2011 Subaru Legacy Review

Pros & Cons

  • Standard all-wheel drive, excellent outward visibility, diverse engine and transmission choices, spacious cabin.
  • Weak base stereo, fussy navigation system, unimpressive six-cylinder fuel economy, no automatic available with 2.5GT, polarizing styling.
List Price Range
$5,981 - $10,000

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2011 Subaru Legacy offers standard all-wheel drive and above-average performance in a fairly large package. It's an offbeat choice, but a solid one nonetheless.

Vehicle overview

It's easy to be a copycat. You don't have to think as much and there's less risk of failure. Remaking a known commodity like the "A-Team," for instance, has a better shot of bringing in $500 million than an indie film. The same goes for the midsize family sedan segment, which consists of seemingly countless vehicles that play it safe by riffing on the same formula. One notable exception, however, is the 2011 Subaru Legacy.

For years now, the Legacy has resolutely kept beat with its own drummer, and the current car is little different. While nearly everything else goes with the surefire 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 styling, which has always stood out from the crowd -- for better or worse. Despite setting itself apart in such key areas, however, the Subaru Legacy is still a viable family sedan, with top crash test scores, decent four-cylinder fuel economy and comfortable driving dynamics.

However, some of the Legacy's quirks do have downsides. Standard all-wheel drive has obvious traction benefits in poor weather, but the associated mechanical inefficiencies keep the Legacy from being as competitive in fuel economy and acceleration as it could. The turbocharged 2.5GT isn't available with an automatic transmission, which limits its widespread appeal. Also, increasingly common electronic features like Bluetooth, iPod control and navigation are either haphazardly designed or only available in the top-of-the line Limited model with navigation.

Certainly, being a bit different means the Legacy is unlikely to ever match the mighty 2011 Honda Accord and 2011 Toyota Camry for sales supremacy, but it does mean that it has burrowed out a little niche for itself. Still, there are others to consider. The 2011 Ford Fusion and 2011 Suzuki Kizashi also offer all-wheel-drive, while the Mazda 6 is a good choice for driving enthusiasts. The new 2011 Hyundai Sonata is also a class-leading, well-rounded family sedan. Yet, if you're the sort of person who doesn't automatically follow the crowd, the 2011 Subaru Legacy is a solid, non-conformist choice.

2011 Subaru Legacy models

The 2011 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.

The 2.5i comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, air-conditioning, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, full power accessories, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat and a four-speaker stereo with CD player, auxiliary audio jack and steering-wheel controls. The 2.5i Premium trims adds 16-inch alloy wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an eight-way power driver seat and an auto up/down driver window. The 2.5i Limited adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), an All Weather package (optional on 2.5i Premium and includes a windshield wiper de-icer, heated side mirrors and heated front seats), four-way power passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth and a nine-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with an in-dash six-CD changer and subwoofer. This stereo is optional on the Premium trims.

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. The 2.5GT Limited adds to the 3.6R Limited a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, six-speed manual transmission, 18-inch alloy wheels, summer tires, a hood scoop, a sunroof (optional on all other trims but 2.5i), foglights, unique interior trim and satellite radio.

Optional on the Limited trims is a navigation system package, which includes a touchscreen interface, voice controls, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a different Harman Kardon sound system with a single-CD player, USB audio jack and iPod control. Bluetooth is optional on the other trims, but is a port-installed system that plugs into the open dash slot beneath the stereo and relies upon its own small speakers rather than the stereo system.

2011 Highlights

After last year's full redesign, the 2011 Subaru Legacy sees only minor changes. The 2.5GT is now only available in Limited trim, which gains a standard sunroof, satellite radio and some upgraded trim. The Harman Kardon upgraded sound system now includes satellite radio.

Performance & mpg

The all-wheel-drive 2011 Subaru Legacy offers a variety 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, a 2.5i 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.

Safety

Every 2011 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 came to a stop from 60 mph in a good distance of 121 feet and the 3.6R was in the same ballpark. The 2.5GT stopped in an excellent 111 feet.

In the government's new, more strenuous crash testing for 2011, the Legacy earned an overall rating of four stars out of a possible five, with four stars for overall frontal crash protection and four stars for overall side crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also gave the Legacy its perfect score of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.

