2008 Subaru Legacy Review

Pros & Cons

  • Attractive cabin design with high-quality materials, strong performance in GT trims, standard all-wheel drive, athletic handling, comfortable highway ride, outstanding crash test scores.
  • Smallish backseat and trunk, limited availability of stability control and navigation systems, upper trims can be pricey.
List Price
$7,400

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Edmunds' Expert Review

A family car that does a nice impression of a sport sedan, the 2008 Subaru Legacy is a lot of car for the money. Whether you're an enthusiast in need of four doors or a safety-conscious parent who loves driving, the Subaru Legacy is worth strong consideration.

Vehicle overview

Although it may not attract the spotlight as much as its enthusiast-leaning Impreza WRX sibling, the 2008 Subaru Legacy is deserving of much more than supporting actor status in the carmaker's lineup. As the brand's main midsize sedan, the Legacy is meant to appeal to two main types of buyers: those looking for something sportier than the ubiquitous Honda Accord and Toyota Camry and those who want the advantage of all-wheel-drive traction for foul-weather driving.

For 2008, Subaru has given its Legacy a subtle face-lift, evident from changes to the Legacy's grille and lighting systems fore and aft. The company also added a new trim level this year, the 3.0 R Limited, that features a 245-horsepower flat-6 coupled to a rev-matching, paddle-shifted automatic gearbox. There are also revisions on the inside with new seat fabrics and an updated instrument panel.

Keeping with Subaru tradition, all-wheel drive is standard across the board and nearly all 2008 Legacy models are propelled by a horizontally opposed, four-cylinder engine (called a "boxer" or "flat" engine design). A sure-footed demeanor, thanks to the AWD and the boxer engine's lower center of gravity, is a standout trait of the Legacy. Before you scoff at the scarceness of six-cylinder power (only available on one of the Legacy's six trim levels), consider that we've found the GT's turbocharged four to be a spirited sweetheart that rivals many V6s in terms of outright performance, refinement and power delivery.

In an attempt to pump up the sporting factor even more, Subaru offers a gizmo called SI-Drive on some trims. SI-Drive adjusts the electronic throttle's response as well as the automatic transmission's shift points. There are three modes: Intelligent, Sport and Sport Sharp to choose from. The Intelligent mode optimizes fuel-efficiency, but expectedly blunts performance while the Sport Sharp mode does the inverse. Sport falls somewhere in the middle. Any guess as to which mode we prefer?

On the whole, we're pretty fond of the 2008 Subaru Legacy. Its all-wheel drive, fine ride and handling balance, and lively, sport sedan personality make it an easy recommendation for driving enthusiasts in need of a midsize sedan. Stellar crash test scores also further its appeal. The few drawbacks to the Legacy include a backseat that's on the small side and the limited availability of certain features, such as stability control.

2008 Subaru Legacy models

The 2008 Subaru Legacy is a midsize sedan with all-wheel drive. The six trim levels are comprised of base 2.5i, 2.5i Special Edition, 2.5i Limited, 2.5 GT Limited, 2.5 GT spec.B and 3.0 R Limited.

The base 2.5i comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, an MP3/WMA-capable CD stereo with an auxiliary input jack, keyless entry, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, a trip computer and full power accessories. The 2.5i Special Edition adds a moonroof and a power driver seat. The 2.5i Limited includes leather seating, heated exterior mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control and an upgraded audio system with an in-dash CD changer.

The sporting 2.5 GT Limited features a turbocharged engine, SI-Drive, a limited-slip rear differential, larger brakes, quicker steering, bolstered sport seats, a three-spoke Momo steering wheel and electroluminescent gauges. The 2.5 GT spec.B sedan adds an upgraded Torsen limited-slip differential, stability control, a sport suspension with Bilstein dampers, 18-inch alloys with performance tires, a navigation system, ground effects and alloy pedal covers. The 3.0R Limited essentially substitutes a six-cylinder engine and paddle-shifted automatic transmission for the 2.5 GT spec.B's turbo four and manual transmission.

The navigation and stability control systems are optional on the midlevel trims, but unfortunately can't be had on entry-level ones.

2008 Highlights

A mild face-lift, a sporty new "3.0 R Limited" trim level, a redesigned instrument panel, the cancellation of the wagon body style and the addition of a few new standard features (including tilt and telescopic steering wheel and an auxiliary audio jack) are the major changes for the 2008 Subaru Legacy line.

Performance & mpg

Three engines are available for the Subaru Legacy, and all Legacy models feature all-wheel drive. The 2.5i models get a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed (or flat) four-cylinder that makes 175 hp and 169 pound-feet of torque. The GT Limited and GT spec.B models get a turbocharged 2.5-liter flat-4 that makes 243 hp and 241 lb-ft. The 3.0 R Limited has a 3.0-liter flat-6 that produces 245 hp and 215 lb-ft.

Legacy 2.5i models are equipped with either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. GT buyers have the choice of the five-speed manual or a five-speed auto. The spec.B has a six-speed manual transmission. The 3.0 R has a five-speed automatic that (like the five-speed auto on the GT trims) features paddle shifters and rev-matching downshifting. Performance of the GT trims is especially thrilling; we timed a GT spec.B at just 5.7 seconds in the 0-to-60 dash.

Safety

Antilock disc brakes, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and whiplash-reducing front headrests are all standard. Stability control is standard on the GT spec.B and 3.0 R trims and optional on the 2.5i Limited and GT Limited trims.

