Subaru Legacy Estate (91 - 03) Owner reviews

No longer on sale

i 5dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG36.7 mpg

I have done 15000 miles in my 2.0i (137 Bhp) legacy tourer in 8 months and I cannot recommend these cars enough! I was so fed up with unreliable common rail diesels with my 100 mile a day round trip commute, that I simply went for the most reliable petrol car with 'reasonable' economy. To my pleasant surprise I made a brilliant choice (so far!). I do motorway for 80 of 100 miles a day and the trip comp says I average 40-42 mpg (approx 38-40 calculated). Ok i'm in no rush, but the extra Β£5-Β£10 a week is nothing compared to the odd Β£200+ bill every few months to keep an 'economical' diesel going! The car has the smoothest, quietest engine I have ever known and build quality is excellent. Handling is supreme - better than my previously owned BMW 3 series by far, and that says a lot. Servicing at an independent is no more than the X-Type diesel I previously had, and that includes all the specific stuff. I actually enjoy driving this car. Anyone who hasn't driven one probably won't understand the Subaru 'buzz' thing, but it doesn't take long. There is something about them! The 2.0i I have is not quick at all but can keep up with traffic and is ok when revved above 3000rpm. The only car I can seriously consider as a replacement would be a larger engined Legacy for a bit more 'go'. I am so impressed that I am talking myself into being able to afford the 3.0 even doing 25K miles a year!!! Absolutely brilliant car.

craig ingham, February 21st 2014

GL 5dr

  • Overall verdict4/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs3/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

I have owned my Legacy for 5 and a half years, and other than consumables such as bulbs and brake pads, have had to spend almost nothing to keep it sailing through MOTs without a hitch. Curiously enough, like one of the reviewers of the new shape model, my "Lo" ratio light on the dash packed up, but this is hardly life-or-death surely? It has been a dependable family pack-horse which is exactly what I wished for, happy hauling 2 adults, 2 kids and a dog along Donegal back-roads or towing a motorbike trailer to track days. Handling is perfectly adequate and indeed better than my old Audi 80. Its not the most frugal when it comes to fuel consumption, but neither is it the bottomless pit some reviews would suggest. The best endorsement I can give it is that I pick up my 2008 Legacy 3.0R B Spec in 5 days time. Can't wait.

Simon Elf, County Down, January 12th 2009

D RE 5dr

  • Overall verdict4/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG42.8 mpg

I've had the Legacy for 3 months now and it's blend of performance and exclusivity has already got me hooked. The Legacy's fwd is not only attractive for those living up a muddy lane but surburbia's wet and greasy urban junctions also really play up to the car's strength's. Just dial in some revs, drop the clutch and you are quickly away without any drama. I also like the fact that there are not many of these cars around, and with an options list that even allows different Radiator Grils to be fitted, I am not expecting to see an exact copy of my car for some time to come. I did find that the gearbox was a bit notcy for the first 2,000 mles but it is fine now. My only real gripe is the quick re-activation of the immobiliser if the car is not started quickly enough after it is un-locked. There is not enough time to dump a jacket on the back seat, get settled in the front and allow the glow pulgs to warm up before the immobiliser has been activated. The car can only be started once the button on the key fob has been pressed again so every time I start the car I have to root around by the steering column to find the key's button - not very impressive. But the car itself easily makes up for these shortfalls. It's the perfect antidote to the waves of German, so called, 'prestige' cars and I'm already looking forward to driving it during the next rainy day.

Andrew James, Essex, January 6th 2009

GX 5dr

  • Overall verdict4/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs1/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG29 mpg

We love this car!Bought for Β£1600 two years ago.Bought space and towing ability with intention to keep for only 2 months.After many problems with other cars it has always been old reliable too good to sell.Have had no problems, tows 2 horses with ease, comfortable drive, luxurious well made interior with lots of buttons for year (98). Spacious boot and can really shift.Is thirsty but this is the only negative!

