Overview

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Overview (Final Score: C)

Subaru has always marched to the beat of a different drum. It shows in various ways, such as sticking with boxer engines in all of their vehicles and producing such oddities as the Brat pickup and SVX coupe.

But one model has stayed somewhat normal. The Legacy has been Subaru's contender in midsize sedan class since the 90s. It has the normal all-wheel drive and boxer engine Subary traits wrapped up in an unassuming package. But can this work in an age where buyers are shunning midsize sedans for crossovers and SUVs?

What We Love About the 2018 Subaru Legacy:


  • Standard all-wheel drive

  • A comprehensive suite of active safety features

  • Infotainment system that doesn't drive you crazy


 

What We Don't Love About the 2018 Subaru Legacy:


  • Sport trim doesn't equate to sporty dynamics

  • Styling is a bit plain

  • Could use more power


 

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Exterior View (7/10)

Subaru revised the Legacy's exterior for 2018. Most of the changes are up front, with a larger grille, revised bumper and new headlights. Our test Legacy came in the Sport trim, which adds a blacked-out grille, fog lights, chrome trim for the rocker panels, and 18-inch wheels with painted inserts. The changes give the Legacy some much needed visual stimulation to the clean, if somewhat boring design.

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Interior Comfort, Quality, and Ease of Use (8/10)

Inside, Subaru has upgraded various materials, installed a new steering wheel and revised the climate control system. The overall design of interior follows the same safe approach as the exterior. This makes finding the various controls very easy.

One advantage that the Legacy has over the competition is the airy interior. A lot of this comes down to various design choices, such as a large glass area and slim roof pillars. The front seats offer excellent support and comfort for long trips. The back seat offers plenty of legroom and good thigh support.

Those over six-feet will find headroom to be somewhat tight due to a sloping roofline. Trunk space is above average for the class at 15 cubic feet. The rear seats split 60/40 to allow the Legacy to carry larger items.

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Technology (8/10)

Subaru's Starlink infotainment system is standard on all Legacy trims. The base 2.5i gets a 6.5-inch screen, while the 2.5i Premium and above get a larger 8-inch screen. Our Sport tester came with an optional navigation system. A big complaint about Starlink is how the slow the system booted up and responded to various inputs. For 2018, Subaru upgraded the system's processor and that noticeably improves overall performance. Starlink also earns points for being easy to operate. Large tiles on the main screen take you easily to the various functions available.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility are standard on both Starlink systems. We ran into an issue of Starlink not recognizing an iPhone 7 Plus when it was plugged into the USB port. The system saw something was plugged in, but was unable to recognize the phone and bring up the CarPlay interface. After resetting the phone and restarting the vehicle, Starlink was able to see the iPhone and bring up CarPlay.

Fuel Economy (8/10)

Going with all-wheel drive sedan usually means taking a hit in fuel economy. Not so with the Legacy. The 2.5i paired with a CVT has EPA ratings of 25 city/34 highway/29 combined. We got 28.2 mpg during our week-long test.

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Predicted Reliability, Initial Quality Ratings (7/10)

Consumer Reports rates the Legacy above average in their predicted reliability study. It's a different story at J.D. Power who gave the Legacy a below average rating in predicted reliability. No initial quality rating is available on the 2018 Legacy, but Subaru as a whole doesn't fare well. In the 2018 J.D. Power initial quality study, Subaru finished last.

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Safety (10/10)

Subaru has built a reputation for offering safe vehicles, and the Legacy is no exception. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the 2018 Legacy a five-star overall rating. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the Legacy a Top Safety Pick+.

Standard safety equipment includes a full set of airbags, traction control, stability control, whiplash-protection, backup camera and tire pressure monitoring. Standard on 2.5i and 3.6R Limited, and optional the 2.5i Premium and Sport is blind-spot monitoring, lane change assist, high beam assist, rear automatic braking, and Subaru's EyeSight suite of active driver assists that include adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, and lane departure warning with lane keep assist.

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Performance (7/10)

Subaru offers either a 2.5L boxer-four or a 3.6L boxer-six engine. Both engines come teamed with a continuously-variable transmission (CVT) and Subaru's Symmetrical all-wheel drive. Our Legacy came with the 2.5 that produces 175 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque.

The power figures are on the low end for the class, but it doesn't feel like it when driving in urban areas. Credit has to go the CVT, which has been tuned to make the engine feel more responsive. But the engine begins to show its weakness when you need to get to highway speeds. Those who have timed the 2018 Legacy say it takes over 9 seconds to reach 60 mph, making it the slowest model in the class. The 3.6L does offer more power at 256 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque, but it isn't any faster than some competitors when equipped with a base four-cylinder engine.

