2024 Subaru Legacy Review and Test Drive
The long-running Subaru sedan continues on, balancing value and all-weather traction.
While most car companies are shrugging off sedans, the Subaru Legacy still hangs on. As Subaru's oldest model on the U.S. market, the Legacy has changed significantly over the decades since its introduction. However, the fundamental formula of a comfortable four-door with all-weather performance remains.
Although the 2024 Legacy is an outlier, Subaru fans consider it a survivor — and for good reason. I've been driving Subarus for more than 20 years now, and the practical, sharp-driving Legacy still has a place in this world.
The 2024 Subaru Legacy Offers All-Weather Safety Starting in the $20,000s
The 2024 Legacy is available in five separate trims. First up is the appropriately titled Base, which starts in the mid-$20,000 range. For a few thousand dollars more, the Legacy Premium adds a few niceties, such as power-adjustable, heated front seats. Limited trim is next, and adds leather upholstery plus a starting price in the low $30,000s.
Sport trim, which starts in the mid-$30,000s, adds Subaru's turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine making 260 horsepower. The top-trim Touring XT adds ventilated premium leather front seats plus a 180-degree front camera system and costs about $40,000.
For this 2024 Subaru Legacy review, Subaru provided a Touring XT with no options. That's not Subaru being cheap with its test vehicles. There are no options beyond exterior color and minor accessories like floor mats. The vehicle had a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $39,285, including the $1,090 destination charge that covered delivery from the car's assembly plant in Lafayette, Indiana.
The 2024 Legacy XT Touring Offers a Little Luxury
The Legacy has never been a head-turner. Even in the late 2000s, when Subaru created a high-performance version called the Spec.B, the car was still a sleeper — a colloquial term for a vehicle that disguises its performance under a plain exterior.
Today's Legacy is even more sedate, especially in the Cosmic Blue Pearl color of my test vehicle. Sedate, yes, but sophisticated. Though the grille is tall and ornate, it and much of the other trim on the nose are blacked out, including the generous plastic surrounds of the fog lights.
From there on back, there's little to note. The matte silver mirrors are a nice touch, providing some highlights on an otherwise extremely anonymous profile view. From the rear, only the dual chrome exhaust pipes provide any intrigue.
Things are more compelling on the inside. The XT Touring's two-tone black and brown leather, with satin silver highlights slashing here and there, looks fresh and attractive. I confess that black and tan has never been my favorite combination for interiors. Still, it works well here, providing a reasonably high-end look that borders on luxurious. Full black, with contrasting white stitching, is also available.
Material quality generally supports the high-end look here, with perforated Nappa leather seating paired with more leather and vinyl spreading across the door panels and the top of the transmission tunnel. Reach farther down, and you'll find some hard plastics here and there, but essential parts, like the soft-touch dashboard, look and feel good.
You sit low in the Legacy relative to many of Subaru's other products. Still, the XT Touring's seats are power adjustable in most ways, the only manual bit being a slide-out extension on the base of the seat to give more thigh support. The front seats are generously spaced, with a well-positioned armrest in between.
Lift that armrest to expose not one but two different storage spaces: a thin, broad one that's not quite big enough for a larger phone and a deeper, more obviously useful space featuring a 12-volt outlet and, believe it or not, a CD player.
There are traditional inputs at the bottom of the infotainment's center stack, with two USB ports (one A, one C) and a 3.5-mm aux input for devices lacking Bluetooth. Two more USB ports are available for rear passengers.
The three-spoke Subaru steering wheel adjusts and telescopes, with thumb controls for the adaptive cruise system found on the right. On the left, you'll find controls for toggling through information on the gauge cluster, cycling through media, and keying the voice command system.
Everything is easy to find, exactly where those familiar with the brand will expect it.
Room and Comfort for Long Trips
The two front seats in the Subaru Legacy XT Touring are extremely comfortable, offering heating and cooling, plus just enough bolstering for those moments when the driver's feeling a bit sporty.
Out back, there's plenty of room for the legs and shoulders of three passengers. They sit reasonably comfortably across the rear bench, but only the outer two spots offer heated cushions. The headroom throughout the Legacy is good despite the sunroof up front.
Sport and Utility Without the SUV Body Style
As a sedan, the Legacy's overall cargo volume and utility will never hold a candle to Subaru's tall-wagon Outback or its other SUV-shaped offerings. That doesn't mean, however, that the Legacy won't prove a willing partner for adventure.
The trunk swallows 15.1 cubic-feet of cargo. That's exactly on par with the Toyota Camry's 15.1 cu-ft but is a bit less than the Honda Accord's 16.7.
Within the cabin, you'll find generous pockets in all four doors, each capable of carrying a reusable water bottle, plus more cupholders in the center console between the front seats and in the armrest out back.
2024 Subaru Starlink Review: Busy but Effective
Subaru's Starlink infotainment system lives in an 11.6-inch, vertically oriented display that provides access to virtually all the car's functions outside of starting, steering, and stopping the thing.
The dual-zone automatic climate controls live along the bottom of the display, though Subaru thoughtfully includes physical buttons for adjusting temperature and operating the front and rear defrosters.
Along the very top is a dynamic section of the display with four separate information screens you can cycle through, including media information, navigation information, temperature gauges, and a short-term weather forecast.
