By on August 7, 2017

2017-subaru-legacy-limited

The blower motor in my WRX seemed to be getting louder by the day and, while adding an insulation panel seemed to help, I still wasn’t satisfied. The noise was intermittent, making it hard to reproduce, though a tech working at my local dealer discovered a technical service bulletin and offered to replace it while the warranty was still in effect.

So, I scheduled an appointment to drop the car off to replace the blower motor and perform a technical service bulletin to resolve my squeaky clutch pedal issues. Because they needed time to get some extra parts in, I was told I’d be given a loaner for a few days. I dropped the WRX off and expected to walk out to a base Impreza, but was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a plush Legacy 2.5i Limited.

The Legacy Limited seemed an odd choice for a loaner car, but the mix of options and final price explained why it ended up in loaner service instead of someone’s driveway.

This specific car, priced at $32,359 because of the Limited trim and two large option packages, came equipped with the smaller 2.5-liter flat-four making only 170 horsepower. This positions the car above the top-trim 3.6R Limited and many competitors offering more power.

2017-subaru-legacy-limited-18in-wheel

One of the first things I noticed walking up to the car was the large 18-inch wheels and the tiny rotors hiding behind them. The front rotors come in at 11.6 inches — the same size you would find on a 2000 Outback. Moving past the cosmetics, the brakes served their purpose well in traffic and the back roads near my home. Still, it might have been a wise choice to combine the larger 12.4-inch brakes with the 18 inch wheel upgrade, just for presentation.

One of the first things I did after jumping in the car was to pair my phone with the StarLink system and see how it compares to my WRX. I was pleasantly surprised to see it connect over Bluetooth almost instantly; the touchscreen was much more responsive than what I was used to. Sound quality was great for my non-audiophile ears and the only thing it really lacked — for me, anyway — was Apple CarPlay.

2017-subaru-legacy-starlink

On the road, the Legacy proved quiet and comfortable, albeit very slow. The 2.5-liter gets quite a workout trying to move almost 3,500 pounds of mass, though I suspect the CVT ratios and tuning are mostly to blame; older naturally aspirated Subarus I’ve owned seemed to perform much better off the line. Once the car gets moving, more power comes online and highway driving and passing are not an issue.

The interior is well appointed with comfortable and supportive leather seats. The materials are well fitted, but the top of the dash is constructed of a rubbery material designed to make it soft to the touch, but is mostly useful for collecting dust. Climate controls and the center console are well laid out. The interior door handle seemed familiar, and it should be — it’s the same one Subaru used in my old 2000 Legacy.

2017-subaru-legacy-trunk

A planned trip to Costco made for a great opportunity to test out trunk space. The Legacy has 15 cubic feet of cargo volume, 25 percent more than in my WRX; a quite noticeable improvement. We were able to fit a full cart of Costco groceries in the trunk, included two 30-packs of water, a 24-pack of beer, and a large package of paper towels among other smaller items.

Much of my five days with the car was spent commuting, but fuel economy, despite mostly highway driving, was not great. The best readout from the on-board display was about 31 miles per gallon — a bit short of the model’s 34 mpg highway rating. The actual average for my time with the car ended up at roughly 26 mpg, just slightly higher than what my WRX normally gets. My first instinct was to assume I was being too heavy on the pedal. However, the figures didn’t change much even with a lighter right foot and greater use of cruise control.

2017-subaru-legacy-limited-interior

The $1,995 Option Package 24 brings an upgraded Starlink System and adds the EyeSight driver assist system, steering responsive fog lights, auto high beams, reverse automatic braking, and HID headlights. I used EyeSight quite a bit over the last couple of days and was impressed with the response. The adaptive cruise worked well and Lane Keep Assist kept the car on a straight course without bouncing between the painted lines. Auto high beams are always helpful, though the HID headlight are very bright on their own. I’m not sure who demands steering responsive fog lights, as I didn’t notice their presence until after reading the options list.

