2013 Subaru Legacy
By Ron Amadon
DAMASCUS, MD – With all the talk about the BRZ and WRX/STI it is easy to forget that Subaru makes more mainstream models that are almost the official cars of Vermont and Maine.
That distinction once fell on Saabs, but with the demise of the Swedish auto maker customers now head down to the Subaru store attracted by the standard all-wheel drive. That is no small thing in areas where folks have their wood in for the winter and the first big snow storm is right around the bend. Now if the folks in far Northern New England could just get their beloved hockey games back. (Hockey Night in Canada on the CBC is a big TV draw.)
At any rate, after a week in the Legacy sedan I can report it is a serious player in the hotly contested family sedan market. It will hold its own against the Honda Accord and other class rivals.
For 2013 Suby introduced the Eyesight Driver Assist program that incorporates several features that heretofore were only available in higher priced autos. And it does so with a twist. Mounted on either side of the interior rearview mirror are two cameras, instead of the more common radar, that keep an eye on the road ahead.
In essence they are the eyes of the adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking system, and lane departure warning. There is a nifty feature that tells an inattentive driver that the car in front of them at the traffic light has moved on. In these parts, the driver behind will hit the horn to underscore the idea that it’s time to move ahead.
All this is available only on top-of-the-line Limited models and comes as part of a $3,940 option package. If one is not drawn to such systems and their incessant beeping, a button inconveniently located to the lower left of the dash panel will switch it off. Selected parts of the system can also be turned off by two buttons located overhead such as the drive you crazy beeping from the lane departure device.
Some select features in that huge package are a fine Harmon Kardon, 440-watt, 9-speaker audio system. Subys of old were not known for quality sound systems. The rear view camera was also a nice touch along with the sun roof, (now called a moonroof), and a so-so navi system.
The test car came with a 2.5-liter, 173 horsepower four mated to an excellent Continuously Variable Transmission that was quick to downshift, as it were, to extract all of the horses and king’s men that the four had to offer. Those seeking more GO could check the box for the 256 horsepower six that comes with a 5-speed automatic.
Yet around town and out on the highway, the base engine had all the clout that typical customers might want with an EPA rating of 24-32 mpg on regular petrol. In a week of suburban and interstate driving I recorded 25 mpg.
Inside, owners who pop for the Limited Edition will find a very upscale feel and long-ride comfortable seats with voracious heaters. (There is nothing worse than a Vermonter with a cold butt.)
Instruments are easy to read in all circumstances, the ride and handling were fine, and the car was particularly quiet on the interstates. Not that long ago, Subys were rather noisy, emitting an almost industrial sound when cruising on high speed roadways.
All this was wrapped up in a solid well-built vehicle known for its long life in some of the worst climates. I do wish there was an option package that included all the goodies on this car without the EyeSight system. But for those drawn to such things, I do applaud Subaru for making them available at this price range.
So what is the bottom line? In the case of the test car, $30,677 with delivery and that is in line with rivals. A base Legacy model starts at $20,295 on up to $28,895 base price for a Limited with the more powerful six.
Truth be told I have a soft spot for the brand. Years ago living in the woods of Bradford, N.H., I figured I needed something that would get me through the winter and to the office everyday regardless of the weather. I traded for one of the original Brats and put 88,000 trouble free, fun miles on what Mrs. Auto Writer and I called the “goat.”
FYI, the first winter I had it, we escaped without ever getting a major snowstorm. Nice Job Suby!