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2021 Subaru Legacy Review

Totally revamped last year, the Legacy is Subaru’s midsize sedan and sibling to the Outback wagon. While the Legacy has fewer sales than the Outback – not to mention sedan rivals like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima – it is a great car in its own right.

Like every Subaru except the BRZ sports coupe, the 2021 Subaru Legacy stands out from competitors with its sophisticated all-wheel drive system. And while the Camry and Nissan have recently offered AWD as an option, the Legacy has had it standard for decades. No wonder the Legacy appeals to drivers in cold-weather states, not to mention those with an individualistic streak.

Beyond its better grip, the Legacy is remarkable for its low starting price, high resale value and standard set of features that deftly checks the boxes for both wants and needs when it comes to tech and safety.

What’s New?

The Subaru Legacy was totally redesigned last year, marking its seventh generation. That means only minor changes for the 2021 model. Among them are standard Steering Responsive headlights and rear-seat and passenger seatbelt reminders. See the 2021 Subaru Legacy models for sale near you

What We Like

What We Don’t

  • Base engine is a little sluggish
  • Softer-than-expected handling
  • Styling might be too conservative for some

How Much?

$22,895-36,145 (plus $925 destination charge)

Fuel Economy

Subaru offers two trim-based engines in the Legacy. The base, Premium, Sport and Limited have 2.5-liter flat-four engine that makes 182-horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque. The two top grades (Limited XT and Touring XT) come with the 2.4-liter turbocharged flat-four borrowed from the Ascent. It delivers 260-hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. Both engines transfer power to all four wheels through a CVT with 8-speed manual shift mode. Fuel economy with the 2.5-liter is a government-estimated 27 miles per gallon in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. The turbocharged engine scrubs a mile or two off those numbers at 24 mpg city/32 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2021 Subaru Legacy comes in a choice of six trims: base, Premium, Sport, Limited, Limited XT and Touring XT trim levels. AWD is standard across the lineup. Prices are before the $925 factory delivery charge.

Base ($22,895) includes the EyeSight Assist Monitor with advanced adaptive cruise control, lane centering, pre-collision braking, lane-departure warning and sway warning, Starlink with dual 7-in screens, audio system with AM/FM/satellite radio, two front USB ports, engine start/stop, hill-hold assist, automatic climate control, 12-volt power outlet, LED headlights with steering response, automatic high-beam assist, power fuel-door lock, full power accessories, 17-in steel wheels, 60/40 split/folding rear seat, active torque vectoring, a rear-vision camera, remote keyless entry, a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel and Bluetooth connectivity. The only available factory option is 17-in alloy wheels.

Building on the base content the Premium ($25,145) adds or substitutes two USB ports in the rear seat, integrated turn signals in outboard mirrors, upgraded Starlink with 11.6-in touchscreen, 17-in alloy wheels, 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, a second 12-volt power outlet, All-Weather Package with heated front seats, heated outboard mirrors and windshield wiper de-icer, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a leather-wrapped shift knob. Options include keyless access with push-button start, a navigation system, blind spot monitoring with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert, LED fog lights and a power moonroof.

Sport ($27,095) adds or substitutes 18-in alloy wheels, alloy pedal covers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, keyless entry with push-button start, LED fog lights, and red stitching for the steering wheel, dash panel and center console. Sport’s options include blind spot monitoring with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert, a navigation system, a power moonroof, and automatic braking in reverse.

Limited ($29,895) enhances Sport features with an 8-way power-adjustable passenger seat, auto tilt-down in reverse for outboard mirrors, automatic headlight-height adjustment control, steering-responsive headlights, fast-cabin heating, automatic braking in reverse, blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, heated rear seats, perforated leather-trimmed seats and Harman/Kardon premium audio. Limited options include a heated steering wheel, a navigation system, driver distraction mitigation, the turbocharged engine and a power moonroof.

Adding to Limited, the Limited XT ($34,445) comes standard with the turbocharged engine, dual exhaust pipes, and all of the Limited’s other listed options.

Topping off the lineup, the Touring XT ($36,145) adds a 180-degree front-view monitor, power-folding outboard mirrors, perforated Nappa leather seating, upgraded leather wrapping the steering wheel and ventilated front seats.

Individual options for the Subaru Legacy include a Rockford Fosgate audio system on base, Premium and Sport models, a wireless phone charger on all but base models, and bits like door scuff protectors and footwell light kit.

Safety

The Legacy comes standard with the usual safety systems like anti-lock brakes, brake assist, stability control and eight airbags. Even the base trim comes with hill-hold assist, LED headlights with automatic high-beam assist, and EyeSight Driver Assist technology with adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning and sway warning. Newly standard on all trims are steering responsive headlights for better nighttime visibility.

Available on Premium and Sport grades, but standard on the upper trims are blind spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert. Optional on Sport, but standard on the higher trims is automatic reverse braking. Optional on Limited and standard on the higher trims is driver distraction mitigation.

The Legacy model received a 5-star government crash rating in the 2020 model year from NHTSA. The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the Legacy a Top Safety Pick Plus.

Behind the Wheel

For our initial test of the Subaru Legacy, we drive it on country roads, mountain twisties and the highway in California’s Ojai Valley. We drove both engines. The standard 2.5-liter is well-suited for everyday driving and delivers a good blend of power and efficiency, but don’t expect a big punch from it.

If you were a fan of the Legacy’s former 6-cylinder engine and want plenty of oomph, opt for an XT model with the turbo engine. It enables quick and effortless acceleration. Considering Subaru baked more rigidity into the Legacy and armed it with brake-based torque vectoring, it didn’t feel quite as athletic as we hoped. But, generally, it’s does everything pretty much as expected.

Subaru does a bang-up job with its CVTs and this one didn’t disappoint. Put a foot into it and you would be hard-pressed to notice the CVT isn’t a traditional automatic transmission. Subaru has built in some shift points to further mask the lack of traditional gears in the CVT.

Inside there is an abundance of passenger and cargo space. The interior closely follows the styling cues of the Outback, but that’s not a negative. We like the tablet-sized touchscreen that  is standard in all but the base model. Note that it does rely heavily on touch, and some functions are buried within menus. If you’re a traditionalist or just want a slightly simpler interface, consider the base model. It uses a dual-screen setup that also is touch-based, but has additional physical buttons for some common functions.

Other Cars to Consider

2021 Toyota CamryToyota took a swing for the fences with the current Camry and connected. This formidable foes looks great, drives great, and offers a variety of powertrains including a hybrid, V6, and even an all-wheel-drive model.

2020 Honda Accord — The other heavyweight among midsize sedans, the Accord also has great design, lots of standard safety features, and potent yet efficient powertrains, including a hybrid.

2021 Hyundai SonataHyundai continues to up its game, and the all-new Sonata is a powerhouse. It boasts class-leading tech, standout styling, and gas and hybrid powertrains.

Used Subaru Legacy – Legacy models before this generation, from 2015 to 2019, are recommendable in their own right. They don’t have quite as much technology, but they pack great manners and the option of a powerful 6-cylinder engine.

Questions You May Ask

Is the 2021 Subaru Legacy a good car?

Yes. In fact, the Legacy is among the most recommendable midsize sedans available. If you live in a cold-weather state or routinely deal with slick and snowy roads, it’s particularly desirable for its standard all-wheel drive.

Is the Subaru Legacy a luxury car?

Not technically, as Subaru is a mainstream brand, but take one look inside a Limited model and you might just think this is a premium sedan.

Is the Subaru Legacy AWD?

Yes. Like every new Subaru except the BRZ sports car, the Legacy comes standard with all-wheel-drive.

Autotrader’s Advice

As a midsize sedan in general, the Subaru Legacy is highly recommendable. If you require your sedan to have all-wheel drive, it’s the benchmark. Every Legacy comes well equipped and covers the bases with tech and safety, but most buyers will be happier in a Premium model or above. That brings amenities like power driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control and large touch-screen display. If you want all this and real get-up-and-go power, get an XT. Find a Subaru Legacy for sale

 

 

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