Outfitted in Limited trim, the Legacy delivers plenty of high points, but the engine and CVT combination drag it down too much for me to consider buying something like this. It’s fine for the $22,000 base model but, when you pass the $30,000 mark, so many other other possibilities become available. It’s hard not to consider something like the Ford Fusion Sport, which boasts almost double the power for nearly the same price.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

62 Comments on “2017 Subaru Legacy Limited Rental Review – Loaded With Everything but Power...”


  • avatar
    incautious

    Left lane road hogs. Can barely keep up with traffic flow. Under powered with mediocre fuel economy are exactly why I passed on one these.

    • 0 avatar
      meech

      That’s all I know is we bought a 2017 Subaru Legacy on the highway we got between 37 and 38 miles to the gallon and just driving around town we averaged anywhere between 31 and 33 miles to the gallon and it is no roadhog pickup is excellent that’s all I can say is everybody must have brought a dog

    • 0 avatar
      Jerome10

      You gave me a chuckle. Left lane road hogs is incredibly true. Don’t forget the hunched over driving position and the death grip on the steering wheel! :D

      Kidding aside, I can respect Subarus for what they are. They do make sense in snowy, mountain areas, they are fairly reliable and priced right.

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    Yes, but did you feel loved? Cuz based on their ads, love is all that matters in a Subaru. Those pesky things like engine power….pffft. All you need is love!

  • avatar

    “…older naturally aspirated Subarus I’ve owned seemed to perform much better off the line…”

    I’m assuming those older, naturally aspirated Subies in question were also lighter.

    That the 2.5 non-turbo has actually LOST five horsepower from the previous, bad head-gasket design, is inexcusable. Not everything can be compensated for by the CVT ratios. But I guess Subaru assumes love is blind…

  • avatar
    zip89123

    I’ll still consider a Legacy as one of my next vehicles, but I also hope there is an engine improvement. I’d sacrifice mpg for HP. The H6 is hard to find and usually over $35k.

    • 0 avatar
      quaquaqua

      Yeah, that’s the rub here. The author says no one would pay $32k for a limited with a 4-cylinder, but hey, people do it for Outbacks 97% of the time. And most of the reason is each Subaru dealer gets, like, one H6 model Outback at most and most people don’t even know it exists. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an H6 Legacy at my local dealer.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      The H6 is also still a dog off the line. You’ll be behind every base model rental grade 4-cylinder midsizer until at least 30mph, presumably when the CVT allows the otherwise powerful enough H6 engine to climb into the powerband.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-Iron

        I forget what the other article that I was responding to was but a while ago I said I got an H6 Legacy as a loaner and it was so slow that I didn’t realize it was the 6 until I got out and looked at the badge. I was so underwhelmed that I actually popped the hood to double check.

  • avatar
    VW4motion

    Not to many vehicles wouldn’t be slow coming from a wrx.

    “The materials are well fitted, but the top of the dash is constructed of a rubbery material designed to make it soft to the touch, but is mostly useful for collecting dust. ”

    What dash does not collect dust ?

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    I wonder if you could come up with some kind of “Performance Poseur” metric using the wheel-to-brake-rotor ratio…

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      The stock front rotors on my ’03 Z are also 11.6 inches. Sadly that is seriously undersized for a “performance car”. I’m now running 14″ rotors which are pretty much the biggest you can stuff under 18″ wheels. While huge rotors are not a requirement on a daily driver, they are a must have when on track. Rotors are heavy so for better MPGs I bet OEMs keep them as small since its very expensive to move to a light weight 2 piece design.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        It goes beyond the track. The Akebonos on my G37S have great feel and the fade resistance is welcomed even on the highway. I once completely cooked similar sized brakes on an 1993 Accord so I can only imagine how this thing does with 600 more lbs. Yeech

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      I think it is especially ridiculous on trucks because they are ostensibly able to tow things. Got 20″ rims with 10″ rotors behind them, it looks pathetic.

  • avatar
    vvk

    > perform a technical service bulletin to resolve my squeaky clutch pedal issues

    Mind posting the TSB number, please?

    Also, while Fusion Sport may be similar money up front, people seem to be willing to pay ridiculous prices for used Subarus, so at resale time the two cars will be very different animals.

