My wife bought it new and handed it to me when we bought a new Forester this year. She's used it to carry dogs & horse stuff, to drive over fields, to carry our boys to all the usual places. I now drive it back and forth to work (15 miles/day), & my son drives it when home from college. We about 22 mpg, 24 if highway driving (but that's not often). So astonishingly dependable that when something goes wrong, you think somebody's been fooling with it.
Cupholders. The Forester's cupholders are in between front seats - very clumsy to use. Legacy's are flimsy, but much more convenient. Huge storage space compared to Forester '08.
The front seats are uncomfortable during long drives. Subaru fixed this as of the '08 Forester.
This car's driveability is unmatched for the price range. Excellent 4WD for the winter months, but sporty in the summer. Plenty of space for cargo and family friendly. Androgynous body style with nice curves. Unfortunately, the 2.5L engine has notorious head gasket issues. Had to replace water pump, timing belt, tensioner, gaskets, etc. Otherwise I routinely get 28MPG highway and in town around 22; not bad for AWD. I won't buy another Subaru, due to the engine problems, but a fun car until it busted
Cargo room, including roof, style, handling, fuel economy
I am the original owner of this car. It now has about 155,000 miles. Had to replace the head gasket at 89,000 miles. Was not a happy camper, but its been running OK since then. A few quirky problems, mostly with sensors and brakes, but once they are replaced, it seems fine. I will probably be replacing it within a year, and I don't think I will buy another Subaru, but I can't honestly think of a more affordable AWD vehicle with as much room as it has. Hopefully Subaru has improved its quality a bit since 98.
AWD is great in the winter. Car like drive. Good cargo space for its size.
Hopefully, the engine is better on the new ones. To me, having to replace the head gasket at 89,000 was unacceptable. Hopefully, they've improved the brake system also.
Inherited the '98 Subaru Legacy wagon from my parents, and just got rid of it last month. The car was GREAT in the snow, and amazingly reliable overall. It did seem to have some problems with the alternator/belt, but never to the point that it refused to start or run. Interior cargo space was much appreciated; with the fold-down seats it could hold furniture or an entire dorm room worth of stuff. Even after 10 years and 167000 (fairly hard) miles, the car was still running at ~24 MPG and was in fairly good shape. Had it been better maintained early on, I would still have it now. It would make a great family car or college student's vehicle, especially in a cold-weather area.
Alternator/belt problems; cup holders badly-placed and terribly flimsy- caused drinks to spill into control panel and eventually broke off altogether; so-so exterior styling, although I guess you can't expect too much from a wagon.
I bought this car with 142k miles for $3700, it was a one owner in pretty good shape. This is the 5th Subaru that I have owned, just like all the others it has proved reliable, easy to work on, and excellent off road and in snowy climates. I live in SLC,UT and ski quite a bit at Alta, this winter they have recieved over 650" of snow. This car does great in the snow, especially with dedicated snow tires. While most other cars are creeping up the canyon, this car is totally stable on snowpack. I would recommend these cars for people who need the space of a larger SUV, but don't like driving the extra mass. With the 5 speed, power is never a problem.
The reliability along with the way it corners on tight mountain roads makes this car hard to beat for the money.
This car is 10 years old and still runs like new. The seats are a bit packed down now, but I will get some newer ones at the salvage yard from an Outback. Really nothing to complain about.