The present-generation Subaru Legacy was launched in 2014 and it got a facelift for at the Chicago Auto Show earlier this year. Sedans may not be as popular as crossover SUVs, but the mid-size four-door market still important model for any automaker. That makes the refreshed Legacy a model worth watching in 2018.
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2018 Subaru Legacy Overview
What's New for 2018
On the exterior, the facelifted Legacy looks more-or-less like the outgoing version. The front fascia has been updated with a new bumper, revamped grille and restyled headlights (with LED DRLs) but the changes are not easy to spot. The side-profile is largely unchanged and the only noticeable alteration at the rear is the design of the exhaust pipes.
However, the upgrades to the interior are a lot prominent. There is a new steering-wheel design, more sophisticated materials all around and a modernized centre console. The infotainment system has been completely overhauled with improved navigation, better voice control and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration as standard.
The Legacy has also received a host of minor mechanical upgrades. Subaru tweaked the continuously variable automatic transmission for smoother gear changes, the noise and vibration levels inside the cabin have been reduced, and the suspension has been tuned for better response from the brakes and the steering. In all, the focus has been on making the Legacy more comfortable, yet sharper to drive.
Choosing Your Subaru Legacy
Subaru has made no update to powertrain of the new Legacy. This means it continues with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder petrol engine producing 175 horsepower and 173 pound-feet of torque and the more potent, 3.6-liter six-cylinder petrol engine generating 256 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque.The four-cylinder Subaru returns 34 miles per gallon highway and 25 city, while six-cylinder Subaru delivers 28 mpg highway and 20 city. A CVT and Subaru's popular all-wheel-drive system are both standard, continuing to give the Legacy a trump card over the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord.
The four-cylinder Legacy is available in four trims — Standard, Premium, Sport and Limited, while the more potent model comes in Limited trim only.
Subaru faces tough competition in a slowing segment, but a Legacy Premium with EyeSight represents a good value for most consumers, including those considering crossovers. For the enthusiasts, the range-topping 3.6R is an okay choice, although the the smaller, sportier WRX is a better buy for that small group of consumers.
2018 Subaru Legacy Review
As the only mid-size sedan with standard all-wheel drive, the 2018 Subaru Legacy has an edge in this ultra-competitive segment. It isn’t the most dashing model in the segment, but it scores high in safety, technology, and usability.
Subaru offers the 2018 Legacy in five trims: 2.5i, 2.5i Limited, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Sport, and 3.6R Limited.
Our “best value” pick is the 2.5i Premium model with a sticker price of $25,155 (including an $860 destination charge). We chose this model as it offers a few amenities not found with the base model, including aluminum-alloy wheels, folding side mirrors, front and rear dual USB ports, dual-zone climate control, an 8.0-inch color display, and a six-speaker audio system. This trim is also where safety options are within reach.
Standard equipment includes a four-cylinder engine, all-wheel drive, LED daytime running lights, 17-inch steel wheels, a tilt-and-telescopic steering column, and cruise control.
- Model: 2018 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium
- Engine: 2.5-liter four cylinder
- Output: 175 hp/174 lb-ft
- Transmission: Continuously variable automatic
- Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
- MPG: 25 city/34 highway
- Options: EyeSight Driver Assist Technology Package ($3,140, navigation, power moonroof, adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure and sway warning, lane keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, high beam assist)
- Base Price: $23,055 (including a $860 destination charge)
- Best Value Price:$28,295
The 2018 Subaru Legacy is offered with a pair of engines. The larger of the two is a 256 horsepower, 3.6-liter flat-six found on the 3.6R Limited model. All other trim levels feature the most popular choice – a 175 horsepower, 2.5-liter flat-four. Both engines come with a CVT automatic that includes a manual mode and paddle shifters.
Our 2.5i Sport tester, equipped with the smaller engine, offered decent off-the-line performance. Subaru was one of the first manufacturers to widely adopt the CVT transmission and it shows. This year, the transmission found on 2.5 models receives a quieter, ultra-short-pitch chain and revised engine timing so that, even during brisk acceleration, there's none of the usual whine. Replete with six simulated gears, it's hands down the best CVT we've driven.
On the road, the ride is smooth and well-controlled with retuned dampers doing a commendable job of absorbing both minor and major road imperfections. Steering is smooth with no on-center dead spot, and the brakes are easy to modulate with a nice initial bite to the pads. Pitch it into a corner and the chassis remains relatively flat – thanks in no small part to the flat engine and lower center of gravity, while the all-wheel-drive system and its brake-based torque vectoring system instill confidence even in the worst weather.
But as good as all that is, the base engine still feels down on power compared to competitors in this class that range from the torquier 160 horsepower, turbocharged, 1.5-liter four-cylinder Chevy Malibu, to the 203 horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder Toyota Camry. Those looking for more power must pick the top Limited trim and kick in an additional $2,580 for the flat-six - along with its less-than-stellar EPA-estimated 20 miles per gallon in the city, 28 on the highway fuel economy numbers.
Slightly revised this year, the Legacy receives a re-worked front bumper, a version of Subaru's hexagonal corporate grille placed lower on the fascia, C-shaped parking lights, and C-shaped headlights that are outlined by "Konoji" LED daytime running lights. In back, a new tailpipe design is integrated into a more prominent lower valance. Some of those differences may be hard to spot, but the Legacy retains its clean, conservative, three-box look.
Upgrades to the interior are also on the spotty side, but they all aim to push Subaru's midsize sedan a bit upscale, and include contrast stitching that's real on the dash, door panels, and seats. Speaking of seats, the fronts are very comfortable and there's plenty of room in back for two adults with plenty of head, hip and shoulder room, as well as 38 inches of leg room. The cabin boasts of 119.6 cu ft of room – just shy of the EPA's 120 cu ft definition of a full-size car – while the trunk offers an additional 15 cu ft of storage.
Although not as commanding as a crossover, the view out the front sides, back, and rear three-quarters is very good. Instrumentation is clear and easy to read, while the app-based software powering the eight-inch touchscreen was easy to understand and intuitive. In addition, Subaru has done a nice job of adding extra insulation, as wind, road, and engine noise is nicely muted.
At the same time, the exterior doesn't wow like the Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, or Mazda Mazda6, quarters get tight with three adults in back, while trunk space is only average for the class. Finally, like the exterior, the Legacy's interior also falls short of offerings from Honda and Mazda.
The Best and Worst Things
The available EyeSight system is very good and affordable. There is little reason for customers to avoid purchasing the package. As for standard performance, it might not be enough for some shoppers. Upgrading to the six-cylinder engine requires choosing the top trim; a happy medium would be a turbo four.
Right For? Wrong For?
Customers who regularly battle wintry or slippery road conditions. All-wheel drive provides an extra measure of stability and control when you need it.
The person who doesn’t need all-wheel drive, which is mostly anyone living where mild conditions prevail.
The Bottom Line
If safety is your priority, then the Subaru Legacy should be on the top of your list. Otherwise, this sedan offers sedate styling, very good handling, and the roomiest interior you’ll find in the segment, with the latter two factors perhaps enough to seal the deal for some shoppers.
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