1999 Subaru Legacy Review

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Pros & Cons

  • All-wheel drive, all the time. Sharp styling. Throaty engine note.
  • Aging interior design. Too much glossy plastic inside.
List Price Estimate
$936 - $2,265

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Vehicle overview

Subaru distances itself from mainstream automakers by emphasizing its all-wheel drive (AWD) models, thus carving out a unique niche which other companies are just now beginning to address. A wise move, since loyal Subaru buyers stick with the brand partially because of the wide variety of AWD models in the company's stable. In the early 90s, the company attempted to steal market share from Nissan, Toyota, Honda and Mazda with bread-and-butter front-wheel drive models. The two-wheelers failed dismally.

These days, Subaru is enjoying rising success in the United States, in part due to consumer awareness of the safety benefits of all-wheel drive vehicles, and in part because of the popularity of the sport utility vehicle. In 1996, Subaru introduced a jacked-up, duded-out edition of the hot-selling Legacy station wagon. Called the Outback, it was sold as the world's first sport utility wagon. (Evidently, Subaru marketing gurus, like much of the buying public, have forgotten the AMC Eagle Sportswagon of the early 80s.) Since the introduction of the Outback, Subaru sales have climbed steadily each year.

If ain't broke, don't fix it, goes the old adage. Subaru is taking this advice for 1999. In the summer of 1998, the Sport Utility Sedan (SUS) debuted, essentially a Legacy four-door wearing an Outback costume. Later, a couple of new 30th Anniversary models available in L trim arrived in showrooms with a power moonroof, alloy wheels, and other standard accoutrements. New colors called Sandstone Metallic and Winestone Pearl were added to the paint chart, while all 2.5GT, Limited and Outback received standard remote keyless entry. Also new for 1999 was a manually shifted version of the 2.5GT Limited sedan.

Two engines are available in Legacy models. Brighton and L have a 2.2-liter, 137-horsepower boxer under the hood. Step up to the 2.5GT, SUS or the Outback and you'll enjoy a 165-horsepower 2.5-liter flat four that provides entertaining acceleration around town, particularly with the manual transmission.

Bargains can be had in the Legacy lineup. The L model comes equipped with cruise control, tachometer, power door locks, and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS. The real deal is the Brighton wagon. With all-wheel drive, a 40-watt sound system and air conditioning all standard, this model is priced much lower than most other two-wheel drive wagons on the market. Add some alloy wheels, and nobody will know it's the cheapest Legacy available. Unfortunately, ABS is not available on the Brighton.

Subaru has a good thing going with the Legacy, which offers a little something for everyone. Roomy, comfortable, and loaded with utility, the Legacy's standard all-wheel drive should make you think twice about that Taurus, RAV4, or CR-V.

1999 Highlights

Subaru celebrates 30 years of selling cars in the United States by adding special editions to the Legacy lineup. The L sedan and wagon are available with a package of goodies that includes power moonroof, alloy wheels, rear spoiler or roof rack, body-color trim, power antenna and seat height adjuster. New colors include Sandstone Metallic and Winestone Pearl. The 2.5GT Limited is newly available with a manual transmission, while all 2.5GT, Limited and Outback models receive standard remote keyless entry.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1999 Subaru Legacy.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

1999 Subaru Outback
myfirstsubaru,04/11/2003
The lower interior design rating is due to bad cupholders, and some of the controls, cruise control on/off master, fog lights, are hidden behind the steering wheel. Rides really well off road, drove total of 8 miles near Holy Jim Trail, orange County, CA. The 2.5 Liter has plenty of acceleration for my driving style. Some road noise at freeway speeds, but NOT too much. Clutch pedal seems to behave differently in LA traffic, maybe due to heat, (does not affect operation of vehicle). A little excessive body roll on turns. Car still handles VERY well despite the roll. I am 6 ft tall and it could use just a little more leg room. I love my Outback!
Beware of the headgasket
josh259,11/14/2011
When I bought my 1999 Subaru (with only 70,000 miles) all my friends talked about how reliable they are and how great they are in the snow. But no one mentioned the common headgasket problem. Subarus are infamous for their head gasket problems in the 2.5L engines. My car was fine for the first week or so after buying it. Then it started overheating and I had to regularly add coolant even though there were no leaks. After investigating, I've determined it is the headgasket. This will cost me a minimum of $1,000. If you find that you are losing coolant through your coolant reserve tank, chances are exhaust it building up pressure in your radiator causing the coolant to back up into the reserve
1999 Outback Legacy Wagon
Elissa Augello,04/10/2015
Outback 4dr Wagon AWD
Unlike many of the reviews, I bought my Outback brand new. It currently has 87k miles on it and has never stranded me anywhere. I change the oil religiously and keep up with the maintenance. When you buy a used car, you never know how the persons) before you have driven or maintained the car. As old as she is, I still enjoy driving her. Too bad the new Outback's do not have manual transmissions. I guest I will have to keep driving her until she blows up.
Sally Subaru #5 And Stuck in the 90s...
kabuki1,03/08/2013
Sure there are things about Subarus that are truths... if it's a 2.5 and yours hasn't blown a head gasket... it will. (best to wait to buy one that's been there and done that). At the first signs of bubbled paint on the rear quarter panel, get the strut towers patched - sealed and get rid of the rust... .or quickly watch the rear end rust to pieces. Your rear wheel bearings will fail, plan on it. I'm watching the throat on the gas tank... one day... it's going to go... been there done that too. Otherwise... you've got yourself a sweet ride... Change oil regularly... and you'll be driving your sooby for a long long time.

Features & Specs

See all Used 1999 Subaru Legacy features & specs

Safety

IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Acceptable

More about the 1999 Subaru Legacy

Used 1999 Subaru Legacy Overview

The Used 1999 Subaru Legacy is offered in the following submodels: Legacy Sedan, Legacy Wagon. Available styles include Brighton 4dr Wagon AWD, GT 4dr Wagon AWD, L 4dr Sedan AWD, GT 4dr Sedan AWD, L 4dr Wagon AWD, 30th Anniversary 4dr Sedan AWD, Outback Limited 30th Anniversary 4dr Wagon AWD, Limited 30th Anniversary 4dr Sedan AWD, Outback 4dr Wagon AWD, and GT Limited 30th Anniversary 4dr Sedan AWD.

What's a good price on a Used 1999 Subaru Legacy?

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Which used 1999 Subaru Legacies are available in my area?

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Should I lease or buy a 1999 Subaru Legacy?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Subaru lease specials
Check out Subaru Legacy lease specials