The Subaru Legacy turbo wagon had one fatal flaw

Long before the WRX was even a glint in the eye of Subaru USA’s marketing team, Fuji Heavy Industries was offering a turbo wagon in the US market. The first-generation Legacy Sport Wagon was the most athletic wagon Subaru had brought to America, but it was also one of the rarest. It was sold for only two years — its inaugural year of 1993, which was mid-way through the generation, and 1994, the final year before the second-gen’s debut.

Powered by an EJ22T turbocharged 2.2-liter boxer, this unassuming wagon made 160 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of max torque at just 2800 rpm. That was enough to launch the wagon from 0-60 in just 8.7 seconds during Motorweek‘s tests, which they note was only a tad longer than the sedan’s time. The review also notes its excellent handling with minimal body roll (for a wagon), even if the tail wants to get a bit loose.

On road manners are rated as “outstanding,” “a great cruiser,” and “big car comfortable. Front bucket seats are supportive but they say the rear bench is on the hard side. AWD and ABS provide a lot of tech for the price, which starts at $21,645. Motorweek is quick to mention that an Audi 100 CS Quattro wagon with AWD costs north of $40,000.

Tragically, the Legacy wagon only came with an automatic transmission. That’s made even more painful when you consider that a turbo sedan with the same drivetrain could be bought with a 5-speed stick. These days, either one is extremely rare. They’re distinguished by a thin hood scoop, a slightly more aggressive front bumper, and 15-inch alloys.

The first-gen Legacy was a huge departure for Subaru, as engineers tried to leave behind the company’s utilitarian roots with something sleeker and sportier. Back these pre-crossover days when station wagons were still considered the family haulers of choice, the Legacy Sports Wagon would have been a compelling alternative to Accord or Camry wagons, if you didn’t mind the lack of a third pedal. They’re almost nonexistent today, but if you know of one that’s been saved, let us know.

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9 Responses to The Subaru Legacy turbo wagon had one fatal flaw

  1. Jim Daniels says:

    I became lucky enough about 2 months ago to become a Subaru owner. I did not get a 1993 but I did get what might be considered the best of the Legacy’s, a 2005 Legacy 2.5 GT, wagon, Limited, 5-MT, Obsidian Black Pearl, With black leather, Of course with the Momo steering wheel and shifter all form the factory. The cat had only 44,400 miles when I picked it up. It was a garage kept car. Beautiful nice sporty wagon.

    The back story is my wife’s best friends mom purchased this car in Walnut Creek CA new as she wanted something to replace her lase Subaru wagon that had some pep that she felt was needed in Bay area traffic. I saw the car after she purchased it and thought WOW what a good looking wagon.

    Seventeen years later and a state away my family and I visited this lady. We went into her garage and there sat the GT my 18 year old son said “that’s what I want”. A year later she called us and asked us if we wanted the car and she said I am going to make it affordable enough so you can have money to play with it and have fun.

    I can say this is a really fun car to drive it is such a sleeper. It gets looks every where I drive it and STI drivers give me a wave after all it is a luxury STI. Lowered from the factory, larger brakes, 250 HP STI turbo motor, Manual transmission.

    I have added a set of WhiteLine 22 front and 20 MM rear sway bars which really improved handling and steel braided break lines and a CARB approved Cobb stage 1 tune. I just picked up and I am restoring a old set of SSR GT-7 17×7.5 – 50 offset wheels to to add to the sporty, light, and nimble wagon. There was only 108 of this specific combination built.

  2. Jim Daniels says:

    Ben I have not been able to post, for a while. The screen keeps coming up blank when I click on post as if nothing is posted.

  3. Land Ark says:

    I own the spiritual successor of this car, a 2007 Legacy GT wagon, also in silver. I guess you could consider the Outback XT as carrying on the torch, but to me, the idea of the first and last Legacy wagon was more than a bit different from the Outback.

    Thinking back to ’93 it’s sad to think of all the small wagons you could still buy, let alone the ones on the lightly used market. Who wouldn’t want a teal Escort or Barney purple Cavalier wagon today?
    And who would turn down everything the current Corolla has going for it packed into a proper longroof?

  4. Taylor C. says:

    What a sexy wagon! I had a 2005 Legacy GT wagon with 5-speed manual, non-limited model. As the previous owner upgraded the turbo and tune, 300WHP easily made it the fastest car I have owned. On the freeway, a quick downshift to 4th would literally push us into our seat while we walked away from other cars.

    Mine was Obsidian Black Pearl (blue pearl, oh yes), and stock height but with KONI yellows and RallyTek sway bars. In the back was a powder-coated black Greddy exhaust with the nice boxer burble when coasting to a stop (ooh yeah). Add to that the car was sitting on the 2004 STi BBS wheels, the only year they were offered in 5×100 (oooh yes). Forester XT and Outback XT owners gave me the thumbs-up, and WRX owners stared with envy.

    Suddenly things just got nostalgic, but I had ultimately sold it because I was looking for MPGs, and the TDI wagon did just that.

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