Used 1999 Subaru Legacy Review
Edmunds expert review
What's new for 1999
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.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.