Publié par: François Raymond Date: mercredi 1 février 1989
The Legacy is a mid-size car introduced by the Japanese manufacturer Subaru in February 1989 as a larger, upscale companion to the company’s Leone/Loyale, with worldwide distribution starting in 1990. In Australia, it bears the name Liberty (out of respect for Australia’s Legacy organisation, which aids veterans and their families during and after wars).
The standard equipped symmetrical all-wheel drive system is currently unique to the Legacy in this class size of vehicle. German automaker Volkswagen, the parent owner of Audi, produces the closest competitor Audi A4 and Volkswagen Passat with their AWD offering Quattro or 4motion and a 4-cylinder engine on the Audi and only on the 6-cylinder on the VW, however the AWD is an extra cost option on both vehicles in the USA.
Subaru chose to use the boxer engine in the Legacy, as well as their other products, to simplify the power train implementation of all-wheel drive and because of the natural smoothness of the engine design. According to Subaru, because the engine sits in-line, or longitudinal, with the transmission, instead of being offset, or transverse, as can be commonly found by other FWD and AWD vehicles, body roll is minimized. The weight of the engine and transmission are balanced instead of being offset, which causes the weight of the engine and transmission to be unbalanced in the engine bay in other vehicles. The boxer engine also affords a low center of gravity because the engine sits low in the engine bay and close to the ground, as opposed to other vehicles, allowing the vehicle to stay more stable in moderate to high speed manoeuvres. Other manufacturers attempt to counteract the offset weight by making their power trains’ weight evenly distributed, which overall causes the power train to be heavier than the Subaru layout, which is manufactured from lightweight aluminium. The boxer design also provides perfect vibration mitigation due to the fact that the movement of each piston is exactly countered by the corresponding piston in the opposing cylinder bank, eliminating the need for a harmonic balancer attached to the front of the engine at the crankshaft. Torque steer is also reduced with this type of power train layout. This is achieved by having the front driveshafts being of equal weight and length, and extend from the transmission to the front wheels at almost perpendicular from the transmission.
The EZ series of flat-6 cylinder engines, used in current Legacy products, replaced the EG series found in the Subaru SVX.
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1 Accomplishments and motorsports
1.3 World Rally Championship
1.3.2 Speed records
1.4 KONI Challenge Series
3 First generation (1990-1994)
3.1 Transmission operations
3.2 Racing accomplishments
3.3 The engine
3.4 Japanese specifications
3.5 International specifications
3.6 Marketing efforts
3.7 Safety equipment
3.8 Special equipment
3.9 1992 facelift and other changes
4 Second generation (1995-1999)
5 Third generation (1998-2004)
5.3 Revision D
6 Fourth generation (2005-present)
7 World market release schedule
8 North American market release schedule
Accomplishments and motorsports
In Australia, it was Wheels magazine’s Car of the Year for 1994 and again for 1998. Upon the Turbo’s introduction to the Australian market it was claimed to be the fastest accelerating car for under $100,000 on the Australian car market. The BL/BP chassis Legacy was the Car of the Year Japan for 2003-04. It was also joint Top Gear car of the year for 2007 with the Ford Mondeo.
Subaru has produced high performance versions of the Legacy with a Bilstein suspension and tuned turbocharged engines equivalent to the homologized rally version WRX STI (generating 205 kW (275 HP) on manufacturer’s figures for the 2.0 L equivalent engine with manual transmission). Recent 3.0 L engines move close to the 2.0 L turbo output and share the Bilstein suspension. 2.0 L-engined turbocharged models with the Bilstein suspension were named either the GT-B (for wagons), or Spec B, or RSK-B4 (for sedans). The new 2003 model moved many models to simply B4 or even GT in some countries. The Spec B badge still exists in the UK, where the 3.0R stands as the premier MY06 model. In Australia, the 2.5GT (SatNav) marks the top of the pile for the Legacy/Liberty range.
In North America, early sporty models were known simply as the Sport Sedan and Touring Wagon. Later models were given the GT and GT Limited nomenclature. The 2006 Legacy model brought forth a limited run of 500 Spec B models. For 2007 the Spec B became a regular production model (albeit a somewhat limited run). The Spec B model features a 6-speed manual transmission, an improved suspension system by Bilstein, navigation system (making the Spec. B the sole MT Legacy to get one), exclusive (to the Spec B) interior, 18″ wheels, and additional aesthetic modifications.
