Road Test: 2013 Subaru Legacy


The 2013 Subaru Legacy is like that kid who comes from a quirky family and is now trying hard to blend in with the popular crowd.

2013 Subaru Legacy
2013 Subaru Legacy

Let’s face it, Subarus have always been just a bit different. Their styling never followed the pack. Always all-wheel drive gave Subaru a unique niche. Their horizontally opposed engine was always different. But being slightly different is apparently exactly what Subaru owners have wanted. Their brand loyalty has always been strong. Last year they led all car owners who would recommend their brand to a friend (read full ranking here). They can even get a Subaru Badge of Loyalty that shows how many they’ve owned and how they use their car.

2013 Subaru     2013 Malibu
2013 Subaru                             2013 Malibu

But the Legacy is a seriously mainstream mid-sized sedan. In fact, when you compare its specs to the Chevrolet Malibu, it’s amazing how similar the two cars are on paper.
                                  Legacy         Malibu
Wheelbase                 108.3″          107.8″
Front Track                 61.6″            62.2″
Length                        187.2″          191.5″
Front Headroom         40.3″            39″
Front Leg Room         43″               42.1″
Rear Leg Room          37.8             36.8″

Interestingly, the Legacy actually has slightly more head and leg room than the Malibu.

2013 Subaru Legacy Engine
Subaru’s Horizontally Opposed Engine

The one area that it lags behind is power. The base 2.5 liter four-cylinder motor has 173 horsepower. Mated up to the continuously variable transmission doesn’t do it any favors. In fact, sometimes when I tried to push it a little harder I almost felt it was a car with a manual clutch that was slipping. The paddle shifters helped a bit, but most people wouldn’t want work around the automatic transmission they paid for. You can opt for a bigger engine. Subaru offers a 3.6 liter six-cylinder with 256 hp. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to try it. The four-cylinder does get good mileage, 24 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. Last year’s 2.5 liter turbo is gone.

Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive is standard. Living in Phoenix, it wouldn’t be a huge factor in my decision to buy. If I lived some place where it rained or snowed (which is pretty much everywhere else), all-wheel drive would definitely be a plus. The AWD is especially nice because it doesn’t come at the expense of lower fuel mileage.

2013 Subaru Legacy
2013 Subaru Legacy

Styling is not spectacular, but not out-of-place. As I said, the quirky kid wants to fit in. It’s definitely not running off in some odd new direction. Subaru’s top designer, Osamu Namba, has made it very clear that he wants to leave the quirky stuff in the past. (Remember the SVX or the Brat?) Of course, he also wants people to know a Subaru when they see one. Distinctive and quirky is easy, distinctive and stylish is tougher. There’s nothing wrong with the Legacy styling, but I don’t think Subaru’s new look has truly arrived yet. I’ve seen some of their concepts, however, and I’m looking forward to the next generation.

2013 Subaru Legacy Interior
2013 Subaru Legacy Interior

Inside, the interior is very comfortable. My test car was the Limited edition and it had a nice upscale feel. The Legacy has an inch more leg room in the back seat, and it makes a difference. I like the center console. It’s simple and clean. The display screen is just a little too small. It seems to be cramming a lot of information in a tiny space.

2013 Subaru Legacy eyesight
Subaru’s Eyesight Driver Assist.

Subaru has something called the Eyesight System to prevent lane wandering. It has two cameras mounted near by rear view mirror that adjust the cruise control and alert the driver if you start to veer. It will also hit the brakes if it thinks you’re about to run into something. I thought it was particularly impressive compared to similar systems that I’ve used. I can’t recall any false alarms and it could tell when I was changing lanes or following the curve of the road instead of simply wandering. It’s something you might expect to find on a more expensive car. Together with the all-wheel drive it definitely makes the Legacy a safer choice. In fact, looking at crash ratings, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the Legacy is a Top Safety Pick.

2013 Subaru Legacy
2013 Subaru Legacy

Prices for the Legacy start at $21,000 for the 2.5i and work their way to $29,000 for the 3.6R Limited. My test car was the 2.5 Limited. With an option package that included upgraded sound and navigation together with the driver assist options it priced out at $30,605. Make sure you test drive the six-cylinder before making your choice.

There’s a reason that Subaru’s customers love their cars. That alone is enough to make it a reasonable option. Throw in the fact that the looks won’t leave your neighbors talking about that quirky person who lives on their block, and the Legacy is a reasonable choice.



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