2018 Subaru Legacy review with video

The basics:

Starting price: $24,995 + tax
As tested: $27,795 + tax
Average fuel economy over our week of testing: 7.6 L/100 kms (31 US MPG)
Competitors: Honda Accord, Mazda6, Toyota Camry, etc.

The Subaru Legacy has been a long-standing choice in the company’s line-up. It’s been with us since 1989 but has undergone some huge changes over that stretch. And even though we’re still in the same sixth generation Legacy that’s been around since 2014, 2018 marks some big changes, too – new looks, better smartphone integration, a quieter cabin and improved handling among them. For our full review, watch the video above and then check out our bullet point report card below. And thanks to Subaru Calgary for supplying our test vehicle this week.

– First up, a refreshed exterior look. It’s the most mature looking car in the Subaru line-up – a handsome car that’s still not too flashy in its exterior lines to alienate the more reserved among us
– Another change for 2018 is the introduction of Android Auto and Apple Carplay on all trims of the Legacy. That’s something many are now demanding in their cars and is not yet available in all Subaru vehicles
– What really makes the Legacy jump off the page from its competitors is standard full-time all wheel drive. Even though the Legacy starts at $24,995 in Canada, it gives you the confidence of all wheel drive straight out of the gate. Meanwhile, the Camry and the Accord start at over $1,000 more. And while the Mazda6 is marginally cheaper at its starting price, none of these cars offer all wheel drive at all
– And despite its all wheel drive capability, fuel economy in our 2.5-litre equipped test vehicle was a very impressive 7.6 L/100 kms – which actually outstrips the front wheel drive Accord we were testing last month
– Even though the Outback shares a lot of DNA with the Legacy, ground clearance is bumped down to 150 mm in the Legacy vs the Outback’s 220 mm. The result is a car that feels more planted in the corners. But it gives you a bit more height than the 130 mm in the Impreza – which I found to be bottoming out in deeper snow when I was testing it last spring. A good middle ground
– In terms of the interior, its the quietest Subaru we’ve tested so far. Laminated front glass is new for 2018 and that helps bump down our cabin noise ratings to 62 dB at 100 kms/hr – that’s significantly quieter than the Forester and just a touch louder than the Accord
– Now, in the second row you’re going to find exactly the same amount of leg room in the Legacy as you will the Outback – which is to say, it’s pretty darn spacious at 38 inches. That’s exactly the same as the Camry – but 2 inches less than you’d see in the pretty luxurious feeling Accord. But none the less, the Legacy handles both front and rear facing car seats in both front and rear facing mode really well
– And just like Subarus across the line these days, the Legacy has a top safety pick plus rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

– Both the 2.5-litre 4 cylinder engine that comes on the lower trims and the optional 3.6-litre six cylinder are lacking in really grin-inspiring power. The smaller 175 horsepower engine feels more than capable under most driving conditions but lacks oomph under quick acceleration or highway passing scenarios. Meanwhile, the larger engine puts out 81 more horsepower but really doesn’t seem to offer much more gumption despite the $3,000 jump in price and a heftier fuel bill
– While the interior looks generally good with a solid, easy to use infotainment system, the climate control buttons feel a bit chicklety and cheap to the touch and there are some really hard, cut rate plastics throughout the cabin
– The seats are also just kind of average with unsupportive foam, poor bolstering for spirited driving and a lack of ventilated seats in the top of the line Limited trim
– Now at the back end, 425 litres of trunk space means it is right on par with the Camry or the Mazda6 while the Accord edges it out with 473 litres. It’s a decently sized trunk that could fit our standardized trunk test just fine. But there is a big, black box bolted to the trunk’s ceiling that can make taller items a bit tricky to fit and had us missing the trunk space in its larger sibling, the Outback, throughout the week. For families, that’s certainly the more obvious choice

Family Wheels report card:

Family Wheels driver comfort score: 4/5
Family Wheels interior layout score: 4/5
Family Wheels infotainment system score: 4/5
Family Wheels interior noise score: 4/5 (62 dB at 100 kms/h)
Family Wheels performance score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 4/5
Family Wheels trunk test score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels build quality score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels value score: 4/5

Family Wheels overall score: 39/50= 78%


  • A car for any pocket and that looks tranet! It’s probably the next car I’m going to buy!

  • Matt

    Thanks for your review. I’m torn between an 18 Legacy and an 18 Outback, and I would purchase the 3.6 engine regardless of model. While I do have two little ones in car seats in the back, I don’t know that I need the extra utility that Outback offers… my wife drives a third-row SUV, so that’s our family “vacation” car. For someone that may rarely need a little cargo room for some luggage or backpacks, would the Legacy be a good fit? The primary mission for this car would be my commuter, which would be replacing my 2011 Outback 2.5. (Regarding the power from the 3.6, I found the 3.6 to be impressive – it needed very little throttle input compared to the 2.5 and had a pretty quick response… It moved when I wanted it to move, and was really quiet.)

    • Matt

      Did you ever feel like the Legacy might be too low for the snow? My job requires me to get there even when it’s a state of emergency outside, so I wonder what your opinion on the Legacy’s ground clearance vs. the Outback’s would be. Sounds like it cuts both ways. The Outback is a little higher, but that means the CG is higher also, making the Legacy a little better for handling and stability, right? Does the difference in ground clearance really make a big difference for someone that doesn’t off road?

      • pkarchut

        Hi Matt… if you have to go out in the ugliest blizzards, I would upsize to the Outback. The Legacy’s ground clearance will be fine for you 98% of the time but if you REALLY have to get somewhere in a whiteout, that little extra will go a long way.

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