2013 Subaru Legacy 2.5 LimitedPosted on September 10th, 2012
Updated midsized sedan features new safety technology
By Nina Russin
Readers who equate the name, Subaru, with all-wheel drive wagons might be surprised to learn that the Legacy sedan is one of the brand’s most enduring nameplates. First introduced in 1989, the original Legacy was available as either sedan or wagon, both all-wheel drive. The wagon became the basis for the Outback, first introduced in 1995 as a trim version.
Meanwhile, the Legacy sedan maintained a core audience which appreciated its all-weather capability, high level of standard safety features and value pricing. At the 2012 New York Auto Show, Subaru unveiled the newest Legacy sedan, giving its fans more of all the features they have come to love. Available with either four or six-cylinder engines, the newest Legacy is more powerful and fuel efficient. The four-cylinder all-wheel drive model averages 27 miles-per-gallon, according to the EPA.
A new EyeSight driver assist system includes audible perimeter alarm, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and pre-collision braking. The system is also capable of pedestrian detection, and will apply the brakes if the system detects an obstacle in front, and the driver takes no evasive action. While none of these technologies are new or unique to Subaru, finding them in a $30,000 sedan is rare.
Base price for the 2013 Legacy Limited with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is $25,895, excluding the $770 delivery charge. Options on the test car include a power moonroof, navigation, rear-view camera, upgraded audio with USB and iPod compatibility, Bluetooth streaming audio and the EyeSight driver assist system. Final MSRP is $30,605.
Styled to stand out
Plain vanilla styling is one of the things which hindered sales of former Subaru Legacy models. The sedan simply didn’t stand out on American roads.
The newest Legacy looks like a completely new car. Its bold grille, wrap-around headlamps and fender skirts project a sportier, more upscale image. The Legacy is no longer doggedly pragmatic; it’s practical with a focus on fun.
Inside, standard leather seats on the Limited grade come with seat heaters and power adjustments for both front-row passengers. Other standard convenience features include a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with redundant controls, 60/40 split folding rear seat, 440-watt audio system and satellite radio.
Although the Legacy’s 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine might not look like much on paper, it is a surprisingly efficient machine. During the test drive, I had to make a high-speed evasive maneuver when the driver of a full-sized sport-utility vehicle decided to change lanes without signaling and no room to pass. While getting out of the driver’s way required using the shoulder, I was also able to out-accelerate the other vehicle, creating a big enough opening.
Of course, the engine wasn’t the only component responsible for my safe escape. The variable-assist power steering helped too, as did the redesigned suspension. Engineers increased the size of the rear sway bar and increased the spring and damper rates to reduce body roll by 40 percent as compared to the outgoing model. As a result, the chassis remained pancake flat during the evasive maneuver.
In addition to having decent horsepower, the engine’s 174 foot-pounds of torque gives the Legacy excellent acceleration off the line and in the 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range. There’s a fair amount of engine noise when the driver accelerates hard, but for me, that’s not a deal-breaker.
The continuously-variable transmission includes a six-speed manual mode which replicates a step transmission. The driver can select gears using formula-style shift paddles on the steering wheel or the gearshift lever. The gearshift lever felt a little large and clunky to me: more substantial than it needs to be.
Aside from the engine noise during hard acceleration, the interior is pleasantly quiet, with no noticeable wind or tire noise. Passengers in both rows of seating should have no problems conversing on the highway.
Seventeen-inch alloy wheels on the Limited grade are a step up from 16-inch steel rims and hubcaps on the base model. I’d recommend the alloy wheels if the buyer can afford them, since hubcaps have a way of falling off on bumpy roads.
Designers of the new Legacy made as many improvements inside the car as outside. One thing I noticed instantly was how much better the accessory controls are. The buttons are larger and more substantial, which makes them easier to operate with gloves on. The center stack is clean and uncluttered, minimizing driver distraction. Redundant steering wheel controls make it even easier to change audio channels without taking one’s eyes off the road.
Both the digital display at the top of the center stack and the navigation screen are easy to read in bright sunlight. The gauge cluster features a digital image of the car which flashes its headlights when the driver enters the car and says “goodbye” when he leaves. While this sort of thing can look hokey, in this case, it’s well executed. Bright red gauge needles add to the effect.
I found the driver’s seat quite comfortable for trips up to two hours in duration. Dual climate control keeps both front occupants comfortable, while a separate rear vent on the Limited grade circulates air through the back of the cabin.
The trunk is quite spacious. It can easily hold the weekly groceries, a weekend’s worth of luggage or some camping equipment. The fold-flat rear seats extend the cargo floor for longer items such as skis or snowboards.
Standard all-wheel drive on the Subaru Legacy automatically sends engine power to the wheels with the best traction. Other standard safety features include front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes and vehicle dynamics control. A brake override feature prevents the car from accelerating if the driver accidentally depresses the brake and accelerator pedals at the same time.
The all-new Subaru Legacy is rolling out to dealerships nationwide.
Like: A stylish, affordable all-wheel drive wagon with a high level of standard safety features.
Model: Legacy 2.5 Limited
Base price: $25,895
As tested: $30,605
Horsepower: 173 Hp @ 6300 rpm
Torque: 174 lbs.-ft. @ 4100 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Fuel economy: 24/32 mpg city/highway
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