Vital Stats

Engine:
2.5L Boxer 4
Power:
173 HP / 174 LB-FT
Transmission:
CVT
Drivetrain:
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,392 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
14.7 CU-FT
MPG:
24 City / 32 HWY
Two other cars kept coming to mind during my week with the 2013 Subaru Legacy 2.5i. The first was the 2010 Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT that we tested for a full year in our long-term fleet, and the second was the new-for-2012 Toyota Camry, the indisputable best-selling car in the US and assembly line sibling of the Legacy. The two cars are built side-by-side at Subaru's assembly plant in Indiana.

Our long-term Legacy 2.5 GT wasn't universally loved, but I had a fondness for it after my wife and I spent two weeks with it road-tripping through New England, including a particularly exciting crawl up Mt. Washington. It wasn't a true sports sedan, but unlike most midsizers with manual transmissions, neither was it saddled with an anemic base engine. The 265-horsepower turbocharged boxer four-cylinder engine was game to play and the six-speed stick at least kept me engaged. The 2.5 GT model, however, has been axed, leaving this 2.5i model and a more expensive, more powerful 3.6-liter six-cylinder model.

As for the Camry, it's the midsize sedan against which all others are judged, not because it's necessarily the best, but because it manages to consistently outsell the competition no matter how good they get. Score one for momentum and marketing, but there are a number of midsizers I personally rank above Toyota's new Camry – most, actually. So as I drove Subaru's refreshed Legacy 2.5i, I kept wondering, is it better than the ghost of our long-termer, and does it, too, deserve the hollow credit of being better than the segment's best seller?

