With impressive agility, decent fuel economy, standard all-wheel drive, and an affordable price, the base version of the Subaru Legacy has a lot going for it. However, the snug interior limits its appeal as a family car. It also loses major points for tricky handling in emergency maneuvers. Electronic stability control does help this somewhat however.
Alerts
There are 9 recalls on this vehicle. Learn More.

Road Test Results

Performance
Acceleration Acceleration Acceleration tests are conducted on a smooth, flat pavement straightaway at the track. Time, speed, and distance measurements are taken with a precise GPS-based device that’s hooked to a data-logging computer.
0 to 60 mph 0 to 60 mph (sec.) The time in seconds that a vehicle takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill with the engine idling.
Transmission Transmission Transmission performance is determined by shifting smoothness, response, shifter action, and clutch actuation for manual transmissions.
Fuel Economy Fuel Economy We perform our own fuel-economy tests, independent of the government's often-quoted EPA figures and the manufacturers' claims. Using a precise fuel-flow measuring device spliced into the fuel line, we run two separate circuits to represent city and highway consumption.
CR's Overall Mileage CR's Overall Mileage CR's overall mileage is a composite of measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course and highway cruising; and CR's 150-mile test trip of mixed driving, if tested. In recent road tests, we've discontinued the 150-mile trip test.
CR's City Mileage CR's City Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course.
CR's Highway Mileage CR's Highway Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed highway cruising.
Annual Fuel Cost Annual Fuel Cost The cost and amount of fuel used in 12,000 miles and is calculated from CR's overall mileage.
Braking Braking The braking rating is a composite of wet and dry stopping distances and pedal feel. Braking distance is from 60 mph, with no wheels locked.
Emergency Handling Emergency Handling Several factors go into the rating, including the avoidance maneuver speed and confidence, as well as how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit.
Comfort / Convenience
Ride Ride Our expert judgment of how well the suspension isolates and absorbs road imperfections and how steady it keeps the body on various road surfaces.
Noise Noise Our expert judgment of the vehicle's interior noise level in everyday driving.
Front Seat Comfort Front Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the front seat is for drivers of various heights.
Rear Seat Comfort Rear Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the rear seat is for two passengers to sit across.
Interior Fit and Finish Interior Fit and Finish An expert evaluation of the interior quality and craftsmanship.
Trunk/Cargo Area Trunk/Cargo Area Our rating is based on the amount of luggage or cargo space that a vehicle has in the trunk or cargo area.

Owner Reports

Worse Better
Reliability History Reliability History The reliability charts are based on responses on hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our latest Annual Auto Survey. Consumer Reports subscribers reported on any serious problems they had with their vehicles during the past 12 months that they considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime, in any of the trouble spots included in the table below. The results are presented relative to the average model that year. Extra weight is given to the more serious areas such as major engine or transmission problems. Based on this data and further analysis, we predict reliability for the latest year. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
NA
2001
NA
2002
NA
2003
NA
2004
NA
2005
2006
NA
2007
NA
2008
2009
NA
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
Reliability Trouble Spots
Engine Major Engine Major Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.
NA
Engine Minor Engine Minor Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.
NA
Engine Cooling Engine Cooling Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.
NA
Transmission Major Transmission Major Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.
NA
Owner Satisfaction Owner Satisfaction To learn about satisfaction, CR has collected survey data from our annual survey on more than half a million vehicles. Our subscribers provide great insights into their satisfaction by answering one simple question: If they had it to do all over again, would they definitely buy or lease the same model? In addition, respondents also rate their cars in six categories: driving experience, comfort, value, styling, audio, and climate systems. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
NA
2001
NA
2002
NA
2003
NA
2004
NA
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
Driving Experience Driving Experience Includes acceleration and handling
Comfort Comfort Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride
Value Value Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?
Styling Styling How it looks inside and out
Safety Equipment
ABS available, standard from 2000. Side air bags available from 2000, standard from 2005. Head protection air bags standard from 2005. ESC available from 2007, standard from 2009.
Road Test

With impressive agility, decent fuel economy, standard all-wheel drive, and an affordable price, the base version of the Subaru Legacy has a lot going for it. However, the snug interior limits its appeal as a family car. It also loses major points for tricky handling in emergency maneuvers. Electronic stability control does help this somewhat however.

Seating
2 front, 3 rear
Drive Wheels
AWD
Warranty

In most cases, automotive warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the warranty will be valid regardless of ownership. The dealership can tell you exactly how much warranty is left.

