Priced higher than others in the segment, out-moded navigation graphics, less fuel-efficient than competitors.
The "GT" acronym is one of the most misused modern automotive monikers. Short for "grand touring," it originally signified a vehicle with more performance than everyday cars, while having more comfort and convenience than a sports car. As grand tourers go, the 2009 Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT Limited lives up to the designation.
Over the years the GT badge has graced everything from supercars to econoboxes, muddying previous expectations, but in a sea of fairly bland four-door family haulers, the Legacy 2.5 GT sets itself apart with added performance while still coddling passengers with a quiet and comfortable cabin. Rest assured, these advantages also come with a high level of safety, as the Legacy garners top marks in government crash tests.
Subaru offers the Legacy in varying degrees of performance, from the mild 2.5i to the more refined six-cylinder 3.0 R models. Our 2.5 GT is one of the spicier of the bunch, while an even sharper 2.5 GT spec B is available with even more performance upgrades that further sharpen handling. Only minor options are offered for the Legacy 2.5 GT Limited, since most modern conveniences are included as standard equipment.
With a wealth of standard features, the 2.5 GT Limited is anything but "limited," and by ably fulfilling the promise of its GT designation, you could consider our appetite for performance in a functional family sedan pleasantly satisfied.
Our all-wheel-drive 2009 Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT Limited test car was powered by a turbocharged and intercooled 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine that churns out 243 horsepower and 241 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard equipment, but our test vehicle was supplied with an optional five-speed automatic. In testing, our Legacy GT sprinted to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds on its way to crossing the quarter-mile mark in 15.0 seconds at 93.4 mph.
Thanks to Subaru's SI-Drive control system (similar to the system in the super-sporty WRX STI hatchback), drivers can choose among three distinct performance modes. A dial adjacent to the gear selector allows the selection of Intelligent mode for increased fuel-efficiency, Sport mode for quicker throttle response and Sport Sharp (denoted as S#) for maximum acceleration. Unlike some other sport selectors (a.k.a. "fun buttons"), this system actually delivers a noticeable difference in throttle response.
The Legacy accelerates smoothly off the line, with the turbo kicking in an extra burst of power about halfway up the rev range. The five-speed automatic transmission supplies smooth shifts to its well-spaced gears that keep the tach needle in the boost. Manual shifts can be executed via column-mounted paddle shifters, but upshifts are a bit slow, requiring a second or two of anticipation. On the plus side, downshifts are delightfully quick, with rev-matched throttle blips.
Among midsize sedans, this Subaru's zippy engine and capable transmission stand out, but these features really shine when paired with the Legacy's sporty suspension and symmetrical all-wheel drive. At the test track, we noticed that the Legacy's stability control is well-tuned, intervening only when absolutely needed. On canyon roads, we found the suspension to be particularly nimble, bounding from turn to turn with little drama. Also noteworthy is the absence of the midcorner transfer of power to the front wheels that is distinct (and awkward) in the sportier WRX STI.
Fuel economy is slightly lower than for some of the Legacy's competitors, but it's negligible for drivers who enjoy livelier performance. The EPA estimates of 18 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 20 mpg in combined driving seem accurate, given that we averaged 19.5 mpg during our time with the car.
Proving worthy of its GT badging, the 2009 Subaru Legacy is composed over rough pavement while also remaining comfortable for long freeway stints behind the wheel. In fact, we were impressed enough to compare the ride quality to the venerable BMW 3 Series, though the Legacy's amount of road noise was a bit too noticeable for our tastes.
Seating surfaces are covered in quality perforated leather with enough grip to keep occupants in place. Front seats are well bolstered for spirited driving, and comfort was better than expected — considering the fairly stiff padding. As good as the front seats are, it's worth noting that the passenger footwell is quite a bit shorter than the one on the driver side, requiring full extension of the seat to accommodate longer legs.
The rear seats provided enough legroom and headroom for average-size adults, but we found the seat cushions on the short side and mounted just a bit too low, resulting in a lack of thigh support. Children or smaller adults would likely find the rear quarters more than adequate, though.
From the driver seat of the 2009 Subaru Legacy, all controls are within easy reach and intuitive in operation. Outward visibility is excellent and the cockpit readouts are clear and legible, especially the ultra-sharp secondary readout mounted in the tachometer. Our gripes were minor, as some staffers noted the overabundance and placement of displays. The center console of our test vehicle had three separate displays — one each for the climate control, audio and navigation.
Drivers may likewise feel over-informed with identical fuel economy measurements that can be displayed in three different locations at the same time. We also took issue with the low mounting of the automatic climate controls and display, forcing our eyes off the road in order to make adjustments. Fortunately, the climate control system functioned well enough to not require much attention once set. The navigation system, while easy to use, seemed out of date, lacking the legibility and information found in more contemporary units.
The standard Harman Kardon audio system performed well, with all nine speakers delivering clean, crisp tones and rich bass. We experienced a modest amount of distortion when connecting an iPod through the auxiliary audio input, though. Noticeably absent from our test vehicle was the availability of Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and iPod integration (the latter is expected later in the model year).
The Legacy's maximum trunk capacity of 11.4 cubic feet is smaller than other cars in this segment, but the shape does permit enough space for golf bags or large luggage. A child seat was easily accommodated in the rear cabin with readily accessible LATCH anchor points for the outboard seats, but a rear-facing seat was only mountable in the center position (using the seatbelt) if the front passenger seat was in use.
