2018 Legacy New Car Test Drive
The Subaru Legacy is a midsize sedan we think is underrated. It's under-recognized because its looks get lost in the crowd, and its standard all-wheel drive has come to be taken for granted.
If you want all-wheel drive in a midsize sedan, your only other choices are the Ford Fusion and Chrysler 200, and only in their higher-priced models. The Legacy compares well against the front-wheel-drive Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, neither of which has special looks either, but they're more popular because they're Honda and Toyota, and there are more powertrains to choose from. Not necessarily better, just more.
The Car Connection named Legacy “Best Car to Buy” in 2015.
As a midsize car, the Subaru Legacy is about as big as it can get without being considered large. The government sets 120 cubic feet in the cabin and trunk as the midsize limit, terminology-wise, and the Legacy comes in at 119.6, after Subaru added a couple inches of width and 1.6 inches to the wheelbase for this generation. So it's heavy for a midsize, about 3500 pounds, but the weight doesn't show.
For 2017, Legacy offers a Sport package with bigger wheels and chrome trim on the rocker panels, with two-tone cloth upholstery with accent stitching and carbon fiber touches on the dashboard.
Base powertrain is a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder making 175 horsepower and mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with paddle shifters.
The Legacy Limited uses a 3.6-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder making 256 horsepower, but it's not our choice because it's thirsty and its torque doesn't match its size. It's rated by the EPA at 20/28/23 miles per gallon City/Highway/Combined.
The four-cylinder 2.5-liter comes in with much better scores: 26/36/30 mpg, thanks partly to active grille shutters that manage airflow and aerodynamics. Considering it's four-wheel drive, those high numbers take on more meaning; the AWD four-cylinder Ford Fusion gets much poorer fuel economy with 5 less miles per gallon, while the front-wheel-drive Honda Accord and Chevrolet Malibu only get one more mile per gallon. If you want the maximum fuel mileage from a midsize sedan, there's the Toyota Camry Hybrid, rated at 43/39/41 miles per gallon. Run into a snow storm and you'll prefer being in the Subaru.
The NHTSA gives the Legacy five stars in crash safety, while the IIHS gives it top scores in every tests, including the notoriously difficult small-overlap frontal test, to earn its coveted Top Safety Pick+. The IIHS also rated the Legacy's available forward collision safety systems on the Legacy Superior.
Subaru's EyeSight safety system bundles together active safety equipment including adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. Blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alerts can be added. The Legacy can be made safer on paper than cars costing much more.
The 2017 Subaru Legacy ($21,995) comes with cloth upholstery, manual air conditioning, rearview camera, 6.2-inch touchscreen with infotainment and internet streaming.
Legacy Premium ($23,995) upgrades the seats, automatic climate control and other features. Legacy Limited gets leather upholstery and upgraded suspension.
Legacy 3.6R Limited ($31,640) features the six-cylinder engine.