Outback vs. Legacy

dweiler1dweiler1 Member Posts: 3
edited July 2014 in Subaru
Being new to Subarus (well, not really new, just looking right now). Wife is up for a new car, and she likes the Legacies and the Outbacks.

I know the Outbacks are more rugged, but what are other physical differences?

My wife drives a lot to and from work, and we'd want the car to last a long time - probably close to 200k miles. Do Legacies and Outbacks have different performance histories?

I know there was the Subaru Legacy Outback, so I guess this is where I get confused when we see a Subaru and it's a Legacy station wagon, or a Subaru Outback or a Subaru Legacy Outback?

Derek in PA


  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    Outbacks are raised up higher and only come in wagons.
    Legacies are lowered and only come in sedans.

    Those are the essential differences, but there are other smaller differences like trims and packages etc.

  • rshollandrsholland Member Posts: 19,788
    Subaru does sell a Legacy wagon, but not in the USA anymore.

    The Outback is built a bit better to withstand poor roads, and is probably a bit better in the snow because of the increased ground clearance. On the flip side, the Legacy, because it's lower and has lower profile tires, is a better handling car.

    The engine choices between the two models are identical.

  • shrinermonkeyshrinermonkey Member Posts: 58
    Subaru no longer offers a Legacy Wagon in the U.S. but you could get one used. So I guess you first need to decide if you are going new or used and if you want a wagon or not. For me a wagon is a no brainer and people are starting to wise up and realize that they make much more sense than an SUV for 95% of the people out there. You also need to decide if you want the turbo or not. If you want good gas mileage and want the car to last over 200k miles, I would skip it... don't even test drive it because you don't want to know what you are missing. ;)

    I own a 2006 Legacy Wagon 2.5i SE and my in-laws own a 2008 Outback 2.5i that I have driven on a long road trip, so I can let you know the differences. The Outback is more softly sprung but doesn't handle nearly as crisply as the Legacy. The body lean is more pronounced and it also has an annoying dead on-center feel in the steering on the highway. I am guessing the larger tires have a lot to do with this.

    Most Outback come with nice winter weather options standard like windshield wiper de-icers, heated seats, fog lights, etc... They also have a nice protector on the top of the rear bumper that covers all the way to the edge which makes loading cargo less stressful. My Legacy wagon has a protector but it doesn't go out to the edge where it is most needed :confuse: and I have scratches in my bumper paint to prove it. However the Outback is much higher which makes loading cargo more difficult.

    Personally, I prefer the Legacy, especially after driving the Outback. The ruggedness is nice but I really don't like the looks and the ride is not my cup of tea.
  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    I beg to differ on the turbo. I just sold my 94 Legacy Turbo with 150k miles, 10-15k of those were race-car driven, road race course miles (redline for 1-2 hrs at a time) and no repairs or rebuilds were done on it.

  • shrinermonkeyshrinermonkey Member Posts: 58
    Yeah, as always YMMV. But I think a turbo adds a significant point of failure to any car and puts much more stress on the engine that will most likely affect longevity. More moving parts, complexity, heat, stress on engine and oil, etc...

    Also your 150k is 50k short of what the poster was shooting for.
  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    True, however I put on a good amount of track miles about 10-15k track miles which are run between 4500-6500rpms for hours at a time and at speeds of 60-120mph, so those wear and tear miles are significantly more than that of a street driven car.

    Car also ran like a top when I let her go at 150k, completely stock and never rebuilt.

    Sure a Turbo in the past would decrease engine life but today that is just a fallacy, similar to that of "outgassing" of brake pads etc. etc.

  • abzabz Member Posts: 13
    My 2005 LGT suffered turbo failure at 51K. I had changed oil every 3000- 3500 miles from new and don't abuse the car in any way.

    There is a filter screen incorporated into the bolt connecting the oil line to the turbo. This is not a regular maintenance item (at least not to dealerships). I have read of many turbos suffering oil starvation and failure when this screen gets clogged.

