Midsize car; Built in USA, Japan
  • 4-door sedan
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $1,400 – $3,500*


1995 Subaru Legacy Brighton 4-door wagon


1995 Subaru Legacy LS 4-door wagon


1996 Subaru Legacy GT 4-door sedan


1995 Subaru Legacy LS interior


1995 Subaru Legacy LS 4-door wagon interior

Pros:
  • Antilock brakes (optional)
  • Wet-weather traction (traction control, AWD)
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Visibility
Cons:
  • Engine noise
  • Fuel economy (AWD)

With the addition of dual airbags, the new Legacy was a more competitive entry in the compact class. But its trump card remained the competent line of all-wheel-drive sedans and wagons, which Subaru finally stressed in its advertising.

Overview

Subaru’s compact sedans and wagons were redesigned for 1995 and wore new sheetmetal, wrapped around a Legacy that rode on a two-inch-longer wheelbase. Sedans and wagons were offered in either front-wheel or all-wheel drive (AWD). Sedans consisted of base, L, LS, and LSi trim levels. Wagons included base, L, LS, and LSi–plus all-new Brighton and Outback configurations. The base and L had standard front-wheel drive. The LS, LSi, Brighton, and Outback came with AWD, optional on the L. All Legacys were powered by a 2.2-liter, horizontally opposed 4-cylinder engine. All but the LS and LSi came with a standard 5-speed manual transmission. The LS and LSi came with a 4-speed automatic, which was optional on all but the base models. Dual airbags were standard across the board. Antilock brakes were standard on the LS, LSi, and Outback, optional on the L, and unavailable on the Brighton. The rugged-looking Outback model was positioned by Subaru to bridge the gap between a station wagon and a sport-utility vehicle.

Yearly Updates

1996 Legacy
By focusing on AWD models, front-wheel-drive Legacys are trimmed back to just one trim level and two models–the L version of the 4-door sedan and 4-door wagon. The featured attraction for 1996 is the AWD Outback wagon, which arrives with a taller roof, a new grille, white-spoked wheels, and a raised suspension that lifts ground clearance to 7.3 inches, compared to 6.1 inches for the other Legacy models. The LSi wagon gets a new 155-horsepower 2.5-liter flat 4-cylinder and a standard 4-speed automatic–as does the new AWD 2.5GT sedan and wagon.
1997 Legacy
Subaru hopes to build on the success of the Outback by shifting its entire line of Legacy sedans and wagons to all-wheel drive (AWD) and by adding a more luxurious “Limited” model. The 2.2-liter engine Subaru used in the L and Brighton models gains two horsepower (to 137). The same changes are also performed on the larger 2.5-liter flat-four, used in GT, LSi, and Outback models. The result there is a gain of 10 horsepower (to 165). Both engines can now be teamed with a standard 5-speed OD manual or 4-speed automatic.
1998 Legacy
Legacy sees no major change for ’98.
1999 Legacy
For ’99, all Outbacks got added sound insulation. The Outback Limited added a new grille, body-color exterior mirrors and door handles, and gold-color alloy wheels. A new, slightly bigger Legacy and Outback would appear for 2000.

Engines

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

Subaru’s L, LS, and Brighton wagon models all come with a 2.2-liter flat (horizontally opposed) 4-cylinder engine with four-valve-per-cylinder heads. For 1995-96 models, it provides 135 horsepower at 5400 rpm and 140 pound-feet of torque at 4400 rpm. The engine can be paired with either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. For 1997, the 2.2-liter gains two horsepower (to 137) and an extra five pound-feet of torque (to 145), thanks to a higher compression ratio, lighter pistons, a new intake system, and revised valves that don’t require any adjustment for 100,000 miles. Subaru decided to eliminate the turbocharged version of its 2.2-liter turbo 4-cylinder, making the 1995 Legacy the first Subaru flagship model in many years not to offer turbocharging. However, a new 2.5-liter flat 4-cylinder arrived as an optional powerplant in 1996, providing 155 horsepower at 5600 rpm and 155 pound-feet of torque at 2800 rpm. That year it came only with a 4-speed automatic. For 1997, the same engineering upgrades made to the 2.2-liter were also performed on the 2.5-liter flat-four, used in GT, LSi, and Outback models. The result is a gain of 10 horsepower (to 165) and seven pound-feet of torque (to 162) . Both engines can now be teamed with a standard 5-speed OD manual or 4-speed automatic. The manual transmission is revised for more positive shift action and loses its former “Hill-Holder” clutch feature.

ohc H4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.2/135
Engine HP 135-137
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 140-145
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
23/30
23/30
23.6

ohc H4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/150
Engine HP 155-165
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 155-162
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
21/27
20/26
22.9

Road Test

Legacy’s 2.2-liter engine is adequate for most circumstances, but it throbs and feels strained in hard acceleration and in hilly country. It’s also more gruff-sounding than most 4-cylinders. The dual-overhead-cam 2.5-liter engine is quieter and smoother, with both excellent acceleration and passing power. But note that fuel economy is unimpressive on the AWD models.

