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Subaru Legacy/Outback 2005+



  • luck11luck11 Posts: 425
    Wah! Away two weeks and it takes a day to catch up!

    Spent 2 weeks at the beach near Saco, ME. Can't believe how many Soobs I saw..even my wife commented. Most were 04 or older. Only saw 2 or 3 O5s.

    Dropped by new Patriot Subaru dealer in Saco and they had several OBs, and at least 6 or 7 GTs. My wife likes the Atlantic Blue, I like the silver. Still on the fence though...Legacy GT vs Outback. I prefer the monotone look and the performance of the GT. On the other hand, I like the ride, height and the smoothness of the 6 cyl on the OB. Unfortunately, the OB 3.0R does not come in montone here in Canada...only XT.

    I need more test drives to ease me off the fence.
  • c_hunterc_hunter Posts: 4,487
    I bet you would have some takers in exchange for equivalent time at the beach condo ;-)

  • timo1745timo1745 Posts: 58
    ...I picked up my new '05 OB XT Ltd 5MT in Brilliant Silver/Anthrasite on Friday. Man, what a car! I only have 155 miles on it, but it really is a treat to drive. I've always had cars with a manual tranny, but between the motor being so darn quiet/vibration-free, and my still getting used to the turbo when it spools-up, at times this car makes me feel like a teenager learning to drive a stick! :) Looking forward to my first road trip, but so far--my XT makes a great commuter car, too.

    Thanks so much to everyone here for the information and opinions--no regrets whatsoever on my purchase, and can't wait to try 'er out in the white stuff this winter!!

    Tim G.
    '05 OBXT LTD 5MT
  • fenris2fenris2 Posts: 31
    My wife and I have been discussing if we want to buy a new car now, or wait till MY 07ish (the year of clean diesel Woot!) before taking the plunge. I was driving by a Subbie/VW dealership on a rainy afternoon after a doctor’s appointment. The rest of the day was shot, so I said what the heck, and went on in to look around and maybe take a test drive.

    The dealership itself did not impress, but I honestly could care less as I was here for the cars anyway. I just mention it because a) I am telling a story! And B) if Subbie wants to move up market then dealerships like this one will need to be ‘encouraged’ to renovate and train their sales reps. The guy was friendly enough, but was not a ‘go getter.’ He had some opportunity to clear up a few questions I had and did not take it. In any case, after looking at OB/Legacy I settled on taking a Legacy GT wagon with MT for a spin. A few minutes latter the sales guy pulls up in a Legacy GT Limited Wagon with MT, ah well close enough I say. I will just imagine that there is no leather, sunroof (harder to do as I am 6’2”) and so on. Anyway on to my review…


    I take a minute to familiarize myself and set the mirrors, and such. An immediate good sign is that the radio was not on. IMHO this is a clear indication to me that a salesman would rather you not hear exactly how loud road noise was and/or how poor a car ran. But I get ahead of myself.

    The control layouts are pretty straight forward for once, I hate tech for tech’ sake so this was refreshing. The seat seems comfortable and adjusted to me well. Head room was just barely not an issue with the sun/moon(?) roof, but the GT did not have that feature, and thus this would not be an issue if I bought one. I really did not play with the HVAC (as the GT is different anyway) or the radio, but they also looked straight forward. I will say that the dial controls could have been perhaps a bit bigger, but was probably workable. It might seem odd to pay attention to that, until you realize I have fairly big hands. And so if I add gloves in winter, it can make working some ‘tiny’ controls a hit or miss proposition when my eyes are on the road…

    One interesting note is the windshield wipers. I turned them on (raining remember?) and I thought the car wipers had bat wings attached. According to the salesman the wipers were fitted with wind deflectors. They about double the thickness of the blades. Hmm. . . Not sure how this feature would actually play out over time. It does reduce visibility somewhat, but it may allow the blades to clean better. Ah well, we shall see on the road.
    On the way back (yes the next part will talk about the drive, if I have not chased you off already) I tried sitting in rear seats. Even with the drivers seat fully back there was room for me to fit comfortably, so long as I did not stretch out my legs. Much better than the older model we had looked at, and about what I expect for a ‘non super-sized’ mid size, but not like the Accord or Altima. Basically more than acceptable for 4 passengers, but probably a bit too cozy for 5 on a longer trips. Maybe if the 3 in the back were smaller kids it would be okay too.

