As the only mid-size sedan with standard all-wheel drive, the 2019 Subaru Legacy adds a number of standard advanced safety features to its resume. But it fails to impress with only average looks, and the choice of middling four-cylinder performance or more power but poor fuel economy from an optional flat-six engine.

Best Value

Subaru offers the 2019 Legacy in five trims: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Sport, 2.5i Limited, and 3.6R Limited, with price ranging from $23,430 for a base 2.5i to $34,580 for a 3.6R Limited equipped with the optional Starlink Multimedia Navigation Package.

Standard active safety features across the lineup include adaptive cruise control, pre-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure and sway warning, and lane keeping assist.

Like last year, our “best value” pick is the 2.5i Premium model with additional amenities not found on the base model, including 18-inch alloy wheels (replacing the 2.5i's standard 17-inch steel wheels), heated body-color side mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer, a power driver's seat, heated front seats, electroluminescent instruments, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, auto up/down front windows, dual-zone automatic climate control, and an eight-inch touchscreen (replacing the standard 6.5-inch touchscreen). This trim is also where a number of additional advanced safety features are optional.

  • Model:2019 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium
  • Engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder
  • Output: 175 hp / 174 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Continuously variable transmission (CVT)
  • Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
  • MPG: 25 City / 34 Hwy
  • Options: Blind-Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert ($850, also includes automatic high beams, fog lights, and outside mirrors with integrated turn signals)
  • Base Price: $25,580 (including an $885 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $26,430

Performance

Subaru Legacy

The 2019 Subaru Legacy is offered with two engines. Most trims receive a 175-horsepower, 2.5-liter flat-four engine, while the 3.6R Limited model features a 256-hp, 3.6-liter flat-six. Both engines are paired with a CVT with a manual mode and paddle shifters.

Although modest, the smaller 2.5-liter boxer-four offers decent off-the-line performance with snappy throttle tuning and adequate around-town punch. As one of the first manufacturers to widely adopt CVTs, this experience shows as there's none of the usual whine even during brisk acceleration. It remains the best CVT we've driven.

On the road, cruising is comfortable with a smooth and well-controlled ride. Steering is direct 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 lower center of gravity afforded by the flat engine. The all-wheel-drive system and its brake-based torque vectoring system offer a confidence boost even in the worst weather.

Those seeking more power have to choose the top-of-the-line Legacy 3.6R Limited, which starts at $32,430. That comes at the expense of fuel economy, however, as the flat-six is rated by the EPA at 20 miles per gallon city, 28 mpg highway, and 23 combined.

Style

Unchanged from last year's update and retaining a clean, conservative, three-box look, the Legacy features Subaru's hexagonal corporate grille low on the fascia, flanked by headlights outlined with C-shaped "Konoji" LED daytime running lights. The rear fascia features large, horizontal taillights, and a bright-finished oval tailpipe integrated into the prominent lower valance.

Inside, the dashboard is dominated by a central touchscreen that's either 6.5 or 8.0 inches depending on the model. On all but the base model, Subaru uses contrast stitching on the seats, dashboard, and door panels. The seats are very comfortable with unusually long bottom cushions for all-day support. There's room in back for three adults with 38 inches of leg room for plenty of stretch-out space. The cabin is spacious for a mid-size sedan with 119.6 cubic feet of room – just shy of the EPA's definition of a full-size car of 120 cubic feet – while the trunk offers an additional 15 cubes of storage, which is also surprisingly roomy for a sedan with all-wheel drive.

The 2019 Legacy offers good visibility out the front, sides, and back. Instrumentation is clear and the app-based software is intuitive. Even at highway speeds, wind, road, and engine noise is commendably low.

However, the Legacy's conservative design doesn't impress like the Honda Accord, Ford Fusion, or Mazda6. The interior also falls short of these same competitors, while trunk space is only average for the class.

The Best and Worst Things

Making the EyeSight safety suite of technologies standard for 2019 was a smart move by Subaru. At the same time, the Legacy's four-cylinder engine's performance might not cut it for some buyers, while moving up to the flat-six requires picking the top trim.

Right For? Wrong For?

Subaru LegacySafety-focused customers in colder climates will appreciate the Legacy's standard all-wheel-drive system. Enthusiasts, the style conscious, and those living in mild climates that don’t feel the need for all-wheel drive can look elsewhere.

The Bottom Line

If you're looking for a safe sedan, the 2019 Subaru Legacy is worth your consideration. It also features subdued styling, good handling, and a very roomy interior, which are also selling points for many shoppers.