2011 Subaru Legacy 2.5 Limited Review & Test Drive

Subaru is well known for making reliable vehicles with a proven all-wheel-drive system as standard equipment. In the 4-door midsized segment people tend to mentally gravitate towards a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord if they are looking for a trusted Japanese built car with a long reputable history. Sometimes overlooked by many, the Subaru Legacy tends to slip under the radar for those looking for a car in the same segment as the top-selling Camry or Accord. Sometimes slipping under the radar is not such a bad thing especially when the new 2011 Subaru Legacy is a worthy contender among its segment leaders.

Redesigned for 2010, the Subaru Legacy carries a tradition of conservative styling that seems to work for some buyers, considering the Legacy was a hot seller during its conception 15 years ago. For 2011 the Legacy still takes a risk in being a one of the few cars that can be had with all-wheel-drive in its segment and price point. Not to mention, the Legacy is an excellent year-around car ready for all types of weather conditions including rain and snow. Many folks in northern states in the US wish their front-wheel-drive Camry or Accord has all-wheel-drive on those snowy mornings.

Our Subaru Legacy 2.5 Limited test vehicle came nicely equipped with amenities that are starting to be common place on cars in its price point, small and large. Subaru has managed to keep up with the rest of the crowd having an integrated navigation system, a name-branded stereo system and Bluetooth. They really did not have a choice, just like any other respectable automotive manufacturer only Subaru takes it one step further by offering their traditional all-wheel-drive system in all trim levels of the Legacy.

Subaru’s 2.5-liter flat (boxer horizontally opposed engine) 4-cylinder engine provides decent power, 170hp and 170 foot-pounds of torque, which is well enough to keep up with the flow of traffic. Our Legacy 2.5’s power was directed through a CVT (Continuous Variable Transmission) which has become very commonplace among small to midsized vehicles from Japan. The CVT transmission does a good job with mitigating power through the band of the flat-4-banger.  Through the years of R&D with the CVT transmission it has been refined to the point that it does not take a lot of playing with the throttle to get the car moving right away. The manual shift option adds even more ‘sportiness’ to your driving, as it will keep the CVT at a limited power point when in full manual mode much like a manually shifted automatic.

Gas mileage for the Legacy is very good with EPA figures of 23mpg city and 31mpg highway. The live-action gas mileage needle on the dashboard cluster is an intuitive feature reminiscent of BMWs. Paying attention to the gauge and trying to keep it in the ‘green’ zone will actually have you saving more gas than otherwise. Our observed fuel economy came in at 30mpg on the interstate and 25mpg for our city commutes.

The 2011 Legacy on the highway has a great ride as it does in the city on harsh downtown roads. The steering gives you just enough feedback to let you know what the wheels are doing on pavement. At times you do feel the all-wheel-drive grabbing the front wheels more than usual when making a sharp turn at a low speed. Otherwise drivability of the Legacy is great for a 3451 pound sedan.

Inside the Legacy you will find a functional interior with clear readouts and a brightly lit LED cluster. The bad part about the controls on the Legacy is some of the settings are difficult to figure out especially when it comes to the navigation and audio system. The Harman Kardon audio system sounds good but it should not be so difficult to perform simple adjustments such as the bass and treble. Instead for some bright reason the engineers of the audio system thought buyers would understand what frequency would toggle the bass and treble in an equalizer styled control. The navigation system, almost identical to the one in our recent Subaru Tribeca test vehicle, remains to have room for improvement. Although the nav is fully capable of getting you to your destination, it is somewhat intuitive.

The leather seating is comfortable as is the seating position in the Legacy. The front seats have plenty of rearward travel allowing people over 6-feet tall to find a comfortable position. The rear seating area could use a/c vents instead of wood accented door trim. That’s just one thing that would be more function over fashion in Subaru’s quest to have a ‘plush’ interior for the Limited edition trim levels.

The 2011 Legacy screams practicality with a hint of boldness in its drivetrain. For those who look for a reliable and sensible vehicle for all weather conditions the new Legacy aims to please. Aside from the Legacies lack of personality, it is surprisingly an underestimated contender in the mid-sized car segment. Our Legacy 2.5 Limited test vehicle was priced at $29,441 with a base Legacy starting at $19,995. This price is just about on par with a similarly equipped Camry or Accord but with the Legacy you have the upper hand in a standard all-wheel-drive setup.

Copyright: 2010 AutomotiveAddicts.com


Price: Base Legacy 2.5 $19,995 As-Tested Legacy 2.5 Limited $25,441
Type: Midsize Sedan
Where Built: United States
EPA Class: Midsize Cars


Length: 186.4 in.
Width: 71.7 in.
Height: 59.3 in.
Wheel Base: 108.3 in.
Ground Clearance: 5.9 in.
Curb Weight: 3451 lbs.
Gross Weight: 4435 lbs.

Front Head Room: 40.3 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 56.3 in.
Rear Head Room: 37.5 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 56.1 in.
Front Leg Room: 43 in.
Rear Leg Room: 37.8 in.
Luggage Capacity: 14.7 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 5

Performance Data

Number of Cylinders: 4
Engine Size: 2.5 liters
Engine Type: Horizontally Opposed
Horsepower: 170 hp
Max Horsepower: 5600 rpm
Torque: 170 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 4000 rpm
Drive Type: AWD
Turning Circle: 36.8 ft.
0-60mph: 9.4 seconds

Fuel Data

Fuel Tank Capacity: 18.5 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Automatic: 23 mpg / 31 mpg / 26 mpg
Range in Miles:
Automatic: 425.5 mi. / 573.5 mi. / 481 mi.