World Rally Championship
The Legacy was campaigned by the Subaru World Rally Team in the World Rally Championship, with the help of Prodrive, beginning in 1990. It wasn’t considered a truly competitive model at first, but showed promise under the command of Markku Alen, who in 1991 managed a third-place finish at the Swedish Rally. 1992 debuted the combination of experienced Group B, Pikes Peak International Hillclimb, and WRC driver Ari Vatanen, paired with the up-and-coming Scottish driver Colin McRae for Subaru’s WRC effort. Two second place finishes, one by each driver, strengthened the commitment of Subaru to the World Rally Championship, the Legacy, and their drivers. The Legacys primary competitor with a turbocharged engine and AWD was the Mitsubishi Galant VR-4.
1993 became a breakout year for Subaru as Colin McRae and Ari Vatanen pushed the Legacy to a third place finish at the Swedish Rally and a one-two placing after the first leg of the Acropolis Rally. Prodrive boss David Richards was eager to prove the potential of the new Impreza WRC car, but was charged with gaining a victory in the Legacy before the Impreza could debut. At Round 8 held in New Zealand, Subaru finally struck gold when McRae managed to hold back Francois Delecour in his Ford Escort WRC for the win. This would be the last WRC event for the Legacy, as the Impreza debuted at the following event, where it placed second in the hands of Vatanen.
Richard Burns was successful in numerous events with the car during 1992 before joining the World Rally team to drive the Impreza in 1993. Alister McRae, Per Eklund, Possum Bourne and Hannu Mikkola also competed in the Legacy during its WRC participation.
The Legacy remains an ever-present competitor in rallies around the world. SCCA ProRally and Rally America participation from many teams has been impressive. The Legacy and the Impreza have many interchangeable parts which makes for a very competent and reliable entry.
The Legacy, and its Outback stablemate, has won the Alcan Winter Rally several times; the first win was in 1990 followed by another win in 1992, 2002 and 2006.
A 1990 Legacy was the first Group N car to ever finish the WRC Safari Rally. This rally is considered the worlds most gruelling rally under the World Rally Championship. In 1990 the 38th Safari Rally had 59 competitors total, only 10 of which were able to reach the finish. The Legacy was the only Group N car able to reach the finish and was in 8th place overall.
On April 23, 1998, a Generation III Subaru Legacy set a new world speed record for mass-produced turbocharged station wagons (1600 cc-2000 cc class), clocking 270.532 km/h (168.101 mph) over one kilometer on Highway 10 in La Junta, Colorado.  This record was previously set by a Generation II Subaru Legacy in 1993 at 249.981 km/h.
The original Legacy speed record was set between January 2 and January 21, 1989, with three Japanese-spec turbocharged RS sedans at the Arizona Test Center outside of Phoenix, Arizona. It broke the 100,000 km FIA World Land Endurance Record by maintaining an average speed of 138.780 mph (223.345 km/h) for 447 hours, 44 minutes and 9.887 seconds, or 18½ days. Pit stops were made every two hours with a driver change and refueling, while tire changes were made at 96 hour intervals, or every 13,400 miles (21,600 km) driven.
It is also used in the Speed Touring Car Championship.
KONI Challenge Series
The Subaru Legacy is currently used in the KONI Challenge Series.
On March 14, 2005, Subaru sold its three-millionth Legacy worldwide.
Japan Indiana Total
First-generation Legacy 620,444 204,168 824,612
Second-generation Legacy 495,471 466,354 961,825
Third-generation Legacy 434,624 467,447 902,071
Fourth-generation Legacy 204,776 106,716 311,492
Total 1,755,315 1,244,685 3,000,000
Production numbers as of March 14, 2005
First generation (1990-1994)
Also called Isuzu Aska CX
Body style(s) Sedan and Wagon
Layout Front-engine, front-wheel drive / Four-wheel drive
Engine(s) 2.2 L SOHC 130 hp H4
2.2 L SOHC Turbo 163 hp
2.0 L DOHC 150 hp
2.0 L DOHC GT 200 hp
2.0 L DOHC RS 220 hp
2.0 L SOHC 116 hp
1.8 L SOHC 102 hp
Transmission(s) 4-speed automatic
Wheelbase 101.6 in
Length 1993-94 Sedan: 178.9 in
1993-94 Wagon: 181.9 in
1990-92 Wagon: 181.1 in
1990-92 Sedan: 177.6 in
Width 66.5 in, 1690 mm
Height 1993-94 Wagon: 54.7 in
1993-94 LS & LSi Wagon: 56.3 in
1990-92 Wagon: 55.9 in
1990-92 AWD Wagon: 56.7 in
1990-92 Sedan: 54.3 in
1990-93 AWD Sedan: 55.1 in
1993-94 Sedan: 53.5 in
Curb weight 3220 lb, 1375 kg max
Fuel capacity 15.9 US gal, 13.2 imp gal, 60 L
BC – Sedan
BJ – Wagon
BF – called Touring Wagon or Super Station (high roof line)
The worldwide introduction of the Legacy was a notable departure from Subaru products in the past. Subaru had earned a reputation of building vehicles that were regarded as “quirky” and other import manufacturers were bringing more upscale and conventional appearing models to the market. The Legacy appeared at the same time as the USA introduction of Lexus and Infiniti and a couple years after Acura. However, Subaru didn’t have a large displacement V6 or V8. The Legacy was interpreted by some as Subaru’s attempt at participating in the growing, upscale market. The Legacy broke with many Subaru traditions, such as no longer locating the spare tire in the engine compartment, behind the engine and above the transmission. It also broke another tradition by assigning a model name, “Legacy”, to the vehicle. Past vehicles were simply known as “Subaru” two-door or wagon or whatever.
