The 2013 Subaru Legacy is no performance sedan; but its horizontally-opposed "boxer" engines, standard (and excellent) all-wheel-drive performance, and responsive handling add up to a very engaging driving experience.
The turbocharged four that's been optional in past year and has given the Legacy some of the flavor of the WRX is gone this year, leaving just two engine options. The first is an all-new 173-horsepower horizontally-opposed four-cylinder, with a broader torque curve for better drivability, so its just a bit perkier where it counts, especially with the Lineartronic continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). Subaru's CVT is easier to live with than other CVTs, and its ratings of 24 mpg city, 32 mpg highway are superb for an AWD car. The six-speed manual version feels a little more athletic and fun, but mileage ratings are a bit lower.
2013 Legacy models with the 3.6R designation get a carryover 3.6-liter flat six that produces 256 hp, paired with a five-speed conventional automatic transmission. Overall, these models are smoother and more refined, yet not quite as quick as a V-6 Accord or Camry (the turbo four had been quicker), and quite a bit thirstier.
Handling has always been a strong point for Subaru, and the Legacy sedan sits on the sporty side of the scale among mid-size sedans. Dropped closer to the ground than the high-riding Outback wagon, it corners flat and sticks well, with precise and responsive steering.
We have at times called the steering a touch over-boosted, but it works well with the suspension, which is firm but compliant. The heavier six in the 3.6R definitely changes the handling, with that model feeling more nose-heavy in tight corners versus the better balanced and lighter 2.5i. For 2013, Subaru has retuned the suspension for even better agility while reducing noise and smoothing the ride over lumpy pavement. The company says it has reduced body roll in turns by up to 40 percent.