i have owned and operated a 91 subaru legacy l wagon for the past two years and it has been wonderful. i have had no major problems and i still get about 21 miles to the gallon. i am a high school student and i think that it would make an excelent first car. for an old wagon i was extremely suprized to discover the pep that the car can deliver. i have an automatic transmission, and i really seems to choose the gears well depending on how much pressure you put on the gas. with a little wider tires, the vehicle seems to have a better feel on the road, so i would suggest that as an aftermarket addition.
I bought this 1991 Subaru legacy wagon with 5 speed manual transmission from the original owner 13 years ago. It now has 247,000 miles on it. It runs great. Most repairs have been normal maintenance. The biggest issue now is that it barely made it through DEQ last year. Too much CO. Next year may be it. Oh, and yes, gas mileage is pretty bad if all you do is drive traffic light to traffic light. That produces 15 mpg when I do that. But usually I get 19 in mixed, mostly city, driving, and 30 on the freeway at 60 mpg. There are lots of SUV's out there but very few Japanese station wagons being made any more. I'm keeping this one until it blows up. Or flunks DEQ.
This is an amazing car! It's got almost 190,000 miles on it. It's been wrecked and rebuilt, has Ford Taurus wheel covers and is missing a couple parts, but still runs and drives just fine. In 80,000 miles and 10 years the only things that broke were the oil pump, alternator, a blown muffler. The O2 sensor took a dump several thousand miles ago, still runs good! Steers good. Handles good. Brakes Good. Transmission works good (but has arthritis now). Keep this car maintained and it will outlast your brand new car.
My mom bought our Subaru Legacy L wagon used and drove the heck out of it (back and forth to college at least 3 times a week [94 miles a trip].). We still own this car and it still runs and drives quite well at over 350,000 miles. In owning this car for several years we have only had to have it worked on 3 times and have put a little more than 225,000 miles on it. This Legacy has been the most reliable and tough vehicle that we have ever owned. This was the first car I learned to drive and Subaru has been my favorite automotive company ever since.
I bought it 4 years ago because I needed a car on short notice and wanted a wagon. Learned to love it because it never lets you down and does everything as well as a new car for 1/10th the price. After 17 years, almost everything on the car is still original and there isn't a spot of rust. This is the car that made Subaru a legend.