By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 8.3
The 2017 Subaru Legacy is a genuine contender in the hotly fought midsize-family-sedan world. Once a niche player -- it was the one you got if you needed all-wheel drive -- this handsome 4-door now offers the rear legroom, fuel economy and high-tech features of class leaders like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Subaru's excellent EyeSight driver-assistance technology adds peace of mind for not much money, and gets upgrades as well this year. Then there's the duo of a fuel-efficient 4-cylinder engine, or a more powerful 6-cylinder for those who are in more of a hurry. And, even though others now offer it, the Subaru Legacy is still the one to get if you need all-wheel drive.
Yes, there's all-wheel drive, and even though AWD isn't unique to Subaru anymore, its system is among the very best. But beyond that, the 2017 Legacy is comfortable, quiet, offers good fuel economy and reliability, all in a package with plenty of interior space and with excellent safety scores.
KBB Expert Ratings
The 2017 Subaru Legacy Sport is a new trim level, slotting between the mid-line Premium and high-line Limited, and offering unique styling cues and more. Other upgrades include automatic reverse braking and high-beam assist on Limited models with the EyeSight package.
Like all Subarus, the 2017 Legacy uses a "boxer-type” engine, where the pistons are parallel to the ground, instead of in a V or vertical. This puts the weight of...
... the engine lower, giving the Legacy surprisingly nimble handling. Power-wise, the standard 2.5-liter 4-cylinder offers up the same kind of power as other 4-cylinder cars in this class, but the continuously variable transmission (CVT) actually makes it feel more responsive than you'd expect from 175 horsepower. Still, it's no rocket with that engine, and if you need more, the 3.6-liter 6-cylinder available in the Limited offers a more robust 256 horsepower that makes short work of passing and accelerating, albeit at the expense of fuel economy. Around town the Legacy is comfortable and quiet, with a relaxed ride, but it still handles quite well despite notable lean in corners.
ALL-WHEEL DRIVE AND UP TO 36 MPG
All-wheel drive and good fuel economy usually don't go hand-in-hand like they do in the 2017 Legacy. But thanks to tricks like active grille shutters that close for better aerodynamics and an advanced CVT transmission, the AWD Legacy with the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder ekes out an EPA-estimated 36 mpg highway.
LEAD VEHICLE ALERT
Say you're sitting at a stoplight, and as you fiddle between the seats for an escaped French fry, the light turns green. Subaru's Lead Vehicle Alert will warn you that the car ahead has moved, saving you from the honking horns and shaking fists of those behind you.
The 2017 Legacy sedan offers a contemporary, useful and comfortable cabin for its five passengers. The handsome center stack includes a 6.2-inch touch-screen infotainment system and standard rearview camera. The new Sport model features a 2-tone interior with piano-black and carbon-fiber-patterned trim. There's plenty of passenger space front and rear, an impressive 15.0 cubic feet. Intuitive controls include a command screen featuring multi-touch-and-swipe technology, like a tablet. Phone-pairing is easy. The driver's seat has too-good lumbar support, which may be too much for some even at its lowest setting. Rear-seat legroom is generous, and on Limited trims, the rear seats are heated.
The Subaru Legacy has found its stride styling-wise, with a conservatively handsome face and proportions that won't win you over with zazz, but will still look good years from now. Even the Sport model -- with its dark gray front grille, gloss-black fog-light housing, and exclusive 18-inch alloy wheels -- keeps its aggression in check. If there's one styling trend that Subaru follows, it's that of a big, trapezoidal grille. In back, 6-cylinder models are distinguished by dual stainless-steel exhaust outlets. All 2017 Subaru Legacy models offer good visibility thanks to thoughtful details like a small window below the A-pillar.
Standard equipment on the base-model 2017 Subaru Legacy 2.5i includes a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine connected to Subaru's AWD system. You also get a 6.2-inch touch-screen infotainment system that includes HD radio, Sirius XM, Bluetooth and USB inputs, and Aha, Pandora and iHeartRadio integration. There are also niceties like a standard electronic parking brake, cruise control, air conditioning and a rearview camera. However, the better "base" model is the 2.5i Premium, which adds a 10-way-power driver's seat, heated front seats, upgraded infotainment with a 7-inch screen and two USB ports, dual-zone climate control, and faux-wood trim.
As is usual these days, most options are divided up by trim level. With the 2.5i Premium being the real jumping-off point, the next trim level up is the new Sport, which adds unique interior and exterior trim to the Premium model. The Limited model adds leather and most everything else that's optional elsewhere, and also makes the 3.6-liter 6-cylinder engine available. Other options include the EyeSight driver-assist system, which now includes reverse automatic braking in Limited models. There's also a navigation system and moonroof package available for Premium and Sport models.
The standard engine across the board for the 2017 Subaru Legacy is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that puts out 175 horsepower. The upgrade, available only in Limited models, is a 3.6-liter 6-cylinder with 256 horsepower. Both engines are known as "boxer" configurations, because the pistons are parallel with the ground, and the way they move in and out is similar to a boxer's fists. It's more than just a conversation piece though, as this configuration reduces vibration and lowers the Subaru's center of gravity for a more stable feel. The standard continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) uses a special shift algorithm, making it feel more like a regular automatic transmission. Fuel economy is up to 36 mpg in the 4-cylinder, and both engines run on regular 87-octane gasoline.
175 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
174 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/36 mpg
256 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
247 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/28 mpg
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a base-model 2017 Subaru Legacy 2.5i is just under $23,000, including the $820 destination charge, but skip that and head to the $25,000 Premium model; the new Sport starts about $2,000 more than that. On the other end of the spectrum is the Legacy 3.6R Limited model, starting a little below $33,000, and reaching the mid-$30K mark with options. The prices match front-wheel-drive competition like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion. If you want AWD in something that isn't a Subaru, you'll pay notably more: the AWD Fusion starts about $27,000, and the AWD Chrysler 200 is nearly $30,000. Be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the Subaru. In the long run, the Legacy has a history of high resale value.