Early in the year, it became apparent that we needed a 3rd car within our family, as we had four drivers that would share between two cars, which became quite a hassle as we’d all need to figure out when and who could use a car, and next year we’ll be having a 5th driver come into play.
We were tossing up between options Like the first generation Mazda 6, NF Hyundai Sonata (And it’s relatively bland cousin, the Kia Magentis), and other options, but they were all kind of expensive as we didn’t really want to spend more than $6,000. But then we found this, a 2001 Subaru Liberty Heritage wagon. The price was extremely attractive being just under $6k from a used car dealer, and it only had 128,824km from memory) when we purchased it, which is very low for its age, equating to less than 10,000km a year. Great deal we thought, and went to have a look at it within the next few days. We loved it and bought it that day.
About Six months on (And while I know we haven’t had it that long from an ownership point of view), it’s been trouble free, and a great car to drive, also easing up the need for us to share cars. Being a Subaru, it drives well and stays very flat through corners, while still maintaining a smooth ride, riding on 205/55/R16″ tyres/wheels, and has very good visibility. The steering is also good, being direct, quick, and offering plenty of feedback, so much so that the steering seems to love to have a wander on centre, as there is small but noticeable left/right movements in your hands, even on flat smooth roads, it’s hardly a problem though.
The 2.5L offers 115kw and 223nm and it has good get up and go from the AWD layout, offers good mid range, and sounds good, that typical Boxer engine burble.
The 4 speed auto has 3 modes via a switch next to it, Normal, Power and Hold. In normal, it’s quite eager to grab the highest gear possible for economy, sometimes being annoying when going up a hill, but that’s what the Power mode is for. It could have had a 5th gear, however, as sitting at 100km/h the car is showing a reasonably high 2500rpm and it gets worse the higher your speed climbs. Also, the shift gate is confusing, as you really have to look down, as you might drop it into ‘3’ if you move the shifter all the way down instead of moving it left after you’re in ‘D’ like most cars. Finally, economy, I haven’t measured it properly but I’d assume we’re averaging somewhere between 9-11L/100km, so average, with a 64L tank.
Moving on inside, the Heritage model being the top of the range is loaded with kit. Safety wise it has 4 Airbags, Front fog lights, ABS, and VDC, which is believed to be an early type of ESC. Features wise it has Cruise control, AM/FM radio, 6-Stack CD player with a Tape deck (Both redundant by todays standards but we still use the CD player, and Radio sound quality is pretty good), Leather seats/wheel/shifter/doors, very ‘cool’ Climate control, a Dual-pane Sunroof which is quite groovy (And the shades are quite thick which is good for our summer), and all the other usual electrics. It also came with genuine Subaru streamlined Roof Racks which was good.
The seats are comfortable, especially the back ones which are well cushioned, I hardly spend time back there though, and it’s not that wide across the rear bench, meaning the middle seat is quite thin. The there’s soft touch plastics in all the high contact areas, and the leather on the doors is very soft. Speaking of the doors, I believe the Door Stays may have worn out as they seem to swing open very easily, even on flat surfaces. The doors are also a frameless design which is really nice, but you kind of have to re-learn closing them as it’s easy to put all your fingerprints on the glass if you’re used to framed windows, and if someone slams the door it’s quite a scary experience, just remember to close them by the metal panel. The boot is huge too, and offers flat folding seats to extend it, and under the boot floor is a full sized spare wheel.
One minor gripe is that the High-Beam lights are honestly quite dull literally, my friend also has a 3rd Generation Liberty and they’re weren’t great in the country. I’m not sure if these are the original bulbs, but there’s no point in changing them when they’re not used often.
Never the less, this car was a really decent purchase for the age, as is any other 3rd Generation Liberty, and if you find a decently priced and low km one, it offers many great features in the Heritage spec, and is a reliable, comfortable, good driving, and reasonably safe car to own, and would be a great car or even first car for anyone.