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2008 Subaru Legacy / Outback – Review

by The Review CrewAugust 18, 2010

The fourth-generation Legacy enters its fourth model year for 2008. It’s built in the Lafayette, Indiana, assembly plant that Subaru shares with Toyota. All Legacy models are now sedans, and Subaru considers the Outback wagon version to be a separate model. Between the two models there are 13 variants.

The Legacy sedan 2.5i, 2.5i Special Edition, and 2.5i Limited come with a naturally aspirated, horizontally opposed four-cylinder. Then there are the Legacy 2.5GT Limited and 2.5GT spec.B, both of which add an intercooled turbocharger to the engine, and the top-of-the-line 3.0R Limited comes with the first six-cylinder engine in a U.S.-market Legacy sedan. The naturally aspirated, 2.5-liter versions of the Outback come in base, 2.5i, 2.5i L.L.Bean Edition, 2.5i Limited, and 2.5i Limited L.L.Bean Edition. The Outback 2.5XT Limited has the turbocharged engine, and the 3.0R L.L.Bean Edition has the six-cylinder. All models come with standard all-wheel drive. The interior is of fairly high quality compared with that of similarly priced cars, especially on the less expensive models, and the Legacy and the Outback offer plenty of driving pleasure in a family-friendly package.

Verdict

The Legacy is less common than the Toyota Camry built in the same plant, but with far more character, it’s the nonconformist’s family sedan; similarly, the Outback is the anti-SUV.

What’s New for 2008

The Legacy 3.0R Limited debuts as the flagship model of the line, with a 245-hp, horizontally opposed six. The most noticeable changes to the Legacy and Outback this year—if you look really, really closely—are new grilles surrounded by new front headlamps. The rear fascia and the taillamps have been updated, and the two models have greater visual differentiation. The instrument panel and the interior fabrics have been revised as well. Tire-pressure monitoring, keyless entry, and a tilting-and-telescoping steering wheel are all standard.

Trim Levels

All Legacy and Outback 2.5i models (including the base Outback) come with a four-cylinder making 170 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. The Legacy 2.5i starts at $21,140 and comes with a five-speed manual transmission and 17-inch wheels. Standard equipment includes anti-lock brakes; air conditioning; cruise control; power doors, mirrors, and locks; remote keyless entry, and front-side and curtain airbags. The Legacy 2.5i Special Edition adds a power driver’s seat and power sunroof for $21,440. The Outback base price is $22,640, which includes 16-inch wheels, air conditioning, cruise control, power windows and locks, and remote entry. The Outback 2.5i starts at $24,240. That adds 17-inch wheels, a power driver’s seat, heated front seats, fog lamps, and a limited-slip rear differential. A four-speed automatic transmission can be added to any of those four models for $1000.

The automatic comes standard on the Legacy 2.5i Limited, which is $24,740 and also comes with heated leather seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, and an in-dash six-CD changer. For $26,940, the Outback 2.5i L.L.Bean Edition includes the automatic transmission plus dual-zone climate control, a navigation system, a six-CD changer, and the option to order stability control. The Outback 2.5i Limited comes without navigation but does have a dual-panel sunroof and leather seating at a base price of $28,040.

The jump up from lower Legacys to the $28,940 2.5GT Limited brings a 243-hp turbocharged engine. A five-speed automatic transmission costs $1500 more and includes stability control. On top of lesser models, the GT Limited adds a power passenger seat, electroluminescent gauges, sportier front seats, larger brakes, and a limited-slip rear differential. Subaru’s SI-Drive, a knob that lets the driver switch among three different engine programming modes, is included, but it’s sort of gimmicky.

The next step in price is on the Outback side for the 2.5i Limited L.L.Bean Edition, at $29,640. It adds a power passenger’s seat, leather seating, and navigation over standards on the Outback 2.5i Limited. The $31,640 Outback 2.5XT has the turbocharged engine also found in the Legacy GT, along with the SI-Drive controller. Stability control is standard, and the five-speed manual can be replaced with a five-speed automatic for $1200.

