Junkyard Gem: 2002 Subaru Legacy Wagon

The Outback designation, introduced in America on off-road-enhanced versions of the Subaru Legacy and Impreza for the 1995 model year, eventually proved so popular on a single model — the Legacy station wagon — that Subaru ditched it from usage on any other vehicle. American car shoppers could buy a new Legacy Outback sedan all the way through 2007, and they could also get an ordinary Legacy station wagon through that year. After that, the Legacy wagon became available as an Outback only, dropping the Legacy name once and for all. Here’s one of those hard-to-find 21st-century Legacy wagons, spotted in a Colorado self-service yard.

While US-market Outbacks lost all their external Legacy badging starting in 2000, they were still considered Legacies by Subaru and any organization registering or insuring them. This confused everyone, especially since the low-end Legacy L and snazzified Legacy GT still sported full model-name and trim-level badging.

To muddy the waters further, every new Subaru sold in America got all-wheel-drive starting in the 1996 model year, yet stuck with 1994-style AWD badges long after that.

In any case, hardly anybody was buying Outback sedans by 2002, and — at least in Colorado — even fewer wanted the Legacy wagon without the Outback’s lifted suspension, higher roof, body cladding and winter-friendly features. I see hundreds of Outback wagons of the 2000-2004 generation in Front Range car graveyards every year (as well as owning one myself), and this is the first regular Legacy wagon I’ve seen in quite a while.

So why did someone buy this one, twenty years ago? I’m guessing the $19,995 sticker price (about $32,640 in 2022 dollars) looked appealing next to the Legacy Outback wagon’s $22,895 ($37,375 now) price tag, especially since they nearly identical under the skin.

You could get an H6 engine in some 2002 Legacy Outback models, but every other member of the American Legacy family got this 2.5-liter H4 rated at 166 horsepower.

A five-speed manual transmission was base equipment, but most Legacy buyers insisted on two-pedal driving by this time.

There’s some rust around the fenderwells, but I think high miles and probably a worn-out engine sent this car to its final parking spot.

The digital odometer requires ECU power to display anything, so we’ll never know the final mileage total.