1996 Subaru Legacy Brighton from North America
Good highway car
The Subaru has been extremely reliable (just the recommended maintenance -- even with a teenager learning to drive on it, and taking a while to get the feel of shifting gears) until yesterday. I noticed an odd noise and slight loss of power at highway speeds. When I brought it in to the dealer, they spotted a leaking head gasket and a bad wheel bearing. They said the wheel bearing needed immediate replacement, and that the head gasket could wait, but probably shouldn't (they were really good about stating all the options). I decided to do all the repairs at once (apparently when they have the engine out for the head gasket repair, it's very easy to do a fair amount of other stuff).
Overall, I'm slightly disappointed -- I didn't get these very expensive repairs on my Toyota until 200,000 miles -- but if the repairs make the car last another 3-5 years, I will have gotten my money's worth (I bought it new for $16,000 in 1996 and it's now fall 2007)
Handles really well on the highway. I lived in Montana when we had no numerical speed limits -- and on dry pavement, during the day, it would behave beautifully on long (ca. 700 mile) drives at 90-95 mph. Generally, it's a very good highway car. The suspension is a bit soft/sloppy for dirt and gravel roads (especially washboarded ones -- I preferred my Toyota which was built on a light truck body). But I'd strongly recommend it if you do a lot of long distance driving. It's also quite roomy -- I can carry a 6 foot bookcase and still close the back -- and very stable in high winds, even with a canoe on top.
The AWD isn't as good on snow and ice as true 4WD -- but if driven conservatively, is adequate (better than front wheel).
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 28th September, 2007
19th Aug 2010, 10:07
Subarus of all years need to have their cooling systems watched very carefully. They are rock solid reliable, but if they ever overheat, even one time, due to a lack of maintenance or, damage to the vehicle, they usually will, indeed, pop a head gasket.
The timing belt is another area that requires diligence to be changed at the specified intervals, and typically, I would recommend a Subaru factory timing belt, as they tend to out perform the aftermarket ones, by a noticeable amount. When doing this, opt to replace the pulleys and the water pump at the same time, since they are easily accessible, and this will save you money in the long run. My last Subaru lasted 264 thousand miles, and the motor still ran like a champ. (The tranny died.)
Also of note the axles on most older, and newer Subarus are the same, front to back, so if you have a used model with a lot of miles, a factory axle is usually less than 100$ and keeping a spare in the garage can save you money at the repair shop. :)