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New Car/Review


Subaru Legacy GT Wagon (2001)

SEE ALSO: Subaru Buyer's Guide

by Brendan Hagin and Mikele Schappell-Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 23,795
     Price As Tested                                    $ 25,336
     Engine Type              SOHC 16-valve 2.5 Liter I4 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 150 cid/2457 cc
     Horsepower                                   165 @ 5600 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               166 @ 4000 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  104.3"/77.0"/187.4"
     Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
     Curb Weight                                     3690 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/five-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.32


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            22/27/25
     0-60 MPH                                       11.0 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                                   18.5 @ 100 mph
     Top-speed                                           115 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

BRENDAN - The new 2001 Subaru Legacy GT Wagon gives me the feeling that this under-rated Japanese car company may have finally joined the Asian big leagues that have long been dominated by other Japanese makes. With its dramatic styling and full-time all-wheel drive system, the Legacy GT and its Outback sibling are bound to make their mark in the re-emerging station wagon market. It has a 165-horse 2.5 liter, four-cylinder engine with 16-valves and single overhead camshafts, and puts out 166 pound/feet of torque. This makes it a great mid-speed puller. It handles the road when acceleration is needed and it's a good choice for the family that likes to use its car for skiing as well as shopping. As with all modern Subarus, all-wheel drive is standard on our Legacy GT, and it also features a viscous limited-slip rear differential. If one rear wheel loses traction, power is automatically shifted to the other rear wheel, which has more bite. It has a four-speed automatic transmission with an automatic power mode that engages when the driver stomps on the accelerator.

MIKELE - The Legacy GT rides a little stiffer than I expected, Bren, probably because of its sport-tuned suspension and all-season radial tires. It has a stabilizer bar on each end of the suspension system and if I had to categorize it, I'd say that the GT handles more like a European sedan than it does other Japanese boulevard cruisers. Outside, the Legacy GT has a smooth, flowing design that appeals to my sense of laid-back class. It doesn't have the flash of the Outback, but features just enough panache to please me esthetically. It has body-color door handles, mirrors and body-side moldings to go along with aerodynamic body-color ground effects. It has aluminum wheels equipped with low-profile 205/55 16-inch tires.

BRENDAN - The interior is loaded up with all the available bells-and-whistles. The steering wheel and shift knob are wrapped with leather which doesn't add anything to the performance, but looks classy. Fortunately, the steering column tilts and is adjustable fore-and-aft, and driver's seat is six-ways adjustable. At my height, it's sometimes hard to squeeze behind the wheel and get comfortable. The lumbar adjustment also helped me get squared away if I had to go further than the supermarket. The dual power moon roofs were quite nice, but you'd have to have lots of passengers back there to make the rear one cost-effective. We got some use out of the one up front when it wasn't pouring rain, as it has been around here lately. Our Legacy had the ever-present cup holders - two in front, two in back - and it's a relief to note that the auto makers aren't engaged in the Cupholder Wars any more. For a while there, some new vehicles, especially minivans, assumed that the driver and each passenger was drinking two Cokes and a cup of coffee at the same time. The dash controls are simple and easy to reach but I have a gripe about the sound system. It wasn't as good as many I've heard and it needed an in-dash CD changer. It's an option, but you'd think a press loaner would come with one.

MIKELE - Try not to be too picky, Bren. I liked the interior and our two "babies" loved hiding under the retractable cargo area cover, although it's better suited to hiding packages and luggage rather than dogs. It has over 33 cubic-feet of cargo space when the rear seats are folded down. I'm becoming very safety-conscious and the Legacy GT has a Unibody design that makes the cabin almost bulletproof. And that all-wheel drive feature makes it nearly impossible to get into trouble on the road when the weather turns bad and the streets get slick.

BRENDAN - Never say impossible. No amount of technology can make up for driver error. But between the AWD and the anti-lock braking system, the Legacy is a very safe vehicle. And if we can get it back for a trip to the mountains, maybe I'll take it out to test those systems with some backroads experimenting.

MIKELE - Under those conditions, Bren, I think that I'll do the driving.