Subaru Legacy

From Academic Kids

The Subaru Legacy (called the Liberty in Australia) is a midsize car that was introduced by Subaru in February 1989 as a replacement for the Subaru Leone/Loyale. It came with a 2.0 L engine and was available with all wheel drive (AWD), which later became standard worldwide. The Australian Liberty was Wheels magazine's Car of the Year for 1994 and again for 1998.

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2005 USDM Subaru Legacy 2.5GT

In the United States, the Legacy was introduced in 1990, with a 2.2 L engine featuring front and all-wheel drive as options. Both sedan and wagon models were available. In 1991, a turbocharged sedan model became available, though its engine differed somewhat from that of other market offerings. A turbocharged wagon debuted in 1992. All turbo models in the US ceased production with the introduction of the second generation Legacy, starting in 1995. The US Outback model, with clever marketing, halted declining sales in the US market and was instrumental in attracting the interest of General Motors. GT models, first offered as a wagon trim package in 1994, became a full-blown upgrade in 1996, using the new 2.5 L engine. GT models would continue, with Limited editions available, offering even greater comforts. The US market launch of the 2005 model brought back the turbocharged Legacy to the States, much to the delight of the model's fans.

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2004 Legacy 3.0R Station Wagon, European Version

In Japan, the Legacy has a reputation for being an affordable, quick, and nimble car. Subaru is trying to follow the success of the Impreza worldwide with the Legacy, offering turbo models in Japan, Europe, and the Americas.

In the Pacific Northwest it has gained considerable popularity as an icon of the outdoor lifestyle. The Legacy (and Outback specifically) typifies the outdoor lifestyle market in the US; this is an image of Subaru that differs greatly from that the rest of the world has. The rise of the performance-oriented Impreza has done much to change the brand image in recent years, emphasizing performance and safety as well as utility.

On April 23, 1998 a Subaru Legacy set a new world speed record for mass-produced turbo station wagons (1600 cc–2000 cc class), clocking 270.532 km/h over one kilometer on Highway 10 in La Junta, Colorado. [1] ( This record was previously set by a Generation II Subaru Legacy in 1993.


Subaru Legacy world market history

Models have typically been released into Japan and selected World markets such as New Zealand in advnce of the North American market.

  • Generation I: 1989–1992
  • Generation II: 1993–1997
  • Generation III: 1998–2003
  • Generation IV: 2003–

Subaru Legacy United States market history

  • Generation I: 1990–1994
  • Generation II: 1995–1999
  • Generation III: 2000–2004
  • Generation IV: 2005–

Subaru Legacy chassis codes

  • Generation I: BC - Sedan, BF - Wagon
  • Generation II: BD - Sedan, BG - Wagon
  • Generation III: BE - Sedan, BH - Wagon
  • Generation IV: BL - Sedan, BP - Wagon

Subaru Legacy engine sizes

The EJ-series engine was introduced first in the Legacy. It offers many important improvements over the previous engines, such as five main bearings instead of three. All Legacy engines are horizontally-opposed flat engines with at least one overhead cam per side.

  • 1.6 L & 1.8 L world-market four-cylinder engines exist, some may be carburated.
  • 2.0 L & 2.2 L fours were available in normally aspirated, fuel-injected form in most markets.
  • 2.0 L turbocharged and intercooled fours have been a staple of the Legacy. Single and twin turbo models existed only in world markets, never available in the US. Dual turbos were provided until 2003 when a single twin-scroll titanium turbocharger sourced from Mitsubishi (and very similar to that used in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII onwards) was adopted by Subaru.
  • 2.2 L turbocharged fours were available in the US Legacy from 1991 to 1994. This was a unique version, with no intercooled and single overhead cams. It has many resemblances to the RA-version engines in world markets.
  • 2.5 L, dual-overhead camshaft, normally aspirated and fuel-injected fours were available in the US market beginning in 1996. A revised version, with single-overhead camshafts, was available in US models beginning in 2000. Some hybrid versions have been known to exist in Outback models during the 1998–99 years. World markets received versions of this engine with variable valve timing as early as 2001.
  • 2.5 L, dual-overhead camshaft, turbocharged and intercooled fours are available in US-market GT models, beginning in 2005. This engine shares many parts with other versions of the Impreza WRX STi, Forester XT and Baja Turbo, as well as the Outback XT which are available only in the US market.
  • 3.0 L, dual-overhead camshaft, normally-aspirated flat sixes became available in the US market in 2001. This is a complete redesign and shares no parts with earlier flat-six engines. It was available as an option on the US market Outback. An updated 3.0 L six, with variable valve timing called AVCS entered the market with the introduction of the 2005 Outback.

Performance models

Subaru has produced high performance versions of the Legacy with Bilstein suspension and tuned turbo engines equivalent to the homologised rally version WRX STI (generating 205 KW 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. 2.0l turbo models with Bilstein were termed either GT-B (for wagons), or Spec B, or RSK-B4 (for sedans); until the 2003 model when they all just became simply B4 or even GT in some countries.

4 wheel drive

Subaru have been promoters and leaders of 4-wheel drive systems for saloon cars. The company markets systems with a claimed low centre of gravity resulting from the placement of the boxer engine and the particular construction of the 4-wheel drive nmechanism. 4-wheel drive provides superior grip on slippery surfaces at low speed compared to front or rear wheel drive vehicles but gives insignificant advantage at high or "on-the-limit" speeds.


Legacy units vary considerably across the range of sub-models. Vehicles with basic suspension do not perform any better than other mass-market family targeted Japanese units. The high performance models have a marked improvement, especially with the B4 models. However, until the Gen IV models were released in 2003, even the B4 versions had a reputation for understeer. This was overcome with the Gen. IV models which also has superior chassis characteristics as a result of a new design and the inclusion of aluminium structural members and new steering parameters.

Subaru 4-wheel drive systems require different driving behaviour than 2-wheel drive. In particular it is important when driving hard to power the wheels all the way through a corner, in which case the handling characteristics are controlled best and the grip of the tyres is maximised . The 4-wheel drive cars respond adversely when coasting into a corner close to its limit without power on the wheels. Throttle lift-off oversteer is minimal and so the vehicle is sensitive to lining up the corner exactly. The B4 Legacy is not forgiving of sloppiness when driving hard but responds in a rewarding way when care and skill is applied!


The exterior of the second-generation Legacy was penned by Olivier Boulay, who was hired by Subaru on a short-term basis. He would go on to participate in the design of the Maybach 57 and 62 and influence several Mitsubishi projects.

External links

  • Websites
    • ( A discussion website for the Subaru Legacy.
    • Legacy Central ( Subaru Legacy-specific website.
    • Surrealimage ( Website devoted to the first-generation Legacy.
  • Discussion forums
    • NASIOC ( Legacy forum at NASIOC.
    • i-Club ( Legacy forums at i-Club.
    • LegacyGT ( Forum at
    • Legacy Central BBS ( First-generation Legacy forum on Legacy Central.
    • WRXForum (;f=5) Legacy forum at WRXForums.
    • Forum Subaru ( Legacy forums at Forum Subaru.



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