I have owned my 1992 Subaru SVX LS Touring AWD for 3 years now and its appeal has not dimmed, needing only a sit behind the wheel to remind me why I have no desire to trade her in.
This GT car has styling ala Italiano, the front quite reminescent of a Maserati Bora, with acres of tinted glass and the unique "driver's window within a window" approach necessitated by the size of the door which is too small to accomodate the entire window if rolled down. Subaru claims the design allows the inner glass to be down in the rain without getting wet but I disagree...with it down, even the window washer fluid if activated shoots in on me !
Best Features: * lowest noise level secondary to insulation and intrinsically quiet H6 engine with rubber timing belt/hydraulic lifters. People walk into you because they don't hear the car idling.
* Full time AWD with 90% front/10% rear drive in normal traction circumstances, capable of transferring 60/40 as conditions dictate. Gas her on a wet curve and you can feel the rear end grip. Helpful in the snow but with 225/50-16 tires traction suffers. Has a "winter" mode automatic setting which helps by starting you off in 2nd gear.
* Great MacPherson suspension setup with good handling, GT comfort with good compliance (absorbs bumps) at the expense of all out cornering...which is fine, this is a heavy car meant for effortless high speed touring and more than adequate carving of turns but will oversteer and 4 wheel drift a bit with tires protesting if you push her beyond her already abundant limits. Putting on the best set of ZR ultrahigh performance tires you can afford will satisfy most any driver's need for grip at speed.
*Warm, enveloping cockpit with great ergonomics...power everything including auto up/down driver's window, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, 4 speed automatic (only, no 5 speed from factory) with "power" mode feature (changes shift points), 4 channel ABS, in-dash CD, and more.
*230 HP with 220 ft/lbs of torque so it feels like 250 HP...near 8 second 0-60 time but really shines when accelerating on the road at speed.
The SVX is not without some problems but they should be pretty obvious in looking at a used example and bespeak the car having been thrashed by previous owners without proper maintenance more than intrinsic defects with car except for 2 areas: the automatic transmission had inadequate cooling for the tranny fluid if the car was in a warm part of the country, driven hard, or driven repeatedly in lower gears at high revs. The excessively hot transmission fluid eventually caused certain fiber gaskets to deteriorate which would plug valve body passages and cook the trans. The factory had a recall putting an extra trans filter in the left, lower front engine compartment of the car (check for it..looks like an oil filter), and, in post 1992 models, tried to improve on the gasket material with some success. Even with the trans running at max heat, it took 30,000-50,000 miles for the tranny to quit. Check that your future SVX has the auxillary filter, and better yet, see if the previous owner('s) put in the highly recommended auxillary transmission cooler, an easy DIYer. Signs of a SVX tranmission that is not 100% are fairly non-crisp upshifts (feels like a manual where you are slipping the clutch) and hesitation in 1st or Reverse when you hit the gas, sometimes the car doesn't move at all for a second or more, very noticeable. Also, the front disc brakes, albeit vented, will warp secondary to the car's weight, the fact the discs were the same size as on a Legacy, and most importantly, the lack of airflow to them. Hitting the brakes and feeling the brake pedal pulsate while the car vibrates or shimmies a bit is common. Forget about "turning the rotors", they will only warp more quickly now that they are thinner. New discs and EBC RedStuff pads were my cure.
Svx's have frequent complaints with worn wheel bearings, a grinding or whining noise coming usually from the rear wheels that changes frequency with speed...the usual cause is the car has had the snot driven out of it and I would consider it an indicator of the car's general poor possibilities, the other cause is Subaru mechanics changing them and not realizing the grease them come packed in is for transport only and needs to be replaced with a high-temp synthetic before installation.
I bought my car with 99K miles and have put 50K on her without any problems of note. Front engine oil leaks are from the camshaft seals, less likely the crank front seal. If you buy one used, a new timing belt with new seals, water pump belt tensioner, and valve cover gaskets will ensure a happy motor and dry garage floor. These engines are long lifers if the oil is changed regularly, 175K-200K miles is a breeze before the hydraulic lifters get noisy and the injectors might need replacing. Service is problematic since most Subie mechanics who worked on them new may be retiring soon but parts are available still since the last model was a '96 (all basically the same) so parts in supply to 2006 and probably beyond.
If you are looking to buy a used one, find one that runs like a whisper, shifts cleanly, and has an owner who gushes forth about how great the car is. If you buy from a Dealer, they probably only know the car has not maintained its resale value since few know how good it is so check it out with an eye to the potential trouble areas mentioned above and offer them much less than they want...you'll probably get it (that's how I got mine!...by the way, the ad in the paper for my SVX listed it as a "Subaru SUX", rather ironic I thought).
Buy a good one, clean it, put 1st rate rubber on her, change the fluids, add AT cooler if not present, consider timing belt,etc replace, and drive her. Don't look for "go fast" mods 'cause they didn't make any that were worth it.
Amount Paid (US$):
1992Model and Options:
SVX LS , AWD with Touring Package(CD, leather, sunroof, rear spoiler)