2013 Subaru Legacy Review and Prices

Last Updated: Nov 2, 2011

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2013 Subaru Legacy Buying Advice

The 2013 Subaru Legacy is the best car for you if you want a capable alternative to the usual midsize sedan, one that holds its own in any weather thanks to class-exclusive standard all-wheel-drive.

The 2013 Subaru Legacy isn’t expected to see much in the way of revision because a midcycle freshening is on tap for model-year 2014. That means the 2013 Legacy will carry over in a basic form that dates to its successful model-year 2010 redesign. It should continue as the only midsize sedan with standard all-wheel-drive (AWD) for superior traction on wet or snowy roads. That makes it popular in winter-ravaged regions, if not as big a seller nationwide as midsize stalwarts like the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Chevrolet Malibu, and Ford Fusion.

Should you wait for the 2013 Subaru Legacy or buy a 2012 Subaru Legacy? Buy a 2012 Legacy and you’ll drive a car that won’t look dated quite as quickly as a 2013 Legacy will, considering the coming 2014-model facelift. And you’ll likely avoid the inevitable model-year price inflation. The 2013 Legacy isn’t likely to change in any compelling way and will be up against a formidable array of redesigned rivals, including all-new versions of the Altima, Fusion, Accord, and Malibu. The 2013 Legacy, however, is likely to remain the only car in its competitive set available with AWD, and certainly will be the only one with AWD standard on every model.

2013 Subaru Legacy Changes back to top

Styling: The 2013 Subaru Legacy should see no significant exterior or interior styling alterations, soldiering on with a design that will look quite familiar and could seem a little dated in a class in which virtually every rival has been restyled since Legacy was last reskinned in model-year 2010.

Still, Legacy’s roomy cabin – one of the few in the class that enables three grownups to ride in reasonable comfort in the rear seat – will remain a selling point. So will a straightforward cabin design fortified with good-quality materials.
The 2013 Subaru Legacy lineup will likely again be organized into three series based on engine type.

Powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder, the Legacy 2.5i series should again consist of the base 2.5i model, the midline 2.5i Premium model, and the upscale 2.5i Limited model. With a 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine, the 3.6R series would be composed of the base 3.6R model, the 3.6R Premium, and the 3.6R Limited. Motivated by a turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder, the sporty 2013 Legacy 2.5GT Limited would again be the most expensive model in the lineup.

Expect visual distinctions among the various 2013 Legacy models probably will remain relatively subtle. The base 2.5i model should repeat with black exterior details and 16-inch steel wheels with wheel covers. The other 2.5i and 3.6R models should return with body-colored mirrors and door handles and 16- or 17-inch alloys, depending on trim level. The 2012 Legacy 2.5GT Limited should again stand out with 18-inch alloys and a functional hood scoop.

Mechanical: Don’t look for major mechanical changes to the 2013 Subaru Legacy. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine in the 2.5i series should again have 170 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. (Loosely, torque is the force behind acceleration, horsepower the energy that sustains momentum.)

The 3.6-liter six-cylinder in the 2013 Legacy 3.6R series should return with 256 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque. And the 2.5GT Limited’s turbo 2.5-liter four should repeat with 265 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.

Subaru isn’t likely to alter the 2013 Legacy’s transmission choices. It should offer the 2.5i series with a choice of a six-speed manual or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). A CVT does the work of a conventional automatic transmission but with a belt-and-pulley system of near-infinite gear ratios instead of a traditional set of fixed ratios. The intent is to leverage engine speed for an optimal balance of acceleration and fuel economy -- though the some drivers find the seamless delivery of power, not to mention the resulting engine whine under full throttle, somewhat unsettling. Subaru’s “Lineartronic” take on the CVT provides steering wheel-mounted paddles that allow the driver to replicate some of the feel of manual-type gear control.

The 2013 Legacy 3.6R series will likely continue with a conventional automatic transmission with five speeds. That would keep it a step behind most midsize rivals, which use more efficient six-speed automatics. And while traditional manual transmissions are fading quickly from the market or offered only on price-leader versions of competing sedans, the 2013 Subaru Legacy 2.5GT Limited should again come with a six-speed stick shift. The downside is that drivers who prefer automatic transmission will need to drop the 2.5GT Limited from their shopping list.

