Secondhand Saint: 2005-2009 Subaru Legacy GT (and Spec.B)

Legacy GT Spec.B

Subaru’s reputation for stout, well-built AWD cars has been a cornerstone of their selling points for over twenty years now.  And about a decade ago, the turbocharged Impreza WRX showed that this company could build an excellent all-around sports sedan for not a lot of cash.  A few years later, they started turbocharging the Legacy and Outback, and gave a new reason for buyers to switch to a boxer engine and AWD.

Like its brother, the turbocharged Legacy and Outback are very receptive to modifications.

The Legacy itself is a fairly decent car, with good gas mileage, inoffensive styling, and a high-quality design.  The Legacy 2.5GT and its siblings though are the ones I’m going to look at.  Subaru launched it in 2005 as a sportier version of the standard Legacy sedan and wagon, and launched the Outback 2.5XT to go along with it.  Both feature the EJ255 flat-4, with about 250hp on tap.  A five-speed manual was standard with a 5-speed “SportShift” automanual as an option.  A good number of these were sold in the Limited trim, with leather seats, a sunroof, and heated front seats, all nice things to have.  While nowhere near as quick as the flagship STI, the turbocharged Legacy and Outback offered similar thrills to the smaller WRX, but in a larger size class with more refinement and a much nicer interior. The boxer layout allows for the engine to be placed lower in the car; this lowered the center of gravity and improved the car’s responses on twisty roads, a Subaru hallmark.  In 2006, Subaru introduced the Spec.B, a hardcore version of the 2.5GT with different suspension settings, brakes, and a new interior.  For 2007, the Spec.B recieved a 6-speed manual transmision and new rims–giving it the reputation of being the adult version of the STI. It also received the new Subaru SI-Drive system, a new 3-stage system to change the car’s response on the road (Sport, Intelligent, and Sport-Sharp).

They aren't as easy to find as the sedans, but a wagon was offered with the 5-speed manual. Find one, buy one, enjoy it.

These cars, like the WRX that came before them, are very receptive to modifications and have become popular on the Subaru scene.  They were marketed to a more mature audience, and most that were purchased new were generally modified less over the years, so the number of unmolested examples for sale is greater than that of the Impreza WRX or STI.  They are defintely well-suited to daily-driver duty, with a comfortable ride and decent gas mileage.  I have driven one, as most of you are aware, and I can report again that despite the family-car image, the LGT is still a very nice car for an enthusiast that needs a midsize. Prices are a big spread for this particular car, and some versions will command higher prices than others.

Spec.B interior. Note the SI-Drive controller in the console.

A cursory search over the bigger websites for car sales proved that the Legacy GT and Outback XT are not at all expensive, but, for the most part, they tend to be a little overpriced.  The Spec.B models tend to command the most amount, with prices starting at about 17K for an older used one to almost 25 grand for a good late-model, unmolested car.  Meanwhile, be aware that if you want a manual, they are a little bit harder to find than the automatics, especially in the wagon.  Prices range from as little as $10K for an average example that might need a little work to nearly 20K for a mothballed car with collector miles.  Dealers do overprice them, unfortunately.  Thanks to this car’s following as a more grown-up and more comfortable car than the Impreza, some forums have been around for a period of time and offer an excellent alternative to negotiating with dealers.  I checked a few forums, and the prices are lower for cars that might be in the same or better condition–seemingly, a good one can be had for around 13K , while the dealers might ask up to 16 for an identical car.  All that said, these midsize sedans are a great value and offer a lot of potential in a very attractive package.

-Al

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