2017 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited Road Test Review

By : Trevor Hofmann
  If you need a midsize sedan yet want something a bit different, Subaru’s Legacy is your answer. Well made, nicely featured and a better performer than average, the Legacy comes standard with a 175-hp “boxer” H-4 and AWD, while a 256-hp H-6 mated to a CVT with paddles is available. Today’s review features the latter in Limited trim that adds HID headlights, a nicer interior, leather upholstery, 7-inch infotainment, navigation, 10-way powered front seats, heated front and rear seats, and more to its already well-equipped lower trims. See it now.......
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
                   
 
Subaru completely redesigned its mid-size Legacy sedan for the 2015 model year and fortunately I was able to spend a week
2017 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
with one, learning its ins and outs and appreciating its unique character when compared to more commonplace competitors. So when opportunity to test a 2017 version arrived, I could hardly pass it up.

As you may know already, Subaru isn't the type of brand that whimsically tweaks styling details every couple of years, probably one of the reasons its resale values stay so high, so the 2017 Legacy 3.6R Limited I recently drove is outwardly identical to the 2015 Legacy 3.6R Limited tested previously, even down to its stunning machine-finished 10-spoke 18-inch alloys with grey painted pockets and 225/50R18 Goodyear Eagle LS2 all-season tires. Likewise inside, I couldn't find a single difference. Always practical, Subaru seems to understand that change for the
2017 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
sake of change costs money that inevitably needs to be passed onto consumers, leaving less remaining for real value-added improvements.

Therefore, the 2017 Legacy carries forward most of the 2015 model's features as well as enhancements made to last year's car, the latter including more reactive steering with better feel, plus the inclusion of wiper-linked auto on/off headlights and rearview camera parking guide customization across the line, while Subaru's optional EyeSight active safety system, which comes as part of its Technology package, was upgraded to include proactive lane keeping assist, this being the first-ever availability on any Subaru model other than the directly related Outback. Additionally, the Limited model's larger and more advanced seven-inch infotainment touchscreen was upgraded for
2017 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
Apple Siri compatibility, SiriusXM advanced audio features, SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link capability, plus access to the Subaru map update program.

Not willing to take a back seat to competitors, Subaru has kept the upgrades coming for 2017, with enhanced driver assist technology, additional comfort and convenience features, plus a new trim: 2.5i Sport with Technology Package, which at $30,395 sits between three lesser trims including $23,459 base and $26,595 Touring, and the $31,395 Limited above. To be clear, Sport trim is no longer available without the Technology upgrade, but Touring and Limited trims can be had with or without.

Upgrades
2017 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
in mind, for starters, literally, all 2017 Legacy trims get a more powerful battery that cranks the engine over better in low temperatures, while Touring models now incorporate a downgraded version of the Limited's seven-inch capacitive touchscreen mentioned earlier, albeit still a notch above the base 6.2-inch display with dual USB ports and SMS text messaging. Both systems include Subaru's new Starlink smartphone integration along with its own dedicated apps, Aha radio, iPod control, and more, while all of the Legacy's infotainment systems now get HD radio and support all the SiriusXM features mentioned before. Lastly, the Limited model I tested now comes standard with a heatable steering wheel in both 2.5i and 3.6R models.

The new Sport with Technology Package can only be had with the smaller 2.5i engine, that being a horizontally opposed four-cylinder "boxer" capable of 175 horsepower
2017 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
and 174 lb-ft of torque, whereas the 3.6R produces a much more substantive 256 horsepower and 247 lb-ft of torque. Before you start thinking the bigger six-cylinder is the only way to go, I've driven many Subarus with the 2.5i, even the larger and heavier Outback, and found it plenty responsive while fully appreciating its excellent 9.0 L/100km city, 6.5 highway and 7.7 combined five-cycle rating, and ultra-clean available PZEV emissions ranking, this even more impressive when factoring in its standard AWD. Still, considering its added performance, the 3.6R's 11.9 city, 8.2 highway and 9.9 combined rating is very good, likely because the continuously variable transmissions (CVT) conjoined to these engines are extremely thrifty.