jenny bates, warwickshire, November 10th 2008

REn 5dr

  • Overall verdict4/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

I own the Outback version with the new boxer 2.0L diesel engine. I had a Volvo V50 20.L diesel. The engine in the Subaru is excellent. Its smoother, more refined and more economical. My dad has an Audi A3 170bhp diesel with the DSG box and in the mid range 3rd/4th gear the Subaru is right up there with the A3 which is no slouch. Its my first time with 4wd but I notice the Subaru corners faster, slightly flatter, and its brakes are very effective- better than the V50. Its zenon headlights are terrific. The interior of the car is well specced but as I live in Ireland we do not get the sat nav thats standard in UK. Leather is standard however. The electric and heated driver seat with memory is handy but I think the V50's seat was more comfy. The Volvo also had some convienent touches such as auto lights and wipers, better stereo and clearer readouts on lcd displays which the Subaru doesn't. The stereo is a big let down also. Overall though the Subaru is the superior car mechanically. I may become a Subaru convert yet. Its not a common sight here but I get the feeling from driving it that while it may not have the Audi/Bmw/Merc snob value, it garners a certain respect and people let me out a junctions no problem. Overall its worth my four star rating and with just a few small refinements such as improved stereo and minor controls it would rate a 5 star rating

John O Donnell, Donegal, October 28th 2008

D RE 5dr

  • Overall verdict2/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs5/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG42 mpg

Sadly the Estate, like the Outback I tried, also initially suffered from a very poor shift quality and despite Subaru's acknowledgement there was a problem, nothing has been done. It is true with a few more miles (7,000) it seems to be improving slightly. Took the car on holiday with my wife and 3 kids plus luggage and initially in England the car coped fairly well. The diesel's power was more than enough to cope with the load. Motorway refinement was excellent and wind noise non-existant. Arriving in France, its ability to consume distance at speed was just amazing. However if the motorway surface was anything but smooth, the rear suspension just gave up the ghost and crashed onto the bump stops. Off the motorway and on to the Freanch A and B roads it was a truly unpleasant experience. This was a great disappointment which just emphasises how this car should have been set up for its intended use before being put on sale as the performance of the suspension is just not man enough for the job. This has really spoilt my overall impression of the car despite the wonderful disel engine and straight line stability and fabulous interior. Sadly this company has not had the professionalism to respond to my position in a constructive way and I am considering disposing of it after only 4 months.

Richard Pathy-Barker, Somerset, September 11th 2008

i SE 5dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

My model is a 2005 Outback which was bought in September 07. Living in semi rural Scotland and covering approx 20.000 miles per year i required a car that could cope with twisty roads, snow and serious off roading due to my gun dog hobby. Also my job requires i drive a quality car without being too flash. Overall the Outback ticked all the boxes. So far it has proved ultra reliable, reasonable MPG circa 30, good handling, quality feel, understated and outstanding off road. On more than one occasion the scoobie has tackled terrian that posh 4x4s feard to tackle and never failed me. Why buy a posh off roader at double the price? i have in the past and now realise why the nobility all drive Outbacks. It is a great all rounder that copes with everthing that you throw at it. Pretty quick on the twisty stuff, especially using the sport box. A bargian at the price, just dont expect anyone to say whow an Outback. It's not a beemer but its better for that. Can all the Lords and blue blood be wrong? It's fantastic. Given a 5 overall for its off road ability.

morton simpson, angus, February 14th 2008

R 5dr Seq Auto

  • Overall verdict4/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

I traded in an Audi A8 for my Legacy 3.0R Auto at Christmas 2004. The car had been Subaru in-house and I got a Β£4000 discount as well as a very generous part-ex. My first impressions were that it was noisy and had a hard ride, especially at low speeds around town. In its favour it was spacious, and well-equipped, and from 4000rpm on, decently quick. After three years, my overwhelming sense is of a machine that is completely reliable, much more so than any other marque I've had of late, including Mercedes, BMW and Audi. In three years, nothing has failed so far, and everything works the way it did when I took delivery. If anything, the engine has opened up, and it definitely thrives on high octane (and high-cost) petrol, so I feed it some for long motorway runs. With four wheel drive, the handling is always ultra-safe, and it copes easily with rain, snow, mud etc. I've come to enjoy its discreet nature. It doesn't cause the same offence to others as the big Germans, so I hope Subaru will carry on with the less macho styling for this model (though not as unmacho as the new Impreza). What other high-quality, reliable, quick, leather and sunroofed 3-litre estate car is there for anything like the money? A similarly-equipped Audi Quattro would be more by Β£10k, and in my experience, doesn't have the 100% reliability of the Scoobie. I just wish they could do something to reduce the road noise, the only real downside to an excellent machine.