Driving Notes
  • This Legacy has surprisingly communicative and nicely weighted steering. With so many vehicles switching to electronic power-assisted steering mechanisms for fuel savings, I originally wondered if Subaru had struck upon a magic ordering of 1s and 0s. Nope, it still carries a hydraulic power steering system that just feels more natural in one's hands.
  • The Legacy exhibits noticeably high ground clearance that reminds me of a lady hiking up her skirt to cross a puddle. Maybe it's to accentuate the all-wheel-drive system and go-anywhere character of Subarus, but the visibly large gap between tire and fender doesn't help an already awkward design that was tweaked for 2013.
  • Alas, the 2.5GT is no longer available. While that engine is gone, the 2.5i models are still offered with a 6-speed manual or, like the car I drove, a continuously variable transmission (CVT), and it's a droner. I normally ignore paddle shifters in non-sporting vehicles, but actually used the appendages in this 2.5i to put the engine speed where I wanted it, efficiency be damned.
  • The 2.5-liter boxer four-cylinder is actually new for 2013, but only produces three more horsepower and four more pound-feet of torque than the prior 2.5-liter engine. It is an adequate engine for buyers who care little for performance, but otherwise is taxed by the Legacy's weight and strain of its AWD running gear.
  • The Legacy has an enormous capacity for rear seat passengers. Rear leg room is 37.8 inches, and as you can see in the pictures, no one's knees will be touching any seatbacks.
  • New for 2013 is Subaru's EyeSight system, a pair of cameras that allows for advanced safety tech like adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking and lane departure warning. Most vehicles that offer those features use radar hardware mounted in the front fascia somewhere. EyeSight, however, locates its cameras inside the car on either side of the rearview mirror. You don't really notice the cameras until you notice them, and then you can't stop noticing them. Subaru, however, says its system costs less than others, and it's progress to see these features available on a car costing $30k.
  • Subaru needs to up its infotainment game, or at least license better navigation and entertainment tech from its suppliers or another automaker. The Legacy's system feels at least 2-3 years behind the segment's best in terms of its user interface and features.
  • Whereas our 2.5 GT long-termer was eager to play, this 2.5i is as docile and sedate as an old dog. It actually struck me as being a better Camry than the Camry. For shoppers who care only about traveling between A and B in a comfortable and safe sedan, the Legacy's AWD assuredness and pre-cognitive safety tech makes it the Indiana import to choose.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 37 Comments
      SethG
      • 2 Years Ago
      My brother recently got an Outback with this same engine, transmission and tech features. I agree with most of the comments in the post but not completely: 1) The engine is not incredibly strong and the CVT may drone. But if you drive in a relaxed manner its competent and comfortable. 2) Handling doesn't feel as great as the last generation (I drove an 05 Legacy GT Wagon) but it's a much bigger car so it's a tradeoff. 3) Eyesight is impressive tech at this price point but the cameras are in the way. You can't help but notice them. And they required Subaru to remove nearly half the width of the sun visor. Is it more important safety-wise to be beeped at when you drift out of a lane or to avoid being blinded by the sun? Your choice. But also note that eyesight turns itself off when driving into bright sun and announces this with the same beep it uses for everything else. 4) Fuel efficiency is fantastic. My brother's getting over 26 mpg in mixed driving and the Outback is huge. 5) Agreed that nav and tech are terrible. The interface looks dated, is confusing and distracting. It doesn't just feel dated, it feels cheap.
      Ben Lee
      • 2 Years Ago
      it would actually be nice if the side windows werent flat as a board.
      Du K
      • 2 Years Ago
      This design reminds me of the Infiniti G37.
      A_Guy
      • 2 Years Ago
      BARF. Downvote if you did too!
      Radioactive Flea
      • 2 Years Ago
      My wife refused to buy it because of the CVT. I think she has bought her last Subaru. Looking at an Audi. At least you can get a manual in those.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Radioactive Flea
        Did you read the article? This Legacy has a manual trans option.
          Ross
          • 2 Years Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          No he didn't. He is just trolling. I mean if they actually looked at the car and asked questions, they would know there is a manual option.
      Master Austin
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why do I feel it's the early 2000s...doesnt seem theres anything ground breaking here...
        dinobot666
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Master Austin
        It's an entirely new engine design and aforementioned CVT. I drove one for a few days as a loaner car and enjoyed more than I thought I would. I don't really understand the complaints about the "drony" CVT. I just thought throttle tip in was a bit touchy, but other than that, I liked the car.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Master Austin
        Say WHAT? Did you just skip right over the part where it talked about the eye sight system that keeps your distance when you're cruising, warns you when you wander off your lane and brakes for you when you're about to hit something? How many non-premium cars came with GPS Nav back in 2000? And how many AWD cars got 24/32mpg back in 2000?
      Commentotron
      • 2 Years Ago
      Bwhahahahaha. They axed the GT? Subaru: riding the fail-train to suck town since 2006. My old 05 LGT and the LGT wagon were the last family cars they made that did not suck balls. I'm not even sure who'd want the current gen Accord boat wanna-be, even with the turbo and stick.
        SethG
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Commentotron
        I want to agree with you. I drove an 05 Legacy GT Wagon and loved every minute. I don't like the direction they've gone with much of the lineup starting with the Tribeca (too small for its class and oddly styled at first) then the Forester (has grown with each generation...not a bad car but not what it should be) then the Legacy/Outback (also grew...a lot...and became more like a Toyota...in a bad way) and most recently the Impreza (has gone soft all over). But while these are my opinions, Subaru sales growth has been pretty incredible. I guess these changes are resonating with someone.
      Cheryl
      • 2 Years Ago
      The 2013 Subaru Legacy 2.5i base is actually also available in a 6-speed manual transmission. It's certainly not the same as the 2.5GT, but the manual transmission is available. However, the manual transmission is NOT available on a PZEV.
      rosetojordan 123
      • 2 Years Ago
      I would avoid this car. A close friend has it and the trans has a terrible jerking problem that almost feels like whiplash at times. It hurts my back sometimes. On Edmunds you will find a thread of over 50 pgs on it and it seems to not be exclusive to one model year. It's one of those games where they know about it and most service depts deny it. Some will fix it, but I've also read the car then drives like crap. And yes, don't opt for the nav, one of the worst interfaces I've ever seen
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Big Dave
      • 2 Years Ago
      We own a 2013 Legacy Limited with the eye sight package. The car is dated in some stylistic ways but I suspect that in a few years it'll still look OK unlike some of the newer "out there" designs (see Kia/Hyundai), We do a lot of long distance driving to see family and were pleasantly surprised to be able to get 32-34 mpg at 70-75 miles an hour on the Interstates. Adaptive cruise control is terrific. Seats are comfortable, HD radio is neat, Nav is so-so, Since we live in an area with lots of snow in winter AWD is great for us. Lots of on target comments here. However, if you want AWD, good gas mileage and a comfortable ride, this is a pretty good car. By the way, chose between new Fusion and 2013 Subaru. Dealer gave us a heck of a deal compared to Fusion comparably equipped.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Big Dave
        [blocked]
      Avinash Machado
      • 2 Years Ago
      They seem to be losing their quirkiness.
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