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2004 Model Guide - Every Brand, Every Car


2004 Subaru Model GuideUnderstand that all of the vehicles from Subaru of Japan carry an all-wheel-drive (AWD) system that operates quite simply, as power from the engine moves directly through an electronically-controlled transfer case to whichever wheels support traction, with scant loss of energy or reduction in fuel efficiency in the process.

Also credit Subaru for developing the first crossover sport-utility with the Outback wagon that functions as a car, station wagon or sedan and sure-footed SUV. The series has been Subaru's top seller since 1995 and in the 2004 line expands to eight variations. Then in 1998 Subaru developed Forester, a different kind of sport-utility that eliminated the harsh ride and ungainly handling of a conventional truck-based SUV by borrowing the chassis of a passenger car, namely Subaru's agile Impreza coupe.

Forester was rebuilt in 2003 in a new generational design and for 2004 adds the Forester 2.5 XT with a turbo-charged engine for high performance. Turbo-charged power becomes a new theme for Subaru in 2004 with multiple models popping up like a Baja Turbo edition added to the inventive Baja series -- it has the body of a car but also the bed of a pickup truck and the utility of a SUV.

Subaru also commemorates its trophy-collecting rally cars by producing sedan and wagon variations of the Impreza WRX, a small package with wide track and independent suspension plus turbo-charging of a horizontally-opposed engine tied to a close-ratio manual transmission and AWD traction. Newest issue is the WRX STi ripped to an incredible 300 hp.

The Impreza 2.5 RS sedan and 2.5 TS sport wagon show new front-end styling with the broad fenders and sport-tuned suspension of WRX, while Impreza Outback Sport in wagon format also wears bold new front-end bodywork plus a disc brake at every wheel.

The mid-size Legacy series in Subaru's 2004 line consists of three models with new L 35th Anniversary Edition in sedan and wagon styles toting more standard equipment. And Legacy 2.5 GT offers an optional automatic transmission with Sportshift mode for clutch-less manual shifting.

Subaru Outback
2004 Subaru Outback

Subaru promotes Outback as the first crossover sport-utility wagon to combine the convenience and comforts of a car with the raised suspension and beefy bumpers of a SUV. Subaru later worked up an Outback treatment for a Legacy sedan to spawn the Outback sedan series.

Outback wagons have been through two generational designs and today the series encompasses eight different versions with boxer-format engines of four and six cylinders. Subaru's horizontally-opposed six-cylinder plant displaces 3.0 liters and features an aluminum crankcase, dual overhead camshafts and four valves for each cylinder.

It produces a robust 212 hp and slips into five models: Outback H6-3.0 VDC sedan and wagon, Outback H6-3.0 sedan, Outback H6-3.0 L. L. Bean Edition wagon and a new Outback H6-3.0 35th Anniversary Edition wagon. The VDC sedan and wagon combine variable torque distribution (VTD) with Subaru's AWD system and a sophisticated stability controller that Subaru labels as Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC).

The Outback H6-3.0 L. L. Bean Edition wagon applies plush interior features, an air filtration system and vehicle security system, plus two-tone leather seating embossed with the insignia of outdoor outfitter L. L. Bean. Three other editions - Outback wagon, Outback Limited wagon and Outback Limited sedan - hold the single-cam 2.5-liter Subaru four-cylinder boxer engine for 165 hp.

All Outbacks employ a symmetrical AWD system teamed with a viscous limited-slip rear differential and hiked suspension for all-weather and all-road capability. All also stock as standard an all-weather package with heated front seats, heated mirrors and a de-icer on the windshield wiper. (CONTINUED...)

Subaru Forester
2004 Subaru Forester

Subaru's SUV, revamped last year with new package styling, divides into three editions for 2004 with Forester 2.5 X, 2.5 XS with more comfort gear and new 2.5 XT packing a high-performance turbo-charged engine. Forester's base engine - a four-cylinder boxer plant with aluminum block and cylinder heads plus a cam on top - displaces 2.5 liters and produces 165 hp. It drops into the 2.5 X and 2.5 XS. Forester 2.5 X is the entry model and price leader but brings extensive equipment.

Forester 2.5 XS is an upscale model, identified by aluminum alloy wheels with body cladding and mirrors trimmed in metallic gray paint. Forester 2.5 XT has the 2.5-liter boxer four-pack but applies a turbo-charger and inter-cooler to push it out to 210 hp. It has a functional scoop on the hood with body-color cladding on side panels and rails on the roof with aluminum finish.

A premium package for XT brings a power moonroof, new direct electronically-controlled automatic transmission and bolstered seats trimmed in leather. Different versions of Forester's full-time AWD system are used for manual and automatic transmissions.

For the manual, a viscous-coupling device locks the center differential, while an electronically managed continuously variable transfer clutch works with the automatic transmission.

