2017 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Sport Mike Royer
“So long, Subaru! I’ll miss your huge fuel tank and ridiculous range. Is it weird that I hate stopping for gas this much?”
In Motor Trend’s version of My Two Dads, fleet admiral Erick Ayapana and I joined forces to shepherd a young and spirited Subaru Legacy through its journey of discovery in our long-term garage.
Shortly after the June 2017 issue went to press, Erick needed to give up his seat to help foster another vehicle, and that’s when I took over. Between the two of us, we logged 20,460 miles almost exclusively on the means streets of Socal, although head honcho Ed Loh took it on a trip to Sacramento, and web producer Erika Pizano hustled up to San Francisco for a weekend trip. Other than that, it was mostly used to get me between El Segundo and San Pedro and for the occasional downtown dash for Los Angeles Kings hockey (GKG)!
If getting off the beaten path is your thing, the Subie's AWD and ground clearance will give you an upper hand on the dirt roads.
This means I didn’t do a lot of open-highway driving, which probably accounts for our combined average of 26.3 mpg being a little less than the 29 and 31.1 mpg estimates from the EPA and Real MPG, respectively. Despite the lower numbers, the Legacy still managed to impress in the fuel mileage department because the whopping 18.5-gallon fuel tank made for a long-distance hauler that would often go 14 days and 500 miles between trips to the gas station.
For reference, our Legacy’s Subaru sibling, the 2016 Outback, which also has an 18.5-gallon fuel tank but weighs 203 pounds more, averaged 23.4 mpg over our year of testing it.
The interior is spacious and comfortable. My preference is to sit high and very close to the steering wheel, and I never felt cramped in the Legacy. It has a height of 59.0 inches, more than 3 inches taller than our last long-term sedan, a 2016 Honda Civic Touring, and I always felt I was sitting a little higher than I normally would in sedan. Ergonomically, everything is within reach of the driver, the controls are easy to manage, and the steering wheel and mirrors are a breeze to adjust.
The back seat has plenty of room for cargo, human and otherwise, with 38.1 inches of legroom for the former—the same as in the larger Outback. The Legacy also excells in one of the most important back-seat metrics—zero complaints about comfort from passengers.
One disappointment for me was all the scratches the console suffered with what I’d consider a light amount of abuse. Over the year the center console has developed some unsightly scars, presumably from tossing my keys into the cupholder upon entry. An everyday vehicle should be able to withstand a little torture. To combat this I trained myself to leave the keys in my pocket and use the keyless entry, which when you commit to works like a charm. I also took the time to adjust the settings to turn off the annoying beeping that accompanies every locking and unlocking—it was loud enough that I worried about waking the neighbors. The world needs less beeping, and I’m doing my part.
Aesthetically, the Starlink multimedia console could use some work (and Subaru must have
agreed, as newer models have updated looks). It does, however, have an actual volume and tuning knob along with plenty of options for listening to music. It offers pretty good clarity when listening loud, as well.
The multiple power and USB ports were much appreciated, as was the smartphone notch built into the center console. However, the execution of a device notch should be further fleshed out in the future. It would have been nice to be able to seat the phone in the notch and connect it to power or the console. Good idea, but not 100 percent there.
One person on staff seems to think my devotion to legacy technology makes me a Luddite. I think that’s a bit harsh and an inaccurate understanding of the word, but you’re the benefactor of my inability to let go of past devices.
For a while I was listening to my music and podcasts via Bluetooth streamed from my Dropbox app, and that worked pretty well, but recently I switched it up and have been using the aux input to listen via my ipod classic. I went the aux route because directly connecting the large ipod library was too much for the stereo to handle, and it would often glitch out and restart the ipod. It does work to connect your music device directly via USB, but I had spotty results and went with the technologically inferior analog aux input.
The Bluetooth streaming ability was easy to connect, so much so that while picking up the car from the valet, I got in and noticed the car’s Bluetooth had, from a distance, already synced to my phone and begun playing the show I was listening to. That’s a stereo eager to start streaming.
The Subie does have a CD player, and just to make sure it worked, I dug a disc out of storage. For a second I thought maybe Subaru could be bluffing to see if anyone noticed, but it played.
The navigation system went largely unused until I dropped my phone’s unlimited data plan. To save myself from the data-depleting Waze, I used Subaru’s onboard navigation, and to my delight it worked really well. Using real-time traffic updates, the nav steered me clear of a particularly nasty off-ramp construction project that stole hours from a bunch of co-workers.
Out on the road, although this model was called a “Sport,” it really doesn’t give off a sporty vibe. Its 0–60 time of 9.1 seconds is comparable to the Outback’s 9.5 seconds, and in the passing metric, the time to go from 45 to 65 mph, the Legacy and Outback again were comparable with 4.7 seconds for the wagon and 4.5 for the sedan. The Camrys and Accords of the world are at least 1.5 seconds quicker to 60 and at least a half-second quicker in passing.
So this is not a sports car by any stretch, but despite its name I never really expected it to be. It does get up to speed in a safe amount of time and does not struggle to maintain speed on the highway. The continuously variable transmission seemed to make the right “shifts” at all the right times without any lag or jerkiness. I mostly didn’t notice it.
The ride itself was smooth. The Legacy was able to absorb many of the minor bumps in the road, and it eliminated a lot of the annoying road noise to make for a pleasant commute inside the cabin. This allowed me to cut some of my fellow commuters some slack when they behaved a little less than noble. Oh, well. I’m happy in here.
We took the Legacy to the dealer for three scheduled oil changes, tire rotations, and inspections, and without any other problems springing up, we spent $0 on repairs or normal wear and tear. The Outback long-termer also cost us nothing to maintain, and our VW Passat also included free maintenance. We spent $483.20 on four service visits over 30,828 miles with our 2016 Civic, however.
In the past nine months I’ve enjoyed my time in the Legacy. I’m not naturally much of a lead foot, and generally I prefer comfort over aesthetics, so the very workmanlike, smooth-riding Legacy fit my driving disposition pretty well. It’s nice when you and your car are compatible. n
Although the Subaru Legacy doesn’t have a stunning interior, everything was easy to access and intuitive to use. The seats were comfortable, and the cabin was spacious.
The Subaru Legacy’s 175 hp won’t win drag races, but you’ll never feel left behind in traffic.
These areas could use a little improvement. Although we appreciate the device holder (left) you couldn’t set it in there while charging. And the Infotainment interface is as bland as they come. That’s definitly being upgraded for 2018.