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 shortie on Saturday, June 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 77,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "great on gas, lots of room, big trunk"
Cons: "dislike the dash display, hate the bluetooth thing"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"I was looking for a newer car that was great on gas. I found this car at a local dealership and to be honest it wasnt my first choice. But Im glad I got it! Its great on gas! I know the reviews say 18city/27hwy But I get around 34 on the hwy which is great compared to what I was driving. Now I read some other reviews on the car about the interior not having enough room. I think there is pleanty of room especially in the back seat for car seats. The trunk is huge and the front seats are fine. (now Im only 5'4" so im kinda short) Overall I like the car its good on gas and looks good too."
7 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By fred on Saturday, May 31, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 59,000overall rating 4 of 10rating details
Pros: "reliable, fuel efficiency, great in snow"
Cons: "absent driver seat ergonomics, land-barge handling"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"I'm a tall guy. I fit in the drivers seat but it is shear agony to put in the usual 2+ hours of driving I do per day. There is no support in the seats. In addition, there is a distinct angle to the seats,and this forces me into the worst posture imaginable... since the seats sit so low in the car, that my legs are splayed out to the side and I cant use them to help me use proper posture. Simple things like trying to turn my head to back up kills my back and neck, and I live in almost non-stop back spasm from the poor posture these seats force me into. I've rented several cars from other makers and they not give me this problem. In addition, the rounded contours of the the car make it difficult to see exactly where the edges of the car are. Makes it near impossible to park in busy and cramped city streets. Oddly, my old Forester was much more agile than this land barge, although those seats were murder too. I cannot wait to get rid of this car. Sad to say that as much as I love the way Subies drive, and love their overall reliability, I may well have to switch to another maker with better built seats and driver comfort features."
6 people out of 13 found this review helpful
By Kevin on Saturday, May 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,200overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "visibility, AWD, comfortable seats, handling"
Cons: "Horrible OEM tires, harsh ride"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Love it overall BUT the OEM tires are hard as rocks..Bridgestone Turanza el400-02..terrible! My last Subaru had OEM Yokohamas...fabulous! Thinking of putting new tires on already..just for ride quality. 2013 revisions made stiffer suspension which may not be that bad if the tires had more give! Other than that, seats are awesome...good heating/AC...great handling/steering response..handsome looks overall. Great visibility!"
4 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Ali on Saturday, May 17, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 57,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "AWD. great on regular gas. Harman Kardon sound."
Cons: "CVT lacks of performance on city driving."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I owned this car since 43k miles. Great gas mileage and great comfortable car. Great in snow and rides like a dream. The CVT might feel rough on city driving but you can always use paddle shifters for faster shifts and it does work great. Over all, this is the limited trim 2.5i; Which comes with heated leather seats. Harman Kardon stereo which is phenomenon. There is a Harman Kardon Sub in the back along with 6 speakers. Limited trim comes with 18 inch premium wheels which looks great with this package. Once you drive an AWD, you can't drive any other FWD car. Great Handling of AWD put you in control in both Wet and dry roads. SIMPLY AMAZING! WORTH EVERY PENNY!"
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By KB on Wednesday, May 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 28,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "performance, safety, all wheel drive, MPGs, space"
Cons: "Could use an extra cup holder in the back"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"We are a family of 5 and needed a Sedan that would fit all of us, including our teenagers. We chose the Legacy for several reasons including the interior legroom, all wheel drive, handling & safety rating and how much car we got for the price. Not to mention, this car is fun to drive but get's great gas mileage. We drove 900 miles to Florida on 2 tanks of gas. I will definitely buy this out from the lease or get a new one."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Spoolie on Thursday, March 20, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 31,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Solid, feels "planted", good highway cruiser"
Cons: "Subaru sound systems not the best"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Just turned in a 2011 Premium lease 31,000 miles wihout a hiccup - just a headlamp replaced free under warranty. It was a very comfortable car for trips, and if you stayed around 60 mph, would get 35 mpg. Freeway cruising was always 30+. About the only brand that offers heated seats in cloth - leather is a bother in the winter/summer, and slippery in most cars. Just took delivery on a 2014 Premium lease. This is a much tighter car, handles sharper, transmission much improved, seats more supportive. It seems like a big upgrade for only $10/month more than the 2011. Lease deal good - waived disposition fee and first payment on Subaru. Liked the 2011 Legacy so much, bought an Impreza Sport last fall - nice car for around town,great in the snow, but the Legacy is definitely built for the highway."
10 people out of 16 found this review helpful