You'll Like The 2011 Subaru Legacy If...
If you need a roomy, comfortable sedan with the best possible ability to navigate through winter's worst, the new Legacy is well worth a look. Wide front seats, incredibly useful lumbar support and a cavernous trunk are among the Legacy's most laudable offerings, as are a long list of standard creature comforts.
You May Not Like The 2011 Subaru Legacy If...
If you're looking for a smooth-as-silk six-cylinder sedan, the Legacy's boxer engine is nowhere near as refined as the traditional engines found in the Accord or Camry. Four-cylinder models feel a bit sluggish under hard acceleration and fans of the turbocharged GT will have to be happy with a manual transmission, because that's the only choice.
For 2011, all Legacy models are equipped with folding side mirrors, while XM satellite radio is now standard with the available harman/kardon audio system. The 2.5 GT Limited becomes the sole turbocharged model and gains a power moonroof and fog lights as standard equipment.
The newest Legacy touts an interior that is elegant, spacious and above all, functional. The front seats are supremely comfortable, with the driver's-side lumbar support among the best we've tested, and there's plenty of legroom for tall passengers both front and rear. A thick-grip three-spoke steering wheel has controls for the cruise/audio features, as well as Bluetooth on cars so equipped. The instrument cluster features gauges that are large and legible, but the radio and heating control buttons are rather small and hard to read at night. Subaru has replaced the traditional hand brake with a dash-mounted electronic parking brake freeing up additional storage space in the center console area. The rear seats are divided into a 60/40-split configuration and fold flat to create an enormous cargo area. Of special note is the optional navigation system, which offers a large screen, voice activation and the ability to stream music through a Bluetooth-enabled device. Other nice touches include sun-visor extensions for both driver and passenger and a remote trunk release cutoff switch in the lockable glove box.
The Legacy's exterior is stylish and sleek, but breaks no new ground in areas of excitement or innovation. Aside from its larger wheels and subtle hood scoop, there isn't much to distinguish the hot-rod GT model from the 2.5i Limited, a bit of a mystery from the company that knows how to turn a boring Impreza into a stunning WRX STI. Still, looks aside, the Legacy has much to offer. Large rear doors provide ease of entry, and the previous generation's frameless windows are now a thing of the past, a change that contributes to the current Legacy's low interior noise levels. Owners of 2009 and earlier models will think the new car is vastly larger, and they would be partially correct. While the newest Legacy's wheelbase is up three inches compared with the 2009 model, it features shorter overhangs, and the car's overall length has increased by a mere 1.4 inches. All but the base models feature handsome alloy wheels and a sophisticated double-wishbone rear suspension helps improve ride quality and create a large, flat trunk floor.
Although choosing from among three engines will change the rate at which you can reach 60 miles per hour, the 2011 Subaru Legacy 2.5i, GT and R all share the same suspension set-up, so ride, handling and interior noise levels are pretty consistent across the board. Ride quality is among the best in this class, with a quiet cabin, responsive steering and brake feel and minimal body roll and lean. The 2.5-liter engine's 170 horsepower provides adequate acceleration and passing power, but is nothing spectacular. The optional CVT works well and features a set of paddle shifters that allow for manual gear changes. Fuel economy with the CVT is actually better than with the six-speed manual, estimated at 23 city and 31 highway. The 3.6R is much better at moving the heavy Legacy, and while its performance feels fine in motion, we did observe a slight amount of vibration at idle. The real meat and potatoes for the Legacy can be found in the GT trim, which is powered by a 265-horsepower turbocharged engine. Improvements to the turbo eliminate lag and provide a nice flat torque curve conducive to performance driving. Unfortunately, there is no automatic transmission option for the GT, a strange decision that will force many buyers into the 3.6R or off to look elsewhere.
The 2011 Subaru Legacy has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $20,700 for the 2.5i with the manual transmission, with the Premium model adding about $1,000 to that. The 2.5 Limited starts around $26,000, as does the base 3.6 R, while the 3.6R Limited and GT Limited start around $29,000 and $32,000 respectively. Across the range, pricing is up about $500 from last year. A similarly-priced Honda Accord or Toyota Camry can't match the Legacy's standard content list nor do they even offer the option of all-wheel drive. To get the best deal on your new Legacy, be sure to check the New Car Blue Book Value price, which shows what others in your area are paying for their cars. Over a five-year period, the Legacy is expected to retain excellent resale values, with the 3.6R models besting the 2.5i, and the GT falling somewhere in between the two.
The 2011 Legacy 2.5i Sedan features a six-speed manual transmission, 16-inch wheels, four-wheel ABS disc brakes, steering wheel-mounted audio and cruise controls, AM/FM stereo with auxiliary-input jack and single CD player, manual air conditioning, power windows and locks, height-adjustable driver's seat, front side and side-curtain airbags, keyless entry, tilt/telescoping steering wheel and Vehicle Dynamic Control with traction control. The Premium trim adds a 10-way power driver's seat, 16-inch alloy wheels, driver's auto up/down power window and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Limited trims gain a four-way power passenger seat, wood trim, 17-inch wheels, the All-Weather Package (heated mirrors, seats and windshield wiper de-icers), CVT automatic transmission, dual-zone automatic climate control, harman/kardon 440-watt premium sound system with six-disc CD changer and leather seating. The GT adds 18-inch wheels, a 265-horsepower turbocharged engine, hood scoop, power moonroof, fog lights and dual chrome exhaust tips.
Options are clustered according to trim. Base models offer only the CVT automatic, while Premium trims offer the harman/kardon 440-watt audio system, the All Weather Package and a power moonroof. Limited trims offer voice-activated GPS navigation with backup camera and Bluetooth capability for both phone and streaming music. Dealer-installed options include auto-dimming rear view mirror, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity and a Media Hub for connecting and controlling portable MP3 devices.
Voice-Activated Navigation System
Available only on Limited trims, Subaru's voice-activated navigation system offers a big eight-inch view screen, a rear backup camera and Bluetooth hands-free phone and streaming music capability. The system also includes a harman-kardon 440-watt sound system, single-disc CD/DVD player, USB auxiliary audio input, XM Satellite Radio and iPod control capability.
Electronic Parking Brake with Hill-Holder Function
The traditional parking brake handle is replaced by a push/pull switch mounted on the dash. The electronic brake system includes a hill-hold feature that keeps the car from rolling forward or backward on inclines greater than five degrees.
Under the Hood
Subaru offers three horizontally-opposed boxer engines in the 2011 Legacy. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder delivers 170 horsepower, which may not be best in class but does generate enough muscle to provide satisfactory performance. Equipping this engine with the CVT automatic will produce the best fuel economy, but the six-speed manual is a better choice from a performance standpoint. A turbocharged version of the same engine bumps output to 265 horsepower and is recommended for enthusiast drivers. The best choice for the Legacy is the six-cylinder, which offers much better acceleration and passing power than the four while delivering slightly worse fuel economy (18/25 vs. 23/31).
170 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
170 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 (manual), 23/31 (automatic)
2.5-liter Boxer-4 turbocharged
265 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
258 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2000-5200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25
256 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
247 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25
Thanks to a full redesign in 2010, the larger and more stylish Subaru Legacy is a more viable alternative than ever to category stalwarts like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. Judging by 2010's sales figures, it appears the redesign has paid off: Both the Legacy and its wagon counterpart, the Outback, have caught on big with the public. Combining good fuel economy, top safety ratings and the sure-footed traction provided by its standard Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive, the Legacy is an extremely attractive family sedan, especially when one considers the base model's sub-$21,000 starting price.