An excellent all-around sedan in the lamest clothing.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens. There are always more photos at the end of my reviews.
Pricing: 2023 Subaru Legacy
Base price (GT trim): $41,995
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $43,945
OK, let’s just get this out of the way right now. The Legacy looks awful. Well, not awful, just awfully boring. I love Subaru and almost all of their offerings, and as you’ll read shortly, the Legacy is no exception. I’m even supportive of some of Subaru’s stranger styling exercises. But this Legacy is without question one of the most boring cars on the market today when it comes to exterior styling.
Thankfully it’s not hard on the eyes, but this car will never, ever get a second look from other drivers. It blends in like a jellybean in a jar full of them.
I reviewed the GT-trim, which gets a couple of flourishes of interest like the red trim on the grille and bigger 18-inch rims, although even those aren’t very flashy.
Thankfully things improve inside. The materials are pretty nice – there are plenty of soft-touch surfaces and stitched panels – and the styling is standard fare for current Subarus. You’l find nothing ground-breaking, but it feels accessible and modernized.
I loved the steering wheel – it’s grippy and fat, heated and feels great in the hands. Behind it sits a mixed dash, combining analog gauges and a big driver information screen in the middle.
The leather seats are heated, ventilated, power-adjustable, very comfortable and provide excellent bolstering during sportier driving. They are upholstered with Nappa leather, which is no joke. These are really nice seats.
You won’t miss the 11.6″ vertically-oriented touchscreen. It’s bright, crisp and responsive – although it does control a bit too much in my opinion. I don’t like having to wait for a screen to turn on and warm up for me to have to tap a virtual button to heat my seat. But for the most part, it’s all very user friendly and well laid out. The harman kardon 12-speaker sound system is excellent!
There’s a standard sunroof overhead.
Subaru’s EyeSight safety suite is full-featured – you get forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking to avoid collisions front and rear, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, evasive steering assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and of course pedestrian and cyclist recognition. A couple of nitpicks – two of the systems are a bit aggressive and get annoying after a while. The driver distraction monitoring yells at you within a second or two of taking your eyes off the road – that’s great when the person is looking at their phone or whatever, but I found it even got grumpy when I did a longer shoulder check in a merge lane. It’s a bit too much. I also found the lane-keeping monitoring was too sensitive for my liking, flashing alerts and warnings as I approached any lines on the road. Neither are deal-breakers of course, just something to keep in mind.
It’s a spacious rear seat here with good head room and a ton of leg and foot room. The middle seating position is a bit narrow and raised, and straddles a floor tunnel, making it a notably less comfortable seat than the two outboard positions.
The outboard seats are heated and rear passengers get adjustable air vents, USB-A and USB-C charging ports, as well as an armrest that folds down with two cupholders.
I found a slim rubberized slot at the bottom of the centre stack which also acts as a wireless charging area – I like this as it holds your phone in place and the driver is less tempted to pick up your phone and get distracted. You’ll find USB-A and USB-C ports and an auxiliary plug there too.
Popping the armrest lid exposes a dual-level console box pending on which toggle you depress – a rubberized organizational tray on top and a deeper, carpeted bin with a 12V plug and…. a CD player slot, which is pretty old-school. In addition there is a little storage “ledge” in front of the passenger.
The Legacy’s large 428L trunk has a power release button at the driver’s seat. The rear seats split 60/40 and can be released from inside the trunk or inside the car – I appreciate that flexibility.
Under the Hood
The Legacy GT gets Subaru’s turbocharged 2.4L boxer-four engine. It puts out 260 HP and 277 lb.ft of torque, which gets sent through a CVT to all four corners, driving the legendary all-wheel drive system.
This powertrain is not known as frugal, and we averaged 12.7 L/100 km during our week with it. Subaru rates it at 10.1/7.5 L/100 km (city/highway).
Not that I was surprised that the Legacy is a great driving car, but perhaps I was taken aback at just HOW great.
Presenting with a nice snarl off the line, the Legacy GT accelerates very quickly when asked to. The driving experience is very smooth and that goes for the sport-tuned suspension too.
The car rides beautifully, while remaining firm enough over the road to remind you it’s not a sloppy sedan, and it handles incredibly well. The athleticism of this can took me by surprise a few times, as even with spongy winter rubber, its ability to find traction on almost any surface while staying flat around corners is impressive.
The traditional gear selector can be snicked into manual mode, where you can use the paddle shifters to access pre-programmed “gears” for pretend shifting. It’s pretty convincing, all things considered and adds a touch of sport to the driving experience. More effective is using one of the two sportier driving modes – SI-DRIVE and Sport#, which progressively make the transmission’s tuning more aggressive and focused.
Add to this the powerful braking and one of the best all-wheel drive systems in the world, and you have a completed driver’s package that performs really well and feels very solidly built.
WAF (Wife Approval Factor) was very high. She loved how it drove and the interior ease of use appealed to her, but she said “Why did they have to make it look so boring?”
So what do we have here? One of the industry’s biggest sleepers in terms of styling – it’s just downright lame but with so much potential. The Legacy can be super fun to drive and is rewarding behind the wheel, whether its commuting to work or carving through the curves.
Considering mid-sized sedans are practically a goner these days, and the other ones out there all perform wonderfully and look great, the competition is steep for an ever-shrinking market segment. But if you can get past the styling (or lack of it), the Subaru Legacy is an outstanding car, particularly in this top GT trim.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Subaru Canada.
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