I bought my Subaru OUtback (automatic) with 214,000 and quickly put on another 10k in 6 months.
I took it camping, [light] off-roading, and driving cross country.
it worked great from Wisconsin to Utah to California.
It does need a little more pep from the engine, but for what I needed it was the perfect mix of reliability, space, and economy.
I was getting around 23 MPG per tank, I got through the snow and up mountains with no problems.
I was able to move all the stuff needed for 2 college students cross country with no problem.
It did more off road than I would have expected, be sure to check the head gasket before buying.
All Wheel Drive all the time
Heated Seats, wipers, mirrors
Weather band radio
lots of room
decent ground clearance
Height adjustable driver's seat.
More useful position for cupholders.
More power in the engine or another gear in the transmission.
More accessible spark plugs.
More legroom for all passengers.
This past winter we had record snowfalls in the northeast and I've never had more fun drifting the subie around in the drifts. At one point we were tearing it up in 18 inches looking for deeper drifts just to see if we "could" get it stuck. We eventually succeeded when we fell into the valley of a hill and we were up to our windows. In general though the car is great at 131,000 it's still chugging along fine. I had to repace the clutch after my friend thought he could drive a manual.... but so far I've gone trough two sets of tires and the car corners surprisingly well for all the ground clearance. The interior is kinda sucky but hey for the price nothing else can offroad at 24mpg.
-More ground clearance than an explorer.
-The 2.5 isn't a beast but enough to get through heavy snow and go pretty fast.
-Having fun passing everyone else when its snowing (AWD system is superb)
-Good AC and Heat after 12+ years
-Not many repairs other than the occasional parts that brake. Engine is healthy. Some rust on the manifold.
Headers blow a lot (hasn't happened to me yet) and the interior definitely could be a little nicer.
this is my second legacy, the first one the body rusted but the engine was still great with 140K on it, so I bought a demonstrator with 6k on it from the dealer. Besides the above mentioned gasket problem I have only changed the tires, and oil, and a timing belt when we did the gaskets. Subaru's are low maintenance cars.
Excellent mileage and the AWD drive got me to work in the blizzard with 7 in clearance. Lot of windows with no blind spots. I feel like I am almost in a convertible with the sun roof open.
I am glad they changed the interior back to the plastic molding as it is much more durable for a station wagon. The leather doors just don't hold up with dogs and I have to replace the door panels. But it is a 98.
I loved my Subaru and how fun it was to drive. Unfortunately, I will never buy another one. On a road trip with my kids, the the head gasket blew with less than 70000 miles! Over $1700 later I was on the road again but lost all faith in Subaru as a whole. I started to see head gaskets as a major problem with model years 1997-1999 by visiting other websites (www.subaruoutback.org) and no recall or note from Subaru.
Fun to drive off road. The car's AWD was incredible!
Improve head gasket design, lower the engine rpm while highway driving - the engine rpm is too high at highway speeds resulting in noisy engine, needs low range gearing for 4WD, no cargo space behind the driver's and passenger's seats, need more comfortable center arm rest for driver and passenger