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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For The engines are great, it's enjoyable to drive, the cabin is spacious and it's built to last

Against Interior is dull and repairs are pricey

Verdict Useful estate is let down by high running costs

Go for… 2.0 RE

Avoid… Autos

Subaru Legacy Estate
  • 1. The heating and cooling systems can give problems
  • 2. The clutch and gearbox can be problematic, so check them carefully
  • 3. The load bay is large and the rear seats split 60/40
  • 4. The rear bench can seat three, but the transmission tunnel eats into the foot space a little
  • 5. Engines can fail to match their quoted fuel economy figures and be expensive to run
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Subaru Legacy Estate full review with expert trade views

The Legacy Sports Tourer is a very useful estate with a large load bay and simple-to-fold rear seats that split 60/40. There’s plenty of leg- and headroom, and three can sit abreast in the rear, although foot space for the centre passenger is tight.

The Legacy’s low-slung driving position is sporty, but the manual seat adjustment isn’t very easy to use and the steering column adjusts for height only.

It is an enjoyable car to drive, though. The four-wheel-drive system gives the car fantastic traction, while strong body control ensures good handling and fine composure. It does mean the ride is rather firm, but it never becomes uncomfortable. And, while the steering is accurate and responsive, it's frustratingly light at speed.

All three petrol engines perform well and have a distinctive, throaty sound, but the 2.0 becomes raucous when it's revved hard. Wind noise isn’t intrusive, but road and engine noise are evident at speed.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Low volumes keep values steady. Don't buy saloon as difficult to resell

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

There are three petrol engines - a 2.0-litre, a 2.5-litre and a 3.0-litre. Trim levels at launch consisted of S and SE on all engines, with the 2.5 and 3.0 also getting SEn (sat-nav). All 3.0-litre models were only available as automatics until October 2004, when the 3.0 R Spec B was introduced with a six-speed manual ’box.

In October 2005, a five-speed automatic transmission was added to the options list on the Spec B model and the 2.0-litre S and SE versions were replaced by the R and RE. From this point, every Legacy had twin front and side airbags, a CD player, cruise control, climate control, electric windows and alloys.

2.0 RE models add leather upholstery, electrically adjustable seats and an electric sunroof. 3.0 models have sat-nav but they are expensive as a used buy.

On balance, we’d go for the entry-level 2.0 engine in RE trim.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Value drops make 2.5 SE and 3.0 Rn great value

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Because the Sports Tourer holds onto its value better than the saloon models, it’s more expensive to buy as a second-hand purchase. Plus, like the saloon, they are few and far between, and those that are around have often been unloved by their previous owners.

The interior can withstand years of abuse, but check for wear and tear. Also, make sure the car has a full service history, or unexpected repair bills could prove expensive. Servicing bills will prove costly anyway - the Legacy has to be serviced every 12,000 miles and parts can be pricey.

Running costs could prove punitive due to unimpressive fuel economy. Insurance costs are slightly lower for the estate model, but like the saloon, we’ve had many reports of all three engines returning economy below the official mpg figures.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Low volumes keep values steady. Don't buy saloon as difficult to resell

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

Although Subaru has a great reputation for reliability, Warranty Direct says the Legacy hasn’t performed as well as many of the company’s models for overall reliability, with engine problems accounting for the majority of repairs.

Other causes for concern are the heating and cooling systems and fuel pump problems. We’ve also heard reports of clutch and gearbox problems on later cars.

Whatever the problem, if the car is out of warranty the subsequent bills will probably be expensive, as repairs are complex and the spare parts are expensive. Make sure you get a car with a full service history.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Value drops make 2.5 SE and 3.0 Rn great value

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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