    If anyone can provide simple instructions on how to check this filter for the home mechanic, I'm all ears. Otherwise, as the dealer told me, we check the filter when your turbo fails. Count on a $1500 repair and loss of your car for a week when it happens.
  • shrinermonkeyshrinermonkey Member Posts: 58
    This is what I am talking about. Turbo's add numerous additional points of failure to cars, regardless of year. There were THOUSANDS of sludged up engines in modern VW's brought on stress from turbos. I know because I owned one... luckily I got rid of the car before I had any problems and used a larger oil filter and full sythetic oil every 5k miles.

    So the idea that modern turbos don't affect engine longevity is a fallacy.
  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    And Toyota had Sludge buildup in their NA engines prompting one of the largest re-calls ever. So NA motors are not any better.

    It's really luck of the draw when it comes down to it. I own an 05 LGT Wagon 5MT, and I track it and drive it pretty much on the edge for 59k miles so far and no issues to speak of. For every "Turbo Nightmare" story, there are tons of non-nightmares, we could revert to cars with manual brakes, manual windows, 2 speeds instead of 5 or 6, etc. etc.

    I'd hazard to guess there are far more problems related to an automatic transmission than to turbos failing....

  • abzabz Member Posts: 13

    My purpose in posting the details of my turbo failure is to try to encourage Subaru to do the right thing. If you check the LegacyGT website, the issue is not exactly rare. When my turbo failed, despite the fact I was more than 100 miles from home, the dealership insisted I provide copies of every oil change receipt over the history of the car before they would repair under warranty. When they thought they had a cash customer on their hands, they tried to feed me a BS story that the catalytic converter and short block were damaged and would also need to be replaced.

    This is my third Subaru and I have loved them all. I would love to hang onto this car long term as I cannot find a single flaw with the driving characteristics of the vehicle. I am disappointed that Subaru will not provide periodic inspections of the banjo bolt filter/screen as a preventative measure, nor do they have any interest in replacing this screen with an easily accessible in-line filter.

    Toyota eventually did execute a massive recall of their engines for the sludge issue. So far, I have several very nice letters from SOA urging me to change my oil every 3500 miles (which I have always done anyway). Subaru owners are some of the most loyal in the auto world. If SOA buries their head in the sand about the turbo issue, they are going to annoy everyone who gets stranded with a failed car, and the strong owner advocacy that Subaru enjoys will be destroyed.

    I recommend Subarus wholeheartedly. Four of my friends bought LegacyGTs/Outback XTs on my reco. I will not recommend another Subaru Turbo until there is a fix or an acknowledgment of the issue.

    I have followed your posts for years and respect you as a Subaru expert. The reason I finally moved from reader to poster, is that I hoped you might have instructions on how I could check this filter myself. My extended warranty runs out next July. I either need a way to maintain my turbo myself, or I am leaving the Subaru family.
  • krzysskrzyss Member Posts: 849
    I am owner of 2003 VW Passat 1.8T and 2005 Subaru Legacy GT.
    I see similarities between two sludge/turbo/engine issues.

    VW originally suggested use of oils meeting VW 502.00 specification but it was not requirement. They ended up with plenty (I guess thousands) of engines that developed sludge because even though their OCI was prescribed 5000 miles the oil was not good enough. As a remedy VW changed the wording of the manual and now it states that oil MUST meet VW 502.00 spec, oil filter is now twice as big (if not 2.5 times) and 5000 miles is absolute maximum.

    Subaru's (or maybe SOA) approach is different. Original oil spec stays the same (any 5W30 is good enough unless in hot climate then 40 weight oil is fine) but they halved OCI from 7500 miles to 3750. Now any turbo engined car requires "severe duty" cycle. In a letter available on mysubaru.com they suggest 30 sec cool down after driving, oil change before and after track event (somehow they do not ask for oil change pit stop).

    I called dealer in my home country (Poland) and they change oil every 15000km (9000 miles) in Forester XT. I wonder how?

    In both cases the problem is with oil starvation because some passages are clogged by sludge. In VW it is pick up screen and in Subaru it is "banjo-bolt".
    In VW it causes engine failure and in Subaru turbo failure (unless failed turbo granades engine).

