A new 2.5 GT model in Subarus larger series consolidates the previous Legacy GT and GT Limited. A new Sportshift feature for the automatic transmission allows manual gear selection. A Special Edition Package for the L sedan and wagon adds some equipment from the 2.5 GT, including a power moonroof and 16-inch alloy wheels.
All Legacy models get a freshened appearance via a new front bumper/fascia and grille. The front fascia on the 2.5 GT integrates standard projector-beam fog lights.
GMs OnStar communication system is a new standard feature for all Outback H6-3.0 models in 2003. Every Outback also gets revised front-end styling and front-suspension modifications.
Seven versions of the Outback will be available. They include the H6-3.0 sedan, the H6-3.0 L.L. Bean Edition wagon, and the H6-3.0 VDC sedan and wagon. All H6-3.0 models use a 3.0-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine that produces 210 horsepower. The flagship VDC editions feature Subarus Vehicle Dynamics Control electronic stability system and Variable Torque Distribution all-wheel drive (AWD). Three H4 Outbacks with four-cylinder engines round out the list. Known as sport utility wagons, all of these Outback variants of the Legacy feature SUV styling cues and a higher ground clearance.
Legacy models include the four-cylinder L sedan and wagon, the L Special Edition sedan and wagon, and the 2.5 GT sedan. Equipped with AWD, the Legacy and its Outback companion were last redesigned for the 2000 model year and rank as Subarus most popular series. Most Legacy sales involve wagons and most notably for the SUV-like Outback model. The Legacy is Subarus only U.S.-built model.
The Legacy sedans ride a 104.3-inch wheelbase and measure 184.4 inches long overall; the wagon stretches to 187.4 inches long overall. The Outback sedan has 7.3 inches of ground clearance which is far more than other models and it stands 58.3 inches high. The regular Legacy sedan is only 55.7 inches tall. Subaru says the Outback is suitable for light offroad travel. The Outback sedan borrows some of the Outback wagons styling cues, including larger front fenders, lower-body cladding, large fog lights and two-tone paint.
The Legacy models seat five occupants on front buckets and a three-place rear bench. The center position in the backseat has a three-point seat belt. The Legacys rear seatback does not fold for additional cargo space, but there is a small pass-thru section into the trunk. The Legacy sedan's trunk capacity totals 12.4 cubic feet. Cargo volume is 34.3 cubic feet and expands to 68.6 cubic feet when the 60/40-split rear seat is folded down.
Air conditioning, cruise control, and power windows, door lock and mirrors are standard in the L sedan and all wagons. Special Edition models are equipped with 16-inch alloy wheels, a sunroof, halogen fog lamps and a Momo-designed steering wheel. The 2.5 GT adds a power sunroof, an eight-way power drivers seat, a sport-tuned suspension and 16-inch tires on five-spoke alloy wheels. Side-impact airbags, leather upholstery, heated mirrors and seats, and a six-CD player are included in the 2.5 GT.
Under the Hood
A 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine sends 165 hp to a standard five-speed-manual or optional four-speed-automatic transmission. The automatic is available only on the Outback Limited sedan. The Outback H6-3.0 sedans use a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that produces 212 hp. All Subarus are equipped with AWD.
Antilock brakes are standard on all models. The 2.5 GT, Outback Limited and Outback H6-3.0 sedans have side-impact airbags to protect front-seat occupants.
With its AWD lineup, Subaru occupies a unique niche in the compact-car market. The Legacy promises sufficient interior space for a small family, and it is a competent sedan that offers more than just all-season traction. The Legacys performance is sufficiently strong, which is helped by a smooth-operating automatic transmission. This compact car is easy to drive and is stable on the highway.
The Outback sedan and wagon add extra advantages for driving on less-than-perfect roads. These cars are a nice alternative to a sport utility vehicle. The Legacy Outback yields a solid feel on the road and is well assembled. On the negative side, a rather stiff suspension means its ride can become harsh and even jarring on urban pavement, but its pleasant enough for highway travel.