Read more about extended warranties
Body Styles
sedan
Transmissions Available
  • 5-speed Manual
  • 5-speed Automatic
  • 4-speed Automatic
  • 6-speed Manual
Engines Available
  • 2.5-liter 4 turbo (243 hp)
  • 2.5-liter 4 (170 hp)
  • 3-liter 6 (245 hp)

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2008 Subaru Legacy owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

What Owners Say

Engine rebuild or replacement

"Piston breakdown"

Anonymous, CA (2008 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"This particular engine is an interference engine. Timing belts are extremely critical to the long term running of this type of motor. I'm more upset with the dealership (R&G Subaru of Detroit Lakes). They offered a timing belt replacement at 131,000 miles, not the factory recommended 105,000. They did not explain to us the importance of this preventive maintenance, and subsequently they never offered it again, even though we have been back four more times for oil change and service. At 151,0"

Charles M., MN (2008 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"3 4 cylinder had the piston break at the point between the lower and second lower ring. The broke piece fell into the engine oil and was ground up into the oil. When the short block was replaced the shop split the case and removed the stock pistons a"

Robert W., BC (2008 Subaru Legacy GT Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Head gasket

"Had oil leaks attributed to the head gasket on both cylinder banks. Service advisor told us that the head gaskets had been redisigned and would last much longer. It was a very expensive repair in which the timing belt and water pump were replaced, as well"

Anonymous, NM (2008 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"At 95000 head gasket leaked over $2,300 repair at dealership"

David T., NY (2008 Subaru Legacy 3.0R 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Head gaskets need replacing. Leaking oil and antifreeze"

Bart H., PA (2008 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"This is our second Legacy with the same engine and both have had head gasket failures resulting in oil leaks and expensive repairs which the dealer was ambivalent about"

Anonymous, AB (2008 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"I own 3 Subaru's every one has had to have the Head Gaskets Replaced at 100.000 miles"

Francis S., NH (2008 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Head gasket failure (leaking oil)"

Chris L., MN (2008 Subaru Legacy Special Edition 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"External oil leak (slow dripping) on right side head gasket and almost undetectable oil leak on left side. Replaced both head gaskets"

Anonymous, SK (2008 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Scheduled timing belt replacement

"For convenience, completed scheduled timing belt replacement at same time as the head gaskets were replaced"

Anonymous, SK (2008 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Turbo or supercharger

"Replaced because of damage done by having metallic bits in the oil from the piston failure"

Robert W., BC (2008 Subaru Legacy GT Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"Banjo bolts got clogged and restricted oil flow to turbo"

Anonymous, NJ (2008 Subaru Legacy GT Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"Turbocharger failure. Replaced under extended warranty"

J K., NJ (2008 Subaru Legacy GT Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

What Owners Say

Bushings

"Rear trailing arm bushings both failed at roughly 60,000 km which seems a bit soon to me"

D M., MB (2008 Subaru Legacy Special Edition 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Shocks or struts

"Vehicle riding very rough"

Anonymous, NY (2008 Subaru Legacy)

"Needed one of the struts replaced. Leaking to point of failure"

Michael K., IL (2008 Subaru Legacy GT Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Steering linkage (includes rack and pinion)

"Fluid is leaking from the steering rack but I am unable to fix it because the entire rack would have to be replaced which would cost over $1000"

Anonymous, CO (2008 Subaru Legacy GT Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"Rack & pinion steering was leaking badly. It was warped. Factory paid $800.00. I paid 400.00"

Anonymous, CO (2008 Subaru Legacy GT spec. B 2.5-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Tie rods

"Both inner boots on the tie rods were torn so the axles were replaced"

Anonymous, CO (2008 Subaru Legacy GT Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Wheel bearings

"I've had to replace both rear wheel bearings on this vehicle. One was several years ago, the other within the last year"

Colleen M., MI (2008 Subaru Legacy 3.0R 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

"I've had to replace two wheel bearings in the past 6 months, and another one a few years ago"

Anonymous, PA (2008 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"They required replacement within a week of owning the car. It was not identified as a potential problem before purchase"

Bruce S., NS (2008 Subaru Legacy GT Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl turbo)

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

What Owners Say

Display screen goes blank

"Display screen flickers and goes blank periodically"

Ryan A., WA (2008 Subaru Legacy GT Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"There is a loss of control of the devices. The radio cannot be turned off nor can volume or channels be changed. Sometimes it changes channels or band on it's own. Ditto with climate controls. there is a loss of controls for the system. The defroster"

Stephen L., MI (2008 Subaru Legacy GT Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl turbo)
External music device interface (e.g., smart phone, MP3 player)

"Radio got stuck on 1 station. Ipod did not work"

Lorraine C., NY (2008 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
In-dash navigation system (GPS)

"This quit working 3 years ago and is very expensive to fix. I don't need the nav capacity but find it ver frustrating that i cannot reset the clock especial since it is frozen on military time, edt"

Anonymous, NC (2008 Subaru Legacy 3.0R 3.0-L 6 Cyl)
Radio

"Radio and display goes out when car hits a bump"

Gary M., NC (2008 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"works intermittently and sometimes won't work for hours. nobody can figure it out"

Anonymous, NJ (2008 Subaru Legacy GT Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl turbo)

"My satellite radio freezes up and I can't change channels/volume or even switch to AM/FM. The next time I turn the car on, it's usually back to normal"

Jason G., NH (2008 Subaru Legacy Limited)

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

What Owners Say

A/C compressor

"At only 55,000 I needed a new a/c. Complained to company that this was too few miles for this. The company did not agree"

