Summer 2004 Forward to a Friend

Fulfilling the Concept

Engineering Highlights

The vehicles’ exterior designers focused on an appearance that complemented driving performance and evolved the traditional Legacy and Outback appearances. In other words, their looks had to indicate the potential of the powertrains under the hood, and the new vehicles had to be recognizable as Subarus.

But Legacy also had to be attractive and exude the feeling of high quality. While much of that had to do with manufacturing, design and styling details and materials also contributed.

Outback demanded an added dimension in design. As a crossover vehicle, its appearance had to be bold. Its lower body structure and massive wheel arches had to help emphasize its AWD capability. Altogether, packaging had to reflect a refined toughness.

Inside, designers aimed at defining a driver’s vehicle and integrating higher quality. They wanted to deliver performance attributes in a premium vehicle with a feeling of security, comfort and a sense of unity.

Designer watch words were integration, flush surface and simple parts construction. These were the focus points for improving interior quality.

Having established the concept for the new Legacy and Outback models, the Subaru project team cited a number of benchmarks for the vehicles. These include:

1. TOTAL PACKAGE – “Package for comfortable driving, ease of use in daily lives and sense of safety.”
With agility, comfortable body size and functionality, particularly in the wagon version, as Legacy hallmarks, optimize functionality in the 2005 models
2. BODY SIZE – “Driver’s car.”
Expand overall width and wheel track (the distance between the wheels) to accomplish two things:
Improve occupant comfort
Enhance driving dynamics such as stability and maneuverability
3. DESIGN – “This is a Legacy.”
Aim at a high-quality feel
Evolve the design while keeping it recognizable as a Legacy
Visualize sporty and dynamic driving characteristics, with world-class aerodynamics
4. WAGON UTILITY – “The beautiful form that a wagon should be.”
Make luggage space more effective
Lose weight, even with added feature and system content, to improve driving performance, braking performance and safety while reducing the effects on the environment
Improve fuel economy
Reduce environmental impact
Improve exhaust sound
7. HIGH QUALITY DRIVING – “To be able to run, turn and stop at will.”
Refine engine, transmission, chassis and braking performance to complement the new Legacy’s high-quality feel
8. TOTAL SAFETY – “Active safety, active driving.”
Develop higher levels of active safety through braking performance and chassis refinement
Improve passive safety with advances in body structure and feature content
Improve fuel economy
Reduce exhaust emissions
Promote the use of lead-free and vinyl chloride-free materials
Make recycling and dismantling easier


Overall, exterior design gives the new Legacy and Outback the appearance of stability, reflecting the core Subaru Symmetrical AWD that lies beneath. The proportions provide an image of driving performance.

The rear end looks stable in its proportions.
Roof design and rounded, all-glass tailgate window maintain the Legacy identity.
Streamlining at the belt line is stressed.
Doors have a muscular shape that emphasizes the aerodynamically styled front and rear.
The tailgate spoiler separates airflow at the very end of the roof.
The roof slopes to follow the airflow lines.
From the side, the overall forward-leaning design is wheel-oriented.
The smooth shape enhances aerodynamic airflow. The coefficient of drag measures 0.31 for the Wagon, 0.29 for the Sedan.
The front end looks low and stable, featuring a trapezoid grille and clear, sharp-eyed headlamps.
Dual tailpipes reinforce the concepts of symmetry and performance.
Underbody panels improve airflow beneath the car and reduce drag.
Front and rear are rounded, streamlined – united and strong styling. The low hood and hood scoop suggest high performance.


The driver-oriented cockpit reflects the company’s heritage as an aircraft producer. The interior’s clean, simple and functional design has a calming effect that allows the driver to focus on driving.

Sporty effects include a small-diameter steering wheel, precise instrumentation and red illumination. Some models have steering-wheel-mounted controls.

Door design and trim matches that of the instrument panel and dash.

The dashboard/instrument panel/console has a continuous, horizontal theme from center console to door trims for a feeling of stability.

Surfaces – particularly in the center dash and console – have no partitions, presenting smooth, unbroken lines.

The driver’s positioning is low and tight, with instrumentation and controls forming a cockpit-like environment.

The 2005 Legacy and Outback bodies were designed to be lightweight, with high levels of rigidity, aerodynamics and safety. The project team took advantage of contemporary materials and construction techniques to shed pounds. More than half of the structures are made of high-strength steel and aluminum. High-strength steel provides the same strength with less weight than regular steel.

In addition, the materials used in many areas consist of metals in varying thicknesses welded together. These “tailored blanks” enable metal to be thickest or of a different type in parts of the body that require added strength. Lighter metal can be used in other areas.

