1992 Subaru Legacy L+ 4WD sedan 2.2L SOHC EJ22 flat 4
As reliable as the sunrise... and almost as exciting
The car had the classic vintage Legacy crank pulley problem. The front cam/crank seals and timing belt were replaced shortly before I got it. The crank pulley was not installed properly, stripping out the pulley and partially stripping the keyway on the crank snout.
Transmission computer seemed to have been replaced at some point... with the wrong one. This caused the 4WD to intermittently be in 50/50 split mode (normally it is 90/10). An even power split between the front and rear wheels on dry pavement causes a noticeable "binding" of the wheels, particularly in turns. Replaced the computer, and all is well.
Headlight lenses were badly oxidized. Had to be refinished.
Couple dash lights were burned out.
RH rear cam seal leaked. Replaced.
Front brake pads replaced due to slight noise, but they didn't really need it.
Had horrible wind noise from the front windows on the freeway. Removing the side mirrors and pinching the window seals underneath back into shape took care of it.
I bought this car from the original owner, who bought it new at a dealership 2 miles from my house. He was METICULOUS about maintaining it, and it came with every service record from the day it was sold, along with the original window sticker and bill of sale. This car had aftermarket rubber floor mats OVER the factory carpeted floor mats. 'Nuff said.
The owner did not want to repair the crank pulley problem, as his mechanic told him he needed a new $1500 engine. So I got the car for... $392. The crank pulley took about an hour and $16 worth of parts to fix, then it was back on the road.
In my opinion, this is one of the best and most reliable used cars a person can buy, and I have owned pretty much everything. I saw one of these in a wrecking yard once with over 530,000 miles on it. It had succumbed to RUST. Materials and build quality on the first generation Legacy is typical of an early 1990s Japanese car... EXCELLENT. The paint and body look very nice, and the interior, though obviously dated, looks like new. The car is very quiet, peppy, and handles great, even with nearly 200k. Everything has held up very well, likely due to both excellent design/build and owner care.
The "L+" package includes most popular options, like power windows, locks, mirrors, cruise control, AC, and an upgraded stereo. It's sort of an odd, unbadged sub-package tucked between the "L" and the "LS" in the '92 lineup. It is only worth noting it here, because everything still works! My car's combination of optional ABS and 4WD makes it extremely sure-footed in any weather conditions. With street tires, the car is unstoppable in anything under 5" of snow. Put on studded snow tires, and it is unstoppable in anything under 8" of snow/ice. Seriously! Much over 10" and ground clearance, not traction, becomes an issue.
The Legacy was Subaru's first attempt at making what Americans would call a "conventional" car. For years, Subaru had been making odd, somewhat boxy, but extremely reliable cars. In the late 1980s they really wanted to make a car to compete heads-up in the US with their rivals... Honda and Toyota. Well, I'd say they succeeded admirably, and I would put a '90-'94 Legacy up against any Japanese import of the time. In foul weather, however, they really outshine nearly every other passenger car on the road.
This car really is like an old trail horse. No matter what the weather, just point it where you want to go, spur it on with your foot, and it will go there. Period. Not a super exciting car, but this particular kind of boredom can sometimes be very reassuring. You always know what to expect when you saddle up and drive away.
After all, trail horses aren't SUPPOSED to be exciting, are they?
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 17th July, 2012