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2016 Subaru Legacy: New Car Review

Editor’s note: If you’re looking for information on a newer Subaru Legacy, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Subaru Legacy Review.


Launched with an all-new design last year, the 2016 Subaru Legacy continues to win over midsize buyers. Although the Legacy comes standard with all-wheel drive (AWD), its fuel economy figures are near the top of its class. Better still, the Legacy costs no more than a similarly equipped front-wheel-drive Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. The Legacy’s handsome styling isn’t groundbreaking, but we feel it falls right in line with popular sedans such as the Ford Fusion and Hyundai Sonata. The Legacy also scores well in the areas of comfort and safety, with a modern upscale interior and cutting-edge safety features such as Subaru’s EyeSight safety system. Tack on an excellent service and resale record, and we think the Legacy is finally ready to play in the big leagues. See the 2016 Subaru Legacy models for sale near you

What’s New for 2016?

Subaru’s Starlink safety and security package is added to the Premium and Limited models, while lane-keep assist is added to the EyeSight safety system. All models receive a new auto on/off feature for the headlights and wipers, and the steering unit has been redesigned for better feedback. 

What We Like

Excellent fuel economy with standard AWD; a lot of passenger room; available EyeSight safety system; upscale interior; competitive pricing

What We Don’t

Styling still a little anonymous; touchscreen could be bigger; manual transmission gone

How Much?


Fuel Economy

The 2016 Subaru Legacy offers two engines, both of which are mated to a standard continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and standard all-wheel drive. Most Legacy models will be equipped with the sedan’s 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, which makes 175 horsepower. With that engine, fuel economy stands at 26 miles per gallon in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, which are strong figures for an AWD car.

Drivers who want more power will upgrade to the Legacy’s 3.6-liter 6-cylinder engine. That powerplant features 256 hp and returns 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The Legacy is offered in three trim levels: a base-level 2.5i model, a midlevel Premium model and a top-end Limited version. The 2.5i and Premium models only use the sedan’s 4-cylinder engine; drivers who upgrade to the Limited can choose between the 4-cylinder and the 6-cylinder.

Opt for the 2.5i ($22,540), and you get automatic headlights with wiper activation, a backup camera, Bluetooth, a 6.2-inch color touchscreen with Subaru’s Starlink infotainment and security system, power accessories and steering-wheel audio controls.

Upgrade to the Premium ($24,640), and you’ll get heated seats, heated mirrors, a power driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a larger touchscreen with HD Radio and SiriusXM radio.

Topping the Legacy lineup is the Limited ($27,640 for the 4-cylinder; $30,740 for the 6-cylinder). The trim adds a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, leather upholstery, a blind spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, a power passenger seat, driver’s-seat memory, larger alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control and wood-grain trim.

Options on the Legacy include a navigation system, a power sunroof, keyless access with push-button starting and the brand’s EyeSight safety suite, which features adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane-keep assist and other high-tech safety gadgets.


The 2016 Legacy includes a long list of standard safety features, from stability and traction control to side-curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, a backup camera and automatic headlights. Options include adaptive cruise control, forward-collision alert with automatic braking, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert and a blind spot monitoring system.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the Legacy its best rating of five stars in all categories, including the front, side impact and rollover tests.

The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awards the Subaru Legacy a Top Safety Pick+ rating, an award only given to vehicles that ace every one of its rigorous crash tests.

Behind the Wheel

Most 2016 Legacy models will feature the brand’s 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, with Subaru projecting that the 2.5i Premium will be the sedan’s most popular trim. The 4-cylinder is hardly a hot-rod engine, but that’s not the point. Instead, it offers a surprisingly smooth driving experience (even by CVT standards) and excellent fuel economy, even with heavy standard all-wheel drive.

Shoppers who opt for the 6-cylinder will get a lot of extra power on tap, though the Legacy’s smoothness doesn’t go away with the larger powerplant. Unfortunately, 6-cylinder models are pricy, and they drink a lot more fuel than the smaller 4-cylinder.

Around corners, the Legacy feels composed, though it’s not as sporty as its smaller Impreza stablemate. Still, the driver’s seat is a great place to be largely because it’s so comfortable, a fact that also applies to the Legacy’s back seats and passenger seat (all of which are roomy for a midsize sedan). Visibility is also excellent to all directions, much like many of the Legacy’s rivals.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 Ford Fusion — The Ford Fusion boasts a handsome look and a highly useful infotainment system, along with a long list of safety features. AWD, however, is a pricy option not offered on the base trim.

2013 Honda Accord — The Honda Accord offers some excellent technology in addition to its legendary durability and roomy interior. The Accord is also competitively priced and includes generous standard equipment but no AWD option.

2016 Mazda6 — The Mazda6 is one of our favorite midsize sedans. Not only does it offer excellent lines and a long list of equipment, it also boasts a sporty driving experience and reasonable pricing but no V6 option.

Used Subaru Outback — A 2010-2014 Outback gives you all the room, safety and comfort of the Legacy sedan but with more cargo room and additional ground clearance for light off-road adventures. 2013 and newer models may be equipped with the EyeSight safety system.

Autotrader’s Advice

The 2016 Legacy is one of our favorite midsize sedans, and the 2.5i Premium model is our favorite version. Worth every penny of its price increase over the base-level Legacy 2.5i, the Premium offers a lot of standard features, and it allows you to choose from options such as Subaru’s EyeSight safety system (which we’d take), a navigation system and a power sunroof. For drivers who really want the extra power, the 3.6R Limited is also a viable option, as it does a great job combining sporty and luxury qualities. Find a Subaru Legacy for sale


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