At the same time, overall bending rigidity was increased 14 percent and torsional (twisting) rigidity was increased 5 percent. Specific areas in the body targeted for added stiffness included the front body sides and suspension system.

The added rigidity has a positive effect on handling performance. By holding suspension components firmly in place, the body structure enhances the precision with which chassis systems function. The resulting improvements in steering, suspension and braking allow improved performance, giving the driver greater control.

Safety was emphasized as well, with body-structure revisions intended to improve occupant protection in an impact. Structural safety features included crumple zones, a ring-shaped reinforcement frame and front frame rails split three ways at the cabin.

Front and rear crumple zones help to absorb impact energy in an effort to minimize it before it reaches the cabin. The revised ring-shaped frame forms a safety cage around the cabin. The 3-way split in the front frame rails at the cabin helps channel impact energy around it rather than passing it into the cabin and its occupants. The crosspiece in the bulkhead passes impact energy from an offset impact to the side not directly involved so that it, too, can help pass the energy around the cabin.

Traditionally, Legacy and Outback drivetrains have been a core technology for Subaru. Developing a new model gave engineers an opportunity to make revisions to the engines and transmissions for upgraded performance and premium operation.

The Symmetrical
AWD drivetrain is a core
technology for Subaru.

The Legacy and Outback engines for 2005 might look the same as those for the 2004 models, but they’ve undergone extensive modifications. They’re more powerful, stronger, lighter, quieter and more fuel efficient. Engine highlights follow.

Electronic throttle control: Also known as “drive-by-wire,” an electronic throttle control system replaces the mechanical throttle linkage between the accelerator and the engine throttle valve. Electronic throttle control improves engine response to driver input, and its precision helps to improve fuel economy.

Engine components: Lighter weight, improved durability and reduced noise were achieved by upgrading engine-block materials and design. Engine studies determined where weight could be trimmed or where materials could be replaced to reduce weight. Pistons with revised rings and other engine-component revisions have reduced internal friction, resulting in improved efficiency and longevity. Intake systems were redesigned with lighter-weight, smoother materials to enhance efficiency and to reduce noise.

Active Valve Control System (AVCS): The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder and the 3.0-liter 6-cylinder engines add AVCS, which varies the timing of the intake valves and exhaust valves. Adapting valve timing throughout the range of engine speeds and for different driving requirements enables greater torque for added power and improved fuel economy.

Exhaust system: All models have dual exhaust with twin mufflers. The mufflers reinforce the appearance of performance, while the system’s design actually improves performance by its revised tuning. Each engine exhaust port leads into equal-length exhaust pipes. This design reduces exhaust-gas pulses that interfere with the free flow of gas from the engine. As a result, engine torque at low- and middle-engine speed increases, and exhaust noise is reduced.


Some 2005 models have the new electronically controlled 5-speed automatic transmission. Designed to be lightweight, durable and to provide good fuel economy and dynamic performance, this transmission features SPORTSHIFT®. Some of the 5-speed’s highlights follow.

Electronic transmission control: The transmission’s hydraulic pressure is electronically controlled, which enables fine tuning of the shift program. Along with the close ratios of the five forward gears and communication with the engine’s electronic controls, electronic transmission control provides a premium driving experience and sportier shift response for performance driving.

Adaptive control: The adaptive control system changes the transmission electronic control unit’s shift logic to correspond with the driver’s intention, measured by brake and other sensor inputs from around the vehicle. These inputs indicate acceleration, hill climbing, engine speed and operating speed. Adaptive control helps the transmission to match the driver’s needs for quick acceleration, quick deceleration, braking and cornering. It shifts to the optimal gear for the required operation.

SPORTSHIFT®: Revised for 2005, operation of the gearshift is through four positions, with the manual shift position moved to the driver’s side. The driver has a shorter reach and a slightly shorter shift stroke (by 5 mm/0.2").

The chassis for the 2005 Legacy and Outback retains the core technology of the previous models. However, significant changes within that technology help to increase efficiency and improve handling and quality.

Engine and transmission mounts: The core Symmetrical AWD drivetrain has been lowered – the front of the engine by 22 mm/0.9" and the transmission by 10 mm/0.4". This allows a lower hood line to improve aerodynamics, increase efficiency and reduce noise. In addition, ride quality is improved by the use of liquid-filled mounts, such as those found on more expensive cars. These mounts reduce noise, vibration and harshness.

Suspension: Both front and rear subframes were redesigned to be stronger, providing a more rigid foundation for the suspension system. Increased strength helps reduce any undesired steering effects by the front or rear wheels caused by flex in the system, enhancing handling predictability and driver control.
The ring-
shaped reinforced
construction helps to protect
occupants during an impact.

