2017 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Touring
Amidst the rabid demand for Crossovers, we take a closer look at Subaru’s venerable sedan
Words by: Adam Allen
This isn’t a flashy car.
Certainly not in Touring trim, as worn by our tester. If you want to impart some bling on your Legacy, you must shell out for the Limited model which nets you fancier wheels, a leather interior and the 3.6 flat-six engine, among other things. We drove the similar Outback Limited last spring and came away reasonably impressed and so for this review, we decided to see what life is like with the Legacy at the frugal end of the spectrum. The example you see here looks unassuming wearing navy blue paint and features a cloth interior finished in milquetoast beige. It has a decent amount of standard features, including Subaru’s Symmetrical all-wheel drive. Perhaps the most compelling bit of kit is the 6-speed manual gearbox- allowing for an exceedingly rare opportunity to shift one’s own gears in the segment- all of which kept the asking price to an absolutely reasonable $28,190.
A manual gearbox and a good AWD system? Time to clip some apexes!
Would-be Petter Solbergs might want to rein in their enthusiasm just a wee bit. A manual and AWD are two crucial ingredients shared with the sort-of-related-to WRX (without the turbocharged engine, of course) but don’t chart a course to your local twisty two lanes just yet. The Legacy doesn’t have the pursuit of driver fulfillment in its repertoire. It simply isn’t endowed with the hardware or the desire to indulge your switchback carving fantasies. The engine makes 175 horsepower that are more Clydesdale than Thoroughbred, and as the tach swings towards the redline it grumbles its similar flat-four report in reluctance. The manual transmission is vastly better at utilizing the engines power than the optional CVT, but a ropy shifter and vague clutch take-up will dampen your enthusiasm for hustling through the gears. Then there’s the steering, which is virtually lifeless and when you ask for brisk changes in direction, the suspension responds without much urgency and a nice dollop of body roll.
So it’s not an ideal choice for Special Stages. How does it fare on the road?
Once you put aside any penchant for spirited driving, you begin to uncover the Legacy’s gifts. For those who wish for a car that gets you from point A to point B in comfort without calling attention to itself, there are few cars in the segment that do this better than the Legacy. Of those other cars, none offer AWD as standard equipment- this feature alone is why Subaru sells so many of these things in parts of the country that see huge snowfall amounts year after year. We might have griped at the lack of sporting bent that is absent in the Legacy, but the fact is that most folks who buy them don’t care whatsoever that it doesn’t like to be hustled. They’re just concerned that the Legacy will get them where they need to go in comfort and safety. The limp steering and relaxed suspension we noted earlier turn out to be real assets to commuters; the car has a great sense of straight ahead, requiring minimal corrections on the highway to maintain course. The suspension coddles occupants and sops up gnarly pavement with aplomb. The transmission’s tall sixth gear keeps the flat four spinning at 2,400 revolutions per minute, an engine speed that will make for relaxed cruising while netting good fuel mileage. The passenger compartment is a good place to while away the kilometers and offers up a praiseworthy amount of space for everyone to get comfortable and stretch out. Our Touring-spec example didn’t have stuff like navigation, Subaru’s EyeSight suite of safety tech or leather seats. Guess what? We really didn’t miss any of it. Sure, the extra options are nice to have, but we said earlier we were going to focus on frugality. The conclusion we drew is that the Legacy doesn’t really excel or fail at anything, but it obediently does everything you ask for it in its own kind of introverted way.
What might go wrong?
Extraverts need not apply. If you’re the type who likes their car to project conspicuous consumption and who likes to name drop well-known people at dinner parties, you won’t find the appeal in the Subaru Legacy- it prefers to fly under the radar and provide all-weather chops coupled with steady reliability instead of chrome accents and 20” rolling stock. The list of complaints we’d levy at the Legacy are most likely not going to be of issue for the core customer, but we might ask for more power from the 2.5 litre engine and a little more starch in the transmission to allow for crisper shifts. We also pine for a little more polish from the infotainment system- it can still be a little difficult to navigate and doesn’t always respond quickly to commands- but it’s so much better than the system it replaces so we won’t go on about it too much.
Should I buy a Legacy?
If you’re a reader from Vermont or Colorado, you most likely have already answered this question with a resounding yes. It seems like everyone residing in those states drives a Subaru, at least according to our own wholly unscientific observation after spending some time in both locales. The truth is, Subaru enjoys some of the most fiercely loyal customers in the entire industry, so those who are looking to trade up from their Imprezas (or current Legacy owners, for that matter) will have the Legacy on their radar for sure. Those who seek a comfortable, roomy sedan with the versatility of standard AWD will want to put the Legacy on their shopping lists as well. Now, if we could just persuade them to offer the 2.0 turbo from the WRX in the engine bay…well, one can dream, right?
2017 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Touring- Specifications
- Price as tested: $28,190
- Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger sedan
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
- Transmission: 6-speed manual
- Engine: 2.5-litre inline four, DOHC, 16 valves
- Horsepower: 175 @ 5,800 rpm
- Torque (lbs-ft.): 174 @ 4,000 rpm
- Curb weight: 1,543kg (3,402 lbs)
- Observed Fuel Consumption: 12L/100km (20 MPG)