david thomas, glamorgan, December 13th 2007

i SE 5dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs3/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

This is my 3rd Legacy 2.5 Outback. I've driven over 220,000 miles across fields, countrylanes , A roads and motorways. The car is totally understated but remains perhaps the best drivers car available to the country car dweller. A brief change to Audi made me realise even more just how dynamic and involving the Subaru experience is. Off road it will go anywhere ground clearence allows , and will then quite happily travel many miles rapidly along country roads and motorways a like. Average fuel economy at 28mpg is always consistent and 30+ mpg is possible on a long journey. Services not the cheapest and parts expensive but thankfully not required very often. A great all round car - drive one and you will appreciate just how good the outback is for everyday motoring.

james short, kent, November 30th 2007

GX 5dr [Luxury]

  • Overall verdict4/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs3/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

This is my second Subaru Legacy I keep in addition to the current Legacy Sports Tourer I also use. Outside isn't much though the design grows on you. The inside is dated but equippment massive. This top of the range Lux model at 24K new has everything. Electric windows, mirrors, twin sunroofs, Cruise & Traction Control, CD Changer, Heated Leather seats and a Tiptronic auto box. Don't think its dull to drive, though not quiet as sorted as the newer model its still great on the open road. I remember the Subaru saleman saying that a Subaru is designed to go round a bend at 60 mph no question. Well I'll belief it. Grip is sensational and steering feel near perfect. The old Legacy is great but expensive to run. At best I get 28 mph where as the new one gives me 37 mph. What is suprising is that the older car is a little quicker. The new cars auto box can take a time seaching for the gear before kicking in making overtaking that bit more tricky. With the older one higher spec models have a 'power mode' button which when pressed changes everything. It acts like a Sports mode function which when engaged holds each gear for longer before changing upwards, making accelaration a great deal faster! In the countyside, driving one gives you the ultimate in credability. The new Legacy is too good and doesn't look right with mud across it. The old one is perfect up unmade roads, tracks and even muddy fields. Like the new one, I simply love driving it.

Haig Dalton, West Sussex, October 29th 2007

i 5dr

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

Now on my second Subaru Legacy and having previously owned this car before, it is perhaps not suprising that I would recommend this car to anyone. Put simply it remains the best car I have ever owned, or indeed driven and can say that having driven the likes of the BMW 5-Series Tourer, Mercedes C-Class and Jaguar X-Type. Its the perfect allrounder, fast, comfortable, beautifully made and excellently equipped, not to mention every bit as thrilling to drive as its younger sibbling the Impreza. The dealers are also very friendly and helpful though servicing can be a little pricy, but this aside I love it. Mpg, well I've had it do an average of 37mpg all the day is long and more on the motorway. The greatest thing though is the way it makes you feel as they are just so rare. Exclusivity is a guaranty as traditionally only Aristocrats, land owners and farmers buy them, so arriving at the Dorchester Hotel is a doddle. I have even had people coming up to me and asking what is it, or saying is it an E-Class Mercedes? With a massive boot its also bigger than a Volvo V70 so who truely needs anything else? All this and at mere 20K, you'd have to spend a hole load more to do better. Look at it this way, will a Golf, Mondeo or 3-Series be exclusive? Thought not. The Legacy Sports Tourer however is!

Haig Dalton, West Sussex, October 29th 2007

i S 5dr

  • Overall verdict4/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs3/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

This car is great for frightening passengers and boy racers! I have owned the turbo (GT) 2.0 manual estate for over three years. It gives excellent handling and performance for the money. It has a hard ride, but a great 13-speaker stereo, although the CD tends to skip due to the ride. It has had a new clutch, gearbox and engine management chip in the first year under warranty. It has had no problems since. Go for the auto. I have done 200km/h and 140km/h round a roundabout. Sideways is gets very hairy, though! Tyres are pricey, but you get a lot of car for the money.