    Over all impressions? Build and interior quality was up from about 3 years ago when my wife and I looked at an Outback Wagon. I am not sure I would give it ‘VW rating’, but it is more than acceptable for me on first look. I would not mind a bit more texture to the dash and control area, but I would not care enough to pay for more either, so that is fine.


    We pull out and circle around to get back to the highway. Stop and go seems fine but I do stall it once. The clutch seems to need more push to it than the Hyundai I am currently driving. But most Japanese cars do as I recall from driving my wife’s old Camry and my old Maxima SE, so I adjust fairly quickly. While I am at it, I would say that the gear box has a tighter feel than the Hyundai and would not be prone to a 1st to 4th shift that sometimes happens to me now. Conversely the looseness of the Hyundai is more forgiving for lazily rowing gears than I felt the Subbie would be, but it is hard to tell form so a short drive. Apples and oranges on this point I guess.

    One thing did stand out that did annoy me to some degree is the NVH (okay really just VH) coming through the shifter itself. Reminded me of a Nissan Sentra I tested before choosing my Elantra. It did not buzz and visibly shake like the Sentra’s, but it was not that far from it either. I hope this is a fluke, but if not, someone at Subbie headquarters should tick this off as a needed improvement for MY ‘06. Would it stop me from buying the car? Maybe not, but it sure gave me a pause as all MTs I have bought have been much more refined feeling in that regard. I asked the salesman about it, but he did not deign not reach over and feel the shifter. Instead he said it is a new car so nothing should be wrong. Okay, he apparently is under the illusion that weird stuff does not happen on the assembly line, or on the way to the dealership. Well it does more often then folks think. Silly young pup. :P

    Traction was excellent as you might imagine and very apparent given I had just been driving a fwd MT just a few minutes ago. There was no loss of grip even in first when pulling way from a light. No need to intentionally shift to 2nd a fair bit early, etc. The car felt very firmly planted up to the handling limit at all times. And no, I did not experience the handling limit until later, and certainly not on busy public roads. So let s nip that tsk-tsk right now. Onward…

    Well we make it to the on ramp and get in behind some slow traffic. Dang! Ah well, a good time to ask about keeping it under four grand. He is confused for a brief moment before replying, “Oh just keep it below 5000.” Okay, you’re the boss I say to myself. We make our way onto the freeway and it is crowded. Now 2 PM is almost never busy on this road, apparently except for days when I want to test drive. We cruise for a while and I try passing once when there is an opening. No problem even in 5th, no need to drop to 4th in this bad boy, that is for sure. We make an exit and I actually get to run for a short bit on the return entry ramp. I even hear the turbo kick in with a faint whistle. I have to shift fairly fast to avoid that 5k limit, so the engines likes to rev I smile to myself.

  • fenris2fenris2 Posts: 31
    On the way back I get an opportunity to pass again and do so, although this time I drop to 4th first. Weee… I zip right around an old 18 wheeler and then realize I am doing 85 or perhaps even a bit over already. It does not feel like 85+. It does not sound like 85+. A very quiet stable ride I think. My advice is to watch yourself carefully, it is very, very easy to go faster than you are planning to. Definitely something that the cops are unlikely to accept as an excuse – “Gee officer my car is really fast and quiet and I was not paying attention – DOH!”

    So we eventually catch our exit and start heading back toward the dealership. I ask if we can hit an empty parking lot that I spotted on the way out to test maneuverability. I get an affirmative so away we go. Yes, the car handles even better than my old Max, which was pretty good in itself. Very controllable and predictable and letting you know when it is about to break. Not sure if it would actually break the same way being AWD and all, but I was not here to slalom like mad so I never found out. I just wanted to see if it would be predictable near the limit, which it was.

    I did a few stop tests as well, and the breaks were pretty linear and grippy with no noticeable fade that I could detect. So with that it was back to the dealership. The salesman was perfectly calm though all of this so I must not be pushing things as far as some test drivers. Food for thought if I ever see a demo with 'just a few' miles and a good price attached to it.

    All in all I would give the engine, suspension and brakes A marks, The interior would get a B+ and the shifter would get a C if this one was indeed normal.