Legacy’s suspension strikes an admirable balance between ride and handling, with ride comfort taking precedence. Bumps are absorbed easily and all models feel stable. Body lean is noticeable in spirited cornering maneuvers, and the front end tends to plow when pushed hard–more so on front-drive versions than AWD models. A low dashboard and narrow roof pillars provide clear visibility in all directions. Front head and leg room are ample. In back, people under six feet tall should have adequate room, and both body styles provide outstanding cargo space.

Ratings

Model Tested: 1995 Subaru Legacy Brighton 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.

Performance

Acceleration - 4
40%
Fuel Economy - 5
50%
Ride Quality - 5
50%
Steering/Handling - 5
50%
Quietness - 5
50%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Front - 5
50%
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
40%
Cargo Room - 4
40%

Other

Value - 5
50%

Total: 47

Specifications

4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
103.5 180.9 67.5 55.3
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
13.0 15.9 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.9 36.7 43.3 34.6
4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
103.5 183.9 67.5 57.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
73.0 15.9 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.5 38.8 43.3 34.8
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1997 Legacy 4-door sedan

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
80%
Front Passenger Injury - 4
80%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 3
60%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

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

Collision 112
Injury 83
Theft 52

Trouble Spots

Alternator belt
Description: The company issued a (nonsafety) recall to replace the alternators. (1996 and some later)
Automatic transmission
Description: Severely cracked secondary pulleys and pump drives cause the ECVT to slip. (1995)
Automatic transmission
Description: The automatic transmission dipstick may break requiring the broken bits to be removed. (1995-97)
Brake noise
Description: There may be a buzzing sound coming from the ABS (antilock brake system) hydraulic unit motor and/or an ABS warning light glowing, caused by a faulty ABS relay for which there is a revised part. (1995-97)
Brakes
Description: Some of the ABS (antilock brake system) hydraulic motors were faulty, causing them to run intermittently even after the key is turned off. (1995-98)
Dashboard lights
Description: If the check-engine light comes on in cold weather it is likely due to ice forming in the vacuum line between the engine and transmission. (1995)
Engine mounts
Description: Due to the multitude of configurations (bolt holes, accessory attachment points, etc.), cylinder heads for 2.5L engines are extremely difficult to interchange, often making the simplest solution replacement of the engine. (1995-99)
Oil leak
Description: An oil leak between the oil pump and block is repaired by drilling out the oil return hole to 6mm diameter. (1995)
Poor transmission shift
Description: Hesitation or poor acceleration may be due to the powertrain-control module (PCM) misinterpreting normal engine vibrations as knock, and retarding the ignition timing requiring a replacement PCM. (1999)
Rear axle noise
Description: Vibration and noise from the rear when traveling over 65 mph on vehicles with AWD requires countermeasure dampers on the rear crossmember. (1997-99)

Recall History

1995
Description: Front coil springs were produced with poor paint quality which, after continued exposure to corrosive salt, can result in breakage of the spring.
1995-96
Description: Inadvertent airbag deployment could occur after undercarriage contact of tow hooks with curbs, dips, speed bumps, etc.
1996-97
Description: Due to improper welding, fractures can occur on support bracket of front transverse link, resulting in separation and failure of front suspension.
1997
Description: Hazard-warning switch can stick in intermediate position, so turn signals become inoperable.
1997
Description: Omitted bearing in throttle-body assembly could eventually lead to incomplete return of throttle, resulting in fast idle.
1997-98 w/automatic transmission
Description: Due to poor welds, ignition key can stick, shift lever/linkages can break, and improper movement of shift lever can occur.
1998-99
Description: Purolator oil filter can fracture, causing vaporized oil spray and subsequent oil leak at hot exhaust system; could result in underhood fire.
1998-99 w/ABS
Description: In extremely cold weather, master-cylinder seals could fail; brake pedal might then go to floor, increasing stopping distance.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

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.