The Legacy began with a 5 door wagon or 4 door sedan body styles with FWD and an optional full-time AWD package, and was introduced in the USA, UK, Germany, Japan and Australia. The car was built with many luxury features normally found on more expensive vehicles as standard equipment, such as power windows and locks, fuel injection, air conditioning, power assist rack-and-pinion steering, alloy wheels, 4-wheel independent suspension with anti-dive and squat geometery and 4-wheel disc brakes. Items that were optional that didn’t make the vehicle too expensive were 4-channel ABS, licensed from Bosch and air suspension height control. The vehicle had a drag coefficient of 6.81.
The newly developed computer controlled 4 speed automatic transmission, called the 4EAT in both FWD and AWD guises, had a feature where the transmission could be instructed to ignore 1st gear from a standing stop to assist driving on traction limited situations, such as ice and snow. The system was activated by depressing a button on the gearshift selector marked “Manual” and moving the gearshift from the “D” position down to “3rd”. The car would then start in 2nd gear, and not 1st, then as the car gained speed would shift up to 3rd, locking out the overdrive gear 4th. The transmission also splits the delivered torque 50-50 between the front and rear wheels. Once the car stopped, the transmission would start back in 2nd and not 1st, until the system was disengaged with the “Manual” button or upshifting to 4th.
The automatic transmission used on AWD equipped vehicles would normally send 90% of the engines torque to the front wheels and 10% to the rear wheels. When the front wheels began to experience a loss of grip, the transmission automatically sent available torque to the rear wheels, up to 50-50 split between the front and rear wheels until grip was reestablished at the front wheels, without notifying the driver or occupants that torque was being redirected. If the automatic is placed in Reverse or “1st” gear, the transmission divides the torque 50-50 to both front and rear wheels. A limited-slip differential was optional on the 1991 USA Sport Sedan (Legacy Turbo). However it was unavailable on the 92-94 USA Turbo.
The manual 5-speed transmission would divide the torque 50-50 between the front and rear wheels continuously, using a viscous coupling to supply torque to the rear wheels. If the front wheels lost grip, the rear wheels would compensate by maintaining grip to the road. The manual transmission was also equipped with Hill Holder which allows the car to remain stopped on an incline by only depressing the clutch pedal, instead of both the clutch and brake pedal. The turbocharged models with the manual transmission did not receive the Hill Holder option.
Just before the introduction of the Legacy to the USA, three Japanese-spec Legacy RS turbo sedans were sent to the FIA test track in Phoenix, Arizona, where they were driven at an average speed of 138.8 mph (223.4 km/h) for almost 19 days, accumulating 100,000 km (62,138 miles) in that time, setting a new world record for land speed endurance, stopping only for fuel and routine service.
On another occasion, two AWD Legacy wagons finished 1st and 2nd place in the 1990 Alcan Winter Rally that covered 6,300 miles from Seattle, Washington to the Arctic Circle and back and another wagon won the race again in 1992.
The EJ series engine, specially developed for the Legacy, was the most powerful engine Subaru had built to date, and the engine is currently offered in many configurations. In an attempt to ensure durability and longevity, Subaru chose to use five main crankshaft bearings instead of the usual three found in other four cylinder engines. Using five main bearings was commonplace in diesel engines because of the higher compression pressures that diesel engines generated. The engine has either SOHC/DOHC architecture and pent-roof, cross flow cylinder firing chambers.
