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Subaru Liberty 2004 Review

Manuals and automatics always feel different, but with the Liberty it is surprising just how different these two cars are.

They are both powered by a 3.0-litre six-cylinder boxer engine with 180kW of power at 6600rpm and 297Nm of torque at 4200rpm.

The interior is the most obvious point of difference. The 3.0R is dressed in ivory leather and features a light-coloured woodgrain strip that defines the centre dash area to reflect its more luxurious feel. It also has woodgrain door highlights.

The 3.0R-B has black leather interior and a chrome surround to define the centre dash and emphasise its sporting prowess.

The 3.0R-B is the sportier of the two. The B stands for Bilstein, a performance suspension package that gives the 3.0R-B better body control, sharper cornering and overall stability. And, it can be felt.

They feel totally different on the road despite both being all-wheel drive. The R-B is a stiffer ride and on the firm side but still compliant on the rougher roads.

On the toughest of corners the R-B turns in predictably and has plenty of grip on hand.

The R-B is equipped with a version of the WRX STi's six-speed manual gearbox which is blissfully smooth and responsive.

The clutch is light and combined with the electronic throttle control with clutch actuation helps stop you stalling.

The R-B allows the driver to revel in the throaty six-cylinder tones from the moment the right foot is applied, while the 3.0R is quieter and only hints at what is under the bonnet when the pedal is firmly applied.

The 3.0R is noticeably tamer and gives a softer ride. It has a lighter steering and can float a bit when pushed. The five-speed Sportshift automatic is silky smooth.

The 3.0R-B sits on 18-inch wheels while the 3.0R only gets 17-inch rims.

The manual and automatic average fuel reading fluctuated between 12.4 and 12.6L/100km, on highway and city driving.

The Libertys flash a distance-to-empty reminder when the fuel light comes on.

Both have the brilliant 13-speaker MacIntosh sound system which gives great quality sound but the electronic readout disappears in certain angles of sunlight.

Both boast a five-star ANCAP crash rating and are equipped with ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, full-length curtain airbags, dual front airbags, dual front side airbags, front seat belts with pre-tensioners and load limiters and a three-point rear centre seat belt.

The 3.0R gains vehicle dynamics control (VDC) and a shift-lock mechanism which means the ignition must be on and the brake pedal depressed before the gear shifter can be moved from park.

Inside, standard features include an adjustable steering column, climate control airconditioning, cruise control, eight-way adjustable power front seats and speed sensitive intermittent windscreen wipers.

Also standard is a sunroof, leather gear shift, momo steering wheel, multi-function trip computer, power everything, DataDot security technology, electronic throttle control and full-size spare.

The sedan and wagon share the same nose and while the sedan has a nicely shaped rear, the wagon is destined to be the star.

The low-slung sweeping roofline that seamlessly tapers to the rear is accentuated by the rear spoiler, the whole shape giving the wagon an instant attraction.

The sedan easily fits the weekly shopping in the rear with a 433-litre boot capacity but is 67 litres shy of the its rival, the Mazda6.

The wagon's boot is expanded to 459 litres which grows to 1628 (with sunroof) with the rear seats folded flat. Overall, the wagon is 55mm longer and 45mm taller.

Both benefit from Subaru's high build quality and clean but elegant finish.

The 3.0R-B sedan is $51,990 and the 3.0R sedan is $50,990. The 3.0R wagon is $52,990 while the 3.0R-B wagon is $53,990.

Pricing guides

Based on 35 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
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Range and Specs

2.0i 2.0L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $4,400 – 7,150 2004 Subaru Liberty 2004 2.0i Pricing and Specs
2.5i 2.5L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $5,100 – 7,920 2004 Subaru Liberty 2004 2.5i Pricing and Specs
2.5i Luxury 2.5L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $5,500 – 8,580 2004 Subaru Liberty 2004 2.5i Luxury Pricing and Specs
2.5i Premium 2.5L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $5,400 – 8,360 2004 Subaru Liberty 2004 2.5i Premium Pricing and Specs