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2016 Subaru Legacy Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Subaru Legacy was new.


Performance: 7.8

The 2016 Subaru Legacy has composed handling, some auto writers note, but they don't consider it sporty. They also write that the Legacy sometimes has a rough ride over uneven roads. Test drivers say the base four-cylinder and optional six-cylinder engines feel a bit underpowered, but the transmission responds quickly and operates smoothly.

  • "The 2016 Subaru Legacy comes up a bit short in the way it drives. It's slower and less cushy than many other rival sedans." -- Edmunds
  • "Overall, this Legacy feels much livelier than the one it replaces, a lot like the spunky 2005-2009 Legacy (still a great car that commands high resale value)." -- Automobile Magazine (2015)
  • "From the moment you roll on the throttle mid-corner, the lack of torque steer reminds you the Legacy is no front-driver. Combine that with the much better-than-average steering, and my initial reaction was, 'Hey, this is like a big WRX!'" -- Motor Trend (2015)
  • "The Legacy is one of those cars that isn't obviously sporty, but it conducts itself with more composure than you might think." -- AutoWeek (2015)

Acceleration and Power

The Subaru Legacy comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 175 horsepower. A 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine that has 256 horsepower is available. All models come standard with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which drives like an automatic. According to the EPA, the base 2016 Legacy earns 26/36 mpg city/highway, which is good for the class and excellent for an all-wheel drive midsize car.

Reviewers note that the 2016 Legacy’s base engine doesn’t feel especially powerful. They say that the available six-cylinder engine adds some punch, but still doesn’t offer quick acceleration from a stop. Critics add that the CVT works well and responds quickly when more power is needed.

  • Both the four- and the six-cylinder engines for the 2016 Subaru Legacy are quiet and smooth, but acceleration is lackluster." -- Edmunds
  • "The 4-cylinder is hardly a hot-rod engine, but that's not the point. Instead, it offers a surprisingly smooth driving experience (even by CVT standards) and excellent fuel economy, even with heavy standard all-wheel drive. Shoppers who opt for the 6-cylinder will get a lot of extra power on tap, though the Legacy's smoothness doesn't go away with the larger powerplant." -- AutoTrader
  • The 3.6 definitely improves things, but still left us wanting for more. Grunt off the line isn't great, but the six-cylinder is plenty strong for passing maneuvers." -- Left Lane News (2015)
  • "Subaru might just be building the best CVT available today, perhaps because it does a stellar job pretending its CVTs don't feel like CVTs. The stepped gears react quickly to paddle shifting -- the only way to manually switch gears on a Subaru automatic -- and the power is always right there, ready to be used." -- AutoWeek (2015)

Handling and Braking

The Subaru Legacy comes standard with all-wheel drive. While a few reviewers note that the Legacy has controlled handling, several report that it isn’t very engaging to drive and has noticeable body lean when cornering. Some test drivers say that over uneven pavement, the ride is rough, but they mention that the brakes feel strong.

  • Around corners, the Legacy feels composed, though it's not as sporty as its smaller Impreza stablemate." -- AutoTrader
  • Last year, we noted that the Legacy's ride wasn't as cushy as some of its competitors. Subaru has retuned the shock absorbers on the Limited model, which already had a suspension tuned for better ride comfort. But the volume-selling 2.5i and Premium models remain unchanged, and we suspect the Legacy's ride quality will still be relatively unrefined when driving over big bumps. Around turns, the Legacy is precise and easy to drive, but a significant amount of body roll or lean prevents the car from feeling truly sporty." -- Edmunds
  • "But the important feature is that the Legacy now packs the same Active Torque Vectoring as in the Impreza WRX STI. What this means is that if you pitch it into a corner at a rate slightly above your pay grade, the Legacy will carry you out smoothly enough to make you look like a hero." -- AutoWeek (2015)
  • "Brakes are the same ventilated discs all around regardless of which engine is chosen, and they stop the car with confidence." -- Autoblog (2015)

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