Subaru engineered the CVT to feel more like a conventional automatic complete with simulated gear changes. This helps alleviate some of the issues of a CVT such as endless droning during moderate acceleration. A set of paddles on the steering wheel allows the driver to manually upshift or downshift the transmission.

Despite the Sport name on the trunk lid, the Legacy isn't sporty. Around corners the Legacy exhibits a fair amount of body roll. What is surprising is the Legacy feels composed with excellent grip. The steering is nicely weighted and provides decent road feel. Ride quality is very good as bumps and other road imperfections are absorbed. Subaru added more sound-insulation for 2018 to reduce outside noises from coming inside. Compared to a 2015 Legacy we drove, the 2018 model shows a noticeable improvement in road and wind noise isolation.

Pricing and Value (7/10)

Pricing for the Legacy begins at $22,195 for the base 2.5i to $31,495 for the 3.6R Limited. Our 2.5i Sport begins at $26,345 and comes to an as-tested price of $29,300 after adding an option package that includes EyeSight, blind-spot monitoring and navigation.

For most people, the 2.5i Premium ($24,295) is the sweet spot, as you'll get most of the features found in the Sport and the EyeSight suite is available as an option. The Sport runs a close second if you want to make the Legacy standout somewhat.

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Total Score and Competitive Comparison (62/80, 78%)

Currently the 2018 Ford Fusion is the other midsize sedan to offer all-wheel drive. The Fusion is a knockout in terms of design, looking like an Aston Martin. Reviewers also praise the Fusion's nimble handling and crisp steering. But the Fusion has a number of issues compared to the Legacy. For one, fuel economy is somewhat poor. The 2.0L EcoBoost with AWD returns EPA figures of 20 city/29 highway/23 combined. The 2.7L twin-turbo V6 fares worse with 17/26/23. The interior can be a mixed bag with certain trim pieces feeling cheap on lower tier models and the rear seat reclined a bit too for some passengers.

If you can live without AWD, then we recommend looking at the new Honda Accord. It offers a more premium interior with a handsome design and high-quality materials. There is also more tech, such as wireless device charging, Wi-Fi hotspot, driver drowsiness monitoring and traffic sign recognition. The two turbocharged four-cylinder engines on offer excellent performance and return decent fuel economy figures. What may put some people off is the exterior design. Previous Accords were known for not rocking the boat, but the new model is very polarizing with a sloping roofline and massive grille.

In a word, the 2018 Subaru Legacy is competent. Aside from an impressive safety record, the Legacy doesn't stand out from other midsize sedans in other metrics. While this would have been OK a few years ago, it doesn't really cut it now as other automakers are really stepping up their game in terms of design, driving dynamics and features to try drawing buyers away from crossovers.

If you want a midsize sedan to get through the worst mother nature has on offer, then the Legacy should be on your list. Otherwise, there are a number of other midsize sedans worth considering.

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
Sedan - AWD
2.5i 4 Cylinder AWD 22195
Premium 2.5i Premium 4 Cylinder AWD 24295
Sport 2.5i Sport 4 Cylinder AWD 26345
Limited 2.5i Limited 4 Cylinder AWD 29095
Limited 3.6R Limited 6 Cylinder AWD 31945

Comparison of 2018 Subaru Legacy with Similar Cars

2018 Subaru Legacy MSRP Invoice
2018 Subaru Legacy $22,195 $20,979
Similar Cars to Consider MSRP Invoice Compare
2018 Nissan Altima $23,260 $21,683 2018 Subaru Legacy VS 2018 Nissan Altima
2018 Toyota Camry $23,645 $21,635 2018 Subaru Legacy VS 2018 Toyota Camry
2018 Ford Fusion $22,215 $21,215 2018 Subaru Legacy VS 2018 Ford Fusion
2018 Honda Accord $23,570 $21,573 2018 Subaru Legacy VS 2018 Honda Accord
2018 Chevrolet Malibu $21,680 $21,572 2018 Subaru Legacy VS 2018 Chevrolet Malibu

Car Rankings

Interested to see how the 2018 Subaru Legacy ranks against similar cars in terms of key attributes? Here are the 2018 Subaru Legacy rankings for MPG, horsepower, torque, leg room, head room, shoulder room, hip room and so forth.

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