2018 Subaru Legacy Review

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2 Reviews
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2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
May 30, 2018

The 2018 Subaru Legacy may be the best mid-size sedan that buyers largely miss. It skips performance for a good safety record and relative value—not bad things.

The 2018 Subaru Legacy is a straightforward mid-size sedan with a comfortable ride and an ace: it's only available with all-wheel drive, a snow-state boon.

We give it a 7.2 on our overall scale, thanks to its superlative safety score and relatively good ride. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Legacy is slightly revised this year, but you’re forgiven from missing the differences. C-shaped headlights bookend a new grille now seen across the Subaru lineup. Inside, real stitching on most trim levels adds a sheen of luxury that the Legacy needs to stay competitive against rivals such as the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry.

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Subaru offers the Legacy in 2.5i (base), Premium, Sport, and Limited trim levels.

All trim levels feature all-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Most are powered by a 175-horsepower 2.5-liter flat-4 that aids handling thanks to its lower center of mass, but doesn’t offer much in the way of overall power. The 3.6-liter flat-6, which is only available at the Limited trim level, offers 275 hp, but sports a prolific thirst for fuel compared to its class.

Regardless of engine, Subaru’s CVT is the star of the show with smooth operation (improved for 2018 for a gentler takeoff) and simulated gears for making the most of the busy flat-4.

All-wheel drive is a Subaru staple and should be considered when shopping competitors. Few competitors offer power to all four wheels anymore, and Subaru makes all-weather traction seamless and intuitive.

The Legacy’s safety record shouldn’t be understated: it’s perfect. When equipped with optional advanced safety systems, the Legacy is one of the safest cars on the road today.

Four adults will comfortably fit in the Legacy and will be occupied with a handsome set of features that include a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth connectivity and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.

Base models of the 2018 Subaru Legacy cost $23,055, including destination, and top trims can run up to $32,805.

5

2018 Subaru Legacy

Styling

Little changes to the 2018 Legacy inside and out keep the looks contemporary, but not necessarily fresh.

This year, Subaru’s efforts in the Legacy have resulted in a better-looking, earnest cabin.

The exterior has been slightly revised too, but it takes a keen eye to spot the differences.

We like the interior and exterior, but stop short of saying it’s above average. It gets a 5 out of 10 for style. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

From the outside, the Legacy keeps the same three-box approach to its sheet metal—no sloping roofline, no dramatic curves. The grille is a little darker, but the C-shaped headlights are the most notable improvement over last year.

Inside, the quality of the Legacy’s materials better, but the presentation is largely the same.

Real stitching on the dash, seats, and door panels is noticeable—particularly on our Sport-level tester where it’s blue—and the stitching is a welcome upgrade.

It slightly improves upon the Legacy’s dash and doors, but it’s still a conservative look.

Overall, it's a clean, easily readable design with a band of metallic or wood-grain trim that distinguishes upper-trim levels from base versions. Gauges are lit in blue, with a small LCD display wedged between the dials for a quick read of directions or audio status. The vents are stacked higher on the dash, to make room for a touchscreen interface that sits above a panel of knobs and switches rendered in old-school-Japanese metallic plastic.

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6

2018 Subaru Legacy

Performance

The 2018 Subaru Legacy largely succeeds in its performance aside from its power.

You’re here for the all-wheel drive—or at least you should be.

The 2018 Subaru Legacy gets a revised ride this year for most trim levels, but the basic formula has stayed the same for a while: horizontally opposed engine cylinders, all-wheel drive, and a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

The ride is nice, and the CVT is among the best in the business—and it’s even better this year. We can’t say the same about the base engine, which still feels down on power compared to others in its class. It lands at a 6 for performance. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Legacy soldiers on with a pair of engines with their cylinders laid flat. Subaru and Porsche are the only mainstream automakers offering flat-4 and flat-6 engines. Subaru’s flat engines endear and impair, according to us.

The base engine is a 2.5-liter flat-4 found underhood in most Legacy models on the road. It makes 175 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque and shifts through a CVT to shuffle power to all four wheels. The 2.5-liter is down on power compared to others in its class including Honda and Toyota, although the Subaru is tasked to motivate more mass. Its saving grace? A good CVT with standard paddle shifters that mimics six gears that can wring out the engine for all its life. Subaru tamed its twitchy throttle this year, which results in a smoother takeoff but doesn’t make the engine feel any more overmatched than it already is.

