Review: Subaru Legacy/Outback (2004 – 2009)


More kit and better mpg than previous model. Sensible, reliable and safe estate, ideal for rural use. Spec B is very rapid, Outback a great tow car.

High running costs.

Recently Added To This Review

7 July 2017

Strong smell (as though rubber burning) from under the bonnet area of 2006 Subaru Outback with 136k miles turned out to be CV gaiter grease inside the catalytic converter heatshield. Read more

24 January 2014

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14 August 2011

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Subaru Legacy/Outback (2004 – 2009): At A Glance

I'd been mightily impressed by a brief driver in a 245PS Legacy Spec B automatic. Three levels of power output, paddle-shifting five speed autobox. Fantastic. A great big WRX STI. So I'd ordered one to road test.

The driver delivered it and collected the previous week's Rodeo while I pounded away at my keyboard. So it wasn't until I went out to the car that I began to suspect something was up.

Er, nothing behind the steering wheel. Up the creek without a paddleshift, you might say. And it didn't go like a 245PS 3.0 litre flat six either.

While I was taking my snaps I popped the bonnet and counted the spark plug leads. One, two, three, four...that's it. I obviously hadn't got a Spec B, then? I opened the package that came with it and found it described on the insurance doc as a "2.5 Sports Tourer auto".

The mystery deepend, because they're not supposed to do a 2.5 Sports Tourer. That was dropped when they upped the power of the 2.0 litre to 165PS. Sure the 2.5 continued in the Outback. But this wasn't an Outback.

Eventually I got this cleared up. It was, in fact, a 2008 model year 2.5, now with power upped lightly to 173PS and back on the price list. Power of the 2.0 has now come down to the same 150PS as the Impreza, and torque up to 144.6lb ft, making that engine more tractable.

Subaru Legacy 2.5 Sports Tourer 2007 Road Test

What does a Subaru Legacy/Outback (2004 – 2009) cost?

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Subaru Legacy/Outback (2004 – 2009): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4665–4775 mm
Width 1730–2052 mm
Height 1425–1545 mm
Wheelbase 2670–2750 mm

Full specifications

And it's a pleasant enough car. Stacks of luggage space (more than the old V70, anyway). Nice cream leather seats and very posh carpeting for the load compartment. (Will definitely require loadliner and seatcovers for anyone living in the country.)

I thought I'd test it out on my housekeeper, who was used to my long-term CR-V, on a shopping trip to Tesco. It made a good impression. She much preferred it. Liked the colours inside and the twinkling red LEDs on the instrument display. So for someone who doesn't know cars the Legacy made it on the status stakes as a superior machine to an SUV.

Child seats that fit a Subaru Legacy/Outback (2004 – 2009)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Subaru Legacy/Outback (2004 – 2009) like to drive?

Okay, then, judge it on its own merits. Up against a Mondeo estate or a Honda Accord Tourer, or a Volvo V70. But with all-wheel-drive instead of just the two at the front.

Drives quite sweetly. Locks into cruise control well. Corners tidily, though, as with an Audi quattro, you need to power out of the apex or it will understeer. Feels like there's a decent car underneath.

And it was pleasant to tool around town in with its flat four torque characteristics nicely matched to the 4-speed autobox. Apparently more economical then the manual, probably because of the manual's lower gearing. In the background I could hear the same subdued food mixer like whirring engine note that Legacys have always made.

If you need a big four-wheel-drive estate car, the Legacy is not only a decent machine in itself, it undercuts all the potential alternatives. And it's an excellent station wagon, worth considering against a Volvo V70 as well as an XC70.

But, though it may sound liker a Kenwood Chef, it doesn't stir the blood, like the 245PS spec B. I guess I'm going to have to ask again for one of them.


Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
2.0 32–33 mpg 9.5 s 202–209 g/km
2.0D 50 mpg - 148 g/km
2.0D Outback 49 mpg - 153 g/km
2.0D Sports Tourer 44–50 mpg 9.6 s 149–161 g/km
2.0i Lineartronic Sports Tourer 34 mpg 11.3 s 187 g/km
2.0i Sports Tourer 31–35 mpg 9.8–11.3 s 187–212 g/km
2.5i Lineartronic Sports Tourer 34 mpg 10.3 s 196 g/km
3.0 23 mpg 6.9 s 286 g/km
3.0 Sports Tourer 23 mpg 7.0 s 290 g/km

Real MPG average for a Subaru Legacy/Outback (2004 – 2009)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

19–54 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Subaru Legacy/Outback (2004 – 2009)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Can a head gasket fail after only 10,000 miles?

My 2005 Subaru Outback 3.0R is losing coolant at a high rate, which reputable garages have diagnosed as a head gasket or cracked cylinder with estimates of £1800 - £ 3600 to replace. In 2015, the head gasket was replaced at a cost of £2300. Can a head gasket fail after 10,000 miles? Is it a valid approach to buy a used replacement engine through eBay? I'm keen to retain this car with its known provenance. Can you advise?
Actually too difficult to answer. Yes, it's possible that one of the replacement head gaskets could have failed. Remember it has two: one for each bank of 3 cylinders. One may have been replaced and one not. It's also possible that the head or the block could be cracked. Replacement specialist engines bought via eBay could be fine or could be disastrous. These people are trustworthy:
Answered by Honest John
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What do owners think?

Our view gives your our opinion, based on driving hundreds of cars every year, but you can't beat the views of someone who lives with a car day-in, day out.

  • 5 star 67%
  • 4 star 17%
  • 3 star
  • 2 star 17%
  • 1 star

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