If the American vehicle market was a fairer place, the Subaru Legacy would be in the thick of the fight for the family-car sales crown. The all-wheel-drive Legacy is an all-around excellent sedan: solid, comfortable, reliable, and extremely capable regardless of weather or road conditions. It possesses a number of clear advantages over its rivals and deserves more consideration from potential customers, even those well outside Subaru-heavy enclaves like Vermont and Oregon.

Pricing and Equipment

The Legacy is a four-door sedans whose body panels are stamped out and welded together in Lafayette, Indiana. Underneath that rather plain-looking sheet metal is an effective collection of Subaru trademarks. Power comes from a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine or an optional 3.6-liter V6.

Your choice of said engins spins an all-wheel drive system through an automated continuously variable transmission (CVT). The chassis is contemporary—independent suspension all around, anti-lock disc brakes—and tuned for everyday comfort and stability. EPA fuel economy estimates come in at 25 mpg city and 34 mpg highway for the four-cylinder and 20/28 for the V6.

MSRP for the base Legacy 2.5i—which includes a multifunction steering wheel, Bluetooth, and a rearview camera—is a very reasonable $22,815. Navigation and Subaru's impressive EyeSight system are available on the Premium ($24,815) along with a few improved standard features, the Sport adopts a slightly more assertive attitude for $26,815, and the Limited brings leather seats and other upscale features for $29,660, or $32,460 when equipped with the V6. (All prices include destination.)

Performance Pros

Subaru Legacy

Subaru's all-wheel drive system is still the Legacy's most distinctive feature, but that well-tuned collection of axles and computer controls is only the start of a mechanical package that works extremely well in the real world, especially when that world gets rough and cold and difficult. It's not a sports sedan, but the Legacy answers the concerns of everyday driving as well as—or better than—anything in its class.

  • The Legacy is completely unflappable in normal use. It's stable and secure regardless of conditions, and seems to become even more competent as roads grow more treacherous.
  • Subaru's CVT sets the industry standard, providing effective power transfer without excessive delay or unsettling reactions. Further down the driveline, the brand's trademark all-wheel drive system now features computer-controlled torque vectoring to distribute power in the most effective manner.
  • Even with the suspension dialed in for normal suburban cruising and the possibility of rough roads, the Legacy's handling is well-balanced and accurate with good steering feel.

Performance Cons

  • Stable and secure performance is admittedly unexciting. The Legacy's notable weight and conservative tuning approach make it about as stimulating as mint tea.
  • Hot acceleration runs are not the Legacy's mission in life; the 2.5-liter does an adequate job of providing motivation, but don't expect much more.
  • The Limited's V6 doesn't live up to its impressive-on-paper power output. The big motor is smooth, but doesn't feel as torquey or powerful as we think it should. The extra cylinders do make their presence known at the gas pump, however.

Interior Pros

Subaru Legacy

The functionality of the chassis is mirrored in the straightforward, well-considered, and roomy interior. The Legacy's cabin is a deeply logical arrangement of durable materials set up for maximum usability. There's not much here to tease your senses, but from a pure function perspective everything is where it should be and—again—it all works very well.

  • Interior dimensions push up against the official limit of a midsize car. The Legacy is pleasantly spacious, offering more room than most of its competitors.
  • Extensive noise management techniques make for a hushed and civilized space.
  • The touchscreen infotainment system is very user-friendly, with large icons and swipe-and-tap controls.
  • There are no fewer than eight cupholders nestled in the interior. If you need more room for drinks, you should probably stay in the kitchen.

Interior Cons

  • Mirroring no-nonsense exterior, the Legacy's interior favors plain function and order over style. While more attractive than the cabin of the previous-generation Legacy, we still wish the aesthetics could approach the exceptional standard set by the car's abilities.
  • The seats could use a bit more sculpting and support.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

The Legacy has outgrown most of its old quirky stereotypes without losing its sincere and straightforward character. There is nothing contrived or superficial about the Legacy—it does exactly what it's supposed to do and it does it very, very well.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

Subaru's mainstream-manufacturer ambitions come wrapped in a shape that unfortunately confuses mainstream with bland. A car this good deserves some panache and distinctiveness in its presentation.

The Bottom Line

On its merits, the Legacy deserves far more attention and respect than it currently gets. As a purely functional device in everyday life, it's among the very best in its class. Crank up the bad weather, and its advantages becomes even more compelling. If you care about safely moving yourself and your family from place to place regardless of conditions and can live with (or even enjoy) being one step away from the mainstream, the Legacy is a top pick.