Used Car Review

2012 Subaru Legacy: Used Car Review

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Used 2012 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited
Used 2012 Subaru Legacy
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author photo by Joe Tralongo August 2016

When you buy a previously owned 2012 Subaru Legacy, you're getting more than just a roomy, comfortable and fuel-efficient family sedan. You're getting a vehicle with an exceptional reputation for reliability, safety and high resale value, plus the added benefit of Subaru's standard symmetrical all-wheel drive (AWD). Every bit the equal of the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima, the Legacy makes an ideal family car for those who have outgrown their compacts but don't want a bulky SUV. Thanks in large part to its available continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and flat 4-cylinder boxer engine, the Legacy doesn't punish at the pump, achieving an impressive 31 miles per gallon on the highway.

Those who like to row their own gears can opt for a 6-speed manual, but its long throws and tall gears make it a poor choice versus the more fuel-efficient CVT. You can also buy the 2012 Legacy with a 6-cylinder engine in the 3.6R. This model forgoes the CVT in favor of a traditional 5-speed automatic, but it's still competitive with other V6 sedans in this class. Those who prefer a more sporting ride can opt for the 2.5GT Limited that features a turbocharged engine and a manual transmission. No automatic is offered.

For 2012, the Legacy gained an improved audio system on Premium trims, while the Limited gained standard fog lights.

What We Like

Standard AWD; good fuel economy with the 4-cylinder; roomy rear seat; powerful 6-cylinder option; excellent safety ratings; strong resale value

What We Don't

4-cylinder model feels slow; complex navigation and audio system; beige-colored cloth seats are a magnet for stains; no automatic transmission for the turbocharged 2.5GT

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

Subaru outfitted the base 2012 Legacy 2.5i with a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed boxer engine that's good for 170 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy with the 6-speed manual is a respectable 19 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, while the CVT earns an even better 23 mpg city/31 mpg hwy.

The Legacy 3.6R features a 3.6-liter 6-cylinder boxer engine paired with a traditional 5-speed automatic transmission. Producing 256 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque, this engine is rated at a mere 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy.

The sporty 2.5GT trim is powered by a turbocharged 2.5-liter engine that dishes out 265 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The only available transmission is a 6-speed manual, which returns fuel economy figures of 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2012 Legacy is offered in three trims: 2.5i, 3.6R and 2.5GT.

The Legacy 2.5i comes with a 6-speed manual transmission, 16-inch wheels with plastic covers, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a tilt-telescopic steering wheel with cruise and audio controls, a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with an auxiliary input jack, air conditioning, power windows, power mirrors, power door locks, remote keyless entry and a manual height-adjustable driver's seat. Standard safety features include 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, electronic traction and stability control, and front, front side-impact and side-curtain airbags. The CVT automatic is the only available transmission.

The Legacy 2.5i Premium adds a 10-way power driver's seat including power lumbar support, 16-in alloy wheels, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with Bluetooth and iPod connectivity, a driver's-side auto up/down power window and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Optional equipment for the Premium trim includes the CVT, steering-wheel paddle shifters, a 9-speaker 440-watt Harman Kardon audio system with Bluetooth capability, a power sunroof and the All-Weather package, which adds heated front seats, heated side mirrors and a windshield-wiper deicer.

The 2.5i Limited brings leather seats, the All-Weather package, 440-watt Harman Kardon audio with a 6-disc CD changer, 17-in alloy wheels, a 4-way power passenger seat, Bluetooth, wood trim, automatic climate control, fog lights and the CVT transmission.

The 2.5GT Limited adds the same equipment as found on the 2.5 Limited, plus a turbocharged engine, a 6-speed manual transmission, a hood scoop, 18-in alloy wheels, a power sunroof, enhanced brakes and dual chrome exhaust tips.

The 3.6R is powered by a 3.6-liter 6-cylinder engine teamed to a 5-speed automatic transmission. The 3.6R carries the same equipment as the 2.5i, but it rides on 17-in alloy wheels and has body-colored side mirrors and an auto up/down driver's window.

The 3.6R Premium adds the 2.5i Premium equipment, plus the All-Weather package.

The 3.6R Limited includes the same equipment as the 2.5i Limited.

Optional on the Limited trims are a power sunroof and voice-activated touchscreen navigation.


The Subaru Legacy holds excellent resale value, on par with the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry and far better than the Chevrolet Malibu, the Ford Fusion and the Nissan Altima. The 3.6R holds slightly stronger values than the 2.5i, with the hard-to-find GT landing somewhere in the middle.

For a good idea of the Legacy's price range, we suggest checking the used-car values at You can also search the Autotrader Classifieds to see what models are currently for sale in your area.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued the following recalls for the 2012 Subaru Legacy:

A recall was issued for cars equipped with the Audiovox remote starter. The engine may inadvertently start and run for up to 15 minutes or until it runs out of fuel.

A recall was issued for a possible problem with the brake master cylinder, resulting in excessive brake -pedal travel required to slow or stop the vehicle.

A recall was issued for a possible problem pertaining to the type of propellant used in the side-curtain airbags. The propellant mixture may not work with the initiator component, resulting in a failure to deploy the airbag.

Further recalls include a problem with a windshield-wiper motor overheating and possibly leading to a fire, and a problem that involves the glass panel potentially detaching from the sunroof frame.

Recall repairs are required by law, even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, they'll fix the car at no charge to you. You can also check the NHTSA website; simply enter your vehicle's identification number for a list of performed recall repairs.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

NHTSA gave the 2012 Legacy a 4-star overall rating, with five stars in the rollover and four stars in the front- and side-impact crash tests. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the 2012 Legacy its highest rating of Good in all categories and named it a Top Safety Pick.

All Subaru Legacy models left the factory with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. If you purchase your Legacy through Subaru's certified pre-owned vehicle program, the powertrain warranty period is extended to 7 years/100,000 miles, and owners have the option to buy plans that will cover electrical issues, steering, suspension, brakes, air conditioning and the fuel system.

Other Cars to Consider

2012 Honda Accord -- The Accord remains the gold standard in this class, offering excellent safety, resale and reliability ratings, but no AWD or turbo model. There is, however, a sporty coupe version.

2012 Ford Fusion -- The Fusion is also highly rated, although it's slightly smaller than the Legacy. AWD is optional, and we like Ford's navigation and audio setup more. There's also a hybrid model.

2012 Toyota Camry -- The 2012 Camry is more exciting to look at than previous models, plus it's a solid performer that can match or beat the Legacy in every category that matters. Although the Camry doesn't offer AWD, it does come in a hybrid version.

Autotrader's Advice

If power isn't a big priority, we think most people will be quite pleased with the performance and fuel economy of the 2.5i Premium with the All-Weather Package. We strongly suggest avoiding models with the beige cloth interior, as the seats are prone to showing stains and dirt. If you want leather, the Limited trim is the only way to get it.

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Used 2012 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited
Used 2012 Subaru Legacy
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2012 Subaru Legacy: Used Car Review - Autotrader