Was in a bit of a quandary last December. The wife's much-loved VZ Adventra was written off after being clipped by a drunk driver. The used car market is a bit fickle with lots of over-priced second hand cars. The wife prefers an AWD wagon, but wants a proper off-roader in a year or two, so the aim was to buy a decent and inexpensive second hand wagon to keep her happy until then.
The first few days of hunting for the right car was not pretty, with some pretty dodgy cars out there for unrealistic dollars. As luck would have it, right across the road from the local clutch business (I was buying a new clutch for my 5.0-litre VS Executive), was a very tidy Liberty for sale for less than $9k, well inside our $10k budget. It was a one-owner, full service history car (179k on the clock), very tidy in and out, new tyres and 12 months rego. Sold!
As never having owned a Suby before (heck, the last one I drove was in 2007), I was unaware of the EJ25 2.5-litre engine head gasket issue until after I bought it. But, given the great condition the car was in, and that everything else was in good order, I didn't really mind forking out $3k to get new gaskets, new timing belt and ancillaries fitted, and get the heads checked over and machined. Should do us nicely for a few years and a bit of peace of mind knowing that the drivetrain is in good condition.
As the 'Premium' model, it has a nicely built interior with leather seats, good stereo, climate control air conditioning, cruise control etc. It has a very comfy driving position and is deceptively quite roomy. It is reasonably economical for a medium/large sized vehicle with AWD and an auto box - I put 38 litres in yesterday with the trip meter registering 678km for that tank. It rolls on 17-inch factory alloys with a new set of Yokohama tyres, a full sized spare and recently replaced struts, bushes and front lower control arms.
The car makes the best of its modest power and torque figures (after driving my LS3 powered Commodore) from its injected 2.5-litre flat four and four speed auto. I actually enjoy driving it, as it is a great road car, and it's no wonder why this model is still so popular with Subaru fans. It would have been nice if it had the H6 engine, but I have no complaints so far about our humble family commuter car. No squeaks, no rattles, it just gets on with it. Personally I find the most recent model Suby's pretty horrid looking, but this car still looks pretty good, so overall I'm very happy with our purchase in a topsy-turvy (in WA anyway) second hand market.