Graham Campbell, June 12th 2007

i S 5dr

  • Overall verdict3/5
  • What it's like to drive3/5
  • Running costs2/5
  • Quality2/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

A big disappointment - that's the best way to describe my ownership experience. I bought my Legacy 2.0 litre Sport Tourer new in March 2005 after three years of happy Impreza ownership. And, while I didn't expect the same standards of performance and handling, it seems that Subaru's previously high standards of customer service have slipped noticeably. Added to that, a number of minor build quality niggles have soured my ownership of the car to such an extent that I shall not consider another Subaru vehicle - at least while International Motors continues to handle distribution of the brand in the UK. First off, the dashboard has suffered a series of irritating rattles, culminating in the trim strip that resides at the bottom of the windscreen working loose and popping out of its guides every time I drive over a less than perfect road surface. Adding insult to injury, the Sheffield dealer from where the car was bought failed to secure or replace the part, eventually securing the offending strip with a self-tapping screw. That's right, a highly visible piece of 10p ironmongery secures the dash on my Β£20k plus new car... Wosre still, the trim still rattles like Granny's false teeth. This same dealer failed to correctly diagnose another more annoying vibration, emanating from deep inside the dashboard. It make the car sound like an old tractor when accelerating between 2,000 and 3,500 rpm - just the rev band that you use in everyday driving.

Chris Shaw, West Yorkshire, May 24th 2007

i SEn 5dr Auto [Sat Nav]

  • Overall verdict5/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

I have had this car for some 2 years now with not a single problem. fuel usage is a bit higher than expected. around 31 MPG. but for comfort and practicality it is excellent. This is my 5th Subaru. previous 2 sold to friends, one with 189.300. miles. now in the Shetland Islands. they still good friends. I have no doubt these are one of the best built cars made and while not the cheapest to run, for satisfaction and reliability must be almost impossible to beat. I can not understand why drop 2.5. engine in standard sport estate.

David MacIntosh, Ayrshire, May 20th 2007

i SE 5dr

  • Overall verdict4/5
  • What it's like to drive4/5
  • Running costs3/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

I have driven near 200,000 miles in 2.5 Outbacks and rate them as good, dependable machines. The biggest problems I've had is headlight bulbs blowing and number plate screws shearing for no apparent reason in winter. Changing the headlight bulbs is ridiculously awkward I have to say, however. Driving sensibly will return 35 mpg or more on a combined cycle and when pushed, the car has excellent balance and handling for a family estate. It gives plenty of warning of when it's doing something it would rather not, but it shouldn't be expected to rip up the tarmac. Off road ability is fair and is mainly limited to the willingness of road tyres in the mud. Criticism that upkeep can be heavy is fair, particularly with discs and clutches. Clutches can start to complain at about 60,000 but lasted to 75,000. Maybe Subaru owners do have unusual brand loyalty or 'rose tinted specs', but I think it is beacuse they make good, reliable cars and the dealership's customer service network is top drawer I have always found.

Sean Wilcox, May 18th 2007

R 5dr

  • Overall verdict3/5
  • What it's like to drive3/5
  • Running costs2/5
  • Quality3/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

Subaru owners tend to look at their cars through β€˜rose-tinted-spectacles’. The Legacy isn’t a bad car, but it isn’t that brilliant either. I feel I have to warn people about the kind of reviews on this website as well as the car. No one can give a true opinion of a car after 24hrs, and if you have no problems with you car, how can you know that Subaru Assistance is 1st class. The truth is that I had a 2.0L Sport Tourer which I have now sold at a huge loss due to the poor residuals. The real issue I had with the car was the engine which really struggled with the AWD. It means the car wastes fuel and can really feel slow to the point where motorway journeys are arduous and overtaking is dangerous. Over 12 months I managed about 26 mpg with mixed driving that should have given me 31 mpg and road tax is Β£190 due to high emissions. As for the equipment, remember that a high level of equipment means that it isn’t always the good quality equipment that you get. Subaru continue to add to this car only to increase its appeal in a very competitive market and some of the items they have added are a compromise. Reliability isn’t always as stated as I had problems with the Mass Air Flow sensor which failed when I really needed the car, but I can say Subaru Assistance were helpful in getting me a car while mine was in the garage. Also, the thin paint chips and scratches easily; even if you hand wash the bodywork.

