2012 Subaru Legacy Review

Pros & Cons

  • Standard all-wheel drive
  • excellent outward visibility
  • diverse engine and transmission choices
  • spacious cabin
  • top safety scores.
  • Weak base stereo
  • fussy navigation system
  • unimpressive six-cylinder fuel economy
  • no automatic available with 2.5GT.
List Price Range
$6,950 - $10,900

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Edmunds' Expert Review

With standard all-wheel drive, big-car comfort and lively performance, the 2012 Subaru Legacy is a solid choice among midsize sedans.

Vehicle overview

Sometimes, being different is a good thing. Among midsize sedans, the 2012 Subaru Legacy certainly carves out a niche for itself. But some of what makes it unique also serves to limit its appeal.

Much of what's different with the 2012 Legacy relates to what's under the hood. While nearly every other midsize four-door goes with the sure-fire 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 Legacy's styling, which has always stood out from the crowd for better or worse.

On the downside, the Subaru Legacy's weight and reduced efficiency from routing power to all four wheels results in less favorable fuel economy numbers. Its road-holding prowess in inclement weather is a plus, for sure, but if you live in milder climates, it may be harder to justify. Furthermore, the sporty 2.5 GT Limited is not available with an automatic transmission, and a rather fussy navigation system is an option only for the range-topping trim levels.

Given the competitiveness of the family sedan segment, we think there are better choices for most buyers. Top models like the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry and Volkswagen Passat (http://www.edmunds.com) offer select advantages regarding fuel economy, features, handling and design. And if you want all-wheel drive, the Ford Fusion is worth checking out. Yet if you're the sort of person who doesn't automatically follow the crowd, the 2012 Subaru Legacy is a solid, non-conformist choice.

2012 Subaru Legacy models

The 2012 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.

Every 2.5i comes with 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, air-conditioning, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, full power accessories and a 60/40-split-folding rear seat; the standard features list also includes a four-speaker stereo with a CD player, auxiliary audio jack and steering-wheel controls. An optional Alloy Wheel package adds 16-inch alloy wheels and an All Weather package adds a windshield wiper de-icer, heated side mirrors and heated front seats. Bluetooth is available as a port-installed system that relies upon its own small speakers rather than the stereo system.

The 2.5i Premium trims include 16-inch alloy wheels as standard, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an eight-way power driver seat, an auto up/down driver window, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and a USB/iPod interface.

The 2.5i Limited adds 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), the All Weather package, a four-way power passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate control and a nine-speaker Harman Kardon sound system with satellite radio. This stereo is optional on the Premium CVT trims. The 2.5GT Limited adds a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a six-speed manual transmission, 18-inch alloy wheels with summer tires, bigger brakes, a hood scoop, a sunroof (optional on all other trims but 2.5i), leather upholstery and unique interior trim.

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. Optional on the Limited trims is a Navigation System package, which adds a touchscreen interface, voice controls, a rearview camera and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

2012 Highlights

Besides a new audio system for upper trim levels and some minor shuffling of features, the Subaru Legacy returns largely unchanged for 2012.

Performance & mpg

All 2012 Subaru Legacy models come with all-wheel drive as standard, and buyers have a choice 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, the 2.5i can be had with Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV) certification in states with California emissions standards.

A CVT-equipped 2.5i that 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 2012 Subaru 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 turned in a good performance, coming to a stop from 60 mph in 121 feet; the 3.6R was in the same ballpark. The 2.5GT stopped in an excellent 111 feet.

In government crash tests, the Legacy earned an overall rating of four stars (out of a possible five), with four stars for overall front crash protection and four stars for overall side-impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Legacy its perfect score of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.

Driving

The 2012 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 that seen in 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 Subaru Legacy's interior design is sleek and sophisticated, but some might find the overabundance of silver paint unattractive. Though the interior plastics look upscale, most of them are hard to the touch and lack a premium feel found in some competing models.

