The interior of the 2013 Subaru Limited 3.6R is comfortable and spacious.
DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: I spent some time in the 2012 Subaru Legacy 3.6R awhile back and came away from the car feeling pretty ambivalent. Unless Subaru made some fairly major platform changes (not likely), my experience in the 2013 is an ideal example of how different drives on different days with what’s fundamentally the same car can yield different results.
I picked up the Legacy at the Detroit airport after eight days on the road; sitting in the lot it was a nondescript design in an equally nondescript burgundy paint, but the big trunk swallowed all my luggage and the seats were immediately notable for their comfort, particularly after sitting on Delta’s plywood thrones for nine hours.
Anyway, in the ensuing three days the Legacy proved itself a quiet, capable commuter with plenty of power from its unique flat-six engine. Quiet is the word here — I don’t use that term about Subaru cars often, but the company has done a fantastic job of smoothing out the oddball vibrations of its flat engine, along with wind and road noise, in the Legacy sedan.
Rear-seat space is very generous in this midsizer, and the overall cabin is open and airy even. And, while I never had an opportunity to put the company’s symmetric all-wheel drive to the test, I’ve had enough Subaru time under my belt to expect this sedan to be a mountain goat in the worst Detroit winters. Unfortunately, AWD is also undoubtedly a contributor to the Legacy’s unremarkable 21 mpg combined EPA rating.
All in all, bravo, Subaru. The 2013 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited is a slick sedan flying under most buyers’ radars. It’s one of the few vehicles I’ve tested that, upon seeing the MSRP, I’ve thought to myself, “Yeah, that sounds about right.”
EDITOR WES RAYNAL: Mr. Stoy uses the word ambivalent above, exactly how one can catch oneself feeling driving the Legacy. I’m also pretty sure he’s correct when he says this car flies below the radar of midsize sedan shoppers — most think of Honda Accords,Ford Fusions, Toyota Camrys. Maybe the Chevrolet Malibu and probably the Hyundai Sonata, I’d wager.
So here’s the Subaru Legacy. Better than decent power, a transmission that’s so smooth I thought I might be in a CVT-equipped car, all-wheel drive security in the four seasons … it’s got some stuff going for it. Yeah, I had initial ambivalence, but the more seat time, the more I liked it.
Of the cars mentioned above, I’d argue this is among the most comfortable. The seats are relaxing (increasingly important to me at my advanced age — imagine that). The ride around Detroit is terrific. Nice and smooth (see previous parenthetical about my advancing age and how this too is becoming more and more important — sad but true). Yes, there’s lots of body roll if you corner hard or even hard-ish. Don’t care.
Most people probably think station wagons when they think of Subaru. Granola-crunchin’ farmers and Dartmouth professors buy Subaru wagons. To many, that’s why the company exists. Or that’s the reputation at least. (Yes, real car people know letters such as WRX and BRZ are important, but I’ll wager the general consumer doesn’t). Reputations are hard to shake. But this car is an argument for considering Subaru’s sedans.
Exciting? No. Mainstream good? Definitely.
EXECUTIVE EDITOR BOB GRITZINGER: Midsize-car shoppers who miss out on the Subaru Legacy are doing themselves a disservice. Yes, the car is fairly unremarkable in styling, but it’s a rare midsize sedan that does turn heads (Hyundai Sonata comes to mind). Taken in total, though, the car is a really nice piece of work, especially inside, where the seats are supportive, heated and readily adjustable to a good driving position, and controls are handy and functional (though gaining the upper hand on the navigation system’s voice prompts was fairly maddening — easy to find once you spot the nondescript volume bar across the bottom of the navi touchscreen, but not obvious).
Steering is direct, brakes are good, suspension is solid without being kidney-busting, but the engine — as noted — is the real strong point here. This H6 and the AWD work together to positively fling the Legacy up to speed — it’s really quite remarkable for such a mundane-looking model. If only the car were outfitted with a more modern transmission, or a dual-clutch auto-manual, it’d be a great driver. As is, the tranny doesn’t always want to swap down to the ratio you want for a corner, which limits the confidence level that everything else about the car tends to inspire.
2013 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited
Base Price: $29,665
As-Tested Price: $32,382
Drivetrain: 3.6-liter H6; AWD, five-speed automatic
Output: 256 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 247 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,545 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 18/25/21 mpg
AW Observed Fuel Economy: 21.5 mpg
Options: Option package 08 including power moonroof, navigation system with voice-activated control, 440-watt nine-speaker Harman/Kardon premium audio system, auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink, XM satellite radio and SiriusXM NavTraffic, Bluetooth hands-free phone and streaming audio connectivity, AM/FM stereo with one-CD player, rear vision camera, auxiliary audio USB/iPod port ($2,645); four all-weather floor mats ($72)
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