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.

Best Value

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

Performance

Subaru Legacy

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.

Style

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?

Subaru Legacy

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.