    Wish List

    Okay so no car is perfect. It seems a darn good value for the cash. But if I where given the power to change things… Hmmm, let see.

    A) At the top of the list is the shifter. In this case the VH issue

    B) Better EPA mileage. I have heard Subbies get better mileage after 10k or so, but I still think something could be done in this regard. To this un-expert eye it looks like the low compression ratio on the turbo mil is the culprit. I don’t know if this is a ‘turbo thing’ with the need for extra gas and/or cooling when on boost or not. It seems to me they could do the Toyota TRD trick I heard about of adding an extra injector for extra fuel and cooling. I believe they have one for the intake. Or, maybe just desighnm it for higher pressures and a bigger capacity fuel pump? Ah well…

    C) Speaking of pressure, how about a fast turbo diesel. I see rumors that Subaru is considering some diesel for Europe, but I sure hope they reconsider for here too. I would not mind giving up a second to 60 if it came with 40 mpg, even if it added $1-$2K to the sticker. And yes, I know VW and even Mercedes have TD again now. Too bad I tend to keep my cars a while, and that I do not feel like giving my mechanic a down payment on a new boat. :P
    D) Maybe a bigger tow limit? I guess that one is hard as well as so much more than power is involved (wheel base, gearing, cooling, suspension…) and truly 2700 is not bad for a midsized car at all
  • kenskens Posts: 5,869
    Wow, quite a write-up. Perhaps one of the longest I've seen!

    As for the shifter vibration -- do you know if the car you drove had the short-throw shifter option installed? The option uses a less vibration-insulated lever to give a more mechanical feel to the shift action.

    The regular MTs I've driven had vibration-free shifters.

    Or, there could have been a problem with that specific shift lever you tried out.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Congats, Tom.

    Yes, the STi shifter does without a rubber gasket layer in the shaft itself. So you might feel a few more vibes, but also more feedback from the tranny as you shift. It's not for everyone.

    I've had both on my Forester, the difference is noticeable.

  • tsytsy Posts: 1,551
    I would have to respectfully disagree about the shifter. Perhaps the one you drove was not 'up to spec?'. Having had both the regular and short shifters on my GT LTD, neither have had vibration issues. If you're used to driving cars with much smaller displacement engines, I could see how this shifter seems to vibrate (but only if you're holding on to it, which the owners manual says you shouldn't do) I drove the Honda Accord and Civic, Mazda 3, 6, Rx-8 and Miata before buying my car and I would say the MT is at least equivalent to each of them (all have great trannies). Oh yeah, 350z too. (not as nice a shifter- but great fun!)

    I think the mileage is very good considering the AWD and hp.

    Also, the interior is at lest equivalent to my '02 Passat- with much better isolation of noise and vibration.

    I don't know if diesels will be popular here- I remember a rash of them in the 80s when gas prices went up- maybe we'll see a rash of them again as gas prices go up. I don't know where to even get diesel where I live- none of the gas stations carry it. If it drove well I would consider it.

    Try driving another one- maybe it was just the one you drove.

    very detailed write up. Thanks for the paragraphs!

  • drdave25drdave25 Posts: 23
    After 3 basic Outbacks and the end of the lease, I'm planning on a 2005. But our terrific dealer has a 2004 Forester XT which would come in at the same or slightly lower price. I think the XT is great fun - not ridiculously powerful like the Outback XT, but exciting. My 16-year-old son, who would get to drive the vehicle, is in pain at the sight of the Forester, despite the power. In favor of the Outback 2.5i: mileage, looks, power seat. For the Forester XT: fun-to-drive, stowage places, power. Opinions??
  • doug1doug1 Posts: 37
    Finally stopped waffling and bought an '05 this weekend. Getting a maintenance coupon last week from SteveR definitely helped push me over the edge. Got a Garnet Red OB XT Limited with the MT at Carter Subaru in Seattle. It seems that they are making very few of the red cars. I searched the inventories of all of the dealers in Oregon and Washington, and found only 5 with the MT and taupe interior.

    I have to say that the buying experience at Carter could not have been more pleasant. Everyone there (in sales, finance, parts) was friendly, low-key, and helpful. The salesman, Joe Spitz, was great. Unlike many salespeople, he was very knowledgeable about the product. Wish more dealers (Subaru and other makes as well) would follow this dealership's lead.

