Midsize car; Built in USA, Japan
  • 4-door sedan
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,000 – $2,000*

1990 Subaru Legacy LSi 4-door wagon

1992 Subaru Legacy L 4-door sedan

1992 Subaru Legacy LS 4-door sedan

1990 Subaru Legacy interior

1990 Subaru Legacy engine

  • Acceleration (turbo)
  • Antilock brakes (optional)
  • Handling/roadholding
  • Wet-weather traction (AWD)
  • Manual-transmission linkage
  • Fuel economy
  • Noise

While the Legacy is not an outstanding value, the Subaru AWD models have few competitors, unless you step up to a sport-utility vehicle and risk losing your carlike amenities.


Legacy models are larger and more refined than the Subaru Loyale. They rode on a 101.6-inch wheelbase, 4.4-inches longer than before. Both the sedan and wagon arrived in L and LS trim levels, with either front-wheel drive or permanently engaged 4-wheel drive (all-wheel drive, or AWD). All models used a 130-horsepower 2.2-liter flat (horizontally opposed) 4-cylinder engine with four-valves-per-cylinder heads. The new Subaru engine could be paired with either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. Power steering and 4-wheel disc brakes were standard on all models. Antilock brakes were optional on AWD LS models and on AWD L models with the Value Plus Option Package.

Yearly Updates

1991 Legacy
The Legacy Sport Sedan and the LSi luxury sedans join the L and LS models introduced last year. The Sport Sedan has exclusive use of a new 160-horsepower turbocharged version of the 130-horsepower 2.2-liter flat-4 that’s standard on other Legacys. The sport sedan also comes with permanently engaged 4-wheel drive.
1992 Legacy
A new driver-side airbag and a mild facelift are the primary changes made to the 1992 Legacy. The new airbag is standard on LS and LSi Legacys and optional on L models, and was added to the options list of the Sport Sedan later in the model year. Other new features include a “pass-through” opening in the rear seat (on all but the L), a dash-mounted slide-out cupholder, and rear-seat heater ducts.
1993 Legacy
The driver-side airbag that arrived last year, as well as other new equipment, become standard this year on the base-model Subaru L. In addition, two new wagon models join the lineup. Added to the L and LS versions are an LSi luxury model and a sporty Touring Wagon model. The new Touring Wagon joins the Sport Sedan model in providing the 160-horsepower turbocharged 2.2-liter Subaru motor. It comes paired with a standard 4-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.
1994 Legacy
To spark sales for ’94, Subaru adds new series of “active lifestyle” versions to its four distinct trim levels of sedans and station wagons. The four new lifestyle models are called “Sun Sport,” “Alpine Sport,” “GT lifestyle,” and “Outdoor lifestyle.” All are based on the Legacy L wagon and each comes with its own distinctive interior fabrics, exterior trim, and alloy wheels. Sun Sport is the only one of the four with front-wheel drive; the other three are AWD models.


longitudinal front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive

All models use a 2.2-liter flat (horizontally opposed) 4-cylinder engine with four-valve-per-cylinder heads. It provides 130 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 137 pound-feet of torque at 4400 rpm. The new Subaru engine can be paired with either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. Models with the automatic feature a shift-lock system that requires that the brake be applied before shifting into drive or reverse. For 1991, Subaru added a turbocharged version of its 2.2-liter turbo 4-cylinder, for standard use in its new AWD Sport Sedan. The same engine also comes standard on the AWD Touring Wagon model, first introduced in 1993. It delivers 160 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 181 pound-feet of torque at 2800 rpm.

ohc H4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.2/135
Engine HP 130
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 137
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
Turbocharged ohc H4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.2/135
Engine HP 160
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 181
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic

Road Test

The Legacy’s 2.2-liter engine solves our chief complaint lodged against previous Subarus. Though some models have come across as rather rough and gruff, this newer 4-cylinder is smooth and comparatively quiet, delivering sprightly acceleration with either the 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic. However, the 5-speed seemed a bit hesitant to engage during quick gear changes and was reluctant to go into reverse.

The turbocharged engine is even more powerful, and virtually devoid of turbo lag. The downside is below-average fuel economy. We averaged only 17.4 mpg in our wagon in mostly urban driving.

Head room and leg room are adequate for adults both front and rear, but the back door opening is a bit narrow at the bottom, making it difficult to swing your feet in and out. A comfortable driving position is aided by the standard tilt steering wheel and, on LS and higher models, an adjustable-height driver’s seat. All controls are well-placed and easy to operate while driving. The spacious trunk is well-trimmed, with a bumper-level opening and low liftover height.


Model Tested: 1994 Subaru Legacy Touring wagon

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 4
Fuel Economy - 5
Ride Quality - 5
Steering/Handling - 5
Quietness - 5


Controls/Materials - 5
Room/Comfort Front - 5
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
Cargo Room - 4


Value - 5

Total: 47


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
101.6 178.9 66.5 53.5
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
14.3 15.9 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.0 36.0 43.1 34.8
4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
101.5 181.9 66.5 54.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
71.0 15.9 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.4 37.8 43.1 35.0
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1994 Legacy 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 4

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 104
Injury 93
Theft 41

Trouble Spots

Automatic transmission
Description: If it is difficult to shift out of park, the transmission’s parking pawl must be replaced. (1990-91)
Automatic transmission
Description: If the transmission is slow to engage after being parked, the torque converter is draining down and a new cooler line with a check valve must be installed. (1990-91)
Automatic transmission
Description: The automatic transmission dipstick may break requiring the broken bits to be removed. (1990+)
Description: Some of the ABS (antilock brake system) hydraulic motors were faulty, causing them to run intermittently even after the key is turned off. (1990-94)
Hard starting
Description: Hard starting can be caused by silicone contaminating the ignition relay. (All)
Heater core
Description: A clicking noise caused by the heater mode door actuator can be fixed by installing a new resistor in the wiring harness. (1992-94)
Poor transmission shift
Description: Erratic shifting of the automatic transmission accompanied by a check-engine light is often due to a corroded battery ground connection at the engine. (1990-94)
Description: Misaligned side rails prevent the seat from locking in place. Shims must be added to the outer rail to remedy the problem. (1990-94)
Vehicle noise
Description: Popping noises from the front end are usually due to loose stabilizer-bar bushing clamps that must be rebent and reinstalled. (1990-92)

Recall History

Description: Lever pin of defroster shutter door may become dislocated and allow the shutter to close, preventing defroster from functioning and affecting visibility.
Description: Torque of latch screws on front doors may loosen over time, due to gap between latch base plate and inner door panel, so door could not be opened from inside the car.
Description: Under certain conditions on cars with 4EAT electronically controlled automatic transmission, park gear may not disengage immediately when lever is moved from “Park” to “Reverse,” which could result in abrupt vehicle movement and possible loss of control.
1990-93 all-wheel drive
Description: 5-speed manual gearbox may leak if driven continuously in extreme cold or high humidity; transmission could seize, bringing vehicle to sudden stop.
Description: Top of fuel tank may have been punctured during assembly, which could cause fuel leakage that results in fire if leak occurs near an ignition source.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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