The electronically-operated four-speed automatic is optional for any Forester, while the five-speed manual is the standard and includes Subaru's Hill Holder feature that blocks the wagon from rolling backward on a slope.

Subaru Baja
2004 Subaru Baja

This unusual Subaru is part car, part truck and part SUV, an ultimate crossover vehicle geared for active lifestyles. It's the only car on the market with the back bed of a pickup. Baja looks like both a car and truck - the car up front and truck in back.

Baja's front half comes from Outback and Legacy vehicles with a four-door cabin that has front bucket seats and a back bench in leather. The plastic-lined truck bed measures 49 inches wide but is abbreviated to only 42 inches. It will stretch to 75 inches with tailgate dropped and the cab's rear wall pass-through -- a 30-inch-wide portal dubbed the Switchback -- open. With Switchback shut but Baja's bed extender in place at the tail, the bed reaches to 60.5 inches.

Baja looks tough with a raised suspension and the body layered in cladding, with optional rally lights and chrome bars lining the roof. The series expands to three models for 2004 with a well-equipped Baja, the Baja Sport with pared price points and a new Baja Turbo. Baja and Sport draw from the Legacy four-cylinder boxer engine scored to 165 hp with manual five-speed or optional four-speed automatic shifter.

Baja Turbo gets the 2.5-liter boxer four also used by Forester 2.5 XT, where turbo-charging and inter-cooling make 210 hp. It's easy to distinguish due to the functional scoop on the hood that marks a turbo-powered Subaru.

Subaru Legacy
2004 Subaru Legacy

Mid-size sedans and wagons grouped under the Legacy emblem include three models for both four-door sedan and five-door station wagon formats - Legacy L, new L 35th Anniversary Edition models with more standard equipment and the 2.5 GT with additional gear. All pull from a single-cam 2.5-liter boxer four-cylinder engine that hits 165 hp through either a five-speed manual or optional four-speed electronic automatic.

The independent suspension common to all Legacy models has a multi-link arrangement in the rear, and all also carry four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock controls. For additional safety, Subaru constructs a ring of steel around the passenger compartment that can fend off impact forces of a collision from any direction - frontal, offset front, side or rear.

Different AWD mechanisms work in the Legacy series. With a manual transmission, Legacy's AWD device employs a viscous locking center differential to divides the engine's power in half front-to-rear. With the automatic transmission the system adds an electronically-managed continuously variable transfer clutch to the transaxle tailshaft. It controls the power split between front and rear wheels due to acceleration, deceleration and available traction. Either system can transfer more power to wheels that have a better grip. Then the 2.5 GT has the VTD AWD system.

Subaru Impreza
2004 Subaru Impreza

Subaru's compact cars ride on chopped chassis from the Legacy series. Format variations include a four-door sedan and five-door station wagon. This year the Impreza line expands to include six different vehicles: Impreza Outback Sport wagon, Impreza 2.5 RS sedan and 2.5 TS sport wagon, Impreza WRX sedan and sport wagon plus the rally-racer WRX STi sedan.

All models show fresh front-end styling with revamped hood and grille plus multi-reflector headlamps. And there's more safety equipment aboard, like active front seat head restraints and electronic brake force distribution (EBD).

Powertrains vary by model. The 2.5 RS sedan and 2.5 TS wagon plus Outback Sport contain Legacy's 2.5-liter boxer four-cylinder plant worth 165 hp with a standard five-speed manual or optional four-speed electronic automatic. WRX sedan and wagon have a 2.0-liter dual-cam boxer four with turbo-charger and inter-cooler added to zip it out to 227 hp.

The new STi edition varies from WRX in terms of powertrain and gearbox, with special mechanical equipment added to boost performance and handling. Engine displacement increases to 2.5 liters and defines the most powerful four-pack in America, thanks to a turbo-charger and inter-cooler scoring awesome numbers to 300 hp. All power channels through a close-ratio manual six-speed transmission developed by Prodrive.

Subaru's driver control center differential (DCCD) enables the STi driver to manually manage torque directed to front and rear wheels for performance handling. Set the DCCD in automatic mode, however, and it will distribute the torque in various ways based on the driving conditions.

Further, the STi uses a limited-slip differential in front and back for additional tire traction. A super-stiff body structure from Subaru's ring-shaped reinforcement frame has a hydroformed front subframe with the four-wheel independent suspension system derived from Subaru WRC competition cars but tweaked for tight cornering control on paved roads.

It's similar to the suspension on WRX, only dropped by almost half an inch to set up a lower center of gravity. And to rein all of those STi horses, there are serious brakes aboard with huge Brembo discs visible between aluminum spokes of the 17-inch BBS wheels. (...BACK)

Read our Review: Subaru WRX STI