1994 Subaru Legacy Wagon 2.2 gas from North America
A true workhorse designed for snow days and backcountry adventures
Upper radiator hose leak.
Cloudy plastic headlight lenses.
Clear coat peel.
Window switch stopped working.
Power steering pump leaked.
Front left wheel bearing went bad.
Wrinkled sun visor.
I love this wagon. It has been very reliable, capable, spunky and thrifty.
This is the car for the budget minded adventurer. It is a great bargain in today's market. The car has plenty of storage space, plenty of roof rack space, enough power and ground clearance to take you to where you need to go.
Snow & ice are laughable joke when you outfit the wagon with killer snow tires. Long distance trips are comfy and the motor does not mind cruising 65-70 mph at 3K RPM. Washed out dirt roads heading up into the back country can be navigated with ease. City commutes and parking are a snap. Visibility is 360. Controls and levers are in the right spot. Tach, electric windows, A/C, good radio... what more could an adventure bum want!?!
The transmission gear ratios seem to be perfectly matched for the motor. Steep hill climbs are easy and the RPM ranges don't leave the motor struggling to build steam. Also uphill starts are aided by a clutch brake assistance feature which holds the brake on while you slide your right foot from the brake to the gas. This helps the driver keep from stalling the motor, even when navigating rough dirt roads.
One of my favorite features is that Subaru made sure that you'll never accidentally leave your lights on. Unlike every other auto company out there, when you turn your key off, all your lights turn off. So no need to worry about dead batteries.
I travel with ski gear, mountain bikes, hiking gear, 15 foot canoes and other outdoor stuff in my wagon all the time, so I opted to remove the rear bottom seat cushion. This allows the folding rear seats to lay flat, while giving me the option to recline my driving seat back a bit.
When I bought this wagon I took it straight to my mechanic. I had the timing belt replaced, along with the oil pump, water pump and had all the gaskets and seals replaced too ($1000 bill & peace of mind). Subaru motors are leaky motors due to their design. Starting with fresh seals, pumps and belts is the only way to fly. I also had the cooling system flushed. You never know how the last person treated the motor, and your cooling system / oiling systems are the most important part of the motor. Don't cook your heads; they'll work and crack and that job is way more than $1000.
When I visit the wrecking yard, I'll look for Legacy Wagons. When I find one I take a look at the odometers. 3K - 35K is typical. Doors shut great, never sag, seat fabric in great condition, motors which have not been picked apart... the cars look like they are in fantastic condition. I think the owners simply grew tired of waiting for the car to die. Of the parts that went bad on my car, I sourced most of the replacement parts at the local wrecking yard. The power steering pump, and window switches were some of the items I got. The used parts worked fantastic.
I polished my head lights, now they are like wet ice. The upper radiator hose simply developed a small split. Replacing that was easy. I took both front hubs off and had a local NAPA shop press new bearings in. I swapped in new front drive lines, new brake rotors and brake pads at the same time.
My biggest complaint are the auto seat belts. I learned that Canadian models did not have this auto feature. So I did some homework at the local wrecking yard. I discovered that Subaru Outback (gen 1) seat belt systems will bolt right in. So I removed the auto buckle crap and bolted in the Outback belts and buckles. My wagon has standard seat belts and I love it.
Properly maintained and wisely driven, these cars should be able to take you on many long journeys. These cars are a dime a dozen, but they are built like a million bucks. They are not fancy or racy, but they are strong and just right for the action adventurer on a budget.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 20th August, 2016
23rd Aug 2016, 13:00
Speaking as a former mechanic, my view is that Subarus tend to take more looking after than other Japanese makes and the maintenance generally is quite tricky (try getting to the spark plugs on some models).
I don't know if it's a factor elsewhere in the world, but here (the UK) they are usually bought by the farming community, who believe in running all vehicles into the ground, as hard and as fast as possible, with no regard to maintenance. Second- hand examples thus get a bad reputation, through no real fault of their own.