In February of 1989 an all-new mid-sized sedan rocked the world with its introduction. The Subaru Legacy was introduced as the replacement for the Subaru Leone/Loyale and featured a 2.0L engine that had been originally available only with all wheel drive, but later became standard worldwide. In Australia, the Legacy was marketed as the Subaru Liberty in part because of Legacy Clubs rejecting the use of their name. For 1994 and 1998 the Subaru Legacy was Wheels magazine s Car of the Year. Worldwide distribution of the Subaru Legacy began in 1990. Beginning in 1989, all USA Legacy s were built at either the Indiana plant in Lafayette, Indiana or the ta, Gunma plant in Japan.
Subaru s longest-running nameplate in the U.S., the Legacy was introduced nearly two decades ago, and has continued to be a recognized and popular vehicle. Legacy is also very often chosen as a winter-beating alternative to the midsize sedan or wagon segment because of its all-wheel drive. The Subaru Legacy has also won two Edmunds.com Editors Most Wanted SM awards. Part of the initial design goals for the Legacy model was to provide Subaru with a vehicle that they could compete with in the advantageous North American midsize market, against competitors like the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry. Many higher performance variants of the Legacy area offered as competitive alternative to company exec cars like the Alfa Romeo 159, BMW 3 Series, Volkswagen Passat and the Audi A4.
A pretty large departure from Subaru offerings in the past, the first generation of the Legacy was introduced in 1989. Subaru had long held a reputation of building vehicles that had been considered to be quirky , but the introduction of the Legacy was Subaru s attempt to join the growing upscale market. The Legacy Subaru was unveiled to the public at the same time as the Lexus and Infinity. Breaking with many of Subaru s traditions, the Legacy no longer featured a spare tire in the engine compartment, but not behind the engine and above the transmission. Placed above the Leone in Subaru s model range, the Legacy was an all-new model.
Beginning with a 5-door station wagon, or 4-door sedan body styles with FWD, the Legacy featured an optional full-time AWD package, and was unveiled in the USA, Germany, UK, Japan, Australia and the Netherlands. The Legacy featured a variety of luxurious and technological advancements that were normally only found on more expensive vehicles as standard equipment. These features included central locking, power windows, fuel injection, AC, alloy wheels, power assist rack and pinion steering, 4-wheel independent suspension with both negative scrub and anti-dive and squat geometry, along with 4-wheel disc brakes. Optional items included 4-channel ABS, and air suspension height control. Japanese police departments have also used the Legacy for patrol cars, and still continue to do so today.
Currently unique to the Legacy in this class size of vehicle was the standard equipped symmetrical all-wheel drive system. Both sedan and wagon models were available in 1990, and in 1991 a turbocharged sedan model was introduced to the lineup and it came with an engine that different slightly from current market offerings. There has been four generations of the Subaru Legacy so far. The first generation Legacy was introduced from 1990 through 1994 and was in Japan by Isuzu at the Aska CX. Introduced first in the Legacy was the EJ-series engine. Featuring various improvements over the earlier engines, the EJ-series came with five main bearing rather than three. The EJ20 also featured versatility, and any EJ style engine would fit into any Subaru made from 1990 through 2006.
A notable departure from Subaru products in the past, the Legacy was formally introduced on January 23, 1989 in Japan. It was priced introductory at $18,800. The first Legacy was available at Japanese dealerships on February 1, 1989. Worldwide distribution began in 1990.
On October 7, 1991 the second generation of the Legacy s sales began. The second generation was officially debuted in 2005 in North America with a full body and chassis revision. The second generation lasted until 1999 and the exterior was designed by Olivier Boulay whom had been hired by Subaru on a short-term basis. Influenced by the taillights on the SVX, new tail lights appeared on both the sedan and wagon in this generation. Subaru chose to make AWD standard equipment in all vehicles in 1996 for the North American market from that day until today. Subaru continued to offer a choice between AWD and FWD for its domestic market vehicles for this 2nd generation.
Between 1991 and 1994, the 2.2L turbocharged four-cylinder engines were available in the North American Legacy. While featuring a single overhead camshaft, this unique version did not come with an intercooler. Beginning in 1996 2.5L, DOHC normally aspirated and fuel injected for-cylinder engines were available in the US market. Beginning in 2000, a revised version with a single overhead camshaft became available in North American models. Beginning in 2005, 2.5L, DOHC, turbocharged and intercooled four-cylinder engines were made available in North American market GT models.
