"I bought this a few years ago for my kids to drive, mainly for the AWD and better fuel economy than an SUV.
It had 153k miles on it and I had a list of about a dozen problems both big and small that needed fixing, but the body and interior were nice. Still haven't got to every thing because when you get one thing fixed another crops up. My impression is that at 150k things need constant fixing on a Subaru, everything from starters to lock cylinders.
The most serious problem was extremely poor acceleration/bogging down, intermittently. After a few months of trying everything I figured out the ECU was over-reacting to the knock sensor and retarding the engine timing to an extreme -thus no acceleration. Instead of trying to replace the ECU I just replaced the 2nd new knock sensor with a fake that provided the right resistance (but no knock signal) to the ECU. On the positive side, I will say that the 2.2L engine burns no oil, is plenty peppy, and seems great at this mileage. The 2.2 engines are supposed to be bullet-proof, but watch out for the 2.5s (head gaskets - $2000-$3000 fix). Also even with half worn-out summer tires, the AWD is amazing in the snow and ice."
Pros: "Useful (wagon), AWD is great for avoiding winter accidents"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought this car with 114000 miles and it's done great. I love having a wagon that I can load with bikes, construction materials, etc. but also get decent mileage. It seems like I get about 24 mpg around town and 26 ish on the highway. Repairs have been average for a car with this many miles."
"I purchased mine new in 1997. It is a right hand drive built for mail delivery. I have used it in all kinds of weather including snow and it has performed perfectly. It's 12 yrs old and still working great. I'm retired now and sold the Subaru to another carrier in my Post Office. They are tough little cars!"
"Well, I hit a moose with my '99 Subaru Legacy Outback, so this review is in memorandum. I will be buying another Subie, probably a Forester around '01-'04.
I'm not much of a car person. I don't like to spend a lot of money on them, either in initial purchase price or repairs. I just want the thing to work with as little significant drama as possible, because I use it every day, and if it's down then I'm down.
That's why I like Subarus. They just work. As I'm sure everyone else has already noted, they're amazing in the snow and the storage is unreal. To me, they're also just the right size...not clown-car small, but also not so large that it's a hassle just to park at the grocery store.
Some of the bad things with Subarus, at least with this '99. The gadgets, interior, etc. are kind of chintzy, and they break a lot. For example, the speedometer and odometer stopped working on mine and I had to remove the entire gauge assembly and re-solder a wire to the circuit board. It wasn't difficult and it completely fixed the problem, but I figured out how to do it from a YouTube video, so I'm apparently not the first person to have that problem. The seats aren't really comfortable, and if you're a tall person the interior might be kind of cramped. I'm only about 5'8" so it ain't really a problem for me, but tall friends who have gotten in it look pretty comical. The cupholders are imbecilically placed; you basically have to choose between drinking coffee or controlling the heat/air conditioning. Subaru also decided to be as annoying as possible, and the check engine light will come on for...like...no reason. If the gas cap isn't tight enough, for example.
Larger problem. If you're buying a used one look for ones that have already had the head gaskets and catalytic converter replaced. Those two things just seem to go out early. However, once they're replaced, the car is basically indestructible.
It sounds like I'm complaining a lot, but I really like 'em. Again, no better car in the snow, blissful storage capacity, perfectly sized, great handling and hard to break."