When it debuted in the US, it was introduced with a slightly larger displacing SOHC 2.2 liter engine that was also used for the European, British and Australian versions over the Japanese market version of DOHC 2.0 liters. The 2.0 liter and 2.2 liter engines fuel delivery were managed with sequential multiport fuel injection called MPFI, and the 1.8 liter engine used a modified fuel delivery system with single point fuel injection called SPFI. The Japanese use the smaller engine because of Japanese road tax legislation, which determines the tax to be paid based on engine displacement, however, the JDM engine was more powerful, even without the turbo. The JDM DOHC 2.0 liter non turbocharged engine had a dual stage intake manifold where at higher engine RPM’s four individual valves would allow additional air flow into the engine from a secondary manifold attached and located underneath the primary intake manifold.
In some world markets, the EA series engine was still being used in 1.6 L and 1.8 L varieties.
Legacy RS Turbo (Japan)
The DOHC 2.0 liter turbocharged engine, which is a prized engine worldwide amongst Subaru enthuiasists, was introduced first in the Legacy and later used in the Impreza WRX when that model was introduced in 1993. In Europe, the Legacy Turbo was sometimes referred to as the “Lunacy” Turbo. The Australians were offered the Japanese-spec RS turbo sedan with the DOHC 2.0 liter engine in 1991, and Europe and the UK the same engine in 1992, manual transmission only. The DOHC 2.0 liter turbo also came with a water-cooled intercooler. The USA SOHC 2.2 liter turbo was not offered the water-cooled intercooler when it was introduced to them in 1991.
All turbocharged vehicles, both sedan and wagon, regardless of the country the vehicle was sold in were equipped with ABS and rear ventilated disc brakes as standard equipment.
When the Legacy was first introduced February 1, 1989 in Japan, the Legacy came in the following trim levels: the 220 hp turbocharged RS with a 5-speed manual transmission only, followed by the VZ sedan and wagon and the TZ sedan and wagon with the 150 hp DOHC 2.0 liter engine. A smaller 1.8 engine was used for the Vi sedan and wagon with FWD only, Ti sedan and wagon, the Mi and the entry level Ei sedans and wagons. All wagons available to the Japanese were the extended roof version, referred to as the Touring Wagon. In 1990, the 200 hp turbocharged Legacy GT sedan/extended roof wagon was introduced, with a 4-speed computer controlled automatic transmission only on the GT sedan and a choice of automatic or manual transmission on the wagon, as well as the slightly more affordable RS type R turbocharged sedan. The Ti type S sedan and wagon, introduced in 1991, were offered with items available on the more expensive VZ and TZ but with the smaller 102 hp SOHC 1.8 engine. The AWD setup, called Active Torque Split in Japanese language brochures, was standard on the Japanese-spec GT and RS, optional on the other trim levels. A glass moonroof was not available until 1991 on both the GT and VZ sedan and wagon. Gray was the only interior color choice offered to the Japanese, with various types of upholstery choices, including a choice of cloth or leather on the GT sedan and wagon. A black leather covered Momo steering wheel also came with the Japanese-spec GT sedan/wagon and the RS sedan.
The following was printed, in English, on the front cover of the 1989 Japanese Legacy brochure, as Subaru was proud of their new car:
“As its name implies, the Legacy represents a culmination of Subaru’s automotive technology. The engineering and design of this elegantly modern 2-liter sedan will set new standards for automotive excellence the world over. Performance, function and quality are the hallmarks of a great sedan. To these we have added that fun-to-drive feeling unique to Subaru. The Legacy; the more time you spend with it, the more you will appreciate it.”
The European, British and Australian versions were offered with two trim levels; the upscale GX and the more affordable LX in Australia and the GL in Europe and the UK, with AWD offered as an option on both levels. In Europe and the UK, the GL came with the 1.8 liter engine and the GX came with the larger 2.2 liter engine. The British UKDM 1.8 GL was equipped initially with a carburetor and rear drum brakes but were later upgraded to fuel injection and rear disc brakes. The Australians could choose between the SOHC 2.2 liter no turbo on the GX and LX or the DOHC 2.0 liter with a turbo on the RS. The European and Australian versions were also available as a limited, premium editions, called GX Gala in Europe, and GX Heritage in Australia offering gray leather on both the sedans and extended roof wagons. The European, British and Australian versions came with two interior color choices; blue or gray. The European, British and Australian wagons were also available with a dual-range manual transmission, not offered in the USA or Japan. In Germany, the extended roof wagon was called the Super Station and was available with either the 2.2 or 1.8 liter engine, ABS brakes were available only on German vehicles with the 2.2 liter engine, and the standard wagon was called the Legacy Station with a 1.8 liter engine only. Subarus were not officially sold in France until February 1992.
