Junkyard Find: 1994 Subaru Loyale 4WD Wagon


November 7th, 2022 10:08 AM

Subaru’s first major sales success in North America came with the Leone, which debuted in Japan in 1971 and here in 1972. It went through several generations and production continued through 1994; here’s one of those final-year cars, found in a Denver-area self-service yard.

At first, the North American-market Leone was sold as just ” the Subaru” and mocked for being too small for sex. Eventually, the pickup-ized version appeared with BRAT badging, but all the other Leone models were differentiated only by trim levels on our shores… until the 1990 model year, when Subaru assigned them the Loyale name.

This being Colorado, where Subarus have been much beloved from the moment the first four-wheel-drive Leones went on sale in 1975, I still find plenty of Loyales during my junkyard travels. In fact, I put Loyale hubcaps on my 1996 Subaru Sambar kei van after I went to massive 13″ Sentra wheels.

The bigger and more refined Legacy first hit North American Subaru showrooms for the 1990 model year, and that started the clock ticking on the Loyale. By the end of the decade, the Legacy Outback wagon had made all other Subaru models fade into the background, but the little Loyale wagon had its rabid fans.

Subaru went to all-wheel-drive for all of its North American vehicles for the 1996 model year (I’m still trying to find a front-wheel-drive 1995 Legacy in the junkyard, without success), but the company had become known for four- and all-wheel-drive cars long before that time. This one has “On-Demand” all-wheel-drive (which allowed you to switch modes but didn’t tear up the tires or worse if you drove on dry pavement in the 4WD setting) and the base five-speed manual transmission.

For 1994, the Loyale was only available as an all-wheel-drive wagon; the 1993s could be had as a wagon or sedan and with front-wheel-drive.

Power windows and locks were standard equipment by this time, which would have been unheard-of on the Leones of a decade earlier.

In fact, the only options available on the 1994 Loyale were the automatic transmission ($550, or $1,115 in 2022 dollars) and metallic paint ($120, or $243 today). The air conditioning and this pretty decent AM/FM/cassette radio were included in the $13,552 sticker price ($27,515 now). The cheapest possible 1994 Legacy wagon started at $14,999 ($30,450) and had a long list of extra-cost options.

The interior was pretty standard mid-1980s Japanese gray cloth and plastic.

The Leone didn’t hold together quite as well as its Honda and Toyota contemporaries, but this one came very close to the 200,000-mile mark during its 28 years on the road.

Its final years were rough ones, we can see at a glance.

Still, it managed to haul its occupants to the snowboard slopes and skate parks to the very end.

These wheels came from a Subaru XT of mid-1980s vintage; anachronistic on a late Loyale but good-looking nevertheless.

Poor Loyale, having to share space in advertisements squeezed between the upstart Legacy and the wretched Justy.

Let’s watch a JDM Leone ad from the glory days of the third-gen version.

For links to more than 2,300 additional Junkyard Finds, be sure to check out the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.

[Images by the author]

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