Vehicle Overview
All GT versions of Subaru’s compact series gain larger-diameter front brake discs for 2002. A standard All-Weather Package on the GT Limited sedan includes heated front seats, heated mirrors and a wiper deicer. Sedans gain an internal trunk release with a self-illuminating handle.

A new Outback H6-3.0 sedan joins the 2002 lineup. It is powered by a six-cylinder engine — like its Outback wagon sibling — rather than the four-cylinder equipped in other models. The Outback H6-3.0 sedan is available with either Active All-Wheel Drive or Subaru’s electronic stability system, called Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC).

Other Legacy models include the L sedan and wagon, GT sedan and wagon, GT Limited sedan and Outback Limited. Equipped with all-wheel drive, the Legacy and its Outback companion was last redesigned for 2000 and is Subaru’s most popular series. Most Legacy sales are for wagons, notably the SUV-like Outback.

The Legacy sedan rides on a 104.3-inch wheelbase and measures 184.4 inches long overall. The Outback sedan has 7.3 inches of ground clearance — far more than other models — and stands 58.3 inches high, compared to 55.7 inches for the regular Legacy sedan. Subaru says the Outback is suitable for “light offroad travel.” The Outback sedan borrows some of the Outback wagon’s styling cues, including bigger front fenders, lower-body cladding, large fog lights and two-tone paint.

Seating for five occupants is possible with the Legacy’s front buckets and rear three-place bench. The center rear position has a three-point seat belt. The Legacy’s rear seatback does not fold for additional cargo space, but there is a small pass-thru section into the trunk. Cargo capacity totals 12.4 cubic feet.

Air conditioning and cruise control are standard even in the L sedan, along with power windows, locks and mirrors. The GT adds a power sunroof, six-way power driver’s seat, remote keyless entry, fog lights, sport suspension and 16-inch tires on alloy wheels. Side-impact airbags, leather upholstery and a cassette/CD player are included on the GT Limited.

Under the Hood
A 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine sends 165 horsepower to a standard five-speed-manual or optional four-speed-automatic transmission. Only the automatic is available on the Outback Limited sedan. Outback H6-3.0 sedans use a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine that produces 212 hp. All Subarus have all-wheel drive.

Antilock brakes are standard. GT Limited, Outback Limited and Outback H6-3.0 sedans have side-impact airbags to protect front-seat occupants.

Driving Impressions
With its all-wheel-drive lineup, Subaru occupies a unique niche in the compact-car market. Promising sufficient interior space for a small family, the Legacy is a competent sedan that offers more than just all-season traction. Performance is sufficiently strong, helped by a smooth-operating automatic transmission. The Legacy is stable on the highway and easy to drive anywhere.

The Outback sedan or wagon adds extra advantages for driving on less-than-perfect roads and is a nice alternative to a sport utility vehicle. It is well-assembled and yields a solid feel on the road. On the negative side, a rather stiff suspension means the Outback’s ride can become harsh, even jarring, on urban pavement, though it’s pleasant enough for highway travel.

Reported by Jim Flammang  for
From the 2002 Buying Guide