    • 0 avatar

      TSB 12-215-17, you can find a PDF copy here: http://www.subispeed.com/instructions/tsb-creaking.pdf

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Good luck with those inflated Subaru residuals. Edmunds have the Fusion and Legacy at similar money factor and residuals for both in 2017. Cars.com is showing the the Legacy enters at $24K and a Fusion AWD at $19K.

      Bozi would like that turbo-4 power in the Fusion coming from the WRX.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    I just drove 600 miles on 2 days in a new stick shift Forester 2.5 and the car is not slow. So perhaps it’s the CVT in the Legacy. Hitting 90 in fourth gear was no big deal – barely crossed 4000 rpms by then. After all that, the computer showed 32.5 mileage for the trip, which is above the rating.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Odd.
    Steering following fog lights. HUH?

    Fogs are design to broadcast a very wide but very short beam of light.

    Superfluous complexity methinks.

  • avatar
    dallas_t4r

    I recently sold a 2011 legacy which had the same engine. My number 1 complaint was lack of power. Pedal to the floor or it wouldn’t move. The outback has the same motor but somehow feels more capable.

  • avatar

    This seems like an example where someone on the order sheet mis-checked a couple of boxes. It just doesn’t make sense!

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Yay! Rental review.

    The powertrain seems to really detract from an otherwise good car. 170hp + CVT + AWD + 200lbs additional weight = how much for the six-cylinder? Even the six is astonishingly slow from a stop given the rated horsepower, though. I’m guessing the minimum ratio for the CVT is tall, and that seems to be a universal CVT thing. Our 2012 Altima sprints well on the move, but takes awhile to wind up from a dead stop.

    Pretty poor fuel economy too. Demanding AWD in your budget midsizer requires hefty compromises I wouldn’t be willing to make.

    Regardless, the 2.5 is probably appropriate for the target buyer. The heavier Outback using the same powertrain is selling very well.

    • 0 avatar
      NeilM

      30-mile fetch writes: “I’m guessing the minimum ratio for the CVT is tall, and that seems to be a universal CVT thing.”

      I wonder if there’s a practical physical limitation that sets a max ratio spread for a CVT?

      Given how they work, with pairs of conical pulleys against which a drive belt slides, the minimum drive pulley radius (1st gear equivalent) can only be made so small due to keep belt curvature within limits, and its max radius (top gear equivalent) is constrained by the CVT’s housing size.

      Gear sizes and ratio spreads aren’t really a practical constraint for conventional manuals or automatics.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      On paper the CVTs have great low gearing. The current Legacy’s starts at 3.58:1 with a 3.9 diff = 14:1. The 2012 Altima’s starts at 2.35:1 with a 5.8 (!) diff = 13.6:1.

      For point of reference, the current Camry with a conventional auto has a 3.3:1 1st gear with a 3.63 diff = 12:1.

      My first theory was that the CVTs are bogging the engine without a fluid converter to slip. But the turbo and V6 cars with what should be enough power to melt the tires even bogging don’t launch very well either.

      My next theory is that there is some physical weakness to to the belt drive system in its lower ranges which they’re compensating for by torque managing the engine at low speeds.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Good luck with those inflated Subaru residuals. Edmunds have the Fusion and Legacy at similar money factor and residuals for both in 2017. Cars.com is showing the the Legacy enters at $24K and a Fusion AWD at $19K.

    Bozi would like that turbo-4 power in the Fusion coming from the WRX.

  • avatar
    ronald

    Am I crazy or would the new AWD Buick Regal Sportback be a much better deal than an optioned-up Legacy?

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      Regal sportback does look like a great option to the Outback, not the Legacy. Unfortunately Buick chose not to increase the ground clearance which will not fit for some of the Outback owners.

      • 0 avatar
        ronald

        Actually, The TourX would be the Outback competitor, no? Though riding lower as you point out . . ..

        I am interested in the Buick Regal Sportback myself, given its practicality (I think the hatchback is a huge plus). My guess is the Buick would be quicker, a bit nicer riding, and as efficient with AWD. Also better looking, FWIW.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          The TourX is a real wagon, the Outback is a SUV with 8.5″ of ground clearence. My Envision measured 8″!

