All-wheel drive makes the Subaru Legacy an excellent choice for anyone who wants a midsize sedan capable of handling the worst weather. These cars are particularly enjoyable to drive through the mountains where winding roads may be dry, wet, icy or covered with snow. However, responsive handling, respectable performance and handsome styling make the Legacy enjoyable to own even when the sun is shining and the roads are dry.
All Legacy models are sedans. If you want a wagon, check out the Outback. Among midsize sedans, the Legacy doesn't seem overly large, thanks to relatively short overhangs front and rear and a coupe-like roofline. Distinctive styling helps the Legacy stand apart from other midsize sedans. Aggressive wheel arches are complemented with edged flares.
The 2012 Legacy offers a choice of three powertrains: Legacy 2.5i comes with a 2.5-liter single-overhead cam four-cylinder, Legacy 2.5GT features a turbocharged double overhead-cam four-cylinder, while the Legacy 3.6R has a 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine. All are Subaru's signature horizontally opposed engines, two flat-4s and a flat-6, which keep the center of gravity low for improved handling.
The Subaru Legacy 2.5i gets good fuel economy and we found it effortless to drive, especially with the optional continuously variable transmission: put it in Drive and go. The Legacy 2.5GT is sporty and fun to drive with its turbocharged engine and manual gearbox. The Legacy 3.6R has strong low-rpm power from its big six-cylinder engine for excellent drivability; it's powerful and luxurious. All of them are enjoyable to drive and offer good handling, the benefits of all-wheel drive, a low center of gravity and nicely tuned suspensions.
Inside, the Legacy is wonderfully comfortable, with high-quality interior trim. We particularly liked the perforated leather on the Limited models. These aren't luxury cars, but they are premium cars in terms of the quality of materials and the engineering that goes into them. Front- and rear-seat legroom is adequate. Trunk space measures 14.7 cubic feet, average for the segment.
The 2012 Legacy represents the fifth generation of the model, which was completely redesigned for 2010. Only minor changes have made their way into the lineup since then. Changes for 2012 have consisted almost entirely of new standard equipment and option packages. Among them:
2012 Subaru Legacy models offer a new Alloy Wheel Package that includes fog lights and cold-weather equipment. Audio systems have been upgraded on 2012 Legacy Premium and 2012 Legacy Limited models. Fog lights are now standard on 2012 Legacy Limited models.
The 2012 Subaru Legacy 2.5i ($19,995) is powered by a 170-hp boxer-four engine, paired with 6-speed manual transmission, and riding on 16-inch steel wheels. Standard equipment includes air conditioning; 60/40 split rear seat with armrest; steering wheel with audio and cruise control buttons; four-speaker AM/FM stereo with CD player, Radio Data Broadcast System (RDBS), and input jacks; remote entry; and power windows, locks and mirrors. The CVT is optional ($1000). New for 2012 is an Alloy Wheel Package ($995) that includes 16-inch aluminum wheels, fog lights and an All-Weather Package comprising two-stage heated front seats, heated exterior mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer.
Legacy 2.5i Premium ($21,995) adds a 10-way power driver's seat, alloy wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel and other conveniences. New for 2012 is an upgraded six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo that includes Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity with steering-wheel controls and audio streaming, RDBS, iPod control capability, a USB port and 3.5mm auxiliary input jack, and pre-wiring for XM/ Sirius Satellite Radio. CVT is optional ($1000), as is the All Weather Package ($500); or order the All Weather Package combined with a moonroof ($1495). Choose the CVT automatic, and you can also package the all-weather equipment with the Limited-level harman-kardon stereo described below ($1795); or the all-weather package, the harman-kardon stereo, and the moonroof ($2,790).
Legacy 2.5i Limited ($25,595) comes with leather-trimmed upholstery, a four-way adjustable power passenger seat, dual-zone climate control, 17-inch alloy wheels, the all-weather package and the CVT. The previously standard nine-speaker harman-kardon 440-watt audio system now incorporates all the same connectivity features as the new Premium-level stereo, plus HD radio and a 4.3-inch LCD display. XM Satellite Radio is standard. Fog lights are now standard as well. The only options are the moonroof ($995) and the moonroof plus navigation ($2,995), which includes a rearview camera.
Legacy 2.5GT Limited ($31,595) is equipped similarly but powered by a 265-hp turbocharged engine with 6-speed manual transmission, larger brakes, and 18-inch alloy wheels with summer tires. The moonroof is standard, as is a hood scoop and unique interior trim. The only transmission offered is a 6-speed manual, and the only option is navigation ($2,000).
Legacy 3.6R ($25,095) comes with a 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine and a 5-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, along with the larger brakes from the GT model, and 17-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires. Otherwise standard equipment is just slightly more deluxe than on the base 2.5i. No options are available.
Legacy 3.6R Premium ($26,295) adds 10-way power driver's seat, all-weather package, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and the same new deluxe stereo as the 2.5i Premium. The moonroof is optional, with the harman-kardon stereo ($2,290), or without ($995).
Legacy 3.6R Limited ($28,595) adds leather, the four-way power passenger seat, dual-zone climate control, and the same upgraded harman-kardon sound system as the 2.5i Limited; with the moonroof ($995), and moonroof plus navigation ($2,995) as the only options.
Safety equipment on all 2012 Subaru Legacy models includes front and front side airbags with side curtain airbags, ABS with Electronic Brake-force Distribution and Brake Assist, Vehicle Dynamics Control with traction control, all-wheel drive, and the federally mandated tire pressure monitor. The optional navigation system includes a rearview camera.