The USA Legacy was introduced with three trim levels; the Standard, the “L” and the “LS” and in 1991 the Standard was removed and the “LSi” was introduced as a “LS” with gray leather interior on the sedan only, similar to the “Gala” and “Heritage” approach internationally. The 2.2 turbo, called the Sport Sedan, was also introduced to the USA in 1991. In 1992, the “LSi” was introduced on the wagon, alongside the newly introduced turbocharged “LE” Touring Wagon. The USA-spec Touring Wagon was renamed the GT, one year before the introduction of the Second Generation in 1995, but without a turbo. The only engine size available in USA was the 2.2 liter. The USA version offered three interior color choices adding a light brown selection to the list. Leather was only available on all versions internationally from Subaru in gray. AWD was standard only on the USDM Sport Sedan and optional on all other USDM trim levels. Extended roof wagons were not available on the USA Legacy until the Second Generation, when it was used only for the Outback.
Trim levels on the USA version can be easily identified by the color of the outside door handles. Base trim levels can be identified by chrome door handles, whereas uplevel had painted door handles that match the exterior color. Japanese models all had chrome door handles and European and Australian versions all had painted door handles. The USA door handle tradition continues, with Subaru using black plastic instead of chrome on all current models.
The USA Legacy was marketed as an affordable, luxurious sedan and wagon without the premium price, similar to the marketing efforts in Japan and Australia. The European and British Legacy were marketed as a roomy, yet durable vehicle for life in the country, with unexpected amenities.
The Legacy was introduced in the USA as a competitor to the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and other midsize sedans, with the Legacy offering All Wheel Drive (AWD) as a major distinguishing feature against its competition. (Toyota initially offered AWD on the Camry in the USA in limited markets, with the designation Camry All-Trac, but discontinued the feature due to disappointing sales.) The Legacy was also pitted against vehicles that were offered at the time from Detroit, noteably the Chevrolet Corsica, the Ford Tempo and the Dodge Spirit. Ford also offered AWD on the Tempo in limited markets, but experienced the same results as Toyota with the Camry All-Trac and cancelled the option soon after. In Europe, the Legacy competed against vehicles like the Opel Vectra, Ford Sierra, Volkswagen Passat, Alfa Romeo 33 and the Peugeot 309. The Ford, Opel, VW and Alfa Romeo were available with optional AWD at the time and the Alfa also came with a boxer engine.
In the USA, the Legacy was introduced with automatic seat belts due to United States NHTSA regulations stating that all cars produced from April 1, 1989 were to be equipped with a passive front passenger restraint system that would protect front occupants from frontal impact without occupant participation. This regulation was enacted to force manufacturers to install air bags in their vehicles. In 1992, Subaru added a driver side airbag only which didn’t satisfy the U.S. regulation. If a vehicle had dual air bags, the passive seat belt systems could be removed, which Subaru did in 1995, with the Second Generation. The Japanese vehicles had rear lap belts only on the lower trim levels and 3-point outboard position lap and shoulder belts with a center rear position lab belt on all vehicles with the 2.0 liter engine.
Canadian spec Legacy were not fitted with automatic seat belts due to objections from the Canadian Government and current USA owners have been known to convert the automatic seat belts to the Canadian version when the mechanism fails to retract. Replacing the failed automatic seat belt is currently cost-prohibitive due to current Subaru pricing for failed parts.
All Legacy wagons sold in Europe came with rear seat headrests and 3-point outboard position lap and shoulder belts as standard equipment, whereas rear headrests were available on upper trim levels elsewhere. All international Legacy, except the USA, had front seat adjustable anchor shoulder belts.
Some of the affordable luxury items included express up and express down driver side power window, an electric tilt and sliding moonroof with ventilated sunshade, tilt steering with memory feature that allowed the spring loaded steering column to “jump up” and out of the way, power mirrors, 4-way adjustable headrests, velour upholstery and plush carpeting on the USDM 1990 Legacy LS sedan and wagon, adding leather wrapped steering wheel, gearshift and parking brake handle in 1991. Also in 1991, automatic digital climate control, which was deleted in 1992, and an in-dash CD player, among other things were added to the USA options list. Several exterior paint choices came with a pearlescent appearance, offered only in the USA. Some of the factory installed 80W stereos came with an auxiliary port on the front of the stereo, originally intended for portable CD players, which has been discovered to be portable MP3 player compatible. In 1994, Subaru made available a 80W subwoofer/amplifier and a side view mirror tweeter speaker kit available as a dealer installed accessory with limited availability.