          The TourX is supposed to .6″ more clearence than the Sportback but I have not found actually measurements

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Subaru should be getting the typical Mazda “underpowered” comment IMHO.

    I am not a huge fan of turbo motors, but the Legacy is definitely caught in this odd spot where the NA engine is not grunty enough, and a smaller displacement turbo might actually make more sense.

    Then there is the upgrade engine, that costs way too much to get and is way way behind the competition in power and fuel economy.

    I have to think they either need to drop the turbo from the Forester as at least an option, or upgrade their Flat 6 to make it more competitive.

    I would hope they’d upgrade that 6….but I have a feeling they’re gonna drop it and just use turbos, just like everyone else these days.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      If Subaru took away the factory AWD and badged it as a “Mitsubishi”, this would be considered a joke among the press.

      • 0 avatar
        brn

        It will become a joke soon anyway. The current factory AWD isn’t as special as it used to be. Subaru downgraded their AWD system while the competition upgraded theirs.

        May as well be an AWD Mitsubishi.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      Mazdas might be “underpowered” but they generally don’t feel like it. Their drivetrains are responsive enough mostly so that you only feel slow when trying to ask all you can of the car versus something faster. The quick revving nature and quick shifting automatic in our 08 Mazda 5 makes it easy to drive in town. Out on the highway above 80 though, there isn’t much left.

      A slow Subaru feels slow.

  • avatar
    legacygt

    The Legacy was at it’s best when it was a sedan first. I used to drive an 05 Limited Wagon with a stick. I loved that car and drove it until it wouldn’t fit my family any more. But during that generation, it became clear to Subaru that the Outback was the bread and butter. As a result, starting with the last generation, the Legacy feels like the sedan version of a crossover, rather than the other way around. And this impacts everything from styling to seating position to ride and handling. The Legacy just isn’t as compelling as it used to be.

  • avatar
    TNJed

    Nothing a decent manual transmission couldn’t resolve but of course, Subaru doesn’t offer that option in the US. Coming from a 2011 Impreza manual shift I’d be all over a mid-trim level Legacy but for that problem.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Nevermind the 170hp, theres no reason to use Yaris-spec brakes on a mid-sized sedan.

    btw does Subaru source its stylists from Hyundai?

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      Yeah, Toyota uses those 11.6″ Yaris-spec sized discs on their new Camry. (2017_Toyota_Camry_Product_Information.pdf) They should be using the 2017 Ford Fusion 11.8″ rotors or the 2017 Mazda 6 11.7 inch’ers. Outrageous I tell ya!

  • avatar
    whitworth

    I came close to buying one myself and I largely agree with the review.

    As a “base” model it offers a lot of value. And I was fine with a base one for the most part, they come well equipped. When you get into the higher optioned ones though it made sense to look at other vehicles.

    I was not impressed with our Subaru dealer or what they had in stock.

  • avatar
    brn

    Ah Subaru. Slower than you would expect. Poorer gas mileage than they’re rated for. Dated and spartan interiors. At least they have a corny marketing line, made with love.

  • avatar
    dmoan

    I really wanted a Forester 2.0xt but 34-38k is a bit too much for me and even then in that price range there are other CUV that are faster.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      The 2016 Buick Envision Premium can be had for under $29,999 and has a better AWD system that offers twin clutches allows a single wheel with traction to pull the car while the other three slip. It exceeds Subaru Symmetrical AWD in that allows power to the correct wheels when the steering wheel is turned, Subaru does not in snow covered up hill tests according to TFL YouTube video against the CX-5 that does for 2017. The Envision also offers torque vectoring rear that sends power to the outside wheel in a turn instead of braking the inside

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      Dmoan, yes buy a Buick Chinese made envision and throw your money away.

      Actually no, You get what you pay for and the Forester XT is a blast to drive. It will destroy just about any snow filled street or canyon run to the slopes. The XT also has the paddle shifters to stay in gear for those really snowy days.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I think that’s dmoan’s point…the XT should be a blast for that money.

        • 0 avatar
          VW4motion

          Exactly,
          Norm usually posts junk for attention. I fell for it and bit. He was trying to compare a Buick envision to a Forester XT.