OK,
2017 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
you can get the base and first-rung of Touring models with a six-speed manual, this DIY gearbox oddly not available in the aforementioned Sport, but the CVT is prerequisite with any of the Legacy's other trims. Before you sigh in normally justified disdain, let me assure that Subaru's version comes as close to a conventional automatic as possible. It features stepped "gear" changes and even steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters for maximizing all that power, or alternatively short-shifting in order to minimize fuel consumption. This is where I'd recommend leaving the capable transmission alone to do the work it was designed for, however, as it achieves the aforementioned results all on its own.

You're probably wondering what this new trim level I've been mentioning comes with, so I'll give you an abbreviated snapshot: dark titanium, satin-silver and gloss
2017 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
black gets added where chrome normally goes, the 18-inch wheels come in a sportier machine-finished twinned five-spoke design, side sill extensions give it a more hunkered down look, and the interior includes two-tone grey sport fabric upholstery with blue stitching, while blue, black and silver thread is used elsewhere around the cabin.

The now standard Technology Package portion of this upgrade is the same as offered with other trims including my Limited tester, and features proximity access with pushbutton ignition, a handsome full-colour five-inch multifunction display within the primary instrument cluster, and impressive safety equipment such as steering-responsive fog lamps, plus EyeSight, Subaru's advanced autonomous emergency avoidance system that utilizes a pair of cameras mounted high on the windshield to detect
2017 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
potential problems up ahead and then react with or without your involvement via pre-collision brake assist and throttle management.

Additional EyeSight features include auto high beams, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane sway warning, lane keep assist, lead vehicle start alert, and reverse auto braking, much of which qualifies the car for coveted IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus status, while all trims received five stars in every NHTSA crash test category. You may have seen Subaru's TV spots showing a Legacy heading toward a crash test barrier and then automatically screeching to a stop before hitting it, which makes its capability clear.

Other
2017 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
than a fancy "STARLINK" animated graphic that initiates the infotainment system when turned on, you probably won't initially notice any difference between the new system and outgoing version, as they incorporate the identical white-outlined six-box menu page with the same map, audio, phone, apps, info, and settings functions. Even the rich blue background hasn't changed, but the apps section now includes unique internet-sourced Starlink features such as news, food, weather, music, podcasts, audiobooks, and other multimedia content via its own apps and those mentioned earlier, while there's also a free downloadable app for your iOS or Android smartphone that works well for Aha and Pandora, but is limited in its capabilities for much else.

Actually,
2017 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
search for Subaru Starlink in Google Play (or do likewise on the Apple Store if you're using iOS) and you'll likely be turned off by countless reviews that give it two stars at best (most just one) along with title posts such as, "Very disappointed", "Disappointed so far", "What a joke", "Why in the LOVE of Subaru", "Needs work!", "Absolutely Horrible!", "What a completely disappointing app", "Missed the Mark", "Why did they bother?", "Subaru dropped the ball", "Subaru actually paid to have this developed?", "Love my Subaru, hate this app", "Worthless!", "Really bad", "Lame beyond explanation", and "Waste of time Subaru", with the only remotely positive titles being, "Second star only for great idea", and "Not all bad", this kindest commenter giving it a mere three-star rating because he felt both aha and Pandora synced well. Of note, I wasn't cherry picking the bad; these are peoples' comments
2017 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
in the exact order they were displayed, without edits. To Subaru's credit, it's customers are smarter than average with excellent grammar, even when complaining, while more to Subaru's direct credit it promises updates to the Starlink app, as it's obviously not quite ready for primetime.

It's important to note these complaints only reflect the app and how it lets your phone connect to the car, not the system within the car itself, which I had no problems with and actually found quite intuitive to use. Even bigger news than Starlink, per se, is Subaru's choice of making the 6.2-inch display noted earlier a standard feature on the base Legacy, so even entry-level buyers appear as if they sprang for a better-equipped model while enjoying most of the features reviewed thus far.