Subaru sells a 3.6-liter flat-6 on top Limited trims for $2,850 more over a similarly equipped 2.5-liter, but we’re not sold on its value. The 3.6-liter makes an impressive 256 hp and 247 lb-ft, which is more than enough pull, but its price premium and relative thirst at the pump make it tough to swallow. Like its cousins downstream, the 3.6-liter gets paired to the same CVT that keeps the 3.6-liter low in the rev range under most circumstances for better fuel economy. Let loose and the 3.6-liter sinks mileage into the low 20s combined, too low for its class.

We haven’t been shy with our praise of Subaru’s CVT—it’s one of the best we’ve driven. It skips the rubber-band feel of other CVTs and offers good response in a short amount of time. Pin the pedal and Subaru simulates “gears” with its CVT, a nod to our reptilian need to hustle through gears.

The Legacy rides well for any sedan, thanks in part to the flat cylinder arrangement that pushes the car’s center of gravity lower. Subaru’s competent all-wheel-drive system quickly finds traction where there might be none, aided by a brake-based torque vectoring system that constrains wayward wheels from needlessly spinning.

The downside to the flat-cylinder arrangement? It keeps the Legacy from achieving the same mileage returns others provide.

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8

2018 Subaru Legacy

Comfort & Quality

Little changes keep the 2018 Subaru Legacy competitive against newer challengers.

Sedans like the 2018 Subaru Legacy live modestly during their workaday existences. What starts as a reasonable daily commuter escalates to a comfortable cruiser, without much variation between.

We don’t mind. Each version of the 2018 Subaru Legacy isn’t ambitious and delivers what we’d expect from a sedan. There’s good room up front and in back for people with a spacious trunk. We land at an 8 for comfort. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Legacy makes the most of its mid-size footprint with interior dimensions that run closer to a full-size sedan. The EPA’s rulers measure 119.6 cubic feet of interior room, which comes in just under the bar for a bigger classification.

That room is well-apportioned for passengers. Front seat riders get comfortable—but not squishy—front seats that are shod with a durable cloth or nicely finished leather in top trims. Rear-seat riders get more than 38 inches of leg room, which is spacious enough for our 6-foot-3 editor. This year, Subaru has added an upgraded dash, contrast stitching, and more sound-deadening material to coddle passengers through daily commutes.

Mostly, the improvements have worked. The 2018 Subaru Legacy is comfortable for passengers in any position, front or rear, and it’s quiet on the road. Compared with most of its class, the Legacy is improved over previous generations that skimped on interior comforts.

Against the tops in its class including the new Honda Accord, the Legacy falls down a little in presentation—that’s it.

The time we spent in a 2018 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Sport was spent bounding through Detroit’s notoriously pockmarked city streets and snowy interstates. The 2018 Legacy feels familiar in any seating position. Outside noises are largely kept at an arm’s length from the cabin inside, with only some engine whine making it through the acoustic glass during hard acceleration.

Four adults should fit fine within the Legacy’s confines, although five will work in a pinch. The square-cut trunk opening revealed a 15 cubic foot cargo hold for gear, and its short-pile gray carpet was easy to clean after our dirty luggage wheels rolled in detritus. The wide opening offered easy access to every corner of the trunk, often overlooked by other automakers.

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10

2018 Subaru Legacy

Safety

Perfect crash-test scores and affordable active safety features make the 2018 Subaru Legacy among the safest cars on the road.

Perfect crash-test scores and affordable active safety features propel the 2018 Subaru Legacy to the top of our safety ratings.

Federal testers give the 2018 Subaru Legacy a five-star overall rating, including five stars in every subtest. The IIHS agreed and gave the Subaru Legacy top “Good” scores in every crash test, including the driver-side and passenger-side small overlap crash test, the latter is still relatively rare among new cars. It’s front crash prevention technology earned a “Superior” score and the IIHS gave the 2018 Subaru Legacy a Top Safety Pick+ nod. We give it a 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Subaru’s active safety suite, called “EyeSight,” includes windshield-mounted sensors that read the road ahead. EyeSight includes adaptive cruise control, active lane control, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and high beam assist. Blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alert are included in the safety suite.

Subaru makes EyeSight available on every trim level of the Legacy above the base version for $1,545 alone, or more when bundled with other features.

Other automakers such as Honda and Toyota make some active safety features such as automatic emergency braking standard on their mid-size sedans, which Subaru hasn’t yet adopted. We’d like to see those safety features standard across all models, but Subaru’s EyeSight package is still relatively reasonable among automakers.

