2012 Subaru Legacy Sedan Review | Edmunds.com

2012 Subaru Legacy Sedan

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Subaru Legacy Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.5 L Flat 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 170 hp @ 5600 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 19/27 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2012 Subaru Legacy

  • With standard all-wheel drive, big-car comfort and lively performance, the 2012 Subaru Legacy is a solid choice among midsize sedans.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Standard all-wheel drive; excellent outward visibility; diverse engine and transmission choices; spacious cabin; top safety scores.

  • Cons

    Weak base stereo; fussy navigation system; unimpressive six-cylinder fuel economy; no automatic available with 2.5GT.

  • What's New for 2012

    Besides a new audio system for upper trim levels and some minor shuffling of features, the Subaru Legacy returns largely unchanged for 2012.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

5 year review - accelerating

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Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Legacy

Is there a limit to how much you can hate your car? After trying to get the dealer to fix the “Subaru Shimmy” for two years didn’t help the relationship. After ten emails to SOA, I gave up. The car simply has never handled well. With each passing year other unpleasant features of the car are started to surface. Cheap interior, uncomfortable seats, poor heating and cooling, weird brakes come to mind. Not to mention the CVT. While driving over a mountain pass, every light on dash board lit up and the car just stopped dead. This was at 44K miles (covered under power train). How could Subaru make a car this bad?

Best in snow

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Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Legacy

After three years of driving and three blizzards, this car has proven itself and come out a winner. Driving in snow and ice is far less scary with the AWD. You never feel like you'll lose control. The car itself feels solid. A nice "ka-thunk" when you close the door. There are no squeaks, and everything works properly. I moved to a hilly neighborhood and I'm at the top. My old car (BMW 528i) could not even make it up a small grade in the snow. The Subaru climbs the hill to my house like a mountain goat. Very impressive.

The $20k mercedes

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Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Legacy

My Legacy's about to go off-lease after 3 years and I still don't see many of this new design on the road. Last week I had to use my father's 2001 Outback and I'm astounded at how well they've redone it. These cars have a long history of reliability. They are practically maintenance-free. Now that they're full-size, I finally found myself in one and I'm glad I did. I traded in my '97 BMW 528i after too many winters spent without traction control (in the Northeast). When I moved to the top of a hill, I knew I needed AWD. I researched Subaru and found they are the only car manufactured by Fuji Industries in Japan. It is a dream to drive and I never feel unsafe anymore.

2011 subaru with 54,000 mileage

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Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Legacy

I do not like the CVT transmission on this car but it seems to be the wave of the future. Other than that, this car has taken me through two brutal winters where the snow would normally keep me from my driveway on top of a steep hill. With the Legacy (I traded in a BMW 528i), I have no problems making it up that hill. There is nothing like the traction of a Subaru in snow and rain. I love this car and plan on buying it when it comes off lease in another few months. For $24K, I got the Winter Package and a sunroof. I think it's an amazing value. A $20K Mercedes.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Choose the 3.6over the 2.5i,

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Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Legacy

I first bought the 2011 Legacy 2.5i Sedan. The engine is too small for the car. It is very loud and whines incessantly over 50 mph. I realized I was never going to be happy with that model. I owned a Legacy many years ago, and loved everything about it. I've wanted another ever since. Anyway... I traded the 2.5i for the 3.6r Premium Legacy sedan and I couldn't be happier! The difference is like night and day regarding the ride. The 3.6R is smoother and quieter; the perfect engine for the car. Yes, it is more money, but the difference in the ride is well worth it.

Overall good not perfect

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Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Legacy

I have 52K on my Legacy, it rides and handles well, the 2.5 id underpowered if you like quick acceleration but is is good for daily driving and parkway acceleration. Th plus to its power is I get 28 MPG mixed driving with AWD. The heated seat switch is in a horrible spor next to the shifter and unwanted hot seats in summer result. The interior vinyl is cheap needing a warranty replacement before 1 year on the armrest and already wearing through the replacement. Same is true for the door vinyl but has not worn out due to less constant arm pressure. The stock radio is a little weak, get the upgrade. Overall I like the car good snow performance and reliable,spend the extra on the limited

Gas Mileage


  • 19
  • cty
  • 27
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs

Full 2012 Subaru Legacy Review

What's New for 2012

Besides a new audio system for upper trim levels and some minor shuffling of features, the Subaru Legacy returns largely unchanged for 2012.


Sometimes, being different is a good thing. Among midsize sedans, the 2012 Subaru Legacy certainly carves out a niche for itself. But some of what makes it unique also serves to limit its appeal.

Much of what's different with the 2012 Legacy relates to what's under the hood. While nearly every other midsize four-door goes with the sure-fire formula of front-wheel drive and a choice of either inline-4 or V6 power plants, the Legacy keeps on rocking its standard all-wheel drive and horizontally opposed four- and six-cylinder engines, including one that's turbocharged. Then there's the Legacy's styling, which has always stood out from the crowd for better or worse.