The European and British versions were installed with standard headlight washers and rear fog lights, so that other drivers could see them in inclement weather and at night, and also received speed sensitive, variable effort power steering as standard. The British and Europeans could also install a front bumper bull bar and an 8 mm thick steel sump guard that extended from the bottom edge of the front bumper to the front suspension.
The Japanese version offered electrically folding power mirrors, 8-way power drivers seat, infrared keyless remote entry integrated into the ignition key, a rear wiper on the back of the sedan as well as the wagon, automatic climate control with digital temperature display, vehicle speed sensitive power door locks and switchable, reduced effort for the power steering on the RS turbo sedan.
1992 facelift and other changes
A minor facelift to the front end came in 1992, revising the grille, front fenders, hood and headlamps to provide a similar appearance with the introduction of the Subaru SVX luxury GT coupe, along with interior and exterior color changes. The front turn signals were relocated from underneath the bumper on USA versions to their new location next to the headlights, as in the Japanese, Australian and European versions. Side repeaters were also added to the USA version, but they were used as side fender running lights and not turn signal repeaters, as found in international versions.
1992-1994 Legacy L sedan (US)
1st-gen 1993 Legacy GX wagon (Euro version with headlight washers)
1992 Legacy LS wagon (US)
The post-facelift first generation Legacy was also sold in Japan as the Isuzu Aska.
All turbo models in North America ceased importation from Japan with the end of the first generation in model year 1994 until 2005, when the turbo was re-introduced.
Second generation (1995-1999)
Body style(s) Sedan and Wagon
Layout Front-engine, front-wheel drive 1995 only / All-wheel drive 1996 up
Engine(s) 2.0 L SOHC 115 hp H4
2.0 L DOHC 150 hp H4
2.2 L SOHC 137 hp H4
2.5 L SOHC 165 hp H4
2.0 L DOHC twin turbo 280 hp
Transmission(s) 4-speed automatic
Wheelbase 103.5 in
Length 1995-97 Sedan: 180.9 in
1998-99 Sedan: 181.5 in
1998-99 Wagon: 184.5 in
1995-96 Wagon: 183.9 in
Width 67.5 in
Height Wagon: 57.1 in
2.5GT Wagon: 60.3 in
Sedan: 55.3 in
2.5GT Sedan: 55.7 in
Related Subaru Outback
BD – sedan
BK – wagon
BG – high-roof wagon (called “Touring Wagon” or “Super Station” in some markets)
Subaru Liberty GX station wagon (Australia)
Second generation sales in Japan began with model year 1993, and 1995 marked the second generation in North America with a full body and chassis revision. The exterior was designed by Olivier Boulay, who was hired by Subaru on a short-term basis. Subaru sales had been declining up until that point in North American market. With the help of clever marketing, a trim level called the Outback intent on making the Subaru a more capable multi-terrain vehicle offered an affordable and fuel efficient alternative to the popular SUVs that were outselling Subaru’s traditional offerings. Its popularity would eventually lead to independent developing of the Outback as a stand-alone model rather than a trim level.
In 1996, Subaru decided to make AWD as standard equipment in all vehicles produced for the USA market from that year to today’s current date.
GT models, first offered as a wagon trim package for the USA version in 1994, became a full-blown upgrade in 1996, using the new DOHC 2.5 L engine. GT models continue to the present model, with Limited editions available, offering heated leather, or cloth, seats and trim and a tinted, glass moonroof. Driver and front passenger air bags were added with the redesigned interior. New equipment added to the list of features included remote keyless entry, fog lights on the upper trim levels and speed-sensitive power steering.
1999 Marked the 30th anniversary of Subaru, and the last of the second generation in North America. There was a special 30th Anniversary Edition offered with upgraded interior and sunroof, spoiler, alloy wheels on the “L” trim level cars. The Brighton trim level also carried over from the facelifted first generation version that was priced below the “L” trim option. The “GT” trim level appeared in 1996. The term “Limited” appeared on the “GT”, known as the “GT Limited” in 1998. The term “Limited” was used by itself on the Outback in 1998.
Turbocharged versions continued to be available in most non-US markets. Speciality touring and racing versions were available in Japan, as well as the DOHC 2 liter twin sequential turbocharged version on both the sedan and wagon. The twin turbo can only be installed on right-hand drive vehicles because the turbo on the left side interferes with both the brake master cylinder and steering linkage, among other things.
Some owners of the newly developed 2.5 engine for this generation have experienced leaking head gasket issues, which were addressed and much improved on the Third Generation models.
