The Subaru Legacy is a midsize sedan that seeks to lure buyers with a cushy ride, a spacious interior and standard all-wheel-drive. Subaru gave the Legacy a mild refresh for the latest model year that included revised styling, a more efficient base motor and Eyesight - a new suite of advanced driver assistance systems that's available as an option.
Those looking for a bit more cargo space should check out the Outback, which is essentially a wagon version of the Legacy with more ground clearance and SUV-like styling.
Stylistic changes include a redesigned front grille along with new headlamps and bumpers clearly inspired by the smaller Impreza. Overall, the revisions add a bit of spice to the Legacy's somewhat generic basic shape.
Underneath, the Legacy's structure has been stiffened at a few key points for added rigidity. A larger diameter rear sway bar and increased spring and damper rates and stiffer bushings are said to quell body roll by up to 40 percent. The tweaks should add up to more responsive handling dynamics while preserving the outgoing model's cushy and comfortable ride.
The cabin continues to offer a sleek and modern-looking dashboard along with ample rear seat space. More comfortable seat fabrics were added for the latest model year, while Limited models gain a new wood grain trim.
Like all Subaru models except the lightweight BRZ sports car, the Legacy comes standard with all-wheel-drive. This drivetrain is a boon for wet and wintry-weather traction, although the tradeoff is slightly worse fuel economy than comparable front-wheel-drive models.
The Legacy's entry-level engine is a 2.5-liter boxer four-cylinder. Upgraded for the latest model year with dual overhead-camshafts, the mill now makes 173 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque. While that's still middling power for the segment, the mill does return a respectable 24 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway when paired with a continuously variable transmission. A six-speed stick, standard on base models, adds a dose of sportiness to the driving experience but reduces mileage to 21/28 mpg.
More power can be had by choosing the optional 3.6-liter boxer six, which produces 256 horsepower and 247 lb-ft. of torque and is paired exclusively with a somewhat dated five-speed automatic. The pair is good for a lackluster 18/25 mpg.
Unfortunately for enthusiasts, the 2.5-liter turbocharged boxer four - which made 265 horsepower and came with a six-speed stick - has been discontinued.
Taking advantage of existing camera-based technologies, Subaru has grouped an entire suite of driver assist systems under the EyeSight moniker for the latest Legacy. For an in-depth explanation of EyeSight, visit our Spotlight On: Subaru EyeSight article.
The EyeSight package includes pre-collision braking assistance, pre-collision throttle management, lane departure and sway warning and adaptive cruise control.
EyeSight uses two charge-coupled device cameras Subaru says it developed in house to closely monitor vehicles, pedestrians, traffic lanes and other potential obstacles. Unlike cameras offered on some other vehicles, Subaru placed its EyeSight system above the Legacy's windshield near the rearview mirror.
At low speeds below 19 mph, EyeSight can bring a so-equipped Legacy to a complete stop if it detects an impending collision with a pedestrian, bicyclist, vehicle or other obstacle. Above 19 mph, the system can apply the vehicle's brakes to reduce the severity of an impending impact.
In addition to that active safety technology, the EyeSight package's adaptive cruise control helps drivers maintain a set distance from other vehicles on a highway. Its lane departure and sway warning systems alert drivers if they unintentionally start to wander within their lane or make their way into another lane.
The Legacy is available in a total of five trim levels - three with the 2.5-liter four and two with the 3.6-liter six.
The entry-level 2.5i trim comes standard with power windows and locks, A/C, cruise control, a four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo system with an aux-input jack, iPod control capability and a USB port, Bluetooth smartphone connectivity, cloth upholstery and manually-adjustable seats, auto on/off headlights and 16-inch steel wheels with hubcaps.
The 2.5i Premium adds a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, 17-inch aluminum wheels, two extra speakers for the stereo, a stainless-steel exhaust tip, body-color side mirrors and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.
The top four-cylinder trim, the 2.5i Limited, adds the CVT as standard while also bringing an All-Weather Package with 2-stage heated front seats, heated side mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer, leather upholstery, a power-adjustable passenger's seat, dark woodgrain interior trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, fog lights, HD radio, a rear A/C outlet and a silver painted shifter with black inlay.
The six-cylinder 3.6R has the 2.5i Premium's features in addition to a variable torque distribution version of Subaru's AWD system, dual stainless steel exhaust tips and larger front and rear brakes with ventilated rear rotors. To those features, the top-shelf 3.6R Limited adds the extra niceties from the 2.5i Premium.
Options include a sunroof, the aforementioned EyeSight package and a navigation system with XM satellite radio and XM NavTraffic that comes bundled with a nine-speaker, 440-watt harmon/kardon sound system.
All Legacy models come standard with dual front, front side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and a tire-pressure monitoring system.
Those considering the Subaru Legacy are probably looking for the four season capability of all-wheel-drive; the only other mainstream midsize sedan to offer this feature is the smooth-handling Ford Fusion. Front-wheel-drive competitors worth a look include the Mazda Mazda6 and Honda Accord.