Need a midsize sedan with all-wheel drive? Turned off by SUV-like Subarus that are selling like hot cakes across America? Don’t care if your car puts you to sleep? Have we got the ride for you! We’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Subaru Legacy here in our Ultimate Buyer’s Guide.
The Subaru Legacy may be the ultimate “used to be cool” car. Like a former rock n’ roll god once fueled by drugs and sex and bad decisions who gave it all up to be a suburban dad with a respectable job in accounting, the Legacy isn’t quite as interesting as it used to be. Legacys of yore had manual gearboxes, GT trims with WRX STI powerplants and rally-going characters. Now? Uh, not so much.
This does not mean the current Legacy, new for 2014, is a bad car! Far from it. For one, while it is bland in the design department, it is far more clean-looking than its ungainly predecessor. It’s also a safe, reliable, sensible sedan that can do in bad weather what a Toyota Camry or a Honda Accord simply cannot.
Boring! Even with the 3.6-liter flat six option, the Legacy is not built for excitement. The only gearbox option is the Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), which even with paddle shifters and simulated “gear” shifts manages to lethargic more often than not.
With Subaru’s torque-vectoring all-wheel drive the Legacy is a reasonably good handler, better than most in the midsize sedan segment, but that’s like saying you had the best test scores in your county jail’s GED class. Do not buy this car expecting it to be a grown-up WRX with a little extra room for your car seat.
It’s a sedan, with four doors, a trunk and good behavior in rain and snow. That’s about it, really!
The Subaru Legacy entered its sixth generation after its 2014 debut at the Chicago Auto Show. The 2015 model year Legacy brought with it all-new sheetmetal, a new interior with the most volume in the mid-size segment, best in class all-wheel drive fuel economy, standard Active Torque Vectoring, a CVT automatic as the only option, and tons of new safety tech.
But it the sixth gen Legacy still uses the same FB25 2.5-liter boxer engine as the previous generation, and the 3.6-liter EZ36D also carries over from the fifth gen car.
New for 2016 is the STARLINK Security system, which offers features like roadside assistance, automatic collision notification, maintenance notifications, stolen vehicle recovery service, remote lock/unlock, remote vehicle locator, and more.
Also new for ‘16 is the availability of blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert, as well as headlamps that turn on automatically when wipers are in use. In addition, Subaru promises a better, “more linear and natural feel” to the revised electric power steering.
Engine power and displacement numbers are par-for-the-course in the mid-size car class: you get a 180 horsepower-ish two-and-a-half liter four cylinder and a 250-ish pony flat-six cylinder with about a liter more displacement.
Okay, so the Legacy’s engines are Boxer engines, whereas many competitors offer inline four cylinders and V6s, but power and displacement figures are very similar to offerings from Nissan, Honda, Chrysler, and Toyota.
Keeping up with what seems to be the trend these days, the Legacy comes exclusively with a CVT automatic transmission. Nope, no manual.
2016 Subaru Legacy Engine Options
Engine Max Horsepower (hp) Max Torque (lb-ft) 2.5L flat-4 175 @ 5800 rpm 174 @ 4000 rpm 3.6L flat-6 256 @ 6000 rpm 247 @ 4400 rpm
The Mazda6 does 32 MPG combined and the Honda Accord does 31, so 30MPG combined from the Subie is just okay, then, right?
No, 30 MPG is stellar. Because the Legacy comes with standard all-wheel drive.
That’s right, the Legacy keeps up with the rest of the class and it gets all-wheel drive. Well done, Subie.
2016 Subaru Legacy Fuel Economy Ratings (City/Highway/Combined)
_ 2.5L flat-4 3.6L flat-6 Fuel Economy- Automatic 26/36/30 20/29/23
The Legacy gets 11.8-inch vented disc brakes in the back with 11.6 or 12.4-inch vented rotors up front. Steering is electric and suspension is a MacPherson strut front up front and a double wishbone setup in the rear.
The Legacy gets four trim levels: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, and 3.6R Limited.
- 2.5i: Starts at $21,745. Notable standard features: 2.5-liter flat four, CVT automatic transmission, all-wheel drive, 17-inch steel wheels, active grille shutters, Active Torque Vectoring, front and side airbags, 6.2-inch touchscreen for STARLINK in-car communication system, 5-speaker audio system, Bluetooth capability, HD radio, air conditioning, automatic headlights with windshield wiper activation, cloth seats, power windows and locks LCD instrument cluster. Notable options: aluminum wheels ($715).
- 2.5i Premium: Starts at $23,845. Notable standard features over 2.5i: Power driver’s seat, 17-inch alloy wheels, heated front seats, heated mirrors, 7-inch touchscreen for in-car communication system, 6-speaker audio system, STARLINK roadside assistance service, dual-zone automatic climate control, unique interior trim, stainless steel exhaust tip, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter. Notable options: EyeSight+Blind Spot Detection & Rear Cross Traffic Alert Package: adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure and sway warning, lane keep assist, Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, adaptive fog lights ($1,195); Moonroof Package: Power moonroof and auto-dimming rearview mirror ($1,195); Moonroof Package + Navigation System ($1,795); Moonroof Package + Navigation System+EyeSight+Blind Spot Detection & Rear Cross Traffic Alert Package ($2,990);
- 2.5i Limited: starts at $26,845. Notable standard features over 2.5i Limited: Leather-trimmed seats, 18-inch alloy wheels, 568-Watt premium audio system, Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, fog lights, driver’s seat, power front seats, unique suspension tuning, rear HVAC ducts. Notable options: Moonroof Package + Keyless Access with Push-Button Start + Navigation System ($2,295); Moonroof Package + Keyless Access and Push-Button Start + Navigation System + Eyesight: Moonroof, proximity keyless entry with push-button start, navigation, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure and sway warning, lane keep assist, adaptive fog lights ($3,090).
- 3.6R Limited: Starts at $29,945. Notable standard features over 2.5i Limited: 3.6L six cylinder boxer engine, beefier transmission with paddle shifters, dual stainless steel exhaust tips, HID headlights with auto height adjustment, larger brake rotors. Notable options: Same as 2.5i Limited.
We’re usually not in the business of buying CVT-equipped sedans. We’re enthusiasts, after all.
But if for some unknown reason we found ourselves in a Subaru showroom and we didn’t want the extra utility of the Outback or Forester, we’d go for the 2.5i Premium, which, unlike the base 2.5i, gets power heated front seats, aluminum wheels, some nice interior trim, dual-zone climate control, and a seven-inch touchscreen. It offers good value.
There’s no real sense in upgrading to the 3.6-liter flat-six and paying its fuel economy price. If you’re buying this car, you’re not expecting it to be especially fun, so you might as well spend the extra money on something that is. Like a snowmobile. Those are a blast.
MSRP: $21,745-$29,945 Top Speed: ~140MPH (3.6L estimated)
Acceleration: ~7.0s to 60 [3.6L]
MPG: 26 city / 36 hwy / 30 combined [2.5L]
Engines: 2.5L flat-4, 3.6L flat-6
Max Horsepower/Torque: 256 hp/247 lb-ft [3.6L]
Curb Weight: ~3,468-3,666 IIHS Safety Rating: Top Safety Pick + (2016)
Transmissions: CVT automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front Engine, AWD
Photo credit: Subaru