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. Instead, they want a reasonably priced family car with solid acceleration, respectable fuel economy and ample comfort for passengers. To that end, the 2014 Subaru Legacy comes with either a 2.5-liter four-cylinder or 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine. Both engines provide adequate performance and efficiency for everyday driving, but neither is a standout in this class. However, the cabin is quite comfortable, with ample headroom and legroom no matter where you're seated. Ride quality is also very good, and the 2014 Legacy feels more refined and substantial than its forebears as it goes down the highway.
Of course, there are plenty of other midsize sedans that offer these attributes, and many of them are significantly quicker and more fuel-efficient. Two of the best options in this price range are the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima. If all-wheel drive is a must-have, the stylish 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: For the price of competing manufacturers' front-wheel-drive sedans, you can have a hardy all-wheel-drive sedan that still looks quite respectable in your driveway.
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 24 mpg city/32 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined, while the manual-shift version is rated considerably lower at 21/29/24.
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 class. EPA fuel economy estimates for this powertrain are 18/25/20, 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.
Subaru's optional EyeSight system 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, which is average 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 testing, the Subaru received the highest Top Safety Pick+ accolade after earning a "Good" rating (the highest possible) in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset crash test, as well as the side-impact and roof-strength tests. It also earned an "Acceptable" rating (second highest) in the new small-overlap frontal-offset crash test.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2014 Subaru Legacy's interior design is sleek and sophisticated, although some of the plastics lack the premium feel found in competing models. Controls are straightforward in lower trims, but get more complicated as you move up the line. 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. This is especially true if you're comparing six-cylinder versions.
That said, gas mileage with the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is still solid, and most consumers will find its performance adequate for city and highway driving. 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.
In past tests of the Legacy, we've appreciated its smooth ride and respectable handling. Subaru says it stiffened the car's structure and retuned the suspension to reduce body roll and improve handling for 2013. We have yet to test a Legacy that incorporates these changes, but when we do, we'll update this review.