Driving

The 2011 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 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.

Interior

The Legacy's interior design is sleek and sophisticated, but you better like silver paint, because the center stack is covered with it. Though the interior plastics look upscale, most of them are hard to the touch and lack the more premium feel found in models such as the Ford Fusion.

The seats are comfortable and the Legacy's provide plenty of headroom and rear seat legroom. In terms of technology, iPod control and streaming Bluetooth audio are available, but you have to ante up for the top-of-the-line Limited trim in order to get it. We've also noticed the nav system's functionality is hampered by fussy controls and small touchscreen icons. You should also note that sound quality from the base sound system is poor and we highly recommend the available Harman Kardon upgrade system. Trunk space is an average 14.7 cubic feet.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2011 Subaru Legacy.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Something wrong with the Transmission
biz_buzz,10/01/2011
I bought my 201 Subaru legacy 2.5L premium CVT auto tranny three months ago. I have previously owned a 2010 Subaru Forester and I love it. Legacy.. not so much. The car is comfortable, nice looking and fun to drive but it appears to have some sort of transmission problem. It jerkes a little when I hit the brakes (somewhat like the ABS kickign-in on icy road but not so severe). Its mild and lasts for like a second and it happens more when I have the AC on. The dealer says its normal with this model of Legacy. I called Subaru, and got the same answer. I really feel like i bought a lemon! I really wish I hadn't purchased this car. I mean it is a brand new car!!
Incredible value and nice looking
garydl,05/09/2011
I write this after 2 months of Subaru Legacy 3.6 ownership. My wife is the prime user of this car and it was her choice (and I did not object). In our married life we have had 3 Acuras (2 Legends and an RL), a Volvo S80, a Toyato Avalon, A Nissan 300ZX, and an Infiniti G37x coupe. Thus far, the Subaru Legacy is holding its own in that company. It is roomy, comfortable and built like a tank. It handles very well and has plenty of power. While the seats could use a little more padding, they are supportive - and rear seat passengers can cross their legs! While the styling is certainly not mainstream, it is distinctive and makes a statement - and it actually quite lovely.
2011 2.5 Limited with moonroof
dlb14frost,12/28/2010
Have the Subaru for a week now and have racked up over 650 miles. Expressway and back country roads were all handled quite well. Car is sure footed and the cvt is so smooth with good acceleration. So far it seems to be doing quite well in the fuel economy department as well. Haven't had in snow yet (the recent blizzard) missed us.
Choose the 3.6over the 2.5i, you won't be sorry!
wnbafan1,02/23/2013
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.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2011 Subaru Legacy features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat4 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover5 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover10.1%

More about the 2011 Subaru Legacy

Used 2011 Subaru Legacy Overview

The Used 2011 Subaru Legacy is offered in the following submodels: Legacy Sedan. Available styles include 2.5i Premium 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5i Limited 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5i 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 3.6R Limited 4dr Sedan AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A), 2.5i Premium 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6M), 3.6R 4dr Sedan AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A), 2.5GT Limited 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6M), 2.5i 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6M), and 3.6R Premium 4dr Sedan AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A).

What's a good price on a Used 2011 Subaru Legacy?

Price comparisons for Used 2011 Subaru Legacy trim styles:

  • The Used 2011 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Limited is priced between $6,900 and$9,987 with odometer readings between 111513 and163578 miles.
  • The Used 2011 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium is priced between $5,981 and$7,911 with odometer readings between 92971 and141911 miles.
  • The Used 2011 Subaru Legacy 2.5i is priced between $6,995 and$10,000 with odometer readings between 87556 and103497 miles.

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Which used 2011 Subaru Legacies are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2011 Subaru Legacy for sale near. There are currently 8 used and CPO 2011 Legacies listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $5,981 and mileage as low as 87556 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2011 Subaru Legacy.

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Find a used Subaru Legacy for sale - 5 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $19,110.

Find a used Subaru for sale - 12 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $19,026.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru Legacy for sale - 9 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $23,610.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru for sale - 6 great deals out of 9 listings starting at $22,067.

Should I lease or buy a 2011 Subaru Legacy?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Subaru lease specials
Check out Subaru Legacy lease specials