As
2017 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
for the rest of the car, it seems built to a higher standard than others, especially noticeable when closing the doors, tapping its various surfaces, folding its 60/40-split seatbacks to expand its already sizeable 425-litre (18.5 cubic-foot) cargo hold, and closing its trunk lid. Likewise interior trim bits are higher in grade than some rivals, the woodgrain, for instance, feeling denser and therefore more genuine, while Subaru even wraps the A-pillars in fabric for a premium look, feel and sound absorption. Subaru also surfaces the entire dash top, most of the instrument panel, and the door uppers in nice pliable synthetic, while the door inserts and armrests are finished in an upscale padded leatherette, perforated for the former and contrast-stitched on the latter. The leather seats feature perforated inserts, just like those on the doors, and they're comfortable and supportive in all positions, the rearmost offering a full eight inches of space ahead of my knees when the driver's seat was set for my five-foot-eight frame, plus about three inches above my head so taller folk should fit in just fine, while when back up front I found its ergonomics first-rate with ample seat and steering wheel adjustability.

The
2017 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
first thing I noticed when getting on the road was the Legacy's ride quality, which is superb, its smoothness and overall compliance actually surprising. It just seems to roll along so effortlessly, the Limited model's upgraded Stablex ride control dampers no doubt assisting the model's standard fully independent MacPherson strut front and double-wishbone rear suspension setup over poorly paved sections of tarmac, not to mention excellent balance and control when pushed hard, stabilizer bars at both ends helping in this respect. Its 3.6-litre boxer certainly moved things along when prodded, and as noted the CVT's six artificial gear increments worked nicely when left on their own. I did find the paddles helpful when downshifting, holding engine revs as needed, but it's not a particularly sporting transmission, the shifts a bit lethargic and response at takeoff more about smoothness than thrills. Still, it delivers strong highway passing power, and together with its adept suspension and the brand's legendary symmetrical
2017 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
all-wheel drive, is a pleasure to snake through a canyon pass. Don't expect WRX STI levels of at-the-limit grip or anything remotely similar, as the Legacy Limited is clearly biased toward comfort, but it holds its own respectably when compared to other mid-size family sedans.

On that note, all Legacy trims come standard with Subaru's much-lauded AWD, the 2015 redesign ushering in a new configuration that works in concert with brake-based active torque-vectoring, which slows the inside front wheel to sharpen turn-in and minimize understeer. The Legacy's new active-torque-split symmetrical AWD is totally user-friendly too, allowing you to merely plant your foot on the throttle and let the electronics and mechanicals take it from there, the Legacy's Vehicle Dynamics Control with lateral-g and yaw-rate sensors also helping to maintain stability in nearly any situation.

The
2017 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
Legacy is quiet too, Subaru obviously expending a lot of energy on sound deadening in this Limited model, which made this trim's standard 576-watt 12-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system all the more enjoyable, especially while listening to classical at lower volumes. It manages all types of genres well, mind you, including dance, rock, alternative, jazz, and even talk, while it played my podcasts via Bluetooth streaming perfectly.

Notable features grandfathered up to Limited trim from lesser varieties include fog lamps, a windshield wiper de-icer, a tilt-and-telescopic leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, a leather shifter knob, auto on/off headlights, an electromechanical parking brake, powered heatable auto-dimming side mirrors with integrated turn signals, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a backup camera, dual-zone
2017 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
auto HVAC, heatable front seats, a powered glass sunroof, a sunglasses holder, blind spot detection, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, all the usual active and passive safety features including a full assortment of airbags, and much more.

Additional Limited trim features not yet mentioned include HID headlights, enhanced interior trim, electroluminescent primary gauges, navigation with mapping, a garage door opener, a 10-way powered driver's seat with memory, a four-way powered front passenger seat, heatable rear outboard seats, and rear climate control vents, all for just $35,895 plus freight and fees, which I might add is only $500 more than the 2015 model despite the many upgrades since, and our downgraded dollar.

How
2017 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited
Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
times changed, which makes it all the better to know some things stay the same. All-wheel drive and top-tier safety aside, Subaru quality is probably the brand's most salable asset. It was the top rated volume brand in Consumer Reports' 2016 report card on reliability, while Subaru's Forester and Outback models (remember, the latter is basically the same car as the Legacy) swept AutoPacific's owner surveyed 2016 Ideal Vehicle Awards. Also notable, Consumer Reports gave last year's Legacy the second highest score amongst mid-size sedans, sandwiching the Subie between two Camry trims.

In the end, the Legacy is a very well built, nicely finished, wonderful riding, strong performing car that's especially well-equipped in top-line Limited trim, while its AWD and EyeSight technologies deliver a rare level of safety focused sophistication in its mainstream volume class. I highly recommend it.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)
 
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