Kelley Blue Book ® - 2004 Subaru Legacy Overview

Vehicle Overview from Kelley Blue Book

KBB.com 2004 Subaru Legacy Overview

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Any number of family sedans claim that they put safety above all other concerns. Devices such as airbags, pretensioners and reinforced crumple zones all work well in the event of an accident. But what if a company built a car whose technology centered around the idea of keeping the driver in control of his vehicle at all times? We must give credit to Subaru because they have been making cars like this for over three decades, cars with sophisticated all-wheel-drive systems, powerful engines and capable handling characteristics. Subaru's lineup of cars includes one of the best-engineered sedans: the all-wheel-drive Legacy.

The Legacy is an outstanding example of how a car can also be a multipurpose vehicle. The Legacy L is a solid, well-equipped family sedan with room for five, a competitive list of standard and optional features and the beauty of all-wheel-drive (that's Subaru's catch phrase in case you didn't recognize it.) The Legacy L features a comfortable set of cloth front-bucket seats divided by a wide center console with a covered storage area that doubles as an armrest. You'll find the dash design to be both efficient and clean, with a handsome two-tone finish and large rotary knobs to work the ventilation and audio. Standard equipment includes power windows, power door locks, keyless entry, cruise control, AM/FM stereo with CD and air conditioning.

For just a little more cash, Subaru is offering special 35th anniversary edition Legacy. Basically it's the same package as last year's Special Edition L and comes standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, a power glass moonroof, halogen fog lamps, leather-wrapped steering wheel, six-way power driver's seat and interior wood trim. Sportier types will appreciate the top-of-the-line GT model; it features a five-speed manual transmission, leather seating surfaces, sporty alloy rims and exterior cladding, heated front seats, front-side impact airbags, 7-speaker AM/FM stereo with six-disc in-dash changer and a Momo steering wheel; all GT models also come standard with a built-in subwoofer for that extra kick of bass.

As good as the Legacy is, it's clearly not for everyone. The Subaru flagship is not a mass-produced vehicle like the Accord and Taurus, though it is competitive on just about every front including interior volume; the Legacy actually has more front-seat legroom than the Accord, Taurus and Passat and though its rear-seat legroom falls someplace in the middle of the pack, the Legacy is by no means cramped. But for some, the need for a V6 engine and the ability to fold down the rear seats outweigh the benefits the Legacy offers. The Legacy does have a rear seat pass-through, but the extra torque placed on the body by the all-wheel-drive mechanicals require an additional solid rear brace that negates the possibility of adding a folding rear seat. And so there remain a select number of Legacy owners on the road; but look it at this way, owning a Legacy allows you a bit more individuality in what you drive.

If 165 horsepower and the ability to shift your own gears is enough to satisfy your driving needs, then take the Legacy out for a test drive and see what all those two-wheel-drive types are missing. The Legacy's torque-strong engine pulls the sedan without complaint; only when fully-loaded and passing on a steep incline will you be reminded of its four-cylinder displacement. The optional automatic does sap a bit of the power—and the fun—from the engine, but it does have a slight advantage over the manual. You see, the Legacy has two different all-wheel-drive systems. The first is purely mechanical, using a viscous-coupling center differential to detect if the front wheels are slipping, at which point it transfers power to the rear wheels. On Legacy models equipped with automatic transmission, an electronic sensor attached to the wheels activates the system, meaning the all-wheel-drive can come on-line the split second wheel slippage is detected. Both systems work extremely well, especially in snow, and include a limited-slip rear differential that splits power from left to right for even better traction.

The unseen advantage of all-wheel-drive is that it vastly improves the way the Legacy corners. With the added traction and the well-tuned sport suspension of the GT, the ability to tear through twists and turns is so evident you'll think your driving skills have suddenly improved ten fold. But it's not you; it's the Legacy.

The final advantage the Legacy has over its competition is the well-placed sense of security you derive from driving it. The Legacy not only feels solid and stable, it somehow imparts true peace of mind; you'll feel confident that whatever obstacles or road conditions lay just around the next curve, you and your Legacy will be able to traverse it. This is the knowledge that so many die-hard Subaru fans have known for years, and it's what you'll discover for yourself if you decide to make the Legacy your next vehicle.

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