The Subaru Legacy is a midsize all-wheel-drive sedan with room for five. Available in seven trims, this model costs from $22,895 to $36,145, plus a $925 freight charge. Subaru offers two engine choices and one automatic transmission.
Largely a carryover model, the 2021 Legacy does feature a few changes. These include now standard adaptive headlamps, a passenger’s seatbelt warning, and a rear-seat alert feature.
In years past, the Subaru Legacy would not win beauty awards. Then again, midsize sedans weren’t usually synonymous with design elegance. The most recent Legacy, however, has more sporty flair and a dash of elegance than we’ve ever seen. From its handsome nose to its sweeping profile lines and ending with a rear fascia that’s far from anonymous, we like the styling direction Subaru has taken.
Inside, the roomy interior results in ample space for five. The federal government rates the Legacy as a large car for its cabin space, which surprisingly doesn’t come at the expense of trunk room that measures 15.1 cubic feet. That’s average for the segment, but we’ve seen smaller trunks in larger sedans.
The standard cloth seats are snug, while the available leather is plush and more comfortable. In any case, the front seats are supportive and amply bolstered – you need not fear the long road trip. Three adults can sit on the split fold-down bench seat in the rear, although two would enjoy it more. Our only warning extends to anyone taller than six feet: here, the roofline intrudes, thereby restricting headroom. The option, of course, is to sit in the first row. Otherwise, shop the similar-sized Outback utility vehicle for more space all around.
Safety and Technology
Subaru has a stellar safety record, one that rivals Volvo. The EyeSight driver-assist bundle comes standard and includes a pre-collision braking system, pre-collision throttle management (to allow the driver to react in time), lane departure and sway warning, and advanced cruise control with lane centering. Offered separately and included with the two Limited and the Touring XT trims is blind-spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert.
On the tech front, only the base model comes with a 7-inch touchscreen display. Every other trim has an 11.6-inch display. Other standard features include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone compatibility, four speakers, satellite radio, HD Radio, dual USB ports, and Bluetooth. Move up to the Premium trim and six speakers is the standard; navigation is available. Make your move to the Limited trim and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system is included. A Qi wireless phone charging pad is a dealer-installed accessory item.
Subaru Legacy Performance
Like Porsche, Subaru is the only other manufacturer still using a boxer engine. The name applies to a certain type of engine where the cylinders are horizontally opposed. With it, the opposing pistons move inward and outward at the same time. Just like a pair of boxers…think Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier duking it out. I may have preferred Smokin’ Joe myself.
The design allows the engine to sit lower and further back in the engine bay, thus supplying these models with better balance, a smoother, operation, and reduced vibration. In the Legacy, Subaru supplies two boxer engine choices and they’re nearly the same in size, but not in performance.
The first engine displaces 2.5 liters with an output of 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. The second engine displaces 2.4 liters, but thanks to turbocharger technology, this one develops 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. Both engines route power to all four wheels utilizing a continuously variable transmission.
Our test model came with the turbo engine and we couldn’t have been happier. It delivers slightly more power than the 3.6-liter boxer engine it replaced with the weight savings translating into better balance. Under steady acceleration, this sedan moves briskly, while under full throttle the turbo spools quickly to deliver maximum performance.
The CVT is compliant with the available paddle shifters mimicking eight forward gears in sport mode. The steering feel isn’t exciting, but in all things ride and handling, this is where the Legacy excels. With Subaru the only manufacturer offering standard all-wheel drive, the Legacy comes with a distinct advantage, namely a much more planted feeling while driving. This becomes fully apparent in slippery conditions where power transfers from front to back or from left to right, depending on the conditions. Add in an already comfortable ride and the Legacy lives up to its name amongst its peers.
We have tested every midsize sedan that’s been on the market over the past decade and the Subaru Legacy may be the value leader among them all. With its standard all-wheel drive, adaptive lighting system, and advanced safety features, this sedan is a bargain as its starting price comes in at under $24,000. Although we do not recommend the base trim, any model above that is worth a look. Thus, it is entirely possible to drive away in a roomy well-equipped midsize sedan for $28,000, and that is something few competitors can claim.
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