SEE ALSO: Subaru Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 24,295 Price As Tested $ 25,374 Engine Type SOHC 16-valve 2.5 Liter H4 w/SMFI* Engine Size 150 cid/2457 cc Horsepower 165 @ 5600 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 166 @ 4000 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 104.3"/68.7"/184.4" Transmission Five-speed manual Curb Weight 3284 pounds Fuel Capacity 16.9 gallons Tires (F/R) 205/55R16 all season Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/all-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/four-door Domestic Content N/A Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) 0.31 PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 21/28/25 0-60 MPH 8.5 seconds 1/4 (E.T.) 16.0 seconds @ 81.5 mph Top speed 110 mph * Sequential multi-point fuel injection
(Matt Hagin has enjoyed driving the various Subarus that have come his way over the past few years. His father Bob says that his son wouldn't have enjoyed the first Subaru his father worked on in '70.)
BOB - Subaru has always been something of an unconventional car company. Back in my wrenching days, the Subaru I worked on 30-years ago was a little two-cylinder, two-stroke that had "suicide" doors that tended to pop open on the highway. The company still uses the flat-four "boxer" engine design it adopted a year later. It got that from the engine in the German Goliath, another odd-ball I worked on back then.
MATT - I guess there aren't many of those old "weirdoes" you haven't worked on, Dad, and while this week's test car, the Subaru Legacy GT Limited, isn't weird, it's definitely different. It sports a single cam on each head, has four valves per cylinder, displaces 2.5-liters, is all aluminum and pumps out 165 horses and 166 pound-feet of torque. The only other auto maker that uses this engine design is Porsche, but they use two more cylinders and the engines are mounted in back. The "flat" engine design helps lower the car's center of gravity and that's probably one of the reasons it's so sure-footed. Subaru knows this layout very well and hasn't strayed from this design. Subarus sell great in the snow and icy areas and I'm told that they outsell several of the better-known brands in our northeastern states.
BOB - They're hot items in the ice and snow areas of the northwest, too. Their popularity got a big boost a couple of years ago when all Subarus came with full-time all-wheel-drive. Rather than an SUV-type 4X4 drive system, the Subaru system supplies power to whatever wheel or wheels needs it most. Our GT Limited version also came standard with a limited slip differential in the rear for even more traction control.
MATT - If the car seems extraordinarily solid, may be due in part to its 3400-pound weight and what the Subaru engineers call a "Ring Of Steel" chassis built around the Legacy. Subaru only makes a couple of models and our Legacy GT limited is the top dog. The Legacy line starts with the "L" trim level, then moves to the "GT" and up to the GT Limited, which is the most sporting of the bunch. All new Subarus ride on traditional MacPherson strut suspension up front, but they have a somewhat sophisticated five-link rear design. Both ends use coil springs. It allows 8.5 inches of wheel travel, which helps the ride feel smooth. Along with that, the handling is helped in part by front and rear stabilizer bars and "grippy" 205/55R16 all-weather tires. The body lay-out is stylish, with a short stubby trunk and tall rear doors, which makes getting in and out of surprisingly easy for a compact. But like the rear seats in most cars in this class, it's tight for three across but just right for two. The exterior is quite "euro" looking and as a further concession to foul-weather driving, it has enormous fog lamps, which are standard equipment.
BOB - As I get older, I tend to forget things so the automatic on/off head light system that operates with the ignition switch is a real help to me. Being built especially for snow and icy roads, it looks like this Subaru would be a good car for you and your brothers to go skiing. You wouldn't have to install tire chains since it has all-wheel drive, but the pass-through into the rear seat is small so it's probably better suited for only two skiers. An aftermarket roof rack would work.
MATT - I'd like to see a split folding rear seat for extra cargo space, but that's just wishful thinking. The GT has extra goodies like body-colored aerodynamic ground effects paneling, a power moon roof, a six-way power driver's seat and a handful of other stuff. In addition to those items, the Limited version gets front-seat side airbags, leather upholstery and wood trim accents, tinted-glass and an upgraded sound- system with a windshield-mounted antenna. There's also a six-disk CD player available, but it's $500 extra.
BOB - Subaru has been around a long time. it's gotten more upscale and less quirky as it gets older.
MATT - Dad, Mom says the same thing about you.