Charles Anderson, April 20th 2007

i SE 5dr

  • Overall verdict4/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs3/5
  • Quality5/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

I have previously owned K reg 2.0L EST and 03 reg 2.0L Forester only battery failure in K reg after 8 years.No probs with Forester but Legacy superior roadholding. Interiors vastly improved since in my 05 model. You really do get everything included as standard unlike Germans. I think that driving experience, allround performance and strength of build quality compensate for slightly higher running costs. My experience with several Subaru dealerships has been excellent.The Subaru assistance is 1st class.

graham ocock, Surrey, April 18th 2007

i SE 5dr

  • Overall verdict4/5
  • What it's like to drive5/5
  • Running costs4/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

I have owned Audi's, VW's, a nice light BMW and a few Japanese cars in my time and I have never driven a car that was more sorted, engineered where it matters and where you can feel it working. I wanted the 2.5 (which is an engine Subaru have dropped for 2006 in all but the Outback) because it looked to be the best "real world" engine on paper. In practise I get 35mpg easily on my commute and if I want fun I can have that too. This engine is torquey at low rev's, goes well at higher rev's and sounds like nothing else - but does it quietly. The whole car (the Estate remember) is lighter than a Peugeot 306 because they engineered it that way with aluminium and high carbon steels. I remember people raved about the Mazda RX8 for it's lightness and handling. Mine is just as good in the dry but handles bumps and slippery roads ten times better. Symmetrical 4WD? You betcha. Subaru should sell these properly. Import all the engine options to the UK. Show off the very low emission version engines available in California. Shout about the boron steel safety hoops which mean much better than average crash and roll over protection results in US tests. Publish research which shows the Leggy has a whole life carbon footprint smaller than a Toyota Prius or VW Golf. And, offer real US service and prices

Andrew Smith, Oxfordshire, December 30th 2006

R 5dr

  • Overall verdict3/5
  • What it's like to drive3/5
  • Running costs2/5
  • Quality3/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

Now the car has a few more miles on it, I can report that there has been little improvement in the performance of my Sport Tourer. Admittedly, 2nd and 3rd gear acceleration have become tolerable, but the high 4th and 5th gears are still painfully slow. It makes motorway driving arduous and overtaking dangerous. Don’t think that with four-wheel drive and a dual ratio gearbox this car is set-up as a towing machine, as the weak engine means it wouldn’t β€˜pull the skin of a rice pudding’ let alone a caravan or trailer. The engine might have β€˜class leading power output’ for a non-turbo 2.0 litre, but its 160bhp is delivered at 6800rpm. This is way beyond the range of normal driving. The 5-speed gearbox and β€˜drive-by-wire’ throttle, do there level best to make sure you can’t exploit the power available. For normal driving, think of this car as a large estate with a 1.6 litre engine. A few niggles that I have found to add to the list are: Very thin paint which chips and scratches easily; even if you hand wash the bodywork. The large sunroof on the Tourer has meant the interior courtesy light has been pushed so far back in the roof lining, that it now only does a good job of illuminating the rear head rests. Reliability is only average as I have found that the instrument β€˜Lo’ indicator, for the low ratio setting on the gearbox, failed after a couple of weeks, and the car has been off-the-road for two days due to a Mass Air Flow sensor failure at seven months old.

Charles Anderson, December 11th 2006

RE 5dr

  • Overall verdict3/5
  • What it's like to drive3/5
  • Running costs2/5
  • Quality4/5
  • Average MPG0 mpg

I had been lusting after a Legacy for years and recently finally had the money to try one out. I test drove the 2.0 litre RE and fell in love wih its handling and comfort sufficiently to take the plunge. I don't regret doing it but have now gone back to nice sensible Octavias. The biggest surprise with the Legacy was the mystery of the vanishing horsepower. How could a 167bhp engine propel even a 4wd car so slowly? Even my wife complained. And the sluggishness didn't imply any kind of frugality with fuel. I doubt if I got over 31 mpg on any tankful. The car was a delightful drive otherwise. Apart from the lovely handling I particularly enjoyed the smooth powerful brakes and my excellent powered leather seat. With only the rear wheels driven I suspect this could nearly have been a great car. But even aside from the power/consumption problem the detailing of the car didn't approach that of my Octavias (I'm on my third). For instance, as Charles Anderson notes, the climate control is pretty iffy. Tip: Either get a powerful version of the Legacy and live with the appalling consumption or forget them.

James Bowman, Middx, September 10th 2006

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