On the downside, the Subaru Legacy's weight and reduced efficiency from routing power to all four wheels results in less favorable fuel economy numbers. Its road-holding prowess in inclement weather is a plus, for sure, but if you live in milder climates, it may be harder to justify. Furthermore, the sporty 2.5 GT Limited is not available with an automatic transmission, and a rather fussy navigation system is an option only for the range-topping trim levels.

Given the competitiveness of the family sedan segment, we think there are better choices for most buyers. Top models like the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry and Volkswagen Passat (http://www.edmunds.com) offer select advantages regarding fuel economy, features, handling and design. And if you want all-wheel drive, the Ford Fusion is worth checking out. Yet if you're the sort of person who doesn't automatically follow the crowd, the 2012 Subaru Legacy is a solid, non-conformist choice.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Subaru Legacy is a five-passenger sedan available in seven trim levels: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 3.6R, 3.6R Premium, 3.6R Limited and 2.5GT Limited.

Every 2.5i comes with 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, air-conditioning, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, full power accessories and a 60/40-split-folding rear seat; the standard features list also includes a four-speaker stereo with a CD player, auxiliary audio jack and steering-wheel controls. An optional Alloy Wheel package adds 16-inch alloy wheels and an All Weather package adds a windshield wiper de-icer, heated side mirrors and heated front seats. Bluetooth is available as a port-installed system that relies upon its own small speakers rather than the stereo system.

The 2.5i Premium trims include 16-inch alloy wheels as standard, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an eight-way power driver seat, an auto up/down driver window, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and a USB/iPod interface.

The 2.5i Limited adds 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), the All Weather package, a four-way power passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate control and a nine-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with satellite radio. This stereo is optional on the Premium CVT trims. The 2.5GT Limited adds a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a six-speed manual transmission, 18-inch alloy wheels with summer tires, bigger brakes, a hood scoop, a sunroof (optional on all other trims but 2.5i), leather upholstery and unique interior trim.

The 3.6R models are essentially the same as the 2.5i models, but gain a horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine, bigger brakes and 17-inch alloys for all models. The Premium also gets the All Weather package. Optional on the Limited trims is a Navigation System package, which adds a touchscreen interface, voice controls, a rearview camera and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

Powertrains and Performance

All 2012 Subaru Legacy models come with all-wheel drive as standard, and buyers have a choice of engines and transmissions. The base 2.5-liter horizontally opposed (a.k.a. "boxer") four-cylinder engine produces 170 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission (which includes a hill-holder feature) is standard on the base 2.5i and 2.5i Premium, while a CVT is optional on those models and standard on the 2.5i Limited. With the CVT, the 2.5i can be had with Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV) certification in states with California emissions standards.

A CVT-equipped 2.5i that we tested went from zero to 60 mph in a mediocre 9.4 seconds. Estimated fuel economy is 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined with the CVT. The manual is notably worse at 19/27/22.

The 3.6R features a 3.6-liter boxer six-cylinder good for 256 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed traditional automatic transmission is standard. It takes 7.1 seconds to go from zero to 60 mph, which is slightly below average for the class. Fuel economy is an estimated 18/25/20.

The 2.5GT gets a turbocharged version of the base model's boxer-4 and produces 265 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is the only transmission choice. It goes from zero to 60 mph in a rapid 5.7 seconds. Estimated fuel economy is 18/25/21.


Every 2012 Subaru Legacy comes standard with stability and traction control, antilock disc brakes, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, the 2.5i turned in a good performance, coming to a stop from 60 mph in 121 feet; the 3.6R was in the same ballpark. The 2.5GT stopped in an excellent 111 feet.

In government crash tests, the Legacy earned an overall rating of four stars (out of a possible five), with four stars for overall front crash protection and four stars for overall side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Legacy its perfect score of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The Subaru Legacy's interior design is sleek and sophisticated, but some might find the overabundance of silver paint unattractive. Though the interior plastics look upscale, most of them are hard to the touch and lack a premium feel found in some competing models.

The seats are comfortable, with plenty of headroom and rear seat legroom. In terms of technology, iPod control and streaming Bluetooth audio are available, but not on the base models. We've found that the nav system's functionality is hampered by fussy controls and small touchscreen icons; also noteworthy is the poor sound quality from the base audio system. We highly recommend the Premium trim or available Harman Kardon upgrade if audio quality is a priority. Trunk space is an average 14.7 cubic feet.

Driving Impressions

The 2012 Subaru Legacy provides a smooth ride and respectable handling. Drivers expecting the 2.5GT model to be a sleeper sport sedan will be disappointed, though, as its suspension tuning is the same as all other Legacys. The base 2.5-liter engine is adequate, but outright acceleration trails that seen in some of the speedier family sedans. The 2.5GT's turbocharged engine is much more of a thrill, though the mandatory manual transmission will limit its appeal. That leaves the new 3.6-liter flat-6 as the main draw for those wanting some punch.

Talk About The 2012 Legacy

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