As Paul correctly stated in his 1991 Legacy article yesterday, all-wheel drive was the key to Subaru’s mainstream success in North America. After the rough-and-tough looking Outback wagon’s positive reception, Subaru decided to give the same treatment to its Legacy sedan.
Initially just offered to New England area dealers in very small numbers (approximately 300) during 1997, Subaru took the Outback SUS (Sport Utility Sedan) national in January 1998, as a 1999 model. With the Outback wagon’s increased ground clearance, beefier bumpers, egg crate grille, hood scoop, and two-tone paint scheme for the requisite “cladded” look, the SUS was aimed at buyers who not only wanted to play the part, but look it too.
Marking Subaru’s 30th Anniversary of selling cars in the U.S. in 1998, the aptly-named 30th Anniversary Edition was introduced on cars produced during the 1998 calendar year. Somewhat confusingly, all Outback SUS sedans received the special 30th Anniversary treatment, even though they were 1999 model-year cars.
Despite wider-spread availability during 1998-1999, only about 7,500 Legacy Outback Sports Utility Sedans were produced, the overwhelming majority of them being the leather-equipped Limited models. The redesigned third generation Legacy went on sale in the U.S. as a 2000 model, and although Outback sedans were still sold, the “SUS” moniker was gone, making them a very rare model.