What's the used Subaru Legacy saloon like?
Mainly, the Legacy is quick and quiet. Both of the car's engines perform well, and sound throaty when you rev them, but settle to a whisper when you back off the throttle. However, you will suffer some noise from the top of the windscreen and some road noise.
It's a good car to drive, too. The 4WD Legacy hangs on well through bends, and keeps body lean well in check. Its softly sprung suspension also allows it to smother all manner of bumps well. The only concern is that the over-light steering, while precise enough, lacks a meaty feel.
Inside, it's spacious, with enough room to carry three adults across the rear bench. The boot is an acceptable size, too.
What lets the Legacy's cabin down is its dull design and uncomfortable driver's seat. Part of the problem is a lack of adjustability - the seat only has a tilting base rather than full height adjustment, and the steering wheel only adjusts for height.
Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Subaru Legacy saloon?
Despite the dowdiness of the Legacy's cabin, it is well made and sturdy. Our experience is that the plastics can take plenty of abuse, too, shrugging off scrapes and scuffs well. We know of many very high-mileage examples that have stood up to the rigours of family life very well.
However, although Subaru has a great reputation for unproblematic motoring, according to Warranty Direct, the Legacy hasn't performed as well as many of the company's models for overall reliability, with engine glitches accounting for the majority of repairs.
Other causes for concern are the heating and cooling systems, and fuel pump problems, while older cars are known to have issues with their suspension. Whatever the problem, the subsequent repairs will probably be costly, because fixing these cars is complex and the spares are expensive. Our advice is to make sure the car has a full service history.
What are the most common problems with a used Subaru Legacy saloon?
Is a used Subaru Legacy saloon reliable?
What used Subaru Legacy saloon will I get for my budget?
How much does it cost to run a Subaru Legacy saloon?
A used Legacy saloon doesn't make the best investment. There aren't many on the market, and those that are up for sale often had a hard life. Cabins can withstand years of abuse, but do check for wear and tear.
Also make sure the car has a full service history, or unexpected repair bills could prove expensive. And, that's on top of servicing that will prove costly anyway.
The Legacy doesn't have to be looked at as often as the Honda Accord, which has to be fettled every 9000 miles, compared with the Legacy's 12,000-mile intervals, but generally Subaru parts aren't the cheapest.
Running costs could prove punitive due to unimpressive fuel economy and high insurance ratings. The 2.0-litre model sits in insurance groups 13-14 and returns 29mpg. Its closest rival, the Honda Accord 2.0, returns 32mpg and is in insurance groups 10-15, depending on which trim you go for.
Which used Subaru Legacy saloon should I buy?
The Mk III Legacy was introduced in October 1998, initially in 2.5 GX estate and 2.5 Outback guise only. It wasn't until April 1999 that the 2.5 GX saloon was launched. Six months later, the 2.0 GL saloon and estate joined it, so there are two petrol engines to choose from - the 2.0- and 2.5-litre.
Both motors are impressive, with strong performance and plenty of low-down pull. You'll need the bigger capacity car if you want an auto 'box, but in manual form stick to the entry-level powerplant, which is free-revving and an eager overtaker.
Whatever model you plump for, all get the same level of standard safety and security kit. That means anti-lock brakes and twin front and side airbags. A CD player and remote central locking are also standard, but air-con didn't become so until 2001. The Lux pack was introduced at the same time, which included leather trim.