Subaru Legacy — Now with 'EyeSight'

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

We are fans of "trickle down" when it comes to automobiles. New, cutting-edge technologies are usually first used in high-dollar luxury vehicles before eventually "trickling down" to more affordable mainstream cars. So we were delighted when we recently discovered that one of our favorite 21st Century innovations, adaptive cruise control, has trickled down to the 2013 Subaru Legacy.

Granted, it's part of a nearly $4,000 option package of features in the new, refreshed family friendly mid-sized Legacy sedan, but well worth the cash outlay especially when considering that it partners with a pre-collision throttle management system along with navigation, a high-end audio system, lane-departure warning and other cutting-edge features that come in the package.

It's called the "EyeSight" system operated by two outward-facing cameras mounted high up on the windshield on either side of the rearview mirror. With its magic "eye" it adjusts the adaptive cruise control, alerts the driver if the car wanders out of its lane, and applies braking to avoid or minimize a collision. It works really well if the difference of speed in pre-collision mode is less than 20 mph.

Even with this option the Legacy 2.5i top-trim Limited comes in at around $30,000. And it puts the family sedan a leg up on most of its competition, which has nothing to match it. You will have to move up to entry-level luxury vehicles to get these features.

Now in the fourth year of its current iteration, Subaru has updated the mid-sized Legacy — which does battle with such heavyweights as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima — to include a new slightly more-powerful and fuel-efficient engine, an improved CVT (continuously variable transmission), revised suspension and a new front-end look. And Subaru still holds the trump card that elevates the Legacy and all its other models ahead of the competition — standard all-wheel drive.

The Legacy is attractive and well-proportioned. We like the sedan’s wedge-shaped stance highlighted by a slight flare of the fenders. The Legacy has a big greenhouse with great sight lines in all directions. The styling is appealing from all angles. And we like the new grille treatment, a bit bolder and more pronounced than the outgoing model.

Our Limited 2.5i test car proved to be one of the most endearing family sedans we've driven this year. It provided adequate power in all highway situations, the cabin was delightfully quiet and the reworked suspension and re-tuned steering translate into confident handling.

Subaru has gone the next step for 2013 and improved 4-cylinder performance while increasing gas mileage. The new engine feels energetic, and we believe posted 0-to-60 numbers in the 8.5 second range. Gas mileage has always been a bugaboo for the Legacy with the extra weight of the all-wheel drive system, but 2013 mileage figures are now more in line with the competition — 24 city/32 highway/27 combined. This represents a boost of a one mpg across the board despite the engine's extra horsepower and torque — 173 and 174. Improvements can be partly attributed to the new second-generation CVT.

We found the cabin attractive and sophisticated. Switchgear is generally intuitive. While the base audio system quality is below average the sounds from the optional 440-watt 9-speaker Harmon/Kardon system were crystal clear and work the money.

One of the biggest complaints of the last-generation Legacy was lack of interior space. Rear-seat passenger room was on the light side compared to the competition. Subaru addressed the problem creating segment-average passenger space while increasing the trunk size from 11.4 to 14.7 cubic feet.

The Legacy comes in six trim levels, three of which include the carryover 3.6-liter boxer 6-cylinder engine making 256 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque. The only transmission mated to the 6-cylinder is a five-speed automatic. The 2.5i comes in base, Premium and Limited. The base 4-cylinder comes with an available 6-speed manual that includes a very useable hill hold feature.

Subaru is generous with standard equipment starting at $21,065. It includes air conditioning, full power accessories, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, automatic headlights, cruise control and stability and traction control. The Premium trim starts at $26,165 and the Limited at $26,665. The 6-cylinder Limited 3.6R pricing starts at $29,665. Our well-equipped 2.5i Limited with the worthwhile EyeSight option package carried a bottom line of $30,605.

The 2013 Legacy is a very intriguing and attractive mid-sized sedan for those who want to stand out from the crowd. We don't think they will be disappointed.

Base price: $21,170; as driven, $30,606
Engine: 2.5-liter flat 4
Horsepower: 173 @ 5,600 rpm
Torque: 174 foot-pounds @ 4,100 rpm
Drive: all-wheel
Transmission: continuously variable
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 108.3 inches
Length: 187.2 inches
Curb weight: 3,427 pounds
Turning circle: 36.8 feet
Luggage capacity: 14.7 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 18.5 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 32 highway, 24 city
0-60: 8.5 seconds (estimated)
Also consider: Chevrolet Malibu, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima

The Good
• Standard all-wheel drive
• Attractive and spacious cabin
• Cutting-edge technology available

The Bad
• Below-average sounding standard audio

The Ugly
• Improved mileage numbers still lag competition