In the grand tradition of one-hit wonders like Right Said Fred and A Flock of Seagulls, the Subaru Legacy was, for years, memorable for just one thing: its standard all-wheel drive. This made the family sedan a smash hit in regions with lots of white stuff on the ground, but a rare bird everywhere else. The 2010 Subaru Legacy gets a makeover that should go a long way toward broadening its appeal.
Longer and wider than its predecessor, the new Legacy is also bigger where it matters most. Passenger volume rises to 103 cubic feet from 2009's 93.5 cubic feet, and there's an additional 3.3 cubic feet of trunk space. Changes also take place under the hood -- the 2.5i benefits from new manual and continuously variable transmissions (CVTs), while 3.6R and 2.5GT models get more powerful engines. Pricing has been slashed (2.5i models are almost $1,000 cheaper than they were last year, with even bigger savings for higher trim levels), and the Legacy has been cloaked in assertive new sheet metal that is, if nothing else, distinctive.
Competition in the family-sedan segment is hot enough to make a ring of fire feel like an ice floe, and there are many worthy picks to consider. The Mazda 6 and Ford Fusion are better choices for those seeking the sportiest alternatives in this segment, and the Honda Accord offers a slightly wider backseat and redoubtable resale value. However, with roominess, nimble handling and a more accessible price, the Legacy now has the repertoire to sing with the big boys. This 2010 Subaru Legacy should strike a chord with shoppers interested in all-around value and competence.
Like all Subarus, the Legacy is motivated by a "boxer" engine -- a horizontally opposed four-cylinder, in the case of the 2.5i. This power plant gins up 170 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque, and in our test car, the engine tangoed with a smooth CVT. While its power output was far from prodigious, the 2.5i had enough usable grunt down low to allow us to comfortably thread openings in the rush-hour slog and confidently merge with fast-moving freeway traffic. Still, uphill gradients were taxing, and elicited a reedy whine from the mill.
Perhaps the most sterling attribute of this Subie's flat-4 is its fuel economy. At 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined, it's one of the more frugal choices in the segment -- more economical than the Accord and the Mazda 6.
Track testing found the 2010 Subaru Legacy clocking 9.4 seconds in the 0-60-mph dash -- a decent showing for a four-cylinder in this segment. Its stopping power was just as solid as its acceleration. The Legacy came to a standstill from 60 mph in 121 feet -- bettering rivals like the aforementioned Mazda 6 (126 feet) and class-lagging Accord (137 feet).
Steering feel is enjoyably direct, and handling is surprisingly nimble -- the Subaru feels a lot smaller on the road than similarly sized sedans like the Honda Accord. Both these traits come together to make the Legacy one of the more fun-to-drive choices in the family-car segment.
"Pleasantly firm" are the words that best describe the Legacy's suspension tuning. The feel of the road is acknowledged and embraced, but not to the point of introducing undue vibration or noise into the cabin. The driver seat is just as accommodating. The Legacy has one of the most height-adjustable driver seats that our editors have ever encountered, with a range of adjustment that's almost comically vast -- the seat goes from being as low as that in a sports car to as high as that in an SUV.
This, plus the tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, makes it easy for even the most finicky driver to find an amenable seating position. The seats themselves are more adequate than exceptional -- they're a bit on the soft side, and could use more thigh support. Front headroom and legroom are among the best in this segment, and large door openings -- wider for 2010 -- make ingress and egress a no-hassle affair.
Those who have driven previous-generation models of the Legacy will recall that the car's frameless windows tended to rattle. For 2010, these have been replaced with framed windows that do a better job of preserving cabin tranquility. There's little road noise to speak of, though, as already mentioned, there is some engine noise to contend with when the mill is pushed.
