We had an auto GX wagon from new for 10 years and coming from a lemon of a Renault this was a revelation. In that time it never let us down, apart from having to replace the dead battery and water filling the in brake lights (didn’t affect the operation of the lights.)
Subaru’s AWD system is terrific. The grip that you get around corners, combined with good steering makes the Liberty a great car to drive. With the 15-inch steel wheels it was also very comfortable, too.
We frequently tested our Liberty’s off-road capability, driving in snow and some reasonably tough dirt roads in the Victorian Alps. It’s fair to say that it went further off the bitumen than most SUVs; the lack of ground clearance being the only thing letting it down – a Forester solves that.
Inside, the Liberty has a reasonable amount of room in the front, although the back is best suited to children before they hit a growth spurt. The interior was of great quality and had a good level of kit for the time, including dual airbags and cruise control.
The biggest drawback of our Liberty was the 2-litre boxer engine. Combined with the heavier wagon and the 4 speed auto, 92kW just wasn’t enough. It really had to be worked to keep up with traffic, especially with a full load. This pushed up fuel consumption and around town we got 13L/100km.
The Liberty of this age makes a safe and reliable first car and an excellent car for a small family on a budget. However I find it very hard to recommend the GX model, especially with an auto. An RX or a Heritage is an excellent option for around the same price now with more features and a better 2.5-litre engine.