In IIHS crash tests the 2008 Subaru Legacy received the Gold Award (its highest honor) after the car earned "Good" ratings (the highest) in frontal-offset and side-impact crash tests, and for its head restraints' ability to prevent whiplash in rear-end crashes. The NHTSA rates the Legacy very high as well; the vehicle has a perfect five-star rating for both frontal and side-impact crash protection.

Driving

Equipped with the base 2.5-liter engine, the 2008 Subaru Legacy provides adequate acceleration and polished road manners that are sure to please whether your commute is all highway or includes a few twists and turns. If you can swing it, though, the upgrade to the turbocharged Legacy GT Limited or spec.B is well worth it. Those cars are quick and entertaining to exercise on a back road, especially when equipped with one of the manual transmissions. Hard-core enthusiasts will note that the Legacy exhibits a bit too much body roll to be considered a bona fide sport sedan, but the trade-off is a forgiving highway ride — even on the Bilstein-equipped spec.B. Steering is light, precise and high in feedback with all Legacy models.

Interior

The Legacy's well-trimmed cabin is one of its strongest virtues. Clean, logical design is tastefully accented with convincing faux aluminum and wood grain trim. The red-and-white gauges and three-spoke Momo steering wheel in the GT Limited, spec.B and 3.0 R models add a sporty flair, while all trims boast excellent build and materials quality. While the backseat is comfortable for two passengers, shoulder room and legroom are still pretty tight for this class. Kids should fit with no problem, though. The Legacy's trunk is also on the smallish side at 11.4 cubic feet. However, it does feature both a ski pass-through and fold-down rear seats to optimize cargo capacity.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2008 Subaru Legacy.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Great Car until 85,000 miles, then it started to fall apart.
chk34kk,09/28/2014
I really tried to love Subaru and become a lifetime buyer of there cars. My 2008 legacy provided me with great awd traction, great highway mpg 30+, low maintenance costs. The negatives started at 85,000 miles, head gasket leak, end links failure provided very loud clunking noises, power steering pump wine, heat shield rattle at start up, door panel clunking, dashboard clunking. The problems started in June 2014 and by September I gave up on the car after I realized I have the dreaded Subaru head gasket leak. The car also became a rattle box inside after about 80,000 miles which surprised me. I planned on keeping the car to well over 100,000 miles. City mpg was also sub-par 17-19mpg.
Well researched decision
derekisaac,01/07/2011
I rated the performance a 3 simply because their are better performing choices out there in a sedan. I wanted an AWD vehicle, but I also was looking to upgrade in mpg from my previous f150 4x4. My research had lead to me to the Subaru Legacy. I had never driven one or even sat inside one. This car gives the best bang for your buck if you purchase slightly used. I got a limited model 29k miles for 16995. Everyone that gets inside the car can't believe the features I got for the price tag. I've done a lot of research and nothing else compares. I wish the mpg was a bit better but I can live with all the features I get instead. The fun-to-drive factor is great despite the small engine.
Honest/ Informed Review
I Stewart,02/26/2009
While the 3.0R boasts a larger engine and more hp, it actually has less lb/foot of torque than its 2.5GT counterpart; translating to 7 tenths of a second from 0-60. The acclaimed S/I drive is amusing, if not practical. In sport mode acceleration is noticeably boosted from intelligent mode. Paddle-shifting is also available in sport sharp, though its more burdensome than liberating. Paddle-shift levers, S/I drive console, and Navigation system all contribute to the impressive interior. Even after the romance fades, the controls are insightful and convenient. This car may be your best choice if: a. you drive in all-weather conditions b. you purchase used at a discount
Nice Car
John Marks,05/31/2008
I bought my Subaru Legacy about 3 months ago and I must say its a very great car for the price. I'ts the 4 cylinder Special Edition version. It has plently of power to merge on the highway and pass. It handles great at high speeds. I can only imagine what the GT version is like if this one has this much performance. I get 25mpg and thats 90% city driving. Highway I can get about 30mpg. I push it a lot since im a college student and love to accelerate. AWD is great in the rain, can't wait for the winter to really test it out again. Overall, great car and I would recommend it to anyone. Good quality all around.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2008 Subaru Legacy features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated

More about the 2008 Subaru Legacy

Used 2008 Subaru Legacy Overview

The Used 2008 Subaru Legacy is offered in the following submodels: Legacy Sedan. Available styles include 2.5 I Limited 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A), 2.5 I Special Edition 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A), 2.5 GT Limited 4dr Sedan AWD w/VDC (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5A), 3.0 R Limited 4dr Sedan AWD w/Navi, VDC (3.0L 6cyl 5A), 2.5 I 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A), 2.5 GT Limited 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5M), 2.5 GT spec.B 4dr Sedan AWD w/Navi, VDC (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6M), 2.5 GT Limited 4dr Sedan AWD w/Navi, VDC (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 5A), 2.5 I Limited 4dr Sedan AWD w/VDC (2.5L 4cyl 4A), 2.5 I Special Edition 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M), and 2.5 I 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M).

What's a good price on a Used 2008 Subaru Legacy?

Price comparisons for Used 2008 Subaru Legacy trim styles:

  • The Used 2008 Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT Limited is priced between $7,400 and$7,400 with odometer readings between 125710 and125710 miles.

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Which used 2008 Subaru Legacies are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2008 Subaru Legacy for sale near. There are currently 1 used and CPO 2008 Legacies listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $7,400 and mileage as low as 125710 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2008 Subaru Legacy.

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Find a used Subaru Legacy for sale - 10 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $14,204.

Find a used Subaru for sale - 12 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $14,880.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru Legacy for sale - 7 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $23,596.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru for sale - 8 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $21,564.

Should I lease or buy a 2008 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