Below that and above the climate controls is where the bulk of the Starlink experience lives, displayed as a grid of circular icons bringing up the integrated navigation, settings, and media controls. The overall look is cluttered, but it works well and responds quickly.
Integrated navigation, provided by TomTom, looks extremely dated but also works well, and the voice commands are comprehensive. My Legacy test car processed spoken addresses while more nuanced requests ("I'm hungry" or "I need a hospital") gave accurate, prompt solutions to my needs.
Those wanting a more modern look can tap into the wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. Pairing a phone is quick and easy, and the Legacy reliably reconnected after that initial step.
2024 Subaru Legacy EyeSight Review: Watching You and the Road
Subaru was early to introduce active safety systems with its EyeSight technology, and the dual-camera system is standard on every Legacy trim. Subaru also quickly deployed advanced driver monitoring, and the Legacy features that, too.
Perched high at the center of the XT Touring's dashboard is a shroud that looks a little like the hood scoops on older WRXs. But this isn't here to chill the intercooler. It's to shade an infrared camera.
This camera, the DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System, looks back at the driver and monitors their every glance. Subaru's system is one of the most persistent and, frankly, annoying driver-monitoring systems out there, but that also means it's effective. Let your eyes linger too long on the navigation system, gaze too longingly out the window at a passing pizza shop, or worse yet, glance down at your phone, and the system issues a warning on the gauge cluster accompanied by a curt beep.
Linger repeatedly, and the prompts get more insistent. You only need to gaze away from the road for a few seconds for the prompts to come. Again, it can be annoying if you have a wandering eye, but that is not a fault with the DriverFocus system. It is merely there to ensure you keep your eyes on the task at hand, and it's very good at doing that.
Other EyeSight features include adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping and lane-centering assist, and forward-collision warning, among others.
Subaru also fits the Legacy with a pre-collision throttle management. If you're pushing down on the accelerator but there's an obstacle ahead, the program can reduce engine power to prevent or reduce the damage of an impact.
In general, EyeSight impresses. The adaptive cruise control system works reliably, and in traffic, it can bring the car down to a complete stop. The lane-centering assist worked well to keep the car in the middle of the lane on well-marked roads but struggled at times on older, worn markings, especially when driving into bright sunlight.
2024 Subaru Legacy Safety Ratings
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration assigned the 2024 Subaru Legacy an overall five-star rating, with five stars in every assessment except for a four-star rating for front-passenger side-impact protection. As of publication, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has not performed crash tests on the 2024 Subaru Legacy.
Subaru's Turbocharged Flat-Four Provides Good Power
The turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine powering the Legacy XT is available across much of the Subaru model range. Here, it provides a healthy amount of power and a generous torque curve. Specifically, we're talking 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque, called upon to move a 3,787-pound sedan, which it does with the help of Subaru's Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) paired with a torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system.
Smooth Driving With a Rough Motor
That 2.4-liter flat-four contributes to the Legacy's performance but is an unfortunate drawback in some ways. On the good side of things, it moves this car with enthusiasm. When pressed hard, the car accelerates strongly, but the combination of slight turbo lag and a conservation-minded CVT results in some occasionally lackluster acceleration response. If you spot a gap in traffic, you'd better get on that go-pedal early.
The more significant issue, though, happens when stationary. The flat-four's automatic start-stop system is the roughest I have ever experienced. I noticed this unfortunate characteristic when I first sampled this motor in the Ascent SUV in 2019. It sadly hasn't improved since. The engine starting back up sends a disconcerting lurch through the car, strong enough to make me repeatedly look in the rearview mirror to see whether I'd been bumped from behind.
Regardless, that engine delivers reasonable frugality. According to the EPA, the 2024 Subaru Legacy gets 23/29/26 mpg city/highway/combined. On my testing loop of mixed driving conditions, I averaged just 24 mpg. But on an extended 120-mile highway stretch, I matched that 29 mpg figure.
The Legacy is calm and quiet on the highway, with its generally soft suspension absorbing any unpleasantness from broken surfaces or the like. But still, it's taut enough to deliver a reasonably engaging drive on secondary roads. Steering is light, in typical Subaru fashion. Still, the Legacy is eager to turn in, and while it certainly has more body roll than a WRX or one of Subaru's more performance-minded offerings, it is fun to pilot.
Grip from the 225/50 R18 tires is plentiful. While I didn't have the opportunity to test the car on an unpaved road or in the snow, Subarus have a long track record of proficiency in low-grip situations. I did, however, have a great chance to test the braking when a deer stepped out in front of me on a back road with a 55-mph limit. The firm brake pedal gave me full power quickly. The car came to a smooth, controlled stop 20 feet short of the deer — and her friend, who came strolling out afterward.
The 2024 Subaru Legacy Is Unremarkable in All the Right Ways
The Legacy isn't as obvious a lifestyle vehicle as the Outback, as family-friendly as the Ascent, or as performance-oriented as the WRX. Instead, the Legacy sits right in the middle without any defining characteristics.
However, in a segment dominated by the Accord and Camry, it's not so much the vehicle's character that defines it but its proficiency in the basic but crucial tasks of hauling people, hauling cargo, and looking good while doing it.
The Legacy does all those things well. And, with standard all-wheel drive, legendary all-weather performance, plus a comprehensive active safety system paired with a driver-monitoring solution, the Legacy is still a compelling alternative.