Full 2014 Subaru Legacy Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 Subaru Legacy receives minor equipment changes. The six-cylinder engine is now offered on a single 3.6R Limited model. Heated seats and mirrors are now standard on the 2.5i Premium, and a navigation system is now an option on most trims.
Thanks to their standard all-wheel drive, Subarus are a go-to choice for consumers in the snowbelt who are looking to beat winter weather. Not everyone wants to drive around in a utilitarian-looking wagon or crossover, though. So Subaru offers the Legacy, which offers that extra measure of capability in the body of a traditional midsize sedan.
In previous years, the Subaru Legacy had genuine performance leanings, but lately the automaker has concluded that most of its customers aren't looking for back-roads thrills in a midsize sedan. The Legacy, then, has become a reasonably priced family car. Its cabin is comfortable, with ample headroom and legroom no matter where you're seated, and overall levels of wind and road noise are low as you drive down the highway. Excellent visibility and the availability of some top-end safety features are other Legacy pluses.
In some other aspects, however, the Legacy is outclassed. Power and fuel economy are underwhelming with either the 2.5-liter four-cylinder or 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine. The Legacy's audio and navigation systems are also not as enjoyable to use, and ride comfort is below par. Overall, we've given the 2014 Subaru Legacy a "C" rating and think you'll be happier with a couple other top-rated sedans such as the 2014 Honda Accord or 2014 Nissan Altima. If all-wheel drive is a must-have, the stylish 2014 Ford Fusion is worth a look, though AWD costs considerably more on the Ford. Ultimately, affordability is a big part of the 2014 Subaru Legacy's appeal. If all-wheel drive is a must, the Legacy is worth considering.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Subaru Legacy is a five-passenger sedan offered in five trim levels: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Sport, 2.5i Limited and 3.6R Limited. The numbers refer to engine displacement.
Base 2.5i models come with 16-inch steel wheels; automatic headlights; air-conditioning; cruise control; a height-adjustable driver seat; a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel; full power accessories; a 60/40-split-folding rear seat; Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity; and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, an iPod/USB audio interface and an auxiliary audio jack. An option package for the base 2.5i model (CVT version only) adds 17-inch alloy wheels and foglights.
The 2.5i Premium model includes all of the above except the foglights (which must be purchased as an accessory). It also has heated body-color outside mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob and a six-speaker sound system.
Optional items for the 2.5i Premium include the Moonroof package, which features a sunroof, a rearview camera and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. When you buy this package, you also have the option of getting Subaru's EyeSight driver-assist system, which includes adaptive cruise control, a lane-departure warning system and a collision-warning/mitigation system with brake intervention. Alternatively, you can buy the Moonroof package in combination with a navigation system that has a 7-inch touchscreen and smartphone app integration.
The 2.5i Sport adds 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a sunroof, aluminum-trimmed pedals, simulated carbon fiber interior trim, a rearview camera and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The nav system is optional, but the EyeSight system isn't available on the Sport model.
The sunroof and rearview camera move back to the options list on the 2.5i Limited model, which also reverts to 17-inch wheels. However, the Limited builds upon the 2.5i Premium model's amenities, as it adds leather upholstery, a four-way power passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear-seat air vents, simulated-wood interior trim, an upgraded gauge cluster and a nine-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. Options are the same as on the 2.5i Premium, except that you're able to purchase the EyeSight system in combination with the navigation system.
Standard and optional equipment for the 3.6R Limited follow that of the 2.5i Limited, but the 3.6R features a six-cylinder engine and wider 17-inch tires.
Powertrains and Performance
The all-wheel-drive Subaru Legacy is offered with two engines: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder and a 3.6-liter six-cylinder. The base 2.5-liter horizontally opposed ("boxer") four-cylinder produces 173 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission (which includes a hill-holder feature) is standard on the base 2.5i, and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles is optional. The Premium, Sport and Limited models get the CVT standard.
The EPA rates 2.5i models with the CVT at 27 mpg combined (24 city/32 highway), while the manual-shift version is rated considerably lower at 24 mpg combined (21/29). Neither choice is a standout for four-cylinder fuel economy. In Edmunds performance testing, a Legacy 2.5i Sport went from zero to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds, which is about average for the class.
The Legacy 3.6R features a 3.6-liter boxer six-cylinder engine good for 256 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic with shift paddles is the only transmission offered. In Edmunds performance testing, the 3.6R accelerated from zero to 60 in 7.1 seconds, a below-average time for the segment. The EPA estimates the 3.6R will return 20 mpg combined (18/25), well below average for the class.
The 2014 Subaru Legacy comes standard with stability and traction control, antilock disc brakes, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. A rearview camera is optional.
Also optional is Subaru's EyeSight system that bundles adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane-departure warning and sway warning. The EyeSight system uses two cameras mounted inside the upper edge of the windshield, which Subaru says reduces the potential for damage compared with conventional radar systems mounted in the front bumper. EyeSight can also detect pedestrians and is capable of braking the Legacy if the driver takes no evasive action.
In Edmunds testing, the Legacy 3.6R stopped from 60 mph in 123 feet, while the 2.5i Sport took 125 feet. Both are average distances for the midsize sedan class.
The Legacy received the best possible five-star crash test ratings in frontal, side and rollover tests from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's tests the Legacy received a rating of "Good" (the highest possible) in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset crash test, side-impact and roof-strength tests. It earned an "Acceptable" rating (second highest) in the small-overlap frontal-offset crash test. Its seat/head restraint design was rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2014 Subaru Legacy's interior design is simple and straightforward. Controls are basic in lower trims, but get more complicated as you move up the line, and some of the plastics lack the premium feel found in competing models. The optional navigation system in particular isn't all that user-friendly, as its menus are complicated and the touchscreen's virtual buttons are not always responsive.
Nevertheless, most buyers will find the 2.5i Premium trim level worth springing for, as it includes a six-speaker stereo and access to options such as a sunroof and a rearview camera. The base 2.5i model's standard four-speaker stereo sounds tinny and flat.
The Legacy's seats are comfortable, and outward visibility is excellent from the driver seat. There's also plenty of headroom and legroom in the front and rear seats. The trunk isn't as roomy, though. Its 14.7 cubic feet of capacity is slightly below average for this segment.
The 2014 Subaru Legacy's standard all-wheel-drive system gives it plenty of capability in bad weather. However, if you don't drive in snow very often, front-wheel-drive competitors such as the Altima and Accord make more sense as they return better fuel economy and acceleration. The CVT and 2.5-liter engine combo makes for some noticeable engine drone, too. The 3.6-liter six-cylinder provides quicker acceleration, but the reduced gas mileage may be too big a sacrifice for many buyers, especially since the six-cylinder's performance is below average compared with the V6 and premium turbocharged engines in this class.
All-wheel drive is an obvious advantage for the Legacy, as it increases traction on wet or snowy roads. Through turns there's a fair amount of body roll, but overall the Legacy is a well-mannered sedan. The ride is on the busy side, sacrificing more comfort than some buyers will accept.