Anonymous, CA (2008 Subaru Legacy)
Automatic climate control

"Automatic climate controls have been a source of displeasure since purchasing the car new. Issue has kept me from buying our 6th Subaru at this time"

Kenneth T., NC (2008 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Some of the vents on the passenger side blow cool air compared to the driver side when both sides are set to warm temps"

Anonymous, MI (2008 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Described in radio system comments. Defrosters and A/C go out. Tapping on the screen restores the screen and functions"

Stephen L., MI (2008 Subaru Legacy GT Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Heater system

"The heater system has been delivering hot air to only the driver's side and getting worse over the years. A web search indicated that a heater core flush would fix it, and it did"

Charles M., NY (2008 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Floor heaters stopped working. Was told it was a major malfunction and the car could catch on fire if not repaired"

Anonymous, NY (2008 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

What Owners Say

Premature brake wear

"I constantly go thru pads & rotors in under 20,000"

David T., NY (2008 Subaru Legacy 3.0R 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"I seem to go through pads & rotors more frequently then any other car I have ever had between 20 to 25K"

David T., NY (2008 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"bearing worn out at 31000 miles"

Anonymous, PA (2008 Subaru Legacy Special Edition 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"rust on rotors caused by vehicle being unused for extended period"

Anonymous, ON (2008 Subaru Legacy GT Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Rotors

"Wear"

Anonymous, PA (2008 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

What Owners Say

Squeaks or rattles

"Heat shield came loose"

Zach L., PA (2008 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Catalcanver (spelling?) heating vent comes loose"

Anonymous, NY (2008 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Seems to be coming from lower passenger side of car. Mechanic mentioned that it had to do with insulation tiles but I have not yet had it repaired"

Anonymous, NY (2008 Subaru Legacy)

"Constant apon initial moving clinks"

Anonymous, NY (2008 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

What Owners Say

Engine computer

"I took this to the dealer to fix. They quoted me $200 above the $500 normal stock price for the replacement part. I ended up taking my car to an independent repair shop. I now try to avoid going to this dealer unless necessary"

Anonymous, CA (2008 Subaru Legacy Special Edition)

"Engine computer failed to diagnose bad oxygen sensor, leading to over $1000.00 in repairs for a fishing expedition in order to determine that a simple sensor was causing major drivability issues"

Anonymous, CA (2008 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Oil leaks

"minor Gasket leaks"

Anonymous, ON (2008 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"We bought this car used in 2009 when it only had around 30,000 miles. Ever since we bought we have noticed that it goes through oil. We have brought the car in several times and asked to find out what the problem is. No leaks were ever found. During a tear down of the engine last week after the time belt failed the mechanic noticed that piston three is burning oil. Cause at this time is unknown"

Charles M., MN (2008 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

What Owners Say

Emission control devices (includes EGR)

"Emissions control sensor goes off at least 3 times per year. Have had gaskets replaced multiple times"

Anonymous, NY (2008 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Check engine light caused by catalytic converter. Dealer reset the light a month ago, as of now NO check engine light"

Anonymous, CO (2008 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor)

"recalled and fixed"

Anonymous, NY (2008 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Transmission Major

Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.

What Owners Say

Clutch replacement

"the clutch replacement was due to the fact that the throwout bearing basically exploded with over 50% of wear left on the clutch disc"

Anonymous, CA (2008 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Noisy throwout bearing @ 95000 miles. Dealer replaced clutch disc, pressure plate, flywheel, pilot bearing, and throwout bearing. The clutch was NOT slipping. This is the first time that one of our Subarus (total of 4) has required any clutch work"

Anonymous, MD (2008 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Transmission rebuild or replacement

"I bought the car brand new from a local dealer, and the transmission was first replaced with a new one under warranty at 30000kms and 3 years. Now the second transmission needs to be replaced (or rebuilt) after 50000kms and 4.5 years at my cost. Lo"

Stephen V., AB (2008 Subaru Legacy GT spec. B 2.5-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

What Owners Say

Exterior lights (other than headlights)

"The lights on the tailgate have stopped working due to a wiring failure. Back-up lights, license plate lights and rear cargo area lights"

D M., MB (2008 Subaru Legacy Special Edition 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Tire pressure monitor

"Tires lost air & the dealership could not fix it. This was an ongoing problem since Subaru put new tires on the car. The problem was finally fixed by Sears & Mavis"

Lorraine C., NY (2008 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

What Owners Say

Exhaust leaks

"Rotting/rusting pipes causing exhaust leaks"

Zach L., PA (2008 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Pipes

"Rotting/rusting on pipes causing exhaust leaks"

Zach L., PA (2008 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

What Owners Say

Sunroof

"Stopped funtioning"

Anonymous, IA (2008 Subaru Legacy 3.0R 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

What Owners Say

Overheating

"from head gasket leaking. Leaking antifreeze leading to overheating"

Bart H., PA (2008 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

What Owners Say

Loose exterior trim or moldings

"Loose piece under bumper"

Anonymous, IA (2008 Subaru Legacy 3.0R 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

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