only did my transmission fail, but my engine went shortly after i paid a fortune to replace the transmission. (it all happened after the warranty passed) i had issues with the transmission not shifting into gear and bad oil consumption since day 1, yet the dealerships said it was all normal. i never made it to the 3000 mile oil change intervals because i had barely any oil on the dipstick after 2000 miles, but Subaru insisted this was normal. perhaps I had a dud and every other subaru was perfect, but the dealerships had many chances to fix it and did not. as such, i will never buy another Subaru. maybe they have changed, but they lost me as a customer.

    PS. I knew 5 others whom had transmission failures. Two were lucky enough to have it fail within a few thousand miles and got it covered by warranty.

  • avatar
    christine22

    I’m looking to purchase a subaru but the new ones are way out of my price range. I test drove an 11 mazda6 and wasnt impressed (my sister has an 06mazda v6 and i like the look and drive better) i’ve found a couple 08 subaru legacy gt with 30,000k or less on them. What do you think would be a better investment 2011 mazda6 or a 08 subaru LGT with >30,000miles. also is there a big difference in service to the LGT cost wise


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