    I put close to 200 miles on it yesterday driving back to Portland. I was pleasantly surprised by the stereo (I didn't get the subwoofer). I think it's perfectly adequate. Got about 25.5mpg, according to the trip computer. Not bad at all for a car that had 20 miles when I left the dealer. The A/C was on for most of the trip. No disappointments yet. It seems to be a very well thought-out and put together car. While my '96 Legacy wagon has served me very well, the contrast between the two is dramatic. My girlfriend had to drive my '96 back from the dealer, and she declared it to be "totaled".

    Thanks for all of the advice and info. over the past several months!

  • kenskens Posts: 5,869
    Congrats, Doug!

  • beanboybeanboy Posts: 442
    Well, I'm back. First off, didn't end up making it to the Infiniti dealer, the Subaru and Caddy shops were enough for me.

    I think I found my car though. A Legacy GT wagon in garnet red, 5MT of course. Looks great; not too dark nor too light, which works well for the lines of the wagon. Spent more time looking at the exterior, it works and looks great, except for certain angles at the hood. Nose/grill looks too long.

    Getting in the car, the painted silver plastic is really not my thing. Boo… But the seats felt good, and the beltline was nice and low, very important to me. I hate the creep taking place in Audis and the 300C, feels like I’m in a tank.

    And the power! Three guys, all 220+ pounds are in the car with A/C on…and a nice push back in the seat with a little slip and full throttle from a stop! Quiet all the way to 80, very impressed. Steering felt quick and precise, and the brakes had a decent feel.

    Coming from FWD, so a 90 degree turn at a stop combined with full throttle with NO DRAMA felt damn good. Don’t know how I’ve put up with so much power through the front wheels alone.

    Bumps were felt and heard a bit more than expected, but the body itself felt very, very solid. Loved the direct feeling I got through the shifter.

    After fifteen minutes or so and back at the lot, I felt like I could drive away right then and there. The Legacy for me rides that fine line between me being comfortable behind the wheel, but feeling excited to see and drive it. Should be picking one up by the end of October, woohooo!

  • max751max751 Posts: 4
    Does anyone know if the plastic in the '05 GT sedan trunk lid is one of the changes to reduce weight?

    I'm wondering because I found a small crack at the bottom of the lid after having driven the car about 8 or 9 days. The dealer's immediate reaction was (a) I have to wait for the Subaru rep to see it before they can tell me whether they'll take care of it and (b) they predict the rep will not cover it, saying that it was caused by closing the lid on something during the short time before I showed it to them. Since I didn't notice anything, if I did it, it's pretty darn fragile.

    So I wondered how delicate this lid is and whether Subaru has experience with previous models with the plastic.

    I never heard of a body problem not being covered on a new car in the first 30 days, but the rep will finally be in this Weds so I may gain some undesired experience in this regard.
  • fenris2fenris2 Posts: 31
    >>I would have to respectfully disagree about the shifter. Perhaps the one you drove was not 'up to spec?'. Having had both the regular and short shifters on my GT LTD,

    I am pretty much wondering if that might be the case. I actually asked the salesman twice about it. I have driven or tested a fair number of sticks (and yes, even bigger displacements) but this was second worst in that regard, with the Sentra taking top 'honors.' ;-) I will be testing again when my wife and I decided to go ahead and buy a car (now one hopes) of course.

    FYI I did not hold the shifter while I drove. ;-) But any time I went to shift, there it was. I thought it was extreemly odd given that the car was otherwise quiet and vibration free.

    >> interor up to Pasat levels

    To me it did not seem so, but it is not far off either. NVH better, yes absolutley, baring the shifter, I never said it was not.

    >> I think the mileage is very good considering the AWD and hp.

    Okay, I still disagree on the turbo, but it is not a deal breaker for me. After all, if you can afford the turbo, you can afford the gas. Getting my wife to agree may be a different matter however. ;-)

    Now the 2.5i impressed me mileage wise for the reasons you state. I am pretty sure most of the diffference is in that compression ratio I mentioned. Hopefully a wiser car tech guy than me will know, for my curiosities sake if nothing else.
    >> Don't know if diesels will be popular here- I remember a rash of them in the 80s when gas prices went up- maybe we'll see a. . .

