Midsize car; Built in Japan
  • 4-door sedan
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $6,500 – $21,000*

2006 Subaru Legacy and Outback

2005 Subaru Legacy and Outback

2005 Subaru Legacy and Outback

2005 Subaru Legacy and Outback

  • All-wheel drive
  • Instruments/controls
  • Steering/handling
  • Engine response (turbo models)
  • Shift action (manual transmission)

Legacy’s all-wheel drive one-ups the mostly front-wheel-drive competition, performance is good with the turbo 4-cyl engine, and all the required safety features are on hand. Otherwise, there’s little reason to prefer Legacy over a comparable Honda Accord or Toyota Camry, though it is different, and the wagon body style is a plus for some buyers. Outback wagons, however, earn our Recommended ribbon for combining most “real SUV’ attributes with carlike ride, handling and fuel economy. Don’t bother with the 6-cyl Outbacks, though. They’re no quicker or quieter than the turbo 4-cyl versions, and they cost more, even secondhand. Besides, they’re the least popular models in this bunch, so used examples will be scarce anyway.


Subaru redesigned its midsize cars for 2005 with fresh styling, slightly larger dimensions, additional features, and more power. As before, the Legacy and SUV-flavored Outback offered sedans and wagons on a shared platform. Legacy again targeted mainstream passenger-car buyers, while Outback kept its focus as a car-based SUV substitute with an elevated suspension and “off-road” styling elements.

All-wheel drive remained standard across the board. So did engines with horizontally opposed cylinders. Legacy and Outback 2.5i models used a 168-hp 4-cyl with manual transmission or optional 4-speed automatic. A new 250-hp turbocharged version of that engine powered Legacy 2.5 GT/GT Limited and Outback 2.5 XT models, which offered manual transmission or an available 5-speed automatic. Again topping the line were the Outback 3.0 R sedan, L.L. Bean Edition wagon, and VDC Limited wagon. They came only with the 5-speed automatic and a 3.0-liter 6-cyl engine uprated to 212 hp to 250. Both automatic transmissions included a manual-shift feature.

All these Subarus came with antilock brakes, front side airbags, and curtain side airbags. An antiskid system was standard on the Outback 3.0 R VDC wagon, but was otherwise unavailable. Optional features, depending on model, included leather upholstery, heated front seats, woodgrain interior trim, automatic climate control, and heated windshield wipers.

Yearly Updates

2006 Legacy
Legacy added a sporty version of the GT Limited sedan called “spec.B;” included were sport suspension, 18-inch wheels, unique trim, and a navigation system that was optional on other Legacys except the base 2.5i.
2006 Outback
A navigation system was newly standard on the 3.0 R VDC wagon and newly optional on other Outbacks except the base 2.5i wagon.
2007 Legacy
Legacys got a 60/40 split folding rear seatback for ’07; it replaced a center pass-through. Remote engine start was a new option for automatic-transmission versions.
2007 Outback
Remote engine start was a new option for automatic-transmission versions.
2008 Legacy
The 2008 Subaru Legacy got freshened styling, a revised dashboard, and a new model with a 6-cylinder engine. Note that a wagon body style was no longer offered. New for ’08 was the 3.0 R Limited with a 245-hp 6-cylinder. Automatic-transmission Legacys included steering wheel shift paddles for ’08.
2008 Outback
The 2008 Subaru Outback got freshened exterior and interior styling.
2009 Legacy
Legacy added a 3.0 R model that joined the 3.0 R Limited in having a 245-hp 6-cylinder engine.
2009 Outback
L.L. Bean models were replaced by Limiteds for 2009, the resulting model roster consisting of 2.5i, 2.5i Limited, 2.5XT Limited, and 3.0 R Limited.


longitudinal front-engine/all-wheel drive

Legacy was available in 2.5i and 2.5 GT trims, each with 4-cylinder engines. The 2.5i models had 170 hp. GT and sport-themed GT spec.B were turbocharged and had 243 hp. New for ’08 was the 3.0 R Limited, and it had a 245-hp 6-cylinder. Outbacks came in base, 2.5i, 2.5i L.L. Bean, 2.5 XT Limited, and 3.0 R L.L. Bean trims. All base and 2.5i models had a 170-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine. XT Limiteds have a 243-hp turbocharged 4-cylinder, and the 3.0 R has a 245-hp 6-cylinder.

ohc H4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/150
Engine HP 170
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 169
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic
Turbocharged dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/150
Engine HP 243
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 250
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
5-speed automatic
dohc H6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.0/183
Engine HP 245
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 215
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic



Road Test

We’ve had no opportunity yet to test these Subarus with the 175-hp 4-cyl engine. The 250-hp turbocharged models have good power, though; a test manual-transmission Legacy GT wagon clocked 0-60 mph in a brisk 7.8 sec. Turbo lag is present, but not annoying. Not so the manual transmission, which some testers criticized for imprecise shift action and overly long lever movements. Subaru’s optional short-throw shifter might solve these problems, but we haven’t had a chance to try it. Curiously, the 6-cyl engine musters no more horsepower and actually less peak torque than 4-cyl turbo unit despite greater displacement. A test Outback 3.0R timed 0-60 mph in a fairly disappointing 7.9 sec. We expected better.