Design/Fit and Finish
From any angle, the 2009 Subaru Legacy GT's exterior styling is just about what you'd expect from a family sedan. Styling is neither exciting nor bland — blending in anonymously with the rest of the herd in this segment, though the wide hood scoop subtly hints at its added performance. The interior is slightly more interesting, with sporty front seats wrapped in quality leather that we'd normally expect in a car from Germany. The layout of the cabin is straightforward and free of gimmickry.
The quality of the plastic materials is much better than most of the Legacy's stablemates, but we're not fans of the faux wood trim. Upon closer inspection, these shiny plastic accents resembled a dark red bowling ball rather than an attempt at simulated wood grain. Otherwise, the cabin is well built, with tight tolerances, and was devoid of any odd squeaks or rattles during our time with the car.
Who should consider this vehicle
For midsize family sedan shoppers who don't want to compromise on having fun, the 2009 Subaru Legacy 2.5 GT Limited may just fit the bill. Performance is sharp enough to satisfy more spirited drivers and the all-wheel-drive feature is a plus for those who drive in snowy climates.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
2009 Subaru Legacy Overview Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2009 Subaru Legacy and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2009 Legacy featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our Review Process This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2009 Subaru Legacy and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2009 Legacy 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2009 Legacy.
Vehicle 2.5i Special Edition 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl 4A)
Review This 2009 Legacy is a good value for what it is; I bought it used with about 20k miles on it---now it's 4 yrs later with over 75k miles. The AWD is great for the Ohio winters, especially once I replaced the OE tires with higher quality treads. I get about 25 mpg overall city/hwy which is not great, but for having AWD and the comfort and space for me, it's OK. I appreciate the rear seatbacks which fold forward, which gives extra space for storage, or transporting materials from Home Depot when doing weekend projects. I wish the engine had more power for quicker acceleration at times, but it's adequate most of the time. The car has been basically trouble-free...it's a KEEPER for me! UPDATE: I have now had this car for over 6 years, and have put 100,000 miles on it since I got it. It still runs and handles the same. Most of the maintenance has been performed by a local Subaru dealer, except brake jobs, which I felt they were just too expensive. The 4 speed automatic is very outdated, so the acceleration is slow. The newer Legacy with the CVT seem to be a lot quicker and quieter, which I will keep in mind, for some day. The newer models also have improved technology as far as sound systems, navigation, etc. I suppose I will be ready for a more updated model in a few years. This car seems like it will go another 100,000 miles without a doubt. It's still great for the Ohio winters.
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Available Subaru Legacy 2009 Submodel Types: Sedan, Wagon
Available Trims: 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 2.5i Premium PZEV, 3.6R Limited, 2.5i Limited PZEV, 2.5i Sport, 2.5i, 2.5i Special Edition, 2.5i PZEV, 2.5 GT Limited, 2.5 I Limited, L, Outback, 2.5 I, L Special Edition, 2.5GT Limited, 2.5i Sport PZEV, L 35th Anniversary Edition, 2.5 GT, 2.5 GT spec.B, 2.5 I Special Edition, 3.6R Premium, Brighton, GT, 2.5GT Premium, 3.0 R Limited, GT Limited
Exterior Colors: Twilight Blue Metallic, Crystal Black Silica, Ice Silver Metallic, Crystal White Pearl, Magnetite Gray Metallic, Tungsten Metallic, Carbide Gray Metallic, Crimson Red, Venetian Red Pearl, Satin White Pearl, Graphite Gray Metallic, Dark Blue Pearl, Ruby Red Pearl, Lapis Blue Pearl, Atlantic Blue Pearl, Obsidian Black Pearl, Brilliant Silver Metallic, Steel Silver Metallic, Newport Blue Pearl, Deep Indigo Pearl, Diamond Gray Metallic, Azurite Blue Pearl, Seamist Green Pearl, Sky Blue Metallic, Deep Bronze Metallic, Mystic Blue Pearl, Regal Blue Pearl, Regatta Red Pearl, Silver Stone Metallic, Caramel Bronze Pearl, Quartz Silver Metallic, Deep Sapphire Pearl, Garnet Red Pearl, Glacier White, Harvest Gold Metallic, New White, Quick Silver Metallic, Seacrest Green Metallic, Timberline Green Pearl, Timberline Green Pearlcoat, Titanium Silver Metallic, White Birch
Interior Colors: Slate Black Cloth cloth, Black, Slate Black Leather leather, Warm Ivory Cloth cloth, Ivory, Two-Tone Gray Cloth cloth, Warm Ivory cloth, Titanium Gray Cloth cloth, Warm Ivory Leather leather, Slate Black cloth, Slate Black leather, Off Black cloth, Warm Ivory leather, Titanium Gray Leather leather, Ivory cloth, Gray, Taupe cloth, Taupe/Ivory cloth, Off Black, Gray Moquette, Ivory leather, Taupe, Black cloth
Popular Features: AWD/4WD, Rear Bench Seats, Alarm, Trip Computer, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Aux Audio Inputs, Tire Pressure Warning, Stability Control, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Power Driver Seat, Bluetooth, Heated seats, USB Inputs, Auto Climate Control, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Back-up camera, Post-collision safety system, Sunroof/Moonroof, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Leather Seats, Blind Spot Monitoring, Keyless Entry/Start, Navigation, Upgraded Headlights, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Pre-collision safety system, 2500lb Towing Capacity, Parking sensors, Remote Start, Upgraded Stereo