Known for its winter-beating capability, the Subaru Legacy has been providing its users with a consistent all-wheel-drive since its introduction in 1989. The Legacy was developed with the aim of competing in the lucrative North American midsize market, specifically as a match to Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. With its high performance variants, the Subaru Legacy offered its users a competitive alternative to compact, executive cars.
First generation: 1989 - 1994
The Legacy's first generation represented a deviation from Subaru's previous products. Though it was launched in 1989, the first gen Legacy wasn't available for worldwide distribution until 1990. It was distinct for breaking Subaru traditions such as having the spare tire in the engine compartment. Furthermore, the 1989 Legacy was offered with a Subaru EJ flat-4 engine, which was quieter and more powerful than the older Subaru EA engine.
Initial body styles available included a 5-door wagon, and a 4-door sedan with FWD and full-time AWD option. Users were given the option of having 4-channel ABS from Bosch and air suspension height control, which lowered the Legacy at speeds higher than 50 mph.
Second generation: 1995 - 1999
The spawning of the Outback wagon marked the second generation of the Subaru Legacy. With a standard AWD, the rugged SUV had a meager 135hp 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine, which was considered as a major drawback for the Outback.
Some of the updates in the second gen included the addition of driver and front passenger airbags, a redesigned interior, and the disappearance of the air suspension with height control. In 1999, however, a special 30th Anniversary Edition was released to mark Subaru's 30th year in America, and the last members of the second generation.
Third generation: 2000 - 2004
Legacy's 2000 model year came in three trim levels: the base L, the sporty GT, and the premium GT Limited. Even just for a short time, a Brighton value trim was also offered in the 2000 Legacy wagons. The third gen was equipped with a standard All-Wheel-Drive as usual, and an impressive 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, which offered its users 165 horsepower. A 5-speed manual transmission was made standard, while a 4-speed automatic was offered as an option.
With Subaru's 35th anniversary, the Legacy's L trim was pushed upscale to give way for the L Special Edition trim. But this limited edition model was renamed to be the 35th Anniversary Edition a year later.
Fourth generation: 2005 - 2009
Available as a sedan or a wagon, the fourth generation Legacy was introduced in 2005. All trim levels, except for the base trim, came feature-packed, making the fourth gen seem like other midsize luxury cars with the luxury and comfort it offered its users.
Two trim levels were available for the fourth gen: the 2.5i and 2.5GT. The base 2.5i had a standard 2.5-liter boxer-4 producing 168hp and an optional 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. On the other hand, the 2.5 GT offered a 250-hp turbocharged version of the same engine, with either a 5-speed manual or a 5-speed automatic. By 2008, the wagon was discontinued, leaving the sedan model as the only option for buyers.
Fifth generation: 2010 - present
Debuted for the 2010 model year, the fifth gen Legacy was intended for families seeking a functional yet easy-to-drive sedan. The fifth gen didn't have major updates, except for having bigger exterior body and interior space than the previous models.
Trim levels available were the 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 2.5GT Limited, 3.6R, 3.6R Premium, and 3.6R Limited. With the base engine of a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder, the new Legacy produced 170hp and 170ft-lb torque. A 6-speed manual transmission and a Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT) were the new transmission options.