Front and rear tracks (the width between the wheels) were increased for improved performance handling – the front by 30 mm/1.2" and the rear by 25 mm/1.0". Suspension specifications and components were fine-tuned even further to improve cornering.

Steering: Fine-tuning the steering system helped make it more precise. One change is the damper valve added to the steering system. Used by manufacturers of higher-priced vehicles, a damper in the steering system helps to absorb road shock for added driving comfort and control.

Steering wheels are a bit smaller in diameter (by 10 mm/0.4") and have a new three-spoke design, adding to the sporty feel of the vehicles.

Brakes: The braking system was upgraded to complement the increased drivetrain performance. A redesigned brake booster reduces free play in the brake pedal and makes the pedal feel firmer.

Towing capacities: The upgraded quality of the chassis and drivetrain components helped to increase towing capacities. Models with 2.5-liter engines are rated to tow 2,700 pounds (increased from 2,000 pounds), and models with 3.0-liter engines are rated up to 3,000 pounds (increased from 2,000/2,400 pounds).


The Drivetrain and Chassis sections have shown some of the 2005 Legacy and Outback models’ impressive active-safety features, which a driver can use to help avoid accidents. Body-structure highlights also discussed passive-safety provisions – the ring-shaped reinforced construction and the three-channel front longitudinal members. Passive-safety features, which help protect occupants during an accident, are the features that people typically refer to regarding safety, such as seatbelts, head restraints and airbags.

All of the safety devices used in the previous Legacy and Outback models remain, supplemented by the new or upgraded safety features highlighted here.

Airbags: Side curtain airbags are standard in the 2005 Legacy and Outback. Installed in the headliners above the front and rear doors, these airbags are deployed by the airbag control unit. The airbag on the side of the impact covers the windows and pillars to help protect occupants from impact energy as well as cuts and abrasions.

The front airbags have dual-stage inflators, which enable the deployment of the driver and front-passenger airbags to better match the severity of the impact.

Even with the Advanced Frontal Airbag System in some new Legacy and Outback models, Subaru continues to strongly recommend that children aged 12 and under be placed in the rear seat properly restrained at all times. NEVER INSTALL A REARWARD FACING CHILD SEAT IN THE FRONT SEAT.

According to accident statistics, children are safer when properly restrained in the rear seating positions than in the front seating positions. These vehicles are also equipped with a side airbag on the front passenger’s seat. The airbag deploys with considerable speed and force and can injure a child if his or her head or arm or other body parts are too close to the side airbag and if he or she is not restrained or is improperly restrained. Because children are lighter and weaker than adults, their risk of being injured from deployment is greater.

The Owner’s Manual provides a very detailed description of both the Advanced Frontal Airbag System and the Occupant Detection System. We strongly encourage you to read about and understand the operation of these safety features.

(Please, don’t forget to buckle up your seatbelts! They remain the single most important passive-safety feature in your vehicle!)

Occupant Detection System: In some models, an Occupant Detection System for the front passenger seat determines the weight of the occupant in that seat. The system will automatically enable the frontal airbag when occupied by an adult, illuminating the ON indicator light on the dashboard. When the seat is empty or occupied by a child (see the Airbag Warning Reminder), the system is disabled, illuminating the OFF indicator light.

Drivers are cautioned to be aware of these indicator lights and to be sure that the illuminated light matches seat’s occupant.

The system is weight-sensitive, so be aware that heavy grocery bags or other cargo in the passenger’s seat could enable the frontal airbag, causing it to inflate against the bags in a moderate-to-severe frontal impact.

Front head restraints: The front seats have a mechanical active head restraint system that helps to reduce whiplash injuries to the front-seat occupants during a rear impact. When the occupant’s body pushes against the seatback, the active head restraint angles forward to help support the neck.

Doors: Side-impact door beams are not new, but their revised positioning takes advantage of strengthened pillars between the doors and door-catcher posts located at the back and bottom of the rear doors. These measures help transfer side-impact forces from the doors to the body structure and to help prevent intrusion during an impact.

Brake pedal: The pedal assembly is designed to fold the pedal to the front of the vehicle in a moderate-to-severe frontal impact, reducing intrusion into the driver’s foot space.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System: Standard on 3.0-liter Outback models, this system measures air pressure in each tire. A dash-mounted indicator light informs the driver that a tire’s pressure has dropped below a safe level. The system turns on between 9 and 22 miles per hour and measures air pressure in all the tires once every minute.

More than parts and systems
The 2005 Legacy and Outback project team worked diligently for almost five years to evolve the Legacy and Outback models, with admirable results. Taken one at a time, the new revisions and upgrades being introduced are significant enough. But these Subaru vehicles are more than the sum of their parts, thanks to Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc.

Manufacturing: Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc.