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2021 Subaru Legacy vs. 2021 Honda Accord: Which Is Better?

The field of mid-size sedans may be shrinking, but the entrants that remain, including the 2021 Subaru Legacy and 2021 Honda Accord are more impressive than ever. Let’s see which is better.

Quick Facts

  • The Subaru Legacy was freshly redesigned for 2020.
  • The Honda Accord is currently in its tenth generation.

2021 Subaru Legacy

2021 Subaru Legacy

Base Price: $23,945 / Read our 2021 Subaru Legacy Review

What we like: Standard AWD, low starting price, extra-large touchscreen, great resale value, included active-safety features

What we would change: Retune the suspension for sharper handling, reprogram the driver aids to be less annoying

Overview: The Subaru Legacy was redesigned last year, although you might not know it from the staid styling. Inside, the Legacy boasts a roomier interior with upgraded materials, and outward visibility is very good. The technology showpiece is the 11.6-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen—it’s standard on all but the base trim. Subaru includes many active-safety features but some, such as the driver attention monitor, can be overly nagging (luckily, most are adjustable in sensitivity). The base 2.5-liter boxer-four makes 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque, but we prefer the turbocharged 2.4-liter with 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft that powers the top two trims. Both are paired with a CVT, and low-speed throttle response can be non-linear. AWD is standard, and yet fuel economy is good: 30 mpg combined for the base engine and 27 mpg for the turbo. All variants receive the same chassis tuning, and the Legacy capably absorbs bumps although handling is not as sharp as some competitors.

What’s new for 2021: Subaru has made steering-responsive LED headlights and automatic high-beams standard across the line.

Features and technology: The 2021 Subaru Legacy is offered in base, Premium, Sport, Limited, Limited XT, and Touring XT trim levels, with the XTs getting the turbocharged engine. All models come with Subaru’s EyeSight bundle of driver assists, which includes forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and lane centering. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are optional on the Premium and Sport, and standard on the higher trims. A driver-attention monitor is optional on the Limited and standard on the XTs. A 11.6-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen is standard on all but the base trim.

What does the future hold: The Legacy is only in its second year of a redesign, so we wouldn’t expect major changes in the near term. Find 2021 Subaru Legacy models for sale near you

2021 Honda Accord

2020 Honda Accord

Base Price: $25,725 / Read our 2020 Honda Accord Review

What we like: Engaging driving demeanor, spacious interior, reputation for reliability, available Hybrid version, standard active-safety features

What we would change: Make AWD available, switch to a traditional gearshift, bring back the manual!

Overview: The Honda Accord is in its 10th generation, and Honda’s long experience with this model is evident in its general excellence. The Accord is engaging to drive with a lively and responsive chassis that deftly controls body motions. Note, though, that ride quality deteriorates with the available larger wheels. The 192-hp 1.5-liter turbocharged base engine is mated with a CVT, while the 252-hp 2.0-liter turbo uses a 10-speed automatic. The Hybrid pairs a 2.0-liter four and an electric motor for a total of 212 horsepower and 232 lb-ft. Gear selection is via an oddball arrangement of buttons and switches. The base engine’s combined fuel economy is 32–33 mpg (depending on trim level), while the 2.0-liter turbo returns 26 mpg. The Accord Hybrid, meanwhile, boasts a 48 mpg EPA combined rating (43 mpg for the Touring). This latest Accord features swoopy, coupe-like styling, yet despite the sleek roofline, Honda has carved out a cavernous interior. Rear-seat legroom is expansive—though passengers will need to duck their heads getting in. Trunk space is best in class. Up front, narrow pillars and a low dash make for good visibility.

What’s new for 2021:A new Sport SE trim replaces the previous EX 1.5T. The base LX upgrades to the 8-inch touchscreen used by the other models. A new Rear Seat Reminder system is added, and Touring trims get a low-speed auto-braking feature. Both turbo engines have revised throttle mapping, and the brakes are said to deliver smoother engagement. Finally, Honda has dropped the manual transmission from the Accord, a sad move but not a surprising one.

Features and technology: The Accord is offered in LX, Sport, Sport SE, EX-L, Sport 2.0T, and Touring trim levels. All trims now have an 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (wireless in the top three trims). Unlike some earlier Honda touchscreens, the Accord units are abetted by knobs for volume and tuning. Navigation is optional on the EX-L and standard on the Touring, which also gets a Wi-Fi mobile hotspot, wireless device charging, and a head-up display. The long list of standard active-safety features includes forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beams, and a driver-attention monitor. Most trims also come with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

What does the future hold: With the Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima now offering AWD, we could see the Accord adding that feature at some point. Find 2021 Honda Accord models for sale near you

Legacy vs. Accord: Strengths comparison

Subaru Legacy Benefits: Standard all-wheel drive; extra-large touchscreen; low starting price; class-leading resale value

Honda Accord Benefits: Engaging to drive; stylish exterior; available fuel-sipping Hybrid; longstanding reputation for reliability

Legacy vs. Accord: Which is better?

The 2021 Subaru Legacy’s virtues now extend far beyond just all-wheel drive. The model has a strong value story, an upscale interior, and up-to-the-minute tech. That said, the 2021 Honda Accord remains the standard-setter in this category. Its driving demeanor is a class above, the cabin is ultra-spacious, the optional engine’s 10-speed automatic is more sophisticated, and it also offers a Hybrid model with exceptional fuel economy. Find 2021 Subaru Legacy models for sale near you or Find 2021 Honda Accord models for sale near you

2021 Subaru Legacy 2021 Honda Accord
Popular Powertrains
Engine 2.5-liter flat-4 1.5-liter turbo I-4
Horsepower 182 hp  at 5,800 rpm 192 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Torque 176 lb-ft at 4,400 rpm 192 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm
Transmission Continuously variable Continuously variable
Fuel Economy 30 mpg (27 city/36 hwy) 33 mpg (30 city/38 hwy)
Also Available 2.4-liter turbo flat-4 2.0-liter turbo I-4; hybrid
Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles 3 years/36,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety 5 stars 5 stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 108.3 inches 111.4 inches
Overall Length 190.6 inches 192.2 inches
Width 72.4 inches 73.3 inches
Height 62.2 inches 57.1 inches
Turning Diameter 36.1 feet 38.1 feet
Headroom, Front 39.4 inches 39.5 inches
Headroom, Rear 37.3 inches 37.3 inches
Legroom, Front 42.8 inches 42.3 inches
Legroom, Rear 39.5 inches 40.4 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 58.1 inches 58.3inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 57.4 inches 56.5 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 105.5 cu. ft. 105.6 cu. ft.
EPA Cargo Volume 15.1 cu. ft. 16.7 cu. ft.

Joe Lorio
Joe Lorio
Joe Lorio is an author specializing in automobiles. He says, “I have been into cars ever since I started with Matchboxes, and have been sharing my opinions about them for almost as long. Granted, I was pretty young at the time, but my parents really should have listened to me when I told them not to buy an Austin Marina.”

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