So, too, with fuel economy, which is nothing to write the EPA about. A test Legacy GT wagon with automatic transmission averaged just 15.5 mpg in mostly city driving, and a sedan with manual managed only 20.1 with more highway miles. A test Outback XT also returned 15.5 mpg. A test Outback 3.0 R averaged 21.6 mpg, but that was with mostly medium-speed highway driving; it’s thirstier in the stop-and-go grind.

These Subarus show a bit more variation in ride and handling. Legacys have standard 17-inch tires and a firm suspension that can jolt on rougher roads. Outbacks also come on 17-inch tires but ride more comfortably, thanks to softer suspension tuning. All models benefit from all-wheel-drive stability. Outbacks show more cornering lean than Legacys, a function of the elevated suspension, but are still far more nimble and assured than any SUV, even car-based crossover types. Legacy GTs are the most agile of all, though even the racy-looking spec.B isn’t sports-sedan sharp. All models have accurate steering, but some testers thought effort too light on 2.5i models, a bit too quick on Legacy GTs, enough to hinder straightline tracking at highway speeds. Brakes do a fine job regardless of model.

Refinement hits a new high for Subaru cars. All engines are reasonably quiet at full throttle, subdued at cruising pace, and always sound pleasant. Wind rush isn’t a problem below 70 mph, but coarse-surface tire noise can be, especially in wagons. We’ve also noted some unwanted body drumming over broken pavement, railroad tracks and other rough stuff.

Interiors are a mix of good and not-so-good. They have a pleasantly open ambience, which we like, but only adequate six-footer head room. Leg space is fine in front, a bit tight behind a tall front-seater, and three adults in back will be squeezed for shoulder space. But all passengers enjoy supportively comfortable seats, and drivers will appreciate the large, legible instruments and simple, easy-reach controls, plus clear sightlines to all corners. Cabin decor mixes budget-grade plastics with fairly rich fabrics, but even leather-trimmed models don’t quite have a quality look and feel. As proof, perhaps, the front seats in two different test models had loose plastic side panels. We’ve not yet had a chance to evaluate the optional navigation system.

Utility gets mixed marks. Sedan trunks have a wide opening and low liftover, but also subpar volume and no fold-down rear seat, though a trunk pass-through is standard. Wagons have liftgates that open wide to a low cargo floor, plus standard 60/40 split rear seats that fold almost flat to provide plenty of cargo space. A standard cargo cover and under-floor storage are additional wagon conveniences.


Model Tested: Outback XT wagon, auto.

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 - 6
Fuel Economy - 4
Ride Quality - 7
Steering/Handling - 6
Quietness - 7


Controls/Materials - 7
Room/Comfort Front - 6
Room/Comfort Rear - 5
Cargo Room - 7


Value - 7

Total: 62


4-door sedan
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
105.1 186.2 68.1 56.1
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
11.4 16.9 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
39.5 36.5 44.1 33.9
4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
105.1 188.7 69.7 61.6
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
66.2 16.9 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.5 39.1 44.1 33.9
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2006 Subaru Legacy 4-door sedan


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Front Passenger Injury - 5

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A


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

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Description: Rattles from front doors caused by failed spot weld in the door beam bracket. (2005-07)
Keyless entry
Description: The remote starter may quit working due to failure of the system’s antenna. (2007-08)
Rear axle noise
Description: Rattling or pinging sound from rear of vehicle due to broken welds on baffles inside muffler. (2005)
Description: The remote starter may quit working due to failure of the system’s antenna. (2007-08)
Description: The remote keyless entry (RKE) transmitter buttons may be activated inadvertently and an improved RKE case has been made available. (2005-06)
Timing belt
Description: Timing belt may jump time and damage engine due to internal leak in timing belt tensioner. (1997-08)
Description: Seat belt warning chime may activate without anybody in passenger seat requiring hinge spring replacement. (2005)
Description: The seatbelt warning may sound despite nobody sitting in passenger seat due to problem with the reclining seat back spring. (2005)
Description: The seatbelt warning my sound despite nobody sitting in passenger seat due to problem with the reclining seat back spring. (2005)
Electrical problem
Description: The cooling fan may run continuously due to a faulty relay that damages the powertrain control module causing it to send a continuous command to run the fan. (2005-06)
Electrical problem
Description: There was a campaign to replace the cooling fan relay on 2.5L turbo engines because it could cause a voltage spike that damages the powertrain control module. (2005-06)
Check-engine light
Description: The check engine light may come on because of stretch in the shifter cable to the transmission or a misadjusted neutral switch. (2005-06)
Fuel door
Description: Door for gas cap won’t open because tether gets caught on door clip. (2005)

Recall History

2005 Legacy and Outback
Description: The curtain side airbags in some vehicles may not fully inflate rapidly enough to protect occupants. Dealers will replace affected airbag modules.
2005-2009 Legacy/Outback in certain states
Description: Vehicles in certain states could experience brake-line corrosion because of salt water spraying through a gap in the fuel-tank protector. Brake fluid could leak and increase vehicle stopping distance.
2007-08 Legacy (turbocharged models)
Description: Some vehicles may have the cylinder head-side oil supply pipe and turbocharger-side pipe improperly assembled, resulting in vibration while driving. Over time, this could eventually result in a cracked the pipe, which would allow oil to leak. Dealers will inspect for cracking or an oil leak at the oil supply pipe at the cylinder head-side.

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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