The 2013 Subaru Legacy has a revised engine with a smidge more power than the 2012 version, and a new continuously variable transmission designed to be more responsive and more efficient. The engine sometimes vocalizes the asthmatic wheezing that is typical of four-cylinder engines strained by CVTs, but overall it's a smooth powertrain that provides more than adequate acceleration. I still love the way this car drives: the Legacy is pleasant and inoffensive, yet it offers just a touch better steering and suspension balance than in typical midsize sedans, making it feel like a special choice in its class.
The two EyeSight cameras fitted to this Legacy add two blocks of beige plastic just above the rearview mirror, but fortunately they are beyond the driver's normal field of vision. A giant yellow sticker warns against touching the camera lenses, while two chunky buttons allow you to disable the forward-collision and lane-departure warnings independently. I'm not foolish enough to test the forward collision warning on public roads, but the lane-departure system worked very well. When I deliberately moved across a lane line without signaling, the car emitted some annoyed chirps and the instrument cluster displayed a polite message with a steering-wheel icon.
Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor
Just after a Subaru technology briefing earlier this year I remarked that the EyeSight system was acceptably quick, driver-focused, and relatively unobtrusive. While that analysis was based on a quick spin around a closed test track, I'm happy to report that the same is true when you're on public roads.
At speed, the active cruise control is among the best systems I've used. The two cameras (mounted on either side of the mirror) are quick to see traffic ahead, and the system emits a quiet chirp to let you know that it's found a car up ahead or latched on to a new car if you (or someone up ahead) switch lanes (beep-averse drivers can turn off the chirp). Unlike many radar-based systems there are no sudden lurches for false positives, or momentary pauses while the system verifies that the thing it's detected in front of you is actually a car. Crucially, the camera's placement inside the car means you won't accidentally bump and disable the sensor while parking, and the continuously variable transmission ensures that when traffic clears, you won't wait for/feel a downshift to accelerate.
The forward collision warning and lane departure warning systems are equally good. While the FCW won't detect very quick changes in traffic (owing to the computer that analyzes the image feeds), it's powerful enough to avoid or lessen the blow of most common rear-end collisions. Under speeds of about 40 mph EyeSight can automatically stop the car, but above that (or in some inclement conditions) the system will apply full anti-lock braking force to lessen the impact. All but the clumsiest drivers will have time to brake for themselves, however, because the system sounds an audible warning at just the right time -- not too early to be overly sensitive, not too late to be, well, too late. The lane-departure warning isn't overly sensitive (as some competitors are), but still effective.
EyeSight's American debut -- in the Legacy and Outback, as well as the new Forester -- will be confined only to the top trim levels, but Subaru promises to trickle the feature down in the future. Considering that it's an unobtrusive way of making sure you stay in your lane and apply the brakes in time, that's good news.
Ben Timmins, Associate Web Editor