A unusual interior change placed the power window switches flat against the door panel, whereas the window switches for the first generation and third generation extended from the door panels and were oriented in a horizontal position and were located underneath the drivers or occupants hands for easy location and use, and integrated into the door pull and armrest.
Third generation (1998-2004)
Body style(s) Sedan and Wagon
Layout All-wheel drive
Engine(s) 2.0 L DOHC 125hp H4
2.0 L DOHC 280hp turbo H4 manual
2.0 L DOHC 265hp turbo H4 automatic
2.5 L SOHC 165hp H4
3.0 L DOHC Flat-6 (162kW at 6000 rpm and 289Nm at 4400 rpm)
Transmission(s) 4-speed automatic
Wheelbase 104.3 in
Length 187.4 in (wagon)
184.4 in (sedan)
Width 68.7 in
Height 55.7 in (sedan)
59.6 in (wagon)
56.5 in (Brighton wagon)
Related Subaru Outback
BE – sedan
BH – wagon
2003-2004 Subaru Legacy sedan (US)
Subaru launched the third generation Japanese and world-market Legacy in 1998, while the North American model was introduced in 2000. All models were equipped with standard,symmetrical all wheel drive. World-market and Japanese models ranged from a normally-aspirated 2.0 liter flat four to the EZ30R in the 3.0R model.
In 2001 the EZ30, a newly designed 3.0 L H6 was offered in the Outbacks.
The Legacy is the only vehicle in this class that provides AWD as standard equipment.
The 4 speed automatic transmission, had a feature where the transmission could be instructed to ignore 1st gear from a standing stop to assist driving on traction limited situations, such as ice and snow. The system was activated by moving the gearshift from the “D” position down to “2nd”. The car would then start in 2nd gear, and not 1st. The transmission also splits the delivered torque 50-50 between the front and rear wheels. Once the car stopped, the transmission would start back in 2nd and not 1st, until the system was upshifted to 4th.
The B4 model carries over from the second generation and is a sedan-only model. The RSK featured the familiar DOHC, twin-turbo 2.0l outputting 280 hp in manual guise, 265 pr in automatic Tiptronic form. This results in a 0-60 mph time of 5.7 s for the Manual and 6.7 s for the automatic.
The manual B4 had a power split of 50/50 to the front and rear wheels, the automatic has a 35/65 split.
A B4 RS model was equipped with a less powerful, normally aspirated 2.0 L DOHC engine, but shared many of the body and suspension components of the more powerful RSK.
In 2001, a B4 RS25 model was introduced with a normally aspirated 2.5 L DOHC engine.
In 2002, the B4 RS30 was introduced with a normally aspirated 3.0 L EZ30 DOHC flat-six engine.
The GT-B is a tuned version of the Legacy Wagon, the “B” in the name referring to the Bilstein struts that the car was equipped with. The E-Tune II was introduced in 2001 as a 2002 model
The fourth revision of the third-generation Legacy made several important but subtle changes to the front of the car. The fenders, grille, and headlights were altered slightly, making interchangeability difficult. The headlights in the Japanese market were of the HID variety, and were slightly smaller, while the grille also shrank slightly.
The Blitzen model was the result of a collaboration with Porsche, and featured many unique parts and paint schemes. The wheels, body kit, and interior were all designed by Porsche. It also featured an implementation of the Porsche Tiptronic automatic gearbox, the first use of sequential-shifting on a production Subaru model.
A wagon version was made available in 2001 with the EZ30 engine.
The model was refreshed in 2002 with an updated design.
Named after an area in Southern France, this wagon was shown at the 35th Tokyo Motor Show in 2001. It was a cobalt blue color and featured a normally aspirated 2.5 L engine. It was outfitted with a unique body kit, wheels and interior accents, such as clay-colored seats and a light-colored dashboard.
Fourth generation (2005-present)
Body style(s) Sedan and Wagon
Layout All-wheel drive
Engine(s) 2.5 L SOHC 175 hp H4
2.5 L DOHC Turbo 250 hp (GT and GT Spec. B only) H4
3.0 L DOHC 250 hp H6
2.0 L DOHC 165 hp
Transmission(s) 4-speed automatic
Wheelbase 105.1 in
Length 186.2 in (sedan)
188.7 in (wagon)
188.8 in (2008-present wagon)
Width 68.1 in
Height 58.1 in (wagon)
56.1 in (sedan)
56.5 in (Spec B Sedan)
Related Subaru Outback
BL – Sedan
BP – Wagon
A major chassis and body revision took place in 2005 North American/2004 worldwide. The frame was made much stiffer. A turbocharged engine was once again available in North America, the engine based on a USDM Impreza WRX STI.