  • shrinermonkeyshrinermonkey Member Posts: 58
    I also had a 2001 VW 1.8T. The problem in the VW was made worse by the smaller oil capacity of the longitudal mounted engine in the Passat... that was part of the reason for the larger oil filter recomendation so as to increase oil capacity. I started using the gigantic TDI oil filter in my car for the extra oil capacity. I got rid of the car because of the plethora of other problems I had with the car not related to the turbo.

    From what I understand, the Toyota sludge issue was caused by a bad maintenance interval recommendation that had oil changes on regular oil extending to 10k miles or more. I don't think it was caused by a design problem with the engine but with the manual.

    I see the turbo issues in the VW and Subaru as half maintenace issues and half design and just nature of the turbo beast. I would NEVER use anything but full synthetic oil changed every 3-5k miles in ANY turbo car. I am amazed that some Subaru dealers are still recommending AGAINST using synth oil in turbos.
  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    As far as I know the Banjo bolt screen can be removed w/o issue and on later models after 05 or 06 it is not on the car to begin with.

    I haven't removed it on mine yet, but may do so at some point.

    I have found that the turbo cars do burn a bit more oil than the non turbo cars, and should be checked every 1k miles. (you shold be checking it this often anyway) and my guess like most cars (turbo or not) the manufacturer spec is that they can consume up to 1q oil per 1,000 miles.

    From my sources inside SOA, a lot of the failures of the turbos are due to folks not even checking their oil during the 7,000 or 3,500 mile intervals.

    I track my car and run amsoil in it. My change interval is about 8,000 - 10,000 miles with a check every 1k miles. So far in 60k miles she's been nothing but pleasure to drive with no major issues related to the turbo, I fully expect it to run to 150k-200k miles as it stands right now.

  • abzabz Member Posts: 13

    Your comment about the banjo bolt screen being removed on later models is precisely why I am now a frustrated Subaru owner. I have owned my car since July 2004 (Legacy GT Auto Wagon). I was an early adopter of the redesign and had purchased two prior Subarus, and several more through extended family. I change the oil religiously; never over 3500 miles and check oil level at every other fillup. In short, I did everything I could do to avoid a turbo failure.

    When I did have a failure, I was out of town and the closest Subaru dealership tried to take advantage with claims of numerous expensive repairs - all of which would have to be paid cash. SOA did the right thing and intervened. It ruined a vacation and involved a week of hassle, but I don't hold that against SOA.

    My frustration is I have asked numerous times what I can do to prevent a second failure down the line. The car is like new and given that you cannot buy new GT wagons, I have no desire to get rid of the car next year at the five year mark. If SOA would only admit that the banjo screen is a problem and explicitly remove them from cars (at least after a turbo failure), I would feel like a second failure is not an inevitable problem.

    Instead, I have received three "official" responses urging that I change the oil every 3.5 months/3500 miles, which is what I have always done.

    I was probably one of the most passionate Subaru fans in the Philadelphia area. Certainly not as vocal as the members of this board, because I was always a reader- not a poster. Still, in my eight years of Subaru ownership, I have convinced over 20 people to buy the cars. I drive past SOA headquarters at least once a week, and have met several of their employees in the past through Marketing conferences, etc. When I was having the troubles with the "dishonest dealership," I called people within the company that I knew, but don't want to ask them to intervene now as I imagine I would now be viewed as a "pesky owner" and won't ask friends to go out on a limb for me.

    The issue is this, if a manufacturer has loyal advocates as Subaru does, don't deny problems that will impact those most loyal fans. A simple note that "real-world experience has led to rethinking of the banjo-bolt screen, thus we do not replace it after turbo failure" would eliminate my future concerns and would have prevented me from becoming an annoyed, former advocate. A simple lesson in PR. SOA used to have an employee monitor these boards on a regular basis (Patty). I hope my notes are making it to the attention of someone who is more of a Marketer than a liability attorney.

  • krzysskrzyss Member Posts: 849
    I do not think that screen in banjo bolt is THE PROBLEM. The problem is that something is get cought. If screen is not present then "something" (I suspect sludge or coke) will get further into the system and still cause a failure, just a different one.

    ABZ, you followed new SOA recommendation (OCI 3750 miles) from very begining and you still had turbo failure?