Despite Subaru’s claim that the 3.0R Limited is the flagship Legacy, it’s the second-priciest of the sedans at $31,940. It comes with a six-cylinder engine and five-speed automatic, navigation, stability control, Bilstein shocks, and 18-inch wheels. The Outback 3.0R L.L.Bean Edition also comes with the six-cylinder, automatic transmission, and stability control for $32,140.

At the very top of the price sheet is the 2.5GT spec.B at $34,640. This is the sporty model, and it comes with the turbo four and a six-speed manual transmission. Other differences from the 2.5GT Limited are 18-inch wheels with high-performance summer tires, Bilstein shocks and aluminum suspension parts, a Momo steering wheel, stability control, a navigation system, special seat trim, and a memory function for the driver’s seat.

If you’re looking at the Legacy, the spec.B has an impressive list of performance parts, but you can find more power or luxury elsewhere at its high asking price. We’d stay away from the 3.0R Limited as well, since the 2.5GT Limited has only two fewer horsepower and more torque. The GT is our pick if your budget allows or your inner speed demon demands. Our Outback preferences fall along the same lines: a reasonably equipped 2.5i model is the choice for normal transportation, and the 2.5XT is the pick for enthusiasts.

Optional Equipment

A few options on the Legacy are grouped into packages, but the packages cost as much as buying each item individually. The list of exterior options consists of a rear spoiler for $389, rocker-panel trim for $395, fog lamps for $362, mud flaps for $153, a hood protector for $85, and wheel locks for $42. Inside, you can get an auto-dimming mirror with a compass for $183 or the same mirror with a HomeLink universal garage-door opener for $260. We like the short-throw shifter and Momo shift knob for the manual transmission, but at $374 and $102, respectively, they’re not especially cheap. A shock sensor for the security system costs $121. The remaining interior extras are a trunk cargo net for $64, an armrest extension for $163, XM Satellite radio for $456, an audio subwoofer and amplifier for $287, and all-weather floor mats for $55. Remote start is available on automatic-transmission cars for $442.

All trim levels except the base 2.5i can get a sunroof air deflector for $91 and a rear dome/reading light for $85. The 2.5i Limited can be ordered with stability control for an extra $300. A navigation system is optional on the automatic-transmission 2.5GT Limited for $2000.

Like the Legacy’s, Outback accessories cost the same whether in a package or à la carte. Although both vehicles do share many available options, the Outback’s goodies list includes a few things not found on the Legacy’s. These include a jumble of storage-related items such as a luggage-compartment cover for $165, a rear cargo tray for $75, two rear side-compartment cargo nets for $68, a rear-seatback cargo net for $48, a rear luggage-compartment cover for $237, a front-and-rear cross-bar assembly for $190, and a round cross-bar set for $237 that replaces the standard square bars on the roof rack. In keeping with the apparent theme of hauling and storage, the only other option listed is a trailer hitch, priced at $353. Stability control can be ordered on the Outback 2.5i L.L.Bean Edition, Limited, and Limited L.L.Bean Edition for $300. Navigation on the Outback 3.0R L.L Bean Edition and 2.5XT Limited is an extra $2000.

Safety

Anti-lock brakes are standard on all Legacy and Outback models, as are front, front-side, and curtain airbags. Stability control (called VDC by Subaru) is $300 on the Legacy 2.5i Limited, Outback 2.5i L.L.Bean Edition, Limited, and Limited L.L.Bean Edition. VDC comes standard on the automatic-transmission versions of the Legacy 2.5GT Limited and 3.0R Limited, as well as the Outback 2.5XT Limited and 3.0R L.L.Bean Edition.

The Legacy 2.5i, 2.5i Special Edition, manual-equipped 2.5GT Limited, Outback, and Outback 2.5i cannot be ordered with stability control. All-wheel drive, as on all Subarus, is standard.

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The Review Crew
The Review Crew is a group of beat editors, writers, and consultants that have been working together for years. They know just about everything about everything collectively and have published their collective work under the Review Crew brand moniker for almost 20 years.
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