        • 0 avatar
          dmoan

          Yes exactly my point it is blast but too expensive for a subaru because now it is competing with other base version of Lux CUV which are better buys overall from fit, quality and drive point of view.

          IMO Subaru Forester 2.0xt should be in 30-34k range which would made it a good buy.

          • 0 avatar
            VW4motion

            Rightfully so, Subaru is proud of their vehicles and people don’t mind paying for their products with very little if any rebates. Test drive a 2018 Forester XT and you’ll notice he solid build, even their doors sound solid.

            Side note. Nissan Rogue has over $6000 on the hood right now. It also won’t have Subaru’s resale value. But the Rogue is great deal right now for a basic small SUV.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            The mid-$30’s Lexus NX range. A tarred up RAV4 or a boxy Forester: I know which I’d feel proud of pulling up to the valet.

            Most cars beat the 27 mpg highway, even my Envision 2.0T can see 32 mpg on a 50 mile, two way average.

            http://www.motortrend.com/cars/subaru/forester/2017/2017-subaru-forester-20xt-touring-first-test-review/

            Car & Driver on the 2016 XT:

            Vanilla appearance, mediocre roadholding and braking performance.

            In CR’S collision avoidance testing the Forster was slower than the Envision. The Envision 2.0T is on par with a Porsche Macan at 55 mph in the test.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    Did I say it on here or someplace else, but…

    The Gentex corporation must be rolling in it, as their ugly-as-all-get-out, rimless “smiley” electrochromic mirrors are going into EVERYTHING these days!

    And of course, with the HomeLink buttons on that thing (just like in the new Hondas, unfortunately), you’ll be adjusting the damn thing every couple of days, after you close the garage!

    I just prefer the look of the regular one to this klown krap!

    Is that supposed to be some weird retro thing or something?

  • avatar
    slavuta

    “One of the first things I noticed walking up to the car was the large 18-inch wheels and the tiny rotors hiding behind them.”

    At least there is some space to get nice 16″ wheels and dump these OEMs

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    My wife has a 2015 Outback Limited, the first year they refreshed it. I have to say the interior is great. It is pretty conservative, so is the exterior. The Legacy looks good, too, although it resembles the newish Hyundai Sonata, which looks OK too, at least before the 2018 refresh.

    I am not really at ease with the 2.5 flat four, though. I’ve heard countless tales of trouble with Subaru boxer engines, particularly with head gaskets if I remember correctly. I wonder if that is a widespread problem or just a problem with “enthusiasts” who try to squeeze out more power than it can provide.

    Her Outback barely clocks in at 10K so it remains to be seen, and the good thing is that she’ll trade it right as the warranty period is up. My wife and I have differing viewpoints on how long we keep cars.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The head gasket issue was a problem with the previous-generation EJ engines, not the FB engine in your Outback. A few early FBs had an issue with excessive oil consumption, but they seem otherwise like a pretty durable engine (although down on power compared to the competition).

  • avatar
    sitting@home

    “to resolve my squeaky clutch pedal issues”

    After 13 years, nobody has been able to resolve the squeaky clutch pedal issue in my WRX.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    All of these complaints are very similar to the ones I had about our 03 Legacy and why Subaru isn’t the top of my list. And though I maintain there was something not quite right about that Legacy to this day, it was sluggish off the line and returned abysmal fuel economy with the too-long geared 4 spd automatic. The hills of western PA are not kind to fuel economy, tires or brakes. But that car never did better than 16-17 around town and 25 on the highway.

    And the brake rotors were cut twice, replaced once under warranty on the 03. I cannot believe they’ve not up-sized the brakes to deal with the heavier car.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Fred: While calling everyone morons is a bit harsh, the science of why we do what we do and how it’s applied to...
  • FreedMike: Tesla has every right to be upset about CR rating this car without actual data. This kind of garbage is...
  • SCE to AUX: Both Tesla and Trump are turning out to be less mature than I had hoped. Tesla may find that the...
  • notwhoithink: He almost got me, too. Then I cheaped out at the last minute and bought a Fusion instead. But I still...
  • mopar4wd: Their called predicted reliability for a reason it’s based on how well prior models have done. That...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States