The 2021 Subaru Legacy is a solid midsize sedan in a sea of excellent rivals including the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata, and all-new Kia K5. The Legacy may not have the style or performance of its competitors but is the only sedan in the U.S. with standard all-wheel-drive on all models. That and the Legacy’s upscale cabin and lots of standard driver assistance technologies make it worth a look.
Subaru sales in the Pacific Northwest have been strong for years. Standard all-wheel-drive can handle the diverse weather and driving conditions here, and Subaru’s done a great job of promoting its brand’s practicality and outdoorsy capabilities.
The Legacy got a makeover for 2020 and only gets a few additions for 2021. Front and rear passenger seat belt reminders, a rear seat reminder and adaptive headlights are now included as standard features.
The five-passenger Legacy comes in six trims: Base, Premium, Sport, Limited, Limited XT, and Touring XT. The Base trim starts at $22,895 which is below average for the class. The Touring XT starts at $36,145 which is on the high end for a top trim among midsize sedans.
The four lower trims get a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine that makes 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. Both XT trims get a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 260 horses and 277 pound-feet. Both engines are paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission with eight-speed manual shift mode and steering wheel paddle shift control switches.
The Legacy isn’t known for sporty performance, but both engines get the job done and boast better handling than the previous generation. My tester with the turbo has decent acceleration and agility. The CVT shifts smoothly and you can use the paddle shifters to manually shift up or down. The ride is nice and smooth with the suspension soaking up bumps. The Legacy stays planted when cornering. Visibility is good all the way around.
Fuel economy is a little above average for the class, even with standard AWD. EPA ratings for my tester are 24 mpg city and 32 mpg highway with a combined rating of 27. I got 27 during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The interior is roomy and comfortable with upscale, soft-touch materials. The design is clean with controls well laid out. There’s lots of standard tech including the Starlink infotainment system. Even taller adults enjoy good leg- and headroom in both rows.
Standard features include rearview camera, cloth upholstery, seven-inch touchscreen, four-speaker audio system, satellite radio, HD Radio, Bluetooth, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and adaptive headlights,
Available features include keyless entry, push-button start, front-view camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather or Nappa leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, 11.6-inch touch screen, navigation, six-speaker audio system, a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, wireless device charging, two rear USB ports, driver drowsiness monitoring, and a moonroof.
Standard driver assistance technologies include adaptive cruise control with lane centering, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, and forward automatic emergency braking. These are part of the Subaru EyeSight suite of technologies that are standard on all models.
Available driver assistance technologies include blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and reverse automatic emergency braking.
The Starlink infotainment system is easy to use with a little familiarization. The Base trim gets a seven-inch touchscreen while all the others have a large 11.6-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen that looks like a tablet. Graphics are sharp and the system responds quickly to touch and voice commands. The big virtual buttons are easy to locate and touch while driving. There are physical and knobs for volume and tuning, but climate and other audio controls are part of the touchscreen which can take time to figure out.
The 2021 Legacy has below average trunk space for the class with 15.1 cubic feet. Still, there’s plenty of room for several bags and the wide opening makes it easy to load your stuff. The 60/40 split-folding rear seats provide flexibility in hauling passengers and items.
Smooth, comfortable ride
Upscale and spacious interior
Lots of standard driver assistance tech
Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
Not as athletic as some rivals
My tester starts at $34,445. Destination fee is $925 bringing the grand total to $35,370.
There are several excellent midsize sedans, and the 2021 Subaru Legacy stacks up well with its standard AWD, smooth ride, spacious and upscale interior, and numerous standard safety features. It’s easy to see why Subaru has so many fans here in the Pacific Northwest.