As far as its control layout goes, the 2010 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium is a study in economy. The stereo interface features just two knobs (one for volume and the other for tuning) and a handful of logically placed buttons that allow you to do things like access preset stations and toggle among AM, FM and satellite radio. The climate controls are similarly efficient. There are two knobs governing temperature and fan intensity, along with individual buttons to select airflow mode. Unlike single-button mode setups, these buttons allow you to directly access the mode you want without cycling through the ones you don't.
Speaking of ease of operation, the car's optional sunroof is a cinch to manage, with one-touch open and close. The sunroof overlooks a generous greenhouse that bucks the prevailing high-beltline trend and thus is a boon to visibility.
The Legacy's backseat is one of the most spacious in the segment, with more legroom than the Honda Accord's. There's enough hiproom and headroom to easily seat three adults, and a center armrest -- padded, with two cupholders -- makes travels more agreeable when just two are riding in back. A rear-facing child seat may be placed behind the seat of even taller drivers, with room to spare.
With 14.7 cubic feet of luggage capacity, the Legacy's trunk is about midpack for this segment -- bigger than the Accord's, but smaller than the Mazda 6's. However, there's lots of usable space back there, thanks to minimal wheelwell intrusion. The trunk is also quite wide -- wide enough to allow drivers to simultaneously tote golf clubs and a suitcase. The rear seats may be folded (60/40 split) to increase cargo capacity and accommodate outsize items.
Design/Fit and Finish
From the back, the 2010 Subaru Legacy looks like any other sedan in this segment, but when viewed in profile or from the front, it makes more of a statement. The front fascia with its oversized grille is a bit too in-your-face for some editors' tastes, as are the car's overstated fenders. But others applaud the Legacy's sheet metal for being a distinctive voice in a mostly bland chorus of family sedans.
Materials quality is just so-so. The fabric that shrouded the seats in our test car looked dingy and easily attracted dirt, and some of the cabin's metallic accents seemed cheap and flimsy. The feel of the car's switchgear was also subpar. Certain rivals -- like the Suzuki Kizashi -- feature buttons, knobs and stalks with a more expensive, well-damped action.
Who should consider this vehicle
Families will be well served by the Legacy's roomy dimensions, and its standard all-wheel drive makes it a no-brainer for drivers living in snowy states. With its unique sheet metal and attractive price, this 2010 Subaru Legacy is a great choice for value-minded buyers in search of a midsize sedan that marches to the beat of its own drummer.
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.
2010 Subaru Legacy Overview Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2010 Subaru Legacy and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2010 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 2010 Subaru Legacy and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2010 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 2010 Legacy.
Review I purchased the car new and have over 40K miles on it. Great gas milage especially on the hwy going 70-80 mph. - Averages 34 mi/gal. The ride is smooth both in the city and hwy. Very peppy. I have the upgraded radio which is nice. No problems at all. The car is very light but I feel safe. Great handling - almost impossible to loose control. It's a great car I plan to put alot of miles on. Love the paddle shifters on the steering column - I downshift alot instead of using brakes. Lots of trunk space. I use full synthetic oil and change it every 10K miles. I recommend this for a commuter car and have 2 boys 9 & 5. Very good for my lifestyle and budget.
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Available Subaru Legacy 2010 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, L, 2.5 I Limited, Outback, L Special Edition, 2.5 GT, 2.5 I, 2.5GT Limited, 2.5i Sport PZEV, L 35th Anniversary Edition, 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, Ice Silver Metallic, Crystal Black Silica, 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, Silver Stone Metallic, Sky Blue Metallic, Deep Bronze Metallic, Mystic Blue Pearl, Quartz Silver Metallic, Regal Blue Pearl, Regatta Red Pearl, Caramel Bronze Pearl, Harvest Gold Metallic, Deep Sapphire Pearl, Garnet Red Pearl, Glacier White, 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 Leather leather, Warm Ivory cloth, Titanium Gray Cloth cloth, Slate Black leather, Slate Black cloth, Off Black cloth, Warm Ivory leather, Titanium Gray Leather leather, Gray, Ivory cloth, 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