Subaru Liberty

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Subaru Liberty

1989 - 1993
Flat 4 "boxer"
2.0 turbo / 2.2 litre
100 / 147 kW
5 spd. man / 4 spd. auto
Top Speed:
187 Km/h / 219 Km/h
Number Built:
0 star
Subaru Liberty
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 1


by Dominic Franco

The first generation Subaru Liberty was introduced in 1989 as both a 4 door sedan and wagon. Subaru chose the name Liberty rather than the standard moniker of Legacy (as was being used in other markets around the world), due to the naming conflict with the Legacy war veterans organisation.

Initially only sold in sedan form and as a front wheel drive, the station wagon would soon follow, it offering both front wheel drive (FWD) and All Wheel Drive (AWD).

Two trim levels were available, the standard LX and a more luxurious GX, the latter iteration including features such as cruise control, power windows and central locking.

The All Wheel Drive wagon was only available in GX trim. The notably larger Liberty replaced the Leone sedan in Australia and supplemented the L Series wagons until 1994 when it was discontinued.

In keeping with Subaru’s formula of using a water-cooled longitudinally mounted horizontally opposed "Boxer" engine, the EJ22 powerplant was a 2.2 litre SOC fuel injected unit, delivering a neat 100 kW and producing 189Nm @ 4800rpm.

Best of all, the EJ22 used five main bearings instead of three, the extra bearings providing a much smoother and more tractable engine.

The boxer engines other great advantage was that, by its design, the weight was kept much lower than that of a traditional engine layout. That Subaru manufacture a sweet chassis is well known, and the resultant lowering of the centre of gravity provided by the boxer made the Liberty arguably the best handling wagon around.

But best of all, the conventional styling was at least no "ugly duckling", a label often used when describing the rather awkward styling of the earlier model Sub's. In 1990 the model range was increased to include the luxury "Heritage" model, again available in both Front Wheel and All Wheel Drive. At the same time, Subaru made the GX sedan available in All Wheel Drive. No changes were made to the mechanicals, and the available transmissions were either a 5 speed manual or a 4 speed automatic.

The model range was expanded again in 1992 to include a Rallye version, and then the "RS". This latter iteration was blessed with the awesome EJ20 engine, the 2.0 litre turbocharged DOHC unit delivering a maximum power of 147 kW. Unfortunately those looking for a "hot wagon" would be disappointed, the RS being restricted to sedan (manual) version only.

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