While at Ramsey Subaru to test-drive the WRX, I also slipped into something a bit more comfortable. While the WRX does come with leather in the “Limited” level of trim, it doesn’t quite hold a candle in comfort to the Subaru Legacy. The legacy has been the top of the line sedan for Subaru for the past 20+ years. Top of the line is of course defined in different ways for different carmakers. For example the top of the line Chevy would not feel at home in the Ferrari lineup. This incarnation of the Legacy, however, would feel comfortable in any of the affordable car lineups and maybe even in some more luxurious brands.
The legacy isn’t a sharp looking car, right off the bat. It’s not going to win any beauty contests, but the styling is excellent. In my opinion, it’s an average looking car that anyone would be happy with when looked at 5 years down the road. I think it’s simple yet a bit aggressive and I think it all works well together. Hell, it’s a Subaru. It just works. Very utilitarian. I’d certainly take the looks of this car over any Toyota sedan made, ever; they all look boring.
From there, climb inside and you’ll see a fairly competitive interior. Most of these “affordable” carmakers tend to cheap down the interior materials to save money. When speaking about the Legacy, the same cannot be said. Subaru has done an excellent job carrying over materials from the base model 2.5i to the top spec’d out Legacy 3.6R Limited. Yes you can range between cloth seats to leather and a rubber steering wheel to a leather wrapped one, but it all feels familiar and comfortable no matter what trim level you choose. I test drove the 2.5i Limited with 256 HP, a CVT transmission, and leather interior.
The power in this car was comparable to other cars tested. At 256 HP, the Legacy can get going in a hurry for a fairly large car. It felt faster than the Ford Fusion, but not quite up to snuff with the Hyundai Sonata. And given a choice between the two mentioned and the Legacy, I’d have the legacy based on engine alone. Yes it’s a bit less powerful than the Sonata, but Subaru engine quality is greater than Hyundai. Hyundai has only recently come around to the “reliable” side, while Subaru has been there for at least 2 decades, if not longer. The CVT was not great, but I have a general disdain for them as a transmission. Still, I’d take this CVT over any others I’ve driven to date.
As I mentioned, the Legacy is a larger car and does feel a bit heavy for a family sedan. Despite coming in at exactly the same weight as the Fusion (3427 pounds), it feels lighter. It’s also lighter than the Sonata by 25 pounds, but feels heavier. It’s a bit odd, but this shouldn’t deter you from buying one. They’re all within the same class. The handling doesn’t feel as sharp as the Sonata, but it light-years ahead of the Fusion.
Braking was right on point for a family sedan and I felt I could easily stop for that rogue squirrel that might run across my path. Ride quality was also very nice, but did feel a bit hard. I was informed that it could be due to the tire inflation the dealer had given it since it was sitting on the lot. That would have been rectified upon purchase and the ride would have been a bit better.
The two major downfalls of the Legacy were, as always with family sedans, the fun factor and price. When buying a car in this class, one could easily find a cheaper version of the car you’re driving, but you’re also going to be sacrificing a lot of comforts that come standard on smaller cars (i.e. navigation, leather, auto dimming mirror, etc). The Legacy is not a fun car to drive. I felt this is an appropriate car for a 45 year old business-man or –woman in Minnesota. It’s a car that will be excellent in the snow and stupidly dependable, but won’t be something you want to take up a mountain pass in Italy. The price also is a sticking point. Loaded, the Legacy can get above $32,000 in no time flat. If choosing the 3.6R Limited, you’re base price will be $28,895 an with some extras and goodies, it’ll get up there fast. However, when compared to others I’ve test driven, it’s quite good value for the money and extras won’t cost you as much with Subaru as it would with some of it’s competitors; I’m looking at you Honda. For the 2014 model, no price increase has been announced and Subaru’s website reflects an exact carryover from 2013.
The technology is not so much a downfall as much as a disappointment. Like the WRX, the tech offered is decent and compared to a few years ago, still up there by comparison. However, it’s not nearly as good as what you’d find in the Sonata or Fusion.
Subaru has smartly carved a niche in the marketplace and the Legacy embodies this very well. As I said in the WRX review, Subaru is a basic company, but not in a negative connotation. They make cars that work well, are reliable, and you want if you are in a northern state with bad weather. I feel the Legacy embodies all these characteristics to perfection. It’s stable on the road and has an AWD system that is unrivaled. It’s got decent braking for it’s size and class and has a well designed exterior/interior. It’ll get the job gone and it’ll do it while transporting you comfortably. I’d recommend this car over the Fusion and even the Sonata in some ways (safety), but I still feel if you’re going to be purchasing a family sedan, the Mazda 6 is the one to beat.