2008 Subaru Legacy


$3,951 - $7,363

2008 Subaru Legacy Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2008 Subaru Legacy was new.


Performance: 8.2

The 2008 Legacy is praised for its quick acceleration, sharp handling and all-wheel drive, and its solid performance is in the top-tier of the affordable midsize class. The Detroit News says the Legacy is "packed with power. It's a rare vehicle that literally leaps to life the instant you press the throttle."

Kelley Blue Book notes, "With a light steering effort and small turning circle, the Legacy is pleasant around town and in a parking lot. Likewise, highway ride is well within the range of comfortable."

Acceleration and Power

According to Carz Unlimited, "The base engine provides adequate acceleration, but serious drivers will want to go for the turbo motor and its vast reserves of power -- trust us, you won't miss having a V6." Kelley Blue Book adds, "The engine's turbocharger comes on quickly, strongly, and smoothly."

The 2.5i Special Edition is powered by a 170-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder Subaru boxer engine and makes 170 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 rpm. Available with a five-speed manual or an optional four-speed automatic transmission with SPORTSHIFT manual control, its Environmental Protection Agency-rated fuel economy is 20 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. The 2.5i Limited has a standard four-speed automatic.

The 2.5 GT Limited and 2.5 GT spec.B are powered by a 243-horsepower 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder Subaru boxer engine that makes 241 pound-feet of torque at 3,600 rpm. While the 2.5 GT Limited is available in a standard five-speed manual and the option for a five-speed automatic with SPORTSHIFT downshift rev-matching control, the 2.5 GT spec.B comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission. According to the EPA, the 2.5 GT Limited maintains a fuel economy of 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway, while the 2.5 GT spec.B's fuel efficiency is rated at 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

The 3.0 R Limited is powered by a 245-horsepower 3.0-liter six-cylinder Subaru boxer engine and makes 215 pound-feet of torque at 4,200 rpm. Only offered with a five-speed automatic transmission with SPORTSHIFT rev-matching control, its EPA estimated fuel economy is 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway.

Although each of the Legacy's trim levels receives a respectable range of gas mileage, MSN warns the "2.5-liter turbocharged and intercooled four-cylinder needs premium gasoline."

Handling and Braking

According to MSN, "Steering was quick to respond to moves of the steering wheel, but not so much that it was twitchy." Edmunds explains these system components combined with Subaru's traditional boxer engine make for "sharp handling" and a "comfortable highway ride." Motor Week adds that "it is in handling hardware where this car really shines."

All Legacy trim levels are equipped with power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering and sit atop a four-wheel independent suspension system that's outfitted with both front and rear stabilizer bars. Antidive, antilift and antisquat geometry allows for a smooth ride. Still, MSN calls the ride "mostly smooth. I felt bumps and heard loud suspension 'ba-booms' only on potholes and really rough pavement."

Although the 2.5 GT spec.B and 3.0 R Limited also come outfitted with both rack-and-pinion steering and a four-wheel independent suspension system, sport-tuned Bilstein shocks provide better sport handling than other trims. CNET notes the suspension system is "tuned well for aggressive driving but doesn't get harsh over bad pavement."

Additionally, all 2008 Subaru Legacy trims come equipped with a four-wheel disc, ventilated front (ventilated front and rear for GT and R trim-levels), four-channel, four-sensor anti-lock brake system, as well as Electronic Brake force Distribution.

All Wheel Drive

Every 2008 Subaru Legacy comes equipped with a symmetrical all-wheel drive system, which simultaneously sends an equal amount of power from the engine to each wheel -- resulting in better performance, enhanced traction and increased overall safety.

While trims equipped with a manual transmission maintain a continuous all-wheel drive system, automatics are outfitted with an active all-wheel drive system. The difference lies in how torque is distributed to the wheels. Whereas the torque distribution in a manual Legacy is configured at a 50/50 front-to-rear split, automatics distribute power where it's needed the most -- depending on driving/road conditions.

As is the case with most Subarus, the Legacy's all-wheel drive system impresses. "With all-wheel drive and grippy tires on the Legacy, I tracked confidently around curves at good speeds and even managed an emergency maneuver around debris without fuss," MSN says. "At 50 miles an hour, the Legacy swerved, quickly returned to its path and never bobbled."

Performance Options

Standard on the GT and R trim levels is Subaru's SI-DRIVE Performance Management System, which enables three different modes of vehicle performance characteristics: Intelligent, Sport and Sport Sharp. Torque and power are reduced in Intelligent mode, "making the Subaru feel slower than in the other modes," Motor Trend notes. Sport mode is designed for use on freeways or suburban streets, and "provides a quicker throttle response and powerful, linear acceleration," Motor Trend says. Lastly, Sport Sharp modifies the engine's electronic throttle, "providing an even quicker response than Sport mode and full use of all 243 ponies."

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