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7

2018 Subaru Legacy

Features

Every Subaru Legacy trim level is well-equipped, and it doesn’t take much money to outfit one with the latest tech and safety gear.

Subaru has tinkered with the Legacy’s formula this year, but what’s left should be recognizable for most shoppers.

The 2018 Subaru Legacy gets an updated infotainment system on all trim levels, and small improvements to its interior. The Legacy is offered in 2.5i, Premium, Sport, and Limited trim levels. Opting for a bigger engine in the Legacy automatically starts buyers at the top Limited trim level.

At the base end of the story the 2.5i Legacy comes equipped with 17-inch wheels, power features, Bluetooth connectivity, USB ports, a rearview camera, and a 6.5-inch touchscreen for infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Flashier 17-inch wheels are the only option for those models.

The Legacy is well-equipped in base versions and we’re impressed with the touchscreen. Subaru doesn’t offer the same number of options as its rivals, so we land at a 7 for features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Step up to the Premium trim level and Subaru adds a power-adjustable driver’s seat, keyless ignition, an 8.0-inch infotainment system, heated front seats, an uprated six-speaker audio system, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and dual-zone climate control. Options for the Premium trim level include Subaru’s active safety suite, dubbed EyeSight, moonroof, and navigation.

The Sport trim level adds 18-inch wheels, standard moonroof, sporty exterior accents, contrast stitching, and LED fog lights. Options for the Sport trim level include navigation and EyeSight.

The 2.5-liter Limited trim level includes a power-adjustable passenger seat, leather upholstery, Harman Kardon premium audio, blind-spot monitors, and revised dampers. Options include LED headlights.

Opt for the 3.6-liter flat-6 and the LED headlights become standard.

Subaru infotainment

Subaru updated its infotainment system for the 2018 Legacy to include over-the-air updates and a streamlined interface. The system, which Subaru calls Starlink, includes updated icons that are easier to read, internet radio streaming, Bluetooth connectivity, and cloud-based apps on some versions. Every 2018 Legacy includes a 6.5-inch touchscreen as standard equipment that can be upgraded to an 8.0-inch version.

In our experience with the new system, Starlink offers natural swiping and scrolling through menus and systems with seamless connectivity to Apple CarPlay. Some buttons are buried in the screen, such as the band at the top right corner of the audio display.

Although we liked the last-generation’s streamlined user interface, the new icons are easier to read and understand.

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7

2018 Subaru Legacy

Fuel Economy

Among all-season cars, the 2018 Subaru Legacy is relatively fuel-efficient.

Subaru’s mid-sizer is about mid-pack when it comes to overall fuel economy.

The EPA rates the 2018 Subaru Legacy equipped with a 2.5-liter flat-4 at 25 mpg city, 34 highway, 29 combined. That’s good enough for a 7 out of 10 on our efficiency scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Opt for the 3.6-liter flat-6 and the numbers tumble. The EPA rates those models at 20/28/23 mpg.

Every Subaru Legacy comes equipped with all-wheel drive. Among mid-sizers with all-wheel drive, the Legacy is competitive. Even more when compared with crossovers with all-wheel drive, its fuel economy is on par.

If AWD isn’t on your list of “must-have” in a sedan, it’s possible to do better in terms of fuel economy.

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December 28, 2017
2018 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Limited

An excellent car for not so much money.

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I just bought a Legacy Limited 4-Cylinder with the Eyesight feature and all the luxury you could get on a car, and then some, so I gave 5 stars to everything except the reliability that of course I don't know... + More »
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September 6, 2017
For 2018 Subaru Legacy

EXCELLENT VALUE FUN TO DRIVE SAFEST SEDAN

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THE SUBARU LEGACY IS SERIOUSLY DEFICIENT IN RIDE QUALITY BELOW 30 MPH. THIS MAY BE BECAUSE THE WONDERFUL ALL WHEEL DRIVE SYSTEM IS ALWAYS WORKING -NO WHEEL IS EVER PASSIVELY ROLLING OVER A BUMP IN THE LEGACY... + More »
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$22,195
MSRP based on 2.5i
 
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7.2
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 5
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 10
Features 7
Fuel Economy 7
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2018 Subaru Legacy Pricing Insights

  • 2019 Legacy arriving; 2018s remain on sale
  • No factory cash, but dealer discounting likely
  • Lease a 2018 from $205 for 36 months
  • APR as low as 0% for 63 months
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