Wagons from 2006: Subaru Legacy 2.5i vs. Volvo V70 2.5T AWD

It was suggested that I do a comparison review of these two, and I think I’ve driven the V70 enough now that I can do a fair comparison. Well, as fair as a comparison can be, between a bottom trim Legacy and nearly top trim V70, that also has 140k kms more on it.

Advertisement

Anyways. On to the review.

Looks

I’m going to generalize the models for this, instead of comparing these two cars in particular. I think the FWD V70 looks much better than the Legacy. The Legacy looks good at some angles, and quite awkward at some other angles. the V70 looks good from almost every angle, except the AWD versions that look awkward when the raised rear is evident. Loaded down enough that the rear is level with the front, it looks great from any angle. That said, V70s look much better with a spoiler, which mine doesn’t have. Personally, I think the V70 wins in the looks department, but I know many people love the looks of the Legacy, so I’ll call it a tie.

Interior

The Volvo wins, hands down. They both squeak and rattle, so that’s a wash. The Volvo doors close nicer, they don’t sound tinny and hollow like the Subaru. The Subaru has a smaller steering wheel, I think the Volvo wheel is too big, but that’s all the Subaru wins. The Volvo is so much more comfortable it’s insane, it has fold flat rear seats, which the Subaru doesn’t quite have, and the stock stereo is much better. Visibility is much better, the pillars are less obtrusive, and the rear window is bigger. Oh, and the rear headrests fold down. Every car should have that option, it improves visibility a ton.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Engine

This would be more fair to compare a 2.5GT, or a 3.0R to the 2.5T in the Volvo, but I haven’t driven them so I’m gonna go ahead and compare a base engine to a higher trim engine anyways.

Advertisement

The whiteblock is significantly better than the boxer in most ways. The Subaru doesn’t have much low end torque, and frequently bogs when given gas quickly, which is annoying at best, dangerous at worst. The Volvo has solid lugging power, and plenty of passing power when needed. Where the Subaru wins is fuel economy.

Subaru: 19/31. Volvo: 16/26. That’s a significant difference, especially with the Volvo needing 91.

Advertisement

I’m calling this one a win for the Volvo. They’re both expensive to maintain, and while the Subaru is much better on gas, the Volvo has never bogged so bad I thought it would stall, while trying to merge with fast traffic.

Transmission

The Subaru has a 4 speed auto, which is basically an ancient 3 speed with an overdrive thrown on. 3rd is direct, and there’s a huge gap between 2nd and 3rd, and the final drive is too tall for the torqueless motor to use 3rd as an effective passing gear unless it’s really wound out. It’s a miserable gearbox, and the poor matching of the engine, trans, and final gearing are the main reason for why I don’t like driving the Subaru. The V70 has a 5 speed auto, and a very nicely matched up drivetrain. It downshifts quickly on its own, and the gearing lets the motor be at its most efficient at 120km/hr (75mph) which seems smart. At the same time, because of the turbo, it’ll still pull hills in 5th.The V70 not only wins, it wipes the floor with the Legacy.

Advertisement

AWD System

The Subaru has a wonderful system, which is no surprise. I can’t compare it to the V70, since I haven’t driven it in the snow yet.

Advertisement

Handling

This is a tricky section, because the Legacy only has 60k kms on it, while the V70 has 200k kms on it, and could use new shocks.

Advertisement

Both cars have undersized rear sway bars, but the Legacy controls body roll much, much better than the V70. The Legacy has more tire width relative to its size and weight, and does weigh 600lbs less than the V70. In order for the V70 to feel as good in corners as the Legacy does, it would need thicker sway bars, and better shocks. Probably wider tires too. That said, the V70 feels much better at sustained high speeds on the highway. The Subaru bounces, and fatigues you, while the V70 wafts.So the Subaru handles better, but I prefer the V70 for road trip reasons. But if I keep it, it’ll be getting IPD sway bars.

Advertisement

In Conclusion

They’re both good cars, but I prefer the V70. That said, I don’t know if I’m going to keep it. I might end up selling the V70 and the Legacy, but I really don’t know yet. Maybe I’ll drive the V70 through the winter, then get it better shocks, new control arms, and IPD sway bars and see if it handles more like I want it to, while still being a comfy road trip machine. Neither of them have the ground clearance I want, so I might be bailing on wagons and going back to an SUV...

Advertisement

Share This Story