In 1995 Subaru introduced a raised, crossover version of the Legacy wagon which they called the Legacy Outback. The Legacy Outback with this generation came with AWD only internationally.
In 1996, USA-spec GT models that had been first available in 1990 as a turbocharged sedan or wagon in Japan, (and as a trim package for the U.S. version in 94) transformed into a top level model upgrade using the new EJ25D DOHC 2.5 L naturally-aspirated engine. Introduced in this year, Limited trim level editions came, offering heated leather or cloth, seats and trim along with a tinted, glass moonroof. The name Limited also appeared on the GT which was known as the GT Limited in 1998. In 1998, the term Limited was used by itself on the Outback. Complying with USA Federal Government regulations driver and front passenger airbags were added with the redesigned interior.
The 30th year anniversary of Subaru in America rolled around in 1991, and it also marked the end of the second generation in North America. To honor this, a special 30th Anniversary Edition was offered in the U.S. It came with an upgraded interior, sunroof, alloy wheels on the L trim level cars and spoiler. The U.S. spec Brighton trim level also came over from the previous year and remained priced below the L trim option.
The GT-B was introduced in June of 1996 in Japan. The front and rear struts were supplied by Bilstein and the upgrade was available on the RS. B designation stood for Bilstein. Turbocharged variations were still available in markets that utilized right hand drive configurations. Also available in Japan were specialty touring and racing versions, along with the DOHC 2-liter twin sequential turbocharged EJ20H version on both the Legacy GT sedan and wagon with an automatic transmission. Along with RS sedan and wagan with the EJ20R and a manual transmission and a slightly higher hp rating, both of these identified Boxer 2-stage Twin Turbo on the engine cover shroud.
In 1998 Australia finished out the last of the second generation Liberty with a special Bilstein Edition RX , which was identifiable by a Bilstein badge on the rear trunk lid. It also featured a lower stand due to front and rear Bilstein struts. The model also featured leather seats and door inserts as well as Momo sports leather steering and 16in BBS alloys, all as standard equipment. In Israel the Legacy second generation was introduced and the Legacy name was replaced by the B4 brand.
The third generation of the Subaru Legacy was launched in Japanese and Europe in June of 1998 while the North American model was debuted in late 1999 as a 2000 model. The European models ranged from a normally-aspirated 2.0 L flat-4 to the EZ30 flat-6 in the 3.0R model. The twin turbo that had been offered in the earlier generation was still offered on performance models. The EZ30, a newly designed 3.0 L H6 was available in the Outback models in 2001. The engines now meet California s LEV emission standard.
The raised roof is now used for both the Legacy wagon and the Legacy Outback and the flat roof wagons and no longer manufactured worldwide. Beginning in the 2000 model year was the introduction of daytime running lights. The following year cabin air filters were available and installed beneath and behind the glove compartment door.
Dubbed SportShift, Japanese speculation vehicles with the twin turbo had a choice of manual or semi-automatic transmission which allowed the driver to push the automatic gearshift selector to the let, and then allows the driver to shift the automatic like a manual transmission.
The fourth generation of the Subaru Legacy was debuted in 2003 until 2009. Fuji Heavy Industries introduced their all new redesigned Legacy on May 23, 2003. It was also known as the BL for sedan model and BP for wagons. Worldwide this generation was released in 2004. Subaru Indiana Automotive commenced production in January 2004 for the North American market. Winning Subaru s first win for the award, the Legacy was given the 2003-2004 Japan Car of the Year. Lance Armstrong was elected the spokesman for both the wagon and the sedan and Sheryl Crow s 96 hit Everyday Is a Winding Road was the theme song in U.S. commercials. Subaru sold its three-millionth Legacy on March 14, 2005.
Heralding the return of a turbocharged engine to North American Legacies, the chassis was newly redesigned and made stiffer and featured a 2.5 liter unit derived from that of the North American Impreza WRX STI. The twin-turbo setup was dropped from the lineup due to advancements in turbocharger technology and stricter emission standards. Offering Subaru s first 5-speed automatic transmission, turbocharged models and the H6 featured SportShift technology which was licensed from Prodrive, Ltd.
