2000 Subaru Legacy Sedan GT Limited new car reviews

The cars built by Subaru have a history of going where (and when) few others will venture, like up that ice-covered driveway or into that forest stage of the Rim of the World rally. They also have a history of being, basically, unattractive. The people who have purchased them have cared about dependable transportation, which these durable cars delivered in spades thanks to their sure-footed all-wheel-drive designs. In other words, you bought a Subaru to do a job--not for fun (unless your idea of fun was driving around in a car that looks like a doorstop).

That's all changed in the past few years. The booming sport-ute market has swept Subaru from the fringes into the mainstream automotive market, and the company has responded with some much more attractive styling. They've even offered a car that is fun.

Our time with the Legacy Sedan GT Limited (okay, they've still got some work to do on the nomenclature) was something of a revelation. The first one was when we caught people staring at--no, actually admiring--our Subaru. The styling is quite clean and attractive, with tasteful yet sporty body-colored ground effects, and handsome 16-inch alloy wheels. Inside the roomy interior, we found large, easy to read gauges and conveniently located controls.

A touch of luxury was added with power windows, a six-way power adjustable driver's seat, six-speaker CD stereo system, power glass moonroof, and even some bits of faux wood (a hint that this model is designed to compete with BMWs and Audis).

More pleasant surprises awaited us on the road. The Legacy GT Limited's 2.5-liter, 16-valve, four-cylinder boxer engine is rated at 165 horsepower, which is five less than the competing Integra GS-R sedan. Unlike the VTEC Acura, however, the Subaru has a fair bit of low-end pull, rewarding the driver right off the line.

The sport-tuned suspension and viscous limited-slip differential handle corners joyfully, with just a slight binding in the steering to alert you to the ever-present AWD. And the power seems abundant as you move through the gears, though that impression might be enhanced by the rough upshifts that are seemingly unavoidable with this five-speed manual transmission.

Highway speeds make another of this car's shortcomings obvious, as the road noise becomes distracting. That might have been partly due to our car's Bridgestone Potenza RE92 tires, but it combines with the cheap, light feel of the doors (no reassuring "thwump" here) and door handles, etc., to reinforce the impression that this is not one of those upscale German sedans with which it competes. But then, with an MSRP of $24,295, which is over $7000 less than a BMW 328i, the Subaru can afford to make a couple of compromises.

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