2017 Subaru Legacy Review
Pros & Cons
- Standard all-wheel drive in a segment where it's rare to even be an option
- Excellent outward visibility
- High-tech safety features work well and are widely available throughout the lineup
- Top crash test scores
- Slower acceleration than almost every competitor
- Stiffer ride (except Legacy Limited) than many competitors
Edmunds' Expert Review
The 2017 Subaru Legacy deserves more attention that it typically gets from most car shoppers. It's overshadowed in the midsize sedan segment by ultra-popular and hard-to-argue-with rivals like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion. The Legacy sedan also faces competition inside Subaru's dealerships by the company's selection of crossovers that include the mechanically related Outback. Nevertheless, the Legacy deserves a look -- especially for those living where weather is a factor.
The Legacy owes its excellent all-weather capability to its standard all-wheel-drive system, a trait that differentiates it clearly from its competitors. The Ford Fusion and Chrysler 200 both offer all-wheel drive as well, but it's optional and then only with the pricier, more powerful and less efficient engines. With the Legacy, it's included with both available engines and on every trim, plus its fuel economy compares favorably to the segment best (acceleration is quite a different matter, however).
Beyond its all-weather distinction, the Legacy stands out with its package of EyeSight accident avoidance tech available on all but the base trim. Although not as sophisticated as those found in many luxury cars, Subaru's systems will help save your bacon (and insurance rates) and we recommend checking that option box.
Otherwise, the Legacy is a rather average, run-of-the-mill family sedan -- and we mean that in the best way possible. Though not sensational in any particular way, it has few shortcomings. It's not as pleasing to drive or look at as a Chevy Malibu or Mazda 6, nor does it offer the perceived quality and refinement of the Honda Accord or Ford Fusion. You may also have to explain to your Camry-driving friends why you went with the Subaru. Well, if you live where the sun rarely shines in the winter, you should at least have one easy answer.
The 2017 Subaru Legacy comes standard with stability and traction control, antilock disc brakes, a rearview camera, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and seat cushion airbags that deploy from the seat bottom to help keep occupants in place in a frontal collision.
On the Premium and Limited trim levels, the Legacy comes with Starlink Connected Services, which includes emergency assistance and automatic collision notification. This can be enhanced with the optional Safety Plus and Security Plus upgrade, which adds remote vehicle access, remote vehicle locating and stolen vehicle recovery.
The EyeSight Driver Assist Technology package, optional on all but the base 2.5i, includes forward collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic braking, reverse automatic braking, and lane departure warning with automatic intervention.
In government crash testing, the Legacy earned a top five-star rating for overall safety performance, with five stars in the frontal- and side-impact categories. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Legacy received a top score of "Good" in moderate-overlap frontal-offset, small-overlap frontal offset, side-impact and roof-strength testing. The Legacy's seat/head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Legacy 2.5i Premium stopped from 60 mph in a short 114 feet, a better-than-average performance for this segment.
2017 Subaru Legacy models
The 2017 Subaru Legacy is a five-passenger midsize sedan available in five trim levels: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Sport, 2.5i Limited and 3.6R Limited. The numbers indicate the engine type.
Standard equipment on the 2.5i includes 17-inch steel wheels, all-wheel drive, automatic headlights, air-conditioning, a rearview camera, cloth upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 60/40 split- folding back seat, Bluetooth phone and audio, a 6.2-inch "Subaru Starlink" touchscreen interface, a variety of entertainment and information smartphone integration apps, and a four-speaker sound system with a USB port, an auxiliary audio jack, a CD player, HD and satellite radios and an iPod interface. 17-inch alloy wheels are optional.
The 2.5i Premium adds those alloy wheels plus an All-Weather package (heated front seats, heated mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer), dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 7-inch Starlink touchscreen, additional smartphone app services, an emergency communications system, an additional USB port, and a six-speaker sound system. A sunroof is optional.
The 2.5i Sport adds mostly aesthetic flourishes inside and out, but does add 18-inch wheels, foglights, a sunroof, keyless ignition and entry and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.
The 2.5i Limited has different 18-inch wheels and reverts to the Premium's styling, but adds an upgraded suspension for improved comfort, a blind-spot warning system, rear cross- traffic alert, an eight-way power driver seat (with memory functions and two-way power lumbar), a four-way power passenger seat, heated rear seats, leather upholstery, and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.
The 3.6R Limited differs only with its six-cylinder engine, steering wheel shift paddles that can call up simulated shifts and xenon headlights.
All but the base 2.5i can be equipped with a navigation system and the EyeSight Driver Assist Technology package (see Safety section). The two are bundled together on the Limited trims.
Both the four- and the six-cylinder engines are quiet and smooth, but acceleration is lackluster. On the upside, though, the Legacy's standard all-wheel-drive system gives it plenty of capability in bad weather. The standard continuously variable transmission also does an excellent job of getting the most out of either engine. Although it can essentially mimic a broad range of gearing for maximum mileage, this CVT is also programmed to deliver noticeable "shifts" to make it feel more like a traditional transmission.
The Limited's upgraded suspension should provide a more comfortable ride than those of the other trims which we found to be a bit firmer than the class leaders. Around turns, the Legacy is precise and easy to drive, but a significant amount of body roll prevents it from feeling truly sporty.
The 2017 Legacy is available with two engines, specified as 2.5i and 3.6R. Both come standard with all-wheel drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT).
The 2.5i's 2.5-liter horizontally opposed ("boxer") four-cylinder produces 175 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. During Edmunds track testing, it brought the Legacy from zero to 60 mph in 9.4 seconds, making it one of the slowest cars in the midsize sedan segment. The segment average is more than a second quicker. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 29 mpg combined (25 mpg city/34 mpg highway). That's impressive given that all-wheel drive usually results in a significant fuel economy penalty.
The 3.6R has a 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine good for 256 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque. Those are low for an optional engine in this segment and acceleration is not surprisingly unimpressive as a result (though still better than the 2.5i). EPA-estimated fuel economy is 23 mpg combined (20 mpg city/28 mpg highway).
Subaru's no-nonsense approach to car design is reflected in the Legacy's simple and straightforward interior. Materials quality has improved compared to earlier versions of the Legacy, with more cushioning at common touch points like the armrests and center console. The optional touchscreen navigation system has crisp graphics and is easy to use thanks to smartphone-like operation and large icons.
There is plenty of front headroom, and we've found the front seats to be comfortable on longer drives. In back, the Legacy offers slightly less headroom and legroom than the Honda Accord and Ford Fusion, and its 15-cubic-foot trunk trails the competition as well. We doubt that many will find it anything other than sufficiently spacious.
One thing we specifically like about the Legacy is its excellent outward visibility -- no small feat in an age of high door lines and bulky pillars that result from modern safety standards. Firm, supportive seats and a slightly higher driving position make the Legacy Subaru's most comfortable sedan yet.