By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.2
Now in its third year since a total redesign, the 2012 Subaru Legacy remains an appealing alternative to category stalwarts like the Accord and Camry. And buyers have taken note, with significantly increased sales year over year. Combining good fuel economy, top safety ratings and the sure-footed traction provided by its standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD), the Legacy is an extremely attractive family sedan, especially when one considers the base model's sub-$20,000 starting price. For added versatility, the Legacy's sister model, the Outback, provides similar virtues in a wagon body style.
Whether you appreciate the handling virtues of all-wheel drive or need to navigate winter's worst, you'll find the 2012 Subaru Legacy to be a roomy, comfortable sedan with an edge in confidence over its front-wheel-drive competition. Wide front seats and a cavernous trunk are standouts, and the Legacy combines top-rated safety with a generous list of features.
If you're looking for a silky-smooth 6-cylinder sedan, the Legacy's boxer engine feels less refined than the traditional V-6 Camry and Accord offerings. The boxer 4-cylinder can feel slightly sluggish under hard acceleration, and the Lineartronic continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) is not to everyone's liking. The sole turbo model, the GT, is manual-only.
Subaru's penchant for an abundance of trim levels continues, with seven 2012 Legacy models in total. The popular mid-level Premium models add an improved 6-speaker audio system with Bluetooth phone and wireless audio streaming plus an iPod connection. Top-tier Limited models now have standard foglights
Driving Impressions While the three engine choices offer differing acceleration, the Legacy 2.5i, 2.5GT and 3.6R all share the same suspension, so ride and handling are consistent across the lineup. Ride quality...is among the best in class, aided by the quiet cabin. Along with responsive steering and brakes, the low center of gravity of its boxer engine and all-wheel drive make handling stable and sporty. The 2.5-liter engine's 170 horsepower provides adequate though unspectacular acceleration and passing. The optional CVT works better than most and features a set of paddle shifters that allow manual-style gear changes. Fuel economy with the CVT is actually quite better than with manual, estimated at 23/31 city/highway. The 3.6R is, as expected, better at moving the Legacy, though there's a hint of vibration at idle. The 265-horsepower turbocharged Legacy 2.5GT is the real performer, with minimal turbo lag and a nice flat torque curve. But buyers who want an automatic transmission will have to choose the 3.6R or shop elsewhere.
Voice-Activated Navigation System
Available only on Limited trims, Subaru's voice-activated navigation system offers a big 8-inch high-resolution screen, a rearview camera and Bluetooth hands-free phone and streaming music capability. The system also includes a 440-watt harman/kardon sound system, single-disc CD/DVD player, USB auxiliary audio input, SiriusXM Satellite Radio and iPod integration.
Electronic Parking Brake with Hill-Holder Function
The traditional parking brake handle is replaced by a soft-touch push/pull switch on the dash. The electronic brake system includes a feature that holds the brakes for a moment on inclines greater than 5 degrees, for easier takeoffs without unwanted rollback.
The spacious interior is elegant in both its design and function. Front seats are superbly comfortable, with most models including one of the best driver-seat lumbar supports we've tested. Legroom and headroom are excellent front and rear, and split-folding rear seats expand the cargo space from large to huge. The thick tilt/telescoping steering wheel includes controls for audio and cruise, as well as Bluetooth on all but the base models. Gauges are stylish, legible and include a trip computer and fuel-economy gauge. An electronic parking brake frees up the console for added storage and generous cup holders. Large windows with low sills offer excellent views out.
The Legacy's styling became more modern with the 2010 redesign but not necessarily more exciting, though few sedans in this category raise one's pulse. Still, the clean design remains fresh in its third year. Other than wheels, foglights and, on all but the base model, color-keyed mirrors, there is little to distinguish the seven trim levels. Even the hot-rod GT model is set apart only by its wheels and functional hood scoop, a disappointing degree of subtlety from the makers of the aggressively sporty WRX STI. The previous generation's frameless door windows have been banished in favor of a quieter cabin.
The base Legacy 2.5i Sedan features all-wheel drive, a 6-speed manual transmission, 16-inch wheels, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, AM/FM/CD audio with auxiliary jack, manual air conditioning, power windows/locks, height-adjustable driver's seat, front side and side-curtain airbags, keyless entry and stability control. A 6-cylinder 3.6R version is similar, though with a 5-speed automatic and 17-inch alloy wheels. The 2.5i Premium adds an automatic transmission and 17-inch wheels, while both 2.5i and 3.6R Premium models include a 10-way power driver's seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and 6-speaker audio with Bluetooth, USB and iPod connectivity. The 2.5i and 3.6R Limited trims add a power passenger seat, dual-zone climate control and All-Weather Package (heated front seats, mirrors and windshield wiper de-icers). Limited models add leather and 440-watt harman/kardon premium sound. The turbocharged 2.5GT Limited adds 18-inch wheels, power moonroof, leather and sportier trim.