Both the Legacy wagon and the Outback sedan were discontinued in the U.S. market in the 2008 model year. This left only the Legacy sedan and the Outback wagon. In Canada though, the Legacy wagon wasn t discontinued. This year Subaru actually brought back the 3.0 L flat-6 engine to the North American Legacy sedan. For the first time since 2000 the flat-6 was once again available in the Outback sedan wagon. The 2.5i U.S. model was certified PZEV emissions for 2008 and received a badge attached to the rear of the vehicle on the bottom right hand side of the trunk-lid or tailgate. Meanwhile, all other models are certified LEV2. Throughout the entire U.S. the PZEV Legacy is available, unlike other manufacturers that only sell PZEV certified cars in states that share CA s emission standards.
EyeSight is a new safety feature that consists of twin cameras, one on each side of the rear view mirror which uses human-like stereoscopic vision to judge distances. It also keeps tabs on the driver and is now available on the Japanese-spec Legacy as of May 10, 2008. EyeSight helps the vehicle (more like the driver) retain a safe distance on the highway, a lane departure warning system, a driver alert warning for numerous safety situations and even keeps an eye open for pedestrians. SI-Cruise has also been integrated into the EyeSight feature as a driver safety aid.
The first ever fit to a passenger car, the Subaru EE flat-4 diesel engine was available in both the Legacy and Outback sedans and wagons, which were dubbed as the Subaru Legacy 2.0D. Beginning March of 2008 this car was released in the European Union and was available with a 5-speed manual transmission only. Both the Legacy and Outback diesel were debuted officially at the Geneva Auto Show in March of 2008.
The fifth generation of the Subaru Legacy was introduced the final week of May 2009 at their Indiana location. The 2010 Legacy was shown at the 2009 New York Auto Show. The Legacy was introduced in Japan on May 20, 2009 in Japan and the STi Legacy will continue on in production.
Lineartronic Continuously variable transmission was all new for this generation was utilized internationally on the EJ25 2.5 L flat-4 engine and the EJ20 several markets. In the North American and Australia markets 6-speed manual transmission was also offered.
Exclusively used in Japan and North America was the 2.5GT turbocharger with a 6-speed manual transmission and Australia was able to choose between the 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic transmission. Cars identified as 3.6R use the EZ36 flat-6 engine with a 5-speed SportShift conventional automatic transmission. On AWD models the Lineartronic CVT transmission is also shared with the JDM-spec Subaru Exiga. Today the North American PZEV Legacy 2.5i continues to be available throughout the U.S.
The EZ36 flat- engine is only used internationally on the Outback, but it is available in the Legacy in North American and Australia. Offering the EJ25 in both turbo and non-turbo versions the Japan-spec car has discontinued the EJ20 engine. Standard equipment on all Japanese-spec vehicles was the SI-Drive , as well both the Australian 2.5GT and the 3.6R sedan, but not in North America. Standard on the international Outback was SI-Drive with the EZ36 except in North America.
Only in North America was the Legacy wagon available as an Outback, whereas the wagon is available ad both a Legacy and Outback in Japan, Australia, Europe and the U.K. The wagon was the only version offered in the UK, and the engine choices are limited to the Subaru EE20 turbo-diesel or the EJ25. The EJ20 is still available in both the sedan and a wagon in Europe, alongside the EE20 turbo-diesel and the EJ25. In Australia the EE20 turbo-diesel is available in the Outback. Euro5 emission standard compliant are the European and UK Legacy EE20 diesel, the EJ20 and EJ25.
Putting an end to a Subaru tradition that began with the first generation Leone in the early 1970s was the side windows no longer being frameless. Ending a design tradition that had been established with the first generation, the D pillar on the wagon was no longer covered in glass, borrowed from the Subaru XT. A new center console mounted hand brake was replaced with an electric handbrake switch installed on the dashboard.
Both the stereo control and climate control butters along with the CVT gear selector were oriented to either left- or right-hand driving. Manual control of the CVT transmission was done by pulling the gear selector lever in the driver s direction.
A Subaru Legacy concept was designed in 2009 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Subaru model. The concept vehicle was officially debuted at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show.By Jessica Donaldson