The seats are comfortable, with plenty of headroom and rear seat legroom. In terms of technology, iPod control and streaming Bluetooth audio are available, but not on the base models. We've found that the nav system's functionality is hampered by fussy controls and small touchscreen icons; also noteworthy is the poor sound quality from the base audio system. We highly recommend the Premium trim or available Harman Kardon upgrade if audio quality is a priority. Trunk space is an average 14.7 cubic feet.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2012 Subaru Legacy.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

First Subaru Experience
member23,03/20/2012
I came out of an SUV into a Subaru for fuel economy. While there are many good car choices in this class (Fusion, Accord, Altima) the driver seat comfort and AWD won me over. After 4500 miles the new car thrill is gone and I have a car that I like driving, is reliable, and gets good mpg's. The decision to buy a new car is personal and I'm not knocking any other cars, as there are some great choices. But this car works for me and I'd recommend it to a friend.
Fabulous Car
san_san,04/08/2013
I always feel this is one of those less talked about cars in the market. I own this year for more than an year now and extremely happy with the performance. Subaru's AWD delivers when needed in snow driving conditions and I feel safe when coming to abrupt stops on icy roads.
One of the Nicest Cars That No One Talks About.
simy,11/26/2012
This car is about as practical as you can get. AWD doesn't sacrifice MPG & comes in handy in snow. It's not flashy, but it looks nice, esp. w/tinted windows. My mechanics love Toyota & Lexus mechanically, but recommended the Legacy, it won me over. Got a good price, a little over $22K, practically 0% financing & Costco cash card. The PZEV reduces smell when starting up in the garage. Heated mirrors, wipers & seats in the Premium model. Rocker panel lights up when doors open. Hazard light button placed pefectly so when you shift the car to Park, just depress w/index finger. Little stuff that no one talks about, but it's been thought out. It's really a nice car that doesn't draw headlines.
Everything I Wanted In Car
pepperdog13,02/15/2012
I was looking for a new car that had excellent safety ratings, excellent reliability, plenty of room for my family (especially good legroom in the back), good fuel efficiency (at least 30 mpg highway), comfortable seats, was a joy to drive/ride in for my long commute, nice interior with satellite radio/bluetooth, iPod hookup, and had AWD to help me drive on snow covered roads in the winter. I am happy to say that the Subaru Legacy nailed each one of my requirements. Not only it is a top safety pick but it was the best AWD system out there. I enjoy driving it. It is roomy. The 10 way power drivers seat is very comfortable and heated thanks to the All Weather Package.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2012 Subaru Legacy features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

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

More about the 2012 Subaru Legacy

Used 2012 Subaru Legacy Overview

The Used 2012 Subaru Legacy is offered in the following submodels: Legacy Sedan. Available styles include 2.5i Premium PZEV 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5i Limited PZEV 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5i Premium 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6M), 3.6R Limited 4dr Sedan AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A), 2.5i 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6M), 2.5i Limited 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5i Premium 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5i PZEV 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 3.6R Premium 4dr Sedan AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A), 2.5i 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 3.6R 4dr Sedan AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A), and 2.5GT Limited 4dr Sedan AWD (2.5L 4cyl Turbo 6M).

What's a good price on a Used 2012 Subaru Legacy?

Price comparisons for Used 2012 Subaru Legacy trim styles:

  • The Used 2012 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium PZEV is priced between $6,950 and$9,997 with odometer readings between 73473 and128575 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Limited PZEV is priced between $8,500 and$10,900 with odometer readings between 78350 and102385 miles.
  • The Used 2012 Subaru Legacy 2.5i PZEV is priced between $7,850 and$7,850 with odometer readings between 115358 and115358 miles.

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Which used 2012 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) 2012 Subaru Legacy for sale near. There are currently 7 used and CPO 2012 Legacies listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $6,950 and mileage as low as 73473 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 2012 Subaru Legacy.

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Find a used Subaru Legacy for sale - 6 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $19,714.

Find a used Subaru for sale - 11 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $14,447.

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Should I lease or buy a 2012 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