I find Subaru’s Outback and Legacy products to be quite interesting. There’s a base model with a normally aspirated H-4, an H-6 model that’s only available with an automatic transmission, and a turbocharged H-4 that’s only available with a manual transmission. The turbo-4 produces the most power and costs the most, which is probably perplexing for Subaru shoppers not familiar with the WRX and STI models.
As an enthusiast, I don’t care much for the Legacy or Outback 3.6R models. The six-cylinder produces adequate power but I don’t want the automatic transmission. If I’m going to choose a two-pedal transmission, I’d go for the base engine and the CVT, which can deliver 31 mpg on the highway. If performance is a priority, I’d go with the 2.5GT model.
What really makes the Legacy stand out from its mid-size competitors is the standard all-wheel drive system. If you’re in a snowbelt state, that’s a boon. Buyers in the sunbelt states probably ignore the Legacy because they see no benefit in driving all four wheels. With the CVT, there’s not much fuel economy penalty for having an AWD vehicle. Subaru’s system is seamless under all driving conditions, so there’s no reason to write it off just because you live in an area that rarely sees inclement weather.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor
The interior is where this Subaru Legacy Limited really stands out from its predecessors. The materials look good and overall it’s far more cohesive in its design and layout. The details are still a bit muddled though: the HVAC controls on the lower center console are too small, are labeled with type that’s too thin, and are so similarly shaped that they require a double or triple take to decipher; the steering-wheel-mounted controls are a bit easier to locate and use but the thin type face makes these difficult to read as well.
Beyond these complaints (which would likely become a non-issue after spending some more time in the Legacy), this fully optioned Limited model is a good choice for those who don’t want to see themselves coming and going in a Honda Accord or a Toyota Camry or who need seating for five and all-wheel drive.
Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms
My first impression of the Subaru Legacy 3.6R sedan was, wow, it has quite a nice interior. The materials, save the fake wood trim, present well and the driver interfaces seem well designed. My second impression, when I opened the rear door to throw my gym bag onto the seat, was that there’s a lot of room back there, especially compared with the previous-generation Legacy.
I showed the Legacy 3.6R to my friend Jim, an Audi owner and car snob, and asked him what he thought of the interior. “Well,” he replied, “the center stack and the general interior design just look like the ones in so many other Japanese cars.” He said this with some measure of disdain, but I think that he was inadvertently paying Subaru a compliment, because there is nothing that Subaru wanted more with this new generation of Legacy than to mimic some of the success of mass-market Japanese family sedans like the Honda Accord, the Toyota Camry, and the Nissan Altima. So, if a person’s initial impression, upon poking their head inside the Legacy, is that they think they are inside a Honda, or a Toyota, or a Nissan then Subaru is happy with that, I bet.
I find the six-cylinder boxer engine to be a little bit off-message for Subaru. Subaru, to me, is more about four-cylinder boxer engines, and turbocharged four-cylinder boxer engines. Also, this engine’s displacement has increased by 20 percent, from 3.0 liters to 3.6 liters, but power has risen only 11 percent, from 245 hp to 256 hp; torque, though, rose 15 percent, from 215 lb-ft to 247 lb-ft. The engine is also still saddled with a five-speed automatic transmission rather than a six-speed.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
2011 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited
Base price (with destination): $29,020
Price as tested: $30,015
● 3.6-liter 6-cylinder boxer engine
● 5-sp automatic transmission
● 17-inch alloy wheels
● Front McPherson struts/rear double-wishbone suspension
● All-wheel drive
● Tire pressure monitoring system
● Dual-zone automatic climate control
● Power windows/mirros/locks
● Electronic parking brake
● Harmon/Kardon sound system w/ 9 speakers & 440 watts
● Leather trimmed seats
● 10-way power driver’s seat / 4-way power passenger seat
● 60/40 split folding rear seat
● Tilt/telescoping steering column
● XM satellite radio
Options on this vehicle:
● Power moonroof — $995
Key options not on vehicle:
● Power moonroof + navigation system — $2995
18 / 25 / 20 mpg
Horsepower: 256 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 247 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm
Curb weight: 3557 lb
Wheels/tires: 17-inch alloy wheels
225/50R17 all-season tires