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2018 Subaru Legacy: New Car Review

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

The 2018 Subaru Legacy offers many of the same features, pricing and equipment found in other midsize family sedans, with the one exception of its standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD). This permanently engaged system provides superior traction on both dry and wet pavement yet comes at no detriment to fuel economy or sticker price. And while the Legacy does offer a 6-cylinder for those who crave power, we honestly believe the standard 2.5-liter 4-cylinder has enough pep to satisfy most owners, and its fuel economy figures are near best-in-class.

The Legacy is priced in line with such popular front-drive models as the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. And while the Legacy’s handsome styling isn’t groundbreaking, 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 more than capable of playing in the big leagues.

What’s New for 2018?

The Legacy line gets a slight update with new styling front and rear, as well as a new instrument panel featuring a large 8-inch display on Premium and higher trims. All Legacy models now feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, in addition to an upgraded suspension designed to deliver a smoother, quieter ride. Limited models now offer steering-responsive HID headlights. Other changes of note include a new gray interior color option, improved multimedia capabilities, new wheels and a revised HVAC control panel. See the 2018 Subaru Legacy models for sale near you

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; no turbo engine option for the Sport trim; touchscreen too easily shows fingerprints

How Much?


Fuel Economy

The 2018 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 25 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, which are strong figures for an AWD car.

Drivers looking for more power should consider the Legacy’s 3.6-liter 6-cylinder engine. That power plant features 256 hp and returns 20 mpg city/28 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The Legacy is offered in four trim levels: a base-level 2.5i model, a midlevel Premium model, the racy Sport and a top-end Limited version. The 2.5i, Sport 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 ($23,055) and you get automatic headlights with wiper activation, a backup camera, Bluetooth, a 6.5-in color touchscreen with Subaru’s Starlink infotainment and security system, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, power accessories and steering-wheel audio controls.

Upgrade to the Premium ($25,155) and you get heated seats, heated mirrors, windshield wiper de-icers, a 10-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar control, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 17-in alloy wheels and an 8-in touchscreen.

The Sport trim ($27,205) adds 18-in alloy wheels, a dark-gray front grille, a body-color trunk spoiler, LED fog lights and folding turn-signal side mirrors. Inside, a two-tone interior features black cloth seating with blue stitching and piano black and carbon-fiber trim

Topping the Legacy lineup is the Limited ($29,955 for the 4-cylinder; $32,805 for the 6-cylinder). The trim adds a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, perforated leather upholstery, a 4-way power passenger seat, a power sunroof, keyless access with push-button start, heated rear seats, rear-seat A/C vents, 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. The 3.6R Limited adds the 3.6-liter 6-cylinder engine and height-adjustable steering-responsive LED headlights.

Options on the Legacy include a navigation system, a power sunroof, keyless access with push-button start and the brand’s EyeSight safety suite, which features adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane-keep assist, automatic high beams and reverse automatic braking, a blind spot monitoring system and, on 2.5i Limited trims, HID headlights.


The 2018 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, reverse automatic braking 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 2018 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 the 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 power plant. Unfortunately, 6-cylinder models are pricey, and they drink a lot more fuel than those with 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 in all directions, much like in many of the Legacy’s rivals.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 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 pricey option not offered on the base trim.

2018 Honda Accord — The Honda Accord is all-new this year, offering more style and new 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).

2018 Audi A3 — The Audi A3 is smaller than the Legacy and will cost a few thousand more, but it offers optional all-wheel drive, more tech features and a more aggressive driving experience.

Used Subaru Outback — A 2010-2016 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. Models from 2013 on may be equipped with the EyeSight safety system.

Autotrader’s Advice

The 2018 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.

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