    My bet is that SOA oil specification allows usage of oils that do not work well in 2.5 turbocharged engine.

    It looks awfully similar to VW 1.8T issue. VW also underspecified the oil in the beginning.

  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    Since you know how to remedy the problem, why not just remedy it yourself?

    Subarus aren't perfect. I've had to do tweaks on almost all my cars. Imprezas had ball bearings in the wheels but the legacies had barrel ones. Whenever we replaced a bearing on an impreza we slipped in the legacy ones for either ourselves or our customers.

    I haven't removed the banjo bolt on mine yet but probably will do it when I do my Upipe and Downpipe since we'll be in there anyway.

    I have actually kept in contact with Patty and she is great. SOA really does try to do the right thing, depsite what folks think. They now hold an annual breakfast for the subaru owners who do the 48hrs of Tristate http://48hrs.info where we kickoff the event which raises money for The American Cancer Society at SOA headquarters, have breakfast, and meet the CEO and the rest of the management team. This past year they matched, dollar for dollar whatever we raised!

  • abzabz Member Posts: 13

    I am still under powertrain warranty and didn't know that SOA has since removed the banjo bolt screen. I have read on other forums that aftermarket tuners recommend removing the screen, but the last thing I want is to have a future warranty repair denied due to having removed the screen on my own.

    I am mechanically inclined, but do little maintenance on my own vehicle. What can I say, MG's were far easier to work on. If I won't invalidate my warranty, I will probably download the instructions and remove this screen at some point in the future. Again, all I wanted from SOA was a statement that they now recommend removing the screen. I am tired of being told to change the oil. I already had to provide them four years of oil change records in order to get them to cover the turbo under warranty. They know very well I change my oil at 3 months/3000 miles.

    I will stop posting on this issue at this point. The question started with the durability of Subaru turbos, and my experience would suggest there are some unresolved issues.

  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    I doubt that SOA will say "go ahead and remove it" and I'm not sure you'd be covered under warranty. I've never heard of them requiring your maintenance records for a simple turbo replacement. Maybe an engine replacement but it's weird to hear it on a turbo.

  • abzabz Member Posts: 13

    Now you can understand why I am so soured on turbo Subarus.

    I was 100 miles from home at the start (interrupted) of a family vacation. I had two daughters with me (seven years and sixteen months). I am stranded in this town where I had my Subaru towed. The quote from the Service Manager (attributed to the SOA regional rep is "the number one cause of turbo failures is neglect. We won't even order parts for your car as a warranty repair until you provide copies of all oil change receipts.")

    I had already provided the phone number and address of my local Subaru dealership where the vast majority of work had been done. When I made it back home (in a rented car), I had to run to my local dealer to get a copy of a single missing receipt. The Manager of that dealership was pissed off about the whole situation because he quickly pointed out that my records were already in the networked computer system accessible to all Subaru dealerships.

    Long story short, my local dealership is incredible, but if I suffer problems elsewhere I am very likely to be screwed. This experience has formed my opinion of Subaru turbos. The form letter responses I get from SOA are not encouraging as to whether they will stand behind their cars in the future.

    Buyer beware. There is an issue with the turbo design. Subaru eventually made good on the head gasket issue which impacted the previous generation engine. My hope is they realize that while the turbo issue impacts a much smaller number of cars, it has as great an impact on owner loyalty.

  • paisanpaisan Member Posts: 21,181
    I think you may have hit one bad dealer, from your description above, it seems that the repairing dealer didn't want to deal with it nor honor the warranty. As you said, your local dealer was outstanding in the situation.

  • geminibill1geminibill1 Member Posts: 1
    I feel most of you are forgetting something hear about who is responsible and what is within the control of a consumer. The majority of the people who buy cars don't know how to get around the certain bugs that are found within their vehicles. You all mention replacing ball joints, changing your oil, maybe flushing the coolant and even the differential fluids. However the majority of SOA customer don't do that and depend on independent mechanics and dealerships to help them.

    SOA knew about turbos failing due to clogged banjo filters to the point that they placed a TSB out about it. They even went as far as removing it from 06 and up. The questions raised is how does a common consumer know this? SOA needs to take ownership in this known problem and do the right thing.
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