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 Doc on Sunday, January 18, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 46,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Performance, ride, purchase cost"
Cons: "Doors feel hollow. I dislike the Subaru logo"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I traded in a 2006 Infiniti M35x for this Subaru Legacy. I loved my M35x but it was nearly 10 years old and had over 100K miles on it. I wanted to sell it while it still held resale value. Unfortunately I couldn't find a new comparable Infiniti M series for less than $35K, so I chose the Legacy Limited with the 6 cylinder engine. For about half the price of an Infinit M, it is a great ride... The 6 cylinder engine is quicker than the Infiniti's engine... just not as "stately" in ride. If money was not an object, both in gas and purchase price, I would probably be driving a new Infiniti M45. But since I am cursed to be middle-class until my last breath, I will make do with an excellent alternative - the Subaru Legacy Limited."
4 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By C.C.Crowe on Tuesday, January 13, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,500overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Sporty ride, spacious back seat, large trunk"
Cons: "Transmission dynamics and reliability"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"Great interior design, comfortable, practical, fast enough to be fun without being scary to drive, great handling in snow and bad weather conditions. Very good stereo (if you get the premium Harmann system). You can comfortably fit a baby and 2 adults in the back seat and fit a truckload of groceries in the trunk. The finishing details seem to have been done by a 5 year old though, fit and finish of the interior and sunroof is sub-par. Fuel economy is OK when driven conservatively, had to replace a windshield and side mirror after a -8 F deep freeze night because these shattered as soon as I turned the engine on, also the transmission after 15K miles because it just stopped shifting and started slipping bad. Service has been excellent though, I may have had the one in 1 million bad transmissions?"
3 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Jess on Tuesday, January 13, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 41,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "safe, weatherization package, gas mileage, & looks"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I live in Hamburg, NY (south of Buffalo, NY) and we have had some crazy snow this year!!! On Friday there was a foot of snow on the road and the car was fantastic! I made it home safe, while other cars were stuck not in the ditch, but just stuck on the road! I am so fortunate to be able to afford such a safe and efficient car. If you can pay a little more for this car you will not regret it! This is my 3rd Subaru, my mom, sister, and husband all have Subaru and we will NEVER get another brand!"
6 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Jim Jimbob on Thursday, December 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 39,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "I'm bad, but love to pass other cars stuck in snow"
Cons: "Some sun glare on Data display."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"1st item: I do not understand why anyone would buy a 1/2 traction car when Subaru has 4 wheel drive on their cars. It not only is far superior in snow and ice, but is also better on dry, sandy, or bad roads as well.The braking is better as well as acceleration. My gasoline milage is consistently above 32-33 MPG. Absolutely no repairs in 30,000 miles. 2nd item: I love this car?"
12 people out of 24 found this review helpful
By pon on Monday, December 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "THE SAFEST CAR IN THE WORLD!"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"THIS CAR BEATS ALL OTHER CAR MAKERS HANDS DOWN. THE ONLY THING YOU WILL FIND IN ANOTHER CAR WILL BE BETTER GAS MILAGE. BUT THE DIFFERENCE ISN'T THAT MUCH. THIS CAR IS HAS ALL WHEEL DRIVE. YES OTHER CAR MAKERS DO TOO, BUT SUBURU INVENTED IT, AND HAS THE BEST ALL WHEEL DRIVE AVAILABLE. THIS CAR IS INCREDIBLE ON THE SNOW AND ICE. IT'S LIKE A TANK, AND GOES THROUGH EVERYTHING. IN THE WINTER, I ONLY DRIVE THE SUBURU. ALSO, THE BOXER ENGINE GOES U N D E R THE CAR IN THE EVENT OF A COLLISION. NOT THROUGH THE FRONT WINDSHIELD LIKE THE REST. THE WINDSHIELD ON THE SUBURU, IS MADE TO FLY A W A Y FROM YOU IN THE EVENT OF A COLLISION. THE DOORS ARE REINFORCED WITH 3 LAYERS OF STEEL, AND DESIGNED SO YOU D O N' T NEED THE JAWS OF LIFE TO GET YOU OUT. I'M NOT EVEN TALKING ABOUT ALL THE AIR BAGS IT COMES WITH, EITHER. FRONT,SIDE, TOP, AND KNEE. THE REAR OF THE CAR IS COLLAPASIBLE UPON IMPACT, KEEPING YOU UNHARMED. YES, YOU CAN GET A CHEAPER CAR, BUT THIS ONE IS WORTH SPENDING A FEW MORE DOLLARS. IN THE EVENT OF AN ACCIDENT, YOU HAVE A VERY GOOD CHANCE OF SURVIVING. WITH THE OTHER CARS YOU HAVE A VERY GOOD CHANCE OF DYING. SUBURU DOESN'T FOOL AROUND. CHECK IT OUT FOR YOURSELF, AND YOU WILL SEE THEY HAVE A VERY LOW DEATH/INJURY RATE FROM ACCIDENTS. THE OTHER CARS ARE J U N K COMPARED TO A SUBURU. I WENT TO ABOUT 10 DEALERSHIPS, AND WALKED OUT OF THEM ALL, BUT WHEN I WENT TO SUBURU, THEY GOT MY MONEY IN 15 MINUTES, ONCE I SAW HOW MUCH S U P E R I O R THIER CAR IS. I FORBID MY WIFE TO DRIVE A N Y T H I N G ELSE, AND WILL ONLY BUY SUBURU FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES. THANK GOD FOR SUBURU!!!! JOHN G. CT"
13 people out of 24 found this review helpful
By jordan on Friday, November 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 75,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Beautiful on the outside, all wheel drive"
Cons: "Poor gas milage, interior not wearing well"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"Original owners. The outside has very nice styling. Wish it had better gas milage and better interior quality. With only 75,000 miles...very disappointed with Subaru’s interior. Quality of fabrics and carpet are poor. Husband wore a hole in the carpet at the gas peddle. Seats are showing wear and there is NO stain resistance. Light colored interior shows dirt and its hard to clean. I’ve been driving a Toyota prius for 6 years with double the miles and it still looks new...compared to this car looking like we need seat covers as constant attempts to clean spots leaves water marks and stains. I inherited this from my husband and am totally disappointed with the the condition at half the miles of my Prius especially since I am much more of a slob then him. For a car only 3 years old it should be in much better shape. Goal is to pay this off...park in the drive for winter and go buy another Prius. Subaru needs to improve the quality of their interiors."
8 people out of 18 found this review helpful