    Yes, I think they will. I think the era of cheap gas is gone now. Although slightly off topic take a look at the Mercedes (E320CDi ? 0-60 6.8 C&D and 40 MPG) and BMW (330d, 535d) diesels out there today. Heck the world fastest piston engined truck is a diesel at 220+ MPH and still gets 21 MPG mixed mileage. They have come a long way from the 80s.
    From a subbie related standpoint, I also know GM has a sweet little twin-tutbo diesel they are toying with for Europe. Not a boxer, but one can still hope. . . From google I can see some other subbie site had a thread on this where it is apparently clear they are pursuing diesel currently. Although, if they want to keep in flavor, maybe they will use a 2.0L boxer form, as the 2.5L converted to diesel might be a bit nose heavy for a midsize.
  • beanboybeanboy Posts: 442
    Noticed that as well, felt more like a truck than car. To me that was a good thing. I assume it is a rod linkage, versus the cable linkage I'm used to. Makes for a more solid shift, and to me a kind of direct link to how the engine is running.

  • c_hunterc_hunter Posts: 4,487
    Yes, Beanboy makes a good point -- the Subaru shifter is a direct linkage, not an indirect linkage or cable shifter as found in many FWD cars. So that alone makes it vibrate more.

    Also, the previous comments about regular vs. short shifter are important. The regular shifter has a rubber damper, the short shifter does not. I didn't think the short shifter's vibrations were out of the ordinary, but certainly more apparent than the regular shifter.

    Congrats to Doug! Nice color combo!

  • bat1161bat1161 Posts: 1,784
    Congrats to Tom & Doug!

    Thanks to Dave (Fenris2) for a nice detailed review. I'm hoping to finally do my test drive this week sometime. I'm curious about trying out the 5EAT, as my wife is hinting at finally getting her license and an auto would be easier.

  • I just picked up my new Legacy GT Ltd 5MT Yesterday. I have been waiting 2 months and it was worth it. What a car! Some observations/questions:

    - The car was supposed to have woodgrain in the dash and doors but did not. This is not a big deal but a mild surprise nonetheless. Any feedback?
    - The car was supposed to have folding side view mirrors. Does anyone know how to fold them in? I can't find the control so I'm not sure if they really do fold in.
    - I own an 03 Passat GLX wagon. The Legacy interior is not quite at that level but very close. The difference is quite minimal.

    Now the positives:
    - By far the best performance/luxury combination available for under 30K (or 35k for that matter).
    - The best handling car I've owned. Excellent "feel for the road" in the steering.
    - Very sharp looking.
    - Very smooth driving (considering performance).
    - Very high quality interior
    - Great stereo (when subwoofer is ordered).

    Q: Does anyone have any break-in advice for this car?

    In short, this is the coolest car I've owned. It proves Subaru is really stepping up it's game. I also considered the G35x but it was expensive and had no manual tranny. The 330XI was too much $$ for me - but very cool also. This car clearly offered me the most of what I was looking for for the money. Can't wait to spin it up to about 6500 RPM.

    - faceoffking
  • c_hunterc_hunter Posts: 4,487

    The mirrors fold manually -- just do it by hand. The idea is that they flip out of the way on impact rather than breaking off. But they are not powered -- I've only seen that on some off-road-capable SUVs and high end luxury cars.

    As far as I know, the woodgrain is only on certain color combos and models. For instance, my gold/black OB XT has the silver trim but a gold/taupe OB XT gets the woodgrain.

    When I test drove GT wagons, those with a black interior got the silver trim and I beleive I drove one with taupe interior and wood trim.

    As for break-in, just follow the recommendations in the owner's manual. Basically, keep the revs under 4000rpm and make sure you vary engine rpm (ie, don't travel long distances at a constant speed/rpm).

