History of the Subaru Legacy

As Subaru prepares to bid farewell to the Legacy after the 2025 model year, it is a fitting moment to reflect on the storied history of this iconic vehicle. Launched in 1989, the Subaru Legacy has been a testament to the brand’s commitment to innovation, performance, and reliability. Over the decades, the Legacy has undergone significant transformations, evolving through seven generations and leaving an indelible mark on the automotive world.

2021 Subaru Legacy
The seventh and final-generation Subaru Legacy.

First Generation (1989-1994): The Beginning

The Subaru Legacy debuted in 1989, replacing the Subaru Leone and aiming to compete in the mid-size sedan market dominated by the likes of the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. This generation introduced the world to Subaru’s boxer engine and symmetrical all-wheel drive (AWD), features that would become synonymous with the brand. Available in both sedan and wagon forms, the Legacy was praised for its robust build quality, advanced AWD system, and reliability.

Second Generation (1994-1999): Enhanced Performance

The second generation, launched in 1994, saw significant improvements in design and performance. Subaru introduced the Legacy GT, which featured a turbocharged engine, appealing to enthusiasts looking for a sporty yet practical vehicle. The exterior design was more aerodynamic, and the interior offered enhanced comfort and technology. This generation also marked the introduction of Subaru’s famous Outback variant, which combined the practicality of a wagon with the off-road capabilities of an SUV.

Third Generation (1999-2003): Technological Advancements

The third generation, released in 1998, was a period of technological advancement for the Legacy. Subaru introduced a more refined all-wheel-drive system and upgraded the suspension for better handling and ride comfort. This generation also saw the introduction of the EZ30, a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine, providing more power and smoother performance. The design was more streamlined, and the interior featured improved materials and ergonomics.

Fourth Generation (2004-2009): A New Design Language

In 2003, Subaru launched the fourth generation of the Legacy, featuring a bold new design language. The exterior was more aggressive, with sharp lines and a more prominent grille. The interior was upgraded with high-quality materials and advanced technology, including an optional navigation system and premium audio. Performance was also enhanced with the introduction of the turbocharged 2.5-liter engine in the Legacy GT, delivering impressive power and acceleration.

Fifth Generation (2010-2014): Focus on Comfort and Safety

The fifth generation, introduced in 2009, emphasized comfort and safety. Subaru increased the size of the Legacy, offering more interior space and a smoother ride. This generation saw the introduction of Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist technology, which included features such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and pre-collision braking. The Legacy continued to offer a range of engine options, including the efficient 2.5-liter four-cylinder and the powerful 3.6-liter six-cylinder.

Sixth Generation (2015-2019): Modernization and Efficiency

The sixth generation of the Legacy, launched in 2014, focused on modernization and fuel efficiency. Subaru introduced a more refined exterior design with sleek lines and a more aerodynamic profile. The interior was upgraded with the latest technology, including a touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone integration. Fuel efficiency improved with the introduction of a new CVT (continuously variable transmission) and lighter materials. The Legacy continued to be a leader in safety, earning top ratings from various safety organizations.

Seventh Generation (2020-2025): The Final Evolution

The seventh and final generation of the Subaru Legacy, introduced in 2019, represented the pinnacle of the model’s evolution. Subaru built this generation on the Subaru Global Platform, enhancing rigidity and safety while improving ride quality and handling. The Legacy was equipped with the latest technology, including a large touchscreen infotainment system, advanced drive- assist features, and enhanced connectivity options. Engine choices included a fuel-efficient 2.5-liter four-cylinder and a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder, providing a blend of performance and efficiency.

The End of the Subaru Legacy: 2025 Farewell

As Subaru prepares to discontinue the Legacy after the 2025 model year, it leaves behind a heritage of innovation, reliability, and performance. The Legacy has been a favorite among drivers who value safety, all-weather capability, and a balance of comfort and performance. This decision marks the end of an era for Subaru, as the brand shifts its focus towards SUVs and electric vehicles, reflecting the evolving demands of the automotive market.


Ochoa, J. (2024, April 24). Subaru is bidding farewell to a fan-favorite model after 36 years. The Street.

Kierstein, A. (2024, April 23). The 2025 Subaru Legacy Will Be the Last of Its Kind. Motor Trend.

(n.d.). Subaru Legacy. Edmunds.

See AlsoThe Subaru Legacy Supplies Maximum Grip, Tech, and Safety Features

Matt Keegan
Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan is a journalist, media professional, and owner of this website. He has an extensive writing background and has covered the automotive sector continuously since 2004. When not driving and evaluating new vehicles, Matt enjoys spending his time outdoors.

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