Subaru For 1997
By Carey Russ
The word at Subaru for 1997 is: Outback. The Legacy Outback has been extremely successful for Subaru, and has been expanded. The smaller Impreza Outback, introduced last year as an appearance package, gets the full treatment this year as the Impreza Outback Sport debuts.
In non-outback news, the Legacy 2.5GT exists because the benefits of all-wheel drive are not just for bad weather and roads. The SVX luxury-sports coupe continues to be available.
All Subarus feature the Subaru All-Wheel Driving System as standard equipment. This is a combination of the Subaru horizontally- opposed engine, sophisticated all-wheel drive hardware, and long- travel suspension. It has handling benefits on or off pavement, and has helped Subaru win the World Rally Championship.
The compact Subaru Legacy is offered in sedan and wagon models. Wagons also come in Outback trim.
The Outback concept is a return to the roots of sorts for Subaru, recalling the wagons of a decade and more ago that had extra ground clearance and 'roo bars. The additional ground clearance is still there, but the 'roo bars have been replaced by a larger bumper with integrated foglamps and lower body cladding. The resemblance of this treatment to popular sport-utility style is purely intentional. After all, the Subaru Legacy Outback is "the world's first sport-utility wagon, mate," and can do most of what most sport-utilities can with better driveability and fuel economy. New for 1997 is a more powerful 2.5-liter engine in most models and the upscale, well-appointed Outback Limited.
Also featured in the Legacy lineup this year is the 2.5GT. This sedan uses the same new engine as the Outback and has a sport-tuned chassis. It, like the Outback, is now available with a 5-speed manual transmission as well as a 4-speed automatic.
Other Legacy models include a special right-hand drive postal wagon. All have received a minor facelift this year.
Available in coupe, sedan, wagon, and Outback forms, all Impreza models have new front end styling. The Impreza Outback Sport now gets the full treatment, with extra ground clearance courtesy of larger wheels and tires, more aggressive bumpers, and other modifications to make it a junior edition of the Legacy Outback.
Subaru's radically-styled sports-luxury coupe has a new grille and wider, lower-profile tires for 1997.