2012 Subaru Legacy options are clustered according to trim. The base 2.5i offers only the CVT automatic, plus the All-Weather Package (heated seats, mirrors and windshield wiper de-icers) and an alloy wheels/foglight package. The 3.6R base trim offers no options, not even heated seats (all 3.6R trims come with a 5-speed conventional automatic). Premium trims with either engine offer the Harman/Kardon audio, moonroof and All-Weather Package. Limited trims offer voice-activated navigation with rearview camera and auto-dimming mirrors. Subaru dealers also offer a relatively wide array of accessories, from auto-dimming mirrors to SiriusXM satellite radio, to a Media hub for connecting MP3 devices.
Subaru offers three boxer engines in the 2012 Legacy, a low-profile and naturally balanced design in which the pistons lay flat in a horizontally opposed configuration. The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder delivers 170 horsepower, which is not best in class but does provide satisfactory performance. Equipping this engine with the literally seamless CVT automatic will produce the best fuel economy (23/31 mpg city/highway), but the 6-speed manual is a better choice if performance and fun are priorities. The turbocharged version of the same engine bumps output to 265 horsepower and is recommended for enthusiast drivers. The most refined choice for the Legacy is the 6-cylinder, which offers strong acceleration and passing power, but fuel efficiency drops to an estimated 18/25 mpg city/highway, the same as the turbo.
170 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
170 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 (manual), 23/31 (CVT automatic)
2.5-liter turbocharged boxer-4
265 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-5,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25
256 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
247 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25
By T-Rick on Thursday, March 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,100overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "AWD, value, reliability"
Cons: "Put dual exhaust on the 4-cylinder Legacy's again."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"After numerous new cars, this will be the one that sits in my driveway for a very long time. The value of getting an AWD Legacy loaded with options right under 30K, getting over 30 mpg combined city/highway rivals any other vehicle in this class. The handling and stability when driving in sunshine, rain or snow/ice is superior to any other vehicle, bar none. In the market for a new car, go see your Subaru dealer and take a test drive. I guarantee, with little exception, you will drive away with the Subaru."
By cms on Wednesday, March 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "safety and dependability. sporty"
Cons: "rough on bumpy roads.....expensive satellite radio"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"I feel the road bumps more than I expected. I hear the 2014 has improved on this . Light Colored fabric seats get dirty quickly. I often have to get interior detailed. Plan on putting on seat covers. Listing on car said satellite "ready"....service dept quoted over $400 to install satellite radio. For my other non Subaru vehicles the satellite costs less than $50 and way less than $400 to install. To get off Subaru satellite installed other places said I would have to replace my Subaru radio first??!! Car sits too low..bottom panels on front and rear and sides of car frame catch on everything. Car handles really well on curves..very responsive steering. handles like a sports car. I get 25.5 mpg on mixed city and lesser amt of highway driving. My next car will probably be a Forester or Outback. Love the Subaru safety and dependability ratings but I think I need to be in one of their vehicles that sits high and has better suspension."
By L squared on Friday, February 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 72,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfort, handling, many cup holders, bluetooth"
Cons: "Speakers rattle"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My 2012 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium handles so well in all weather, including rain, slush, and snow. The driver's seat is very comfortable. I drive about 1,000 miles per week, and other cars made my back hurt, but not this Subaru. I feel great! The kids (teenagers) even say the back seat is comfortable. The only things I wish for are faster automatic acceleration and better speakers. Maybe I'll get that with the 2014 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium I just ordered. LOVE this car."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Tom on Tuesday, February 25, 2014
I don't own this caroverall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Drives great in any conditions, especially snow"
Cons: "power chargers don't work when ignition is off"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I love this car. Drives great in any conditions, including snow and slush. Very comfortable interior. Great bluetooth phone and sound system. The only drawbacks are: power chargers don't work when ignition is off; and when in auto-transmission there is slight delay when you hit the accelerator. When using the manual paddle shifters it pops just fine."
By Michelle on Wednesday, January 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 2,500overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "The cons overshadow any pros"
Cons: "Car randomly does not start"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I bought a new 2014 Subaru Legacy 2.5i 4 Cyl, 2.5 L Automatic about 2 months ago. The car randomly does not start. Will crank but not start for about 20-30 minutes. This has happened three times so far at different times of the day, different temperatures, completely random. I drove it to the dealer the second time and they told me they contacted Subaru and others have had this issue. They did a "relearn" for the idle. I had it towed to the dealer the third time. They said it seemed like the engine was flooded and repeatedly asked me if I pressed the gas pedal while starting the car, which I did not. The service department is now denying that others have had this issue and are not finding any solutions. It's only a matter of time before I'm stranded by this car again. I bought a Subaru because I needed a reliable car...DISAPPOINTING."
7 people out of 9 found this review helpful
By rubberducky1465 on Monday, December 30, 2013
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 74,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "good gas mileage, full size car, awd"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I went from a Prius to an AWD vehicle after moving back to the snow belt in 2011. I always dream t of having a subaru and decided to buy the legacy. I have absolutely no complaints. I am on the road a lot for work and this car gets 33-35 mpg easily; winter about 30mpg with winter tires. I am planning on driving this car to the ground with the mileage I put on it each year. However, subaru has sold me to be a buyer for life. My next vehicle will be either the outback or the forester. I would like a bigger vehicle. But that will happen in a few years."