  • Now that you mention it, I think you're right. I test frove a royal blue/taupe legacy which had the woodgrain trim. My car is silver/black interior and no woodgrain. It probably would not look right with the woodgrain. Re the mirrors, I probably misread the pamphlet. Thanks for the break-in advice. I really haven't had the chance to read the manual yet.
  • frogfrog Posts: 52
    reguarding the post on choosing a 04fxt versus the 05 OB 2.5i, I would guess they will have near equal resale. The OB is a more upscale car with a roomier interior and better milage. The XT will be much sportier. Take a test drive. If you are going for an automatic and need passing power, the XT will do that better, otherwise, the OB, esp in 5 speed and better MPG should be your choice.
    If you go through IMBA or look around a bit more, you may fing the 05 OB at a cheaper price than the 04XT. good luck..........
  • Now that you mention it, I think you're right. I test frove a royal blue/taupe legacy which had the woodgrain trim. My car is silver/black interior and no woodgrain. It probably would not look right with the woodgrain. Re the mirrors, I probably misread the pamphlet. Thanks for the break-in advice. I really haven't had the chance to read the manual yet.
  • kenskens Posts: 5,869

    Congrats on your purchase. It's great to know others are joining in on the GT camp!

    The woodgrain is available only with the taupe interior. Taupe is available with any color except for silver -- I guess Subaru figured that it wouldn't look right, as Craig writes.

    It's good to know that the interior can compete with the Passat GLX. Subaru apparently used Audi as the benchmark for their interiors on the 05 models, and as you know, VW interiors get quite a bit from their more expensive brethren.

    To break in your engine, you want to keep the revs below 4K RPM for the 1st 1000 miles as written in the manual. Just keep varying the rpms and driving conditions -- you want your engine to experience a broad range of situations except lugging. Good luck with the waiting.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587

    Doug fell off The Fence! Congrats.


    Another one bites the dust. Congrats faceoffking!

    It's getting slippery for BeanBoy too!

    I might be the last one here without a turbo in my Subies!

  • hypovhypov Posts: 3,068
    come by AZP's garage and pick up a turbo.
    At one point I had twin turbos in my WRX ;-)

  • avizivaviziv Posts: 29
    Hi all,

    I'm about to pull the trigger for an XT Ltd 5M (any minute now...) but have a question on the sound system. How well does the subwoofer perform? I know it's a hard question because you don't know if my reference is a 12" monster or nothing - right? I know it's a tiny driver but what I would expect for it is to nicely reduce the "boominess" and distortion of the low frequencies to free up the midrange. I'm not expecting the ground to shake.

    Also - being installed on the floor, under the driver seat, how annoying is it for the rear passenger, in terms of interference with their feet?

    I figure that getting it installed when I buy the car will be cheaper than adding it later on, but only if it's a decent unit. I can't find one to audition anywhere so I'm asking around here.


  • c_hunterc_hunter Posts: 4,487
    What I like about the sub is that I can turn down the bass on the head unit, thus unburdening the door speakers of producing all the bass. You can turn the gain on the sub up so that it fills the bass back in. it also has a crossover knob that you can use to fine tune the sound. I'd say it is best described as an enhancement to the stock stereo. By itself, it's not really a bass powerhouse or anything like that.

  • kenskens Posts: 5,869

    As usual Craig beat me to it, but the subwoofer is a nice compliment to the stock system. I haven't really listened to the stock system without one so I don't have a good basis of comparison, but it does sound quite good.

    The optional subwoofer, as you know, is small, but it does help fill out some of the lower frequencies.

    Also, in my Legacy GT, the space under the driver's seat is too small for feet anyway so the subwoofer does not get in the way. I believe it would be the same in the XT.

  • bkaiser1bkaiser1 Posts: 464
    I just got back from a test drive in an 05 GT ltd wagon, and all I can say is "WOW!" What an unbelievable difference between the new models and my 04 WRX. How did my car suddenly feel so OLD overnight?! It's been stated here many times before, but the new Legacy models are in a totally different league in terms of refinement than any previous Subaru I've driven.

    The model I drove was an automatic, and compared to my 5sp WRX, it seemed to absolutely jump off the line. I never even fed in that much throttle; just a slight push and the car would take off. One thing I did notice was a tendency to surge in traffic...when taking off from stop lights I was on the gas, off, then back on in response to the turbo spooling up. Probably something I'd adjust to after owning for a while. At any rate, the difference in power (and the way that power is delivered) between this car and my WRX was simply amazing.

    Alas, I simply cannot justify another new car purchase in the near future, so I will hang onto the WRX for a while longer. Congrats to all the new owners out there, they are amazing cars!

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