During MY 2005, Subaru introduced Active Valve Control System, or AVCS on both the 2.5 Flat-4 and 3.0 Flat-6 engines as standard equipment.
As of the 2008 model year, the Legacy wagon and Outback sedan were discontinued in the United States, leaving the Legacy sedan and Outback wagon. The Legacy wagon was not discontinued in Canada. 2008 also brought the 3.0 L Flat-6 engine to the North American Legacy sedan. The Flat-6 has been available in the Outback sedan wagon since 2000.
The Legacy is the only vehicle in its class that provides AWD as standard equipment.
USA Trim level designations have been updated and are listed in order of least expensive:
2.5i, 2.5i Limited, 2.5 GT Limited., 3.0R, 2.5GT Spec.b
In 2006, the trim level 2.5 SE was slotted between the 2.5i and the 2.5i Limited and the GT spec B was added.
In 2007, the 3.0R was added with the 6 cylinder engine.
European Legacy have two trim levels: the 2.0R and the 3.0R spec B.
In Japan, the Legacy comes in three variations: Legacy Touring Wagon, Legacy B4 sedan and Legacy Outback. Japanese versions are being offered radar-guided cruise control, referred to as SI-Cruise on all upper level products. The JDM Outback engine choices are either the 3.0 or 2.5 DOHC.
2006 Liberty Blitzen at the Melbourne International Motor Show
European Legacy Police wagon
Japanese Legacy Police Car (Ibaraki Prefecture)
Japanese Legacy Police Car (Ibaraki Prefecture)
World market release schedule
Models have typically been released into Japan and selected World markets such as New Zealand and Chile in advance of the Continental European and North American markets, perhaps because the first two are right-hand drive markets and Subaru has a strong presence in Chile.
Generation I: 1989–1992
Generation II: 1993–1997
Generation III: 1998–2003
Generation IV: 2003–present
North American market release schedule
North America usually releases its models two years after Japan does, due to the fact that all current Legacies for the North American market have been built at Subaru of Indiana located in Lafayette, Indiana since 2004. Previously, all USA Legacy were built at either the Indiana plant or the Ota, Gunma plant in Japan starting in 1989.
Generation I: 1990–1994
Generation II: 1995–1999
Generation III: 2000–2004
Generation IV: 2004–present
The first generation Legacy was also sold in Japan by Isuzu as the Aska CX, from 1990 to 1994.
The Legacy has many different trim levels in the Japanese market, with an assortment of different names (i.e. Brighton, Lancaster, VZ to name a few). Perhaps the most dubious one of all would be the 1993 Subaru Touring Bruce, named due to Bruce Willis lending himself to a Japanese market advertising campaign and sang in commercials, singing the song “A House of Gold” by Kenny Rankin. Bruce Willis also appeared in the Japanese market Subaru Legacy sales brochure for both the sedan and wagon, wearing a linen suit in both brochures. Singers Jennifer Lopez and Rod Stewart have both filmed TV commercials for the Japanese market and actor Mel Gibson sang in a commercial for the second generation with two songs “So Far Away” and “You Light Up My Life” by David Morgan . Rod did singing commercials for the second generation Legacy, singing “People Get Ready”, “Tonight’s the Night” and “Sailing”. Jennifer also did singing commercials for the third generation, with the song “Ain’t it Funny”. Bruce re-appeared in a commercial for the current generation recently to celebrate the production of the 3 millionth Legacy in 2005.
Information listed for the first generation Legacy above was sourced from Subaru sales brochures for the noted model years from the USA, UK, Germany, Japan and Australia. Information obtained from Japanese Legacy brochures was translated into English from the original Japanese printing.
Many rural United States Postal Service routes used specially ordered right hand drive Legacys to deliver mail. These wagons were available from 1990 to 1999 and differed very little from the private use Legacy.
According to a Babel Fish translation of the Japanese Wikipedia article on the Subaru Legacy, the Aomori Prefecture and Ibaraki Prefecture police departments have used the Legacy for patrol cars since the car was introduced and continue to do so. Also mentioned in this translation was an article mentioning that when Subaru began to develop the Legacy, the article stated that Subaru was facing financial pressure to improve sales from the successes from other Asian competitors and that they used an internal project code of “44B” to refer to the Legacy.
The Subaru Legacy Outback was 2007’s Top Gear car of the year, along side the Ford Mondeo. Note that they did not test either cars.
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