2016 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Review
A different take on the family sedan
Published: February 29th, 2016
The Subie Legacy sedan has been around since way back in 1991, and it's grown in size, space, power and prestige. These are all positive changes for a car that currently has to compete with the powerhouses of family sedans - the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry - but also with the likes of the Mazda6, and the Chevy Malibu in the crosshairs. It's not the first family sedan to come to mind when shopping, but it has all the comforts and amenities the others offer, along with the all-seasons all-wheel drive that comes standard -- an offering the others can't provide. We recently drove it during a Chicago winter, putting it to the test in snow and ice as well as some pretty cold temperatures. It was a prime opportunity to put it to the test using its symmetrical all-wheel drive system.
Exterior: Movin' on up
The Legacy has certainly grown in visual status over the generations. We think it's become a bit thick in its profile since the nearly perfect design of the fourth generation car, the Legacy has had to look more upscale in order to be competitive in a very tough segment. The shield-shaped grille, the larger fascia and the rising crease in the profile give it a more sophisticated look than ever before.
- Shield-shaped grille is now ubiquitous and doesn't really set the Legacy apart from other cars with the same look.
- The Legacy sedan now has presence instead of just looking like a less-expensive version of the Outback wagon.
- Twin round exhaust pipes are perfectly executed. More cars should do it this way.
Interior: Comfortable and non-offensive
Subaru has never been known for their interiors, but the Legacy is about as good as it gets for the brand. Rather than neglecting, the folks at Subaru have made the Legacy a comfortable place to be that doesn't dare to do anything crazy like Toyota's done with the Prius. It seats five with plenty of space and provides good seats and easy-to-use ergonomics. A little drama, however, wouldn't hurt.
- Huge amounts of room for everybody involved. Six-footers won't be lacking for space in the Legacy.
- The seats make long daily commutes easier thanks to great supportiveness.
- Too much gloss black on the center console makes for fingerprint smudges galore. Keep kids away from it.
- Dowdy and massive gearshift knob is about as vanilla as they come.
Even though some critics think the Legacy 3.6R is a slowpoke, we actually found the acceleration and torque more than adequate. Throttle response is almost shocking, especially from a standstill. Even if it might just be perception, the Legacy 3.6R has plenty of oomph for passing and on-ramps. It could, however, use a bit of weight loss in the turns.
- Moves quite well in a straight line with plenty of punch and good throttle response.
- The standard all-wheel drive is brilliant -- keeping us in high traction through a few inches of snow. Chicago warrants this kind of setup. Why more family sedans aren't doing it is beyond us.
- Steering is on the light side but has good precision that, unfortunately, is betrayed by the sheer weight of the car. Turns are not confidence-inspiring.
- CVT is less than thrilling. This boxer six is in desperate need of a dual clutch transmission. This is no big WRX, that's for sure.
From a commuter and family standpoint, we loved it. It took on gear, kids and managed the daily commute like a champ -- especially when the snow hit. The fact that you can get the base version of this car with all-wheel drive for less than a Camry or Accord (limited to front-wheel drive) is shocking. We don't see why the Legacy sedan isn't a more popular choice. Plus, for an AWD car, 29 MPG is pretty decent.
From a driving enthusiast perspective, we were let down by the corpulence, front-heavy nature of the Legacy. It can dive into turns quickly, but the driving dynamics are betrayed by a car that both looks and is heavy. It's not a car you can negotiate curves with well at all, and it's better reserved for folks who don't care to have fun by taking on more adventurous drives. The Mazda6 is far more suited for these situations.
What the Legacy sedan does offer is great practicality along with comfort, space and the assurance of all-wheel drive, which is probably its greatest selling point.
Specifications & Price
Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC Boxer 6-Cylinder
Transmission: CVT with manual shift mode
Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, all-wheel drive
Power Output: 256 hp / 247 lb-ft of torque
Fuel Economy: 20 mpg city / 29 mpg highway
Base Price: $29,945
As Tested: $33,830 (including $795 destination and delivery)
Options on our tester: Option Package 23: Power Moonroof Package - Power Moonroof, Auto-Dimming Rear View Compass Mirror w/ Homelink; Navigation Infotainment System - Voice-Activated Control Navigation, Audio and HVAC, Subaru Map Update Program 3-Year Free Updates, SiriusXM Traffic 36 Months Free, SiriusXM Travel Link, Weather, Sports 36 Months Free; Eyesight Driver-Assist System - Pre-Collision Braking System, Steering Responsive Fog (SRF) Lights, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning & Lane Sway Warning, Pre-Collision Throttle Management System; Keyless Access with Push-Button Start
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2016 Subaru Legacy, click here: 2016 Subaru Legacy.