Subaru Tribeca (2006-2010)

Occasionally car makers come up with models that make no commercial sense at all. Take Subaru's B9 Tribeca; a full-sized SUV with five or seven seats, and 3-litre petrol power only - in a market that demands diesel almost exclusively. The car bombed, and as a result, used values are on the floor and will stay there. However, if you can live with its thirst and awkward styling, the Tribeca is worth a closer look, as it has lots to recommend it too.

Key Dates

11/06: The B9 Tribeca reaches showrooms, with a 3-litre flat-six petrol engine and five-speed automatic gearbox as standard. There are five (SE5) or seven-seat (SE7) options, priced between £29k and £34k.

5/08: There's now a factory-fitted LPG option, with a 61-litre tank as well as the 64-litre petrol tank.

Subaru Tribeca (2006-2010) Checklist

  • Go for a seven-seater and those in the back will struggle to get comfy; there really isn't enough space for more than five.
  • With a 64-litre fuel tank, and such a raging thirst (22mpg is typical), the Tribeca's range can be woefully short.
  • The Tribeca has a 2000kg towing capacity, but as the car is so heavy on its own, performance really suffers. And don't mention the even greater fuel consumption.

We Like

  • Well equipped
  • Very safe
  • Unusual
  • Reliable
  • Solidly built
  • Smooth and refined
  • Good value used
  • Comfortable

We Don't Like

  • No diesel option
  • Awkward exterior design
  • Seven-seaters are cramped
  • Detached driving experience


Subaru Legacy (2003-2009)

If ever there was a brand struggling to achieve any kind of identity, it's Subaru. Renowned for its reliability but little else, this Japanese company has suffered from a lack of awareness ever since it arrived here in the Seventies. Despite (or perhaps because of) this, the Legacy is well worth a look as it's fast, well-equipped, well-built and fitted with four-wheel drive as standard. But running costs can be very high, so make sure you can really afford one before buying.

Key Dates

10/03: A heavily revised Legacy is introduced, although it shares some components with the previous model. There are 2.0 and 2.5-litre (4-cyl) editions plus a 3.0 flat-six.

9/04: The 241bhp 3.0R Spec B arrives.

8/05: The 2.0 now has 162bhp (previously 135bhp) and the ultra-sporty 3.0 R Spec B is now available as an auto.

10/06: A facelift brings revised nose and tail, plus suspension and standard equipment changes.

2/08: At last there's a diesel option - a 148bhp 2.0 unit.

5/08: LPG Legacys join the range; there's a 148bhp 2.0 or a 171bhp 2.5.

Subaru Legacy (2003-2009) Checklist

  • The Legacy is generally very reliable, but when parts are needed they can be pretty costly; so get a quote for any repairs before committing to buying.
  • Servicing is also very costly; ask your local dealer what they're going to charge you for maintenance before you commit to purchase.
  • To top it off, petrol-powered Legacys (which is most of them) are thirsty; if you cover a high mileage, the fuel bills could prove crippling.

We Like

  • Reliability
  • Equipment
  • 4WD security

We Don't Like

  • Few diesels
  • Cheap-looking interior
  • Firm ride


Subaru Forester (2002-2007)

If you're after the security of a four-wheel drive but you don't want a full-blown SUV, this could be just the ticket. The Forester offers all-wheel drive traction and enough ground clearance for some light off-roading, but it isn't as obvious as a conventional 4x4. Even better, complete reliability is guaranteed - just make sure you can afford the fuel bills.

Key Dates

10/02: The second-generation Forester arrives, with a choice of normally aspirated or turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engines.

2/04: The special edition Forester XLn arrives, with sat-nav and leather trim.

9/04: The Forester XT debuts, with a turbocharged 2.5-litre petrol engine.

3/05: The special edition Forester S appears, with sportier interior trim than standard.

5/05: A Prodive Performance Pack is now available, which boosts power to 252bhp.

8/05: The Forester gets a facelift with more power and revised suspension plus a refreshed front end design.

Subaru Forester (2002-2007) Checklist

  • Gear linkages can play up, so check that you can get all the ratios. Clutches can also be weak, so make sure there's no slip.
  • The Forester is popular for towing, especially among caravanners; if there's a tow bar fitted, make sure the clutch and brakes haven't worn out.
  • The generous ground clearance and four-wheel drive means off-roading is sometimes undertaken by Forester owners. That's why you must check the car's underside for damage.
  • The leading edge of the aluminium bonnet gets chipped very easily, so keep an eye out for paint damage or smal dents.

We Like

  • Build quality
  • Reliability
  • Dynamics
  • 4WD traction
  • Well equipped
  • Secure

We Don't Like

  • No diesels
  • Thirsty petrol engines
  • Dated interior


Subaru Impreza (2000-2007)

Subaru's Impreza is an icon, and for good reason, thanks to its apparent ability to defy the laws of physics. Fast, sure-footed, practical and astonishingly reliable for such a performance machine, the Impreza makes a great used buy if you're an enthusiast. But buying one on the cheap isn't recommended, because running costs are high thanks to frequent service intervals, the engine's thirst and costly insurance for the performance versions.

Key Dates

10/00: The second-generation Impreza arrives, with a 'bug-eye' look and a choice of 1.6 or 2.0 petrol engines.

1/02: The new WRX arrives, in saloon form only.

2/03: A facelift rids the Impreza of its bug-eyed front end.

10/06: Another facelift gives the Impreza a more aggressive nose. An economy Impreza also arrives; the 1.5R.

5/07: The third-generation Impreza goes on sale.

Subaru Impreza (2000-2007) Checklist

  • The factory-fitted battery often doesn't last very long; a decent aftermarket item is a worthwhile investment.
  • Cars with Sigma immobilisers can prove susceptible to interference; the only cure is to replace the immobiliser with an upgraded one.
  • Turbos are very thirsty and if you buy an STi it has to be run on super-unleaded, so fuel costs are very high.
  • Servicing costs are steep and the annual road tax bill is going to be costly too.
  • Reliability is exceptionally good usually, but hard-driven Turbos suffer from worn brakes and suspension, which is expensive to fix.

We Like

  • Reliability
  • Performance
  • Handling
  • Value
  • 4WD security

We Don't Like

  • No diesel engines
  • Interior plastics
  • High running costs