- Very good value
- EyeSight system is very good, affordable
- All-wheel as standard
- Standard infotainment
- Conservative looks
- Aging powertrain
- Average performance
The safety and all-weather performance of the 2017 Subaru Legacy are convincing enough. Consider the roomy sedan's value at any trim and decent gas mileage, and it's no wonder it was our Best Car to Buy for 2015.
According to us, the 2017 Subaru Legacy is the best mid-sizer you're probably not buying.
We thought so highly of it that we made it our 2015 "Best Car to Buy," and still its sales pale in comparison to the others against which it competes. It's not entirely our fault; allocative efficiency means that as more flock to SUVs and crossovers, and sedans like the Subaru Legacy have value created by a vacuum that can't last forever. It's very good for mid-size sedan shoppers—if they're still out there.
The Legacy manages a solid 7.7 out of 10 on our overall scale, which is high for an affordable, mid-size sedan. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Starting at around $22,000, the 2017 Subaru Legacy offers an impressive list of standard equipment including a 6.2-inch touchscreen infotainment with internet streaming, rearview camera, standard all-wheel-drive (AWD), continuously variable transmission (CVT), comprehensive standard safety, and nearly 30 mpg combined. Yeah, we don't know how they do it either.
Unlike the Outback which is based loosely on it, the Legacy fights for attention—its anonymous looks aren't helping much, if we're being honest—and it's struggling to find it. The Toyota Camry and Honda Accord aren't world-beaters either, but both are far bigger sellers thanks to better powertrain options and name recognition.
Therefore, the Legacy's best argument is a nuanced one: its value comes into focus when you consider its all-wheel drive as standard. Only the Ford Fusion and Chrysler 200 offer all-wheel drive, as options, and both are only available on pricey, top-end models. We can't imagine more mid-sizers will take on AWD either.
See? The value vacuum is already starting to suck.
Good from the inside, out
The 2017 Subaru Legacy comes with two powertrain options, both mated to a CVT and all-wheel drive. A 2.5-liter flat-4 that makes 175 horsepower is our pick, but it won't be hurried. A bigger 3.6-liter flat-6 is available in top Limited trim, but it's only good for pulling off high-altitude passes and its mediocre fuel economy could be too much for many to swallow.
The flat-6 makes 256 hp and would be a better pick if: its torque were more available; and, the paddle shifters on the CVT weren't so adept at keeping the 2.5-liter on the boil. Keep the 2.5-liter flat-4 a couple programmed "gears" lower—the CVT uses gears and pulleys—and it'll pass just fine.
Subaru's AWD system works well here and on-board electronics help keep the Legacy in shape on the twisty stuff—even though its sporting potential ends at its new-for-2017 Sport trim, which is effectively an appearance package.
Inside the Legacy is roomy and well appointed, with a 6.2- or 7.0-inch touchscreen standard on all models. The seats are serviceable and the available leather trim can punch well above its price category.
The Legacy's sheet metal is conservative and subtle. Even with the Sport trim's 18-inch wheels, gray grille, and chrome accent, we'd be hard pressed to identify it as instantly Subaru if the badges were deleted.
Perhaps the 2017 Subaru Legacy's best trait is its very good safety scores. This year's Legacy aced every federal and IIHS test, and is one of the few cars on the road to do so. When equipped with its optional EyeSight safety system, the Legacy is safer on paper than many cars twice its price.
Subaru is also one of the first—if not only—automakers to test pet safety devices. Like many Americans, Subaru owners tend to own pets, and testing those safety devices is good information from the automaker, for consumers. We can get on board with that.
In addition to Subaru's optional EyeSight system the automaker also makes available blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts, and new for 2017, rear automatic emergency braking with object detection.
In all, the Legacy is a very safe sedan with very good data to back up that claim.
Mileage isn't a selling point. The 2.5-liter flat-4 returns respectable fuel economy around 30 mpg combined, and more than 30 mpg on the highway. The flat-6 falls down a bit, in the low-20s, and is comparable to mid-size SUVs and bigger sedans with more interior space.