In Subaru tradition, the 2013 Legacy’s engines will continue with a design in which the cylinder banks are horizontally opposed instead of in a vertical or V-shaped configuration. Porsche is the only other automaker that builds cars with horizontally opposed engines. The perceived advantage is compact design and a lowed center of gravity, which benefits handling.

While the rare competitor may offer it as an option, the 2013 Subaru Legacy will again be the only midsize sedan to come standard with all-wheel-drive on all models. AWD automatically distributes engine power between the front and rear axles in response to wheel slippage. The result is maximized traction on wet, icy or snowy pavement. The Legacy, however, is not designed for off-road use. For light-duty travel away from paved surfaces, Subaru will again offer the 2013 Outback crossover SUV, basically a Legacy sedan with a raised suspension and a spacious wagon body.  

Features: The 2013 Subaru Legacy should come with a competitive list of standard features, including on all models air conditioning, power locks and windows, keyless entry, cruise control, and 60/40 split/folding rear seatbacks. Added as standard on all Legacys for model-year 2012 and continuing for 2013 will be Bluetooth hands-free mobile-phone connectivity and a USB iPod interface. 

Expect 2013 Legacy 2.5i Premium and 3.6R Premium versions to again include such standard upgrades as a power driver’s seat and leather-wrapped steering wheel. The top 2.5i Limited and 3.6R Limited models will likely again add luxury content that includes leather upholstery, heated front seats with a power front passenger seat, automatic climate control, and a premium harmon/kardon audio system.

The 2013 Legacy 2.5GT Limited will again include Limited-trim-level equipment but feature exclusive touches such as carbon fiber-patterned interior accents and special black leather upholstery with contrasting stitching.

Other Legacy features returning as standard or optional depending on trim level should include a power moonroof, voice-command navigation system with a rear backup camera, a 440-watt harmon/kardon audio system, and an All-Weather Package that bundles heated front seats and side mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer.

2013 Subaru Legacy Prices back to top

Prices for the 2013 Subaru Legacy weren’t available in time for this review, but don’t expect a big increase over model-year 2012 prices. It seems obvious that Subaru would recognize a need to keep prices in check so the 2013 Legacy remains relevant amidst the onslaught of headline-grabbing redesigned rivals.

Expect a 2013 Legacy base-price range of roughly $21,000-$32,750. (Estimated base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Subaru’s fee for the 2012 Legacy was $750.) Given the standard AWD, this base-price range would keep the 2013 Legacy’s value proposition in line with that of most comparable rivals, even though it won’t have the latest looks or cutting-edge features of its newer competitors.

Estimated base price is around $21,000 for the 2013 Legacy 2.5i and around $23,250 for the 2.5i Premium. These models should again come standard with manual transmission; expect the CVT to add around $1,000. The CVT would likely again be standard on the 2013 Legacy 2.5i Limited model, which should be priced from around $26,750.

Estimated base price for the 2013 Legacy 3.6R is $26,000; for the 2013 Legacy 3.6R Premium it’s $27,250, and for the 2013 3.6R Limited it’s $29,750. Expect the 2013 Legacy 2.5GT Limited to be priced from around $32,750.

The All-Weather Package on Premium models should be priced around $500 on its own, about $1,500 when bundled with the power moonroof, nearly $1,800 with the harmon/kardon stereo, and close to $2,800 when coming with both.

On 2013 Legacy 2.5i and 3.6R Limited versions, the moonroof on its own should cost about $1,000 as a standalone option, and around $3,000 bundled with the navigation system. A package on the 2013 Legacy 2.5 GT that includes the harmon/kardon audio and the navigation system should again cost at or near $2,000.

2013 Subaru Legacy Fuel Economy back to top

EPA fuel-economy estimates for the 2013 Subaru Legacy weren’t issued in time for this review but should not change much from the car’s model-year 2012 ratings. That would sustain the 2013 Legacy about midpack for midsize cars of similar power – not great but not too bad considering standard AWD saddles the Subaru with a bit of a weight disadvantage.

Expect the 2013 Subaru Legacy with the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine to again rate around 19/27 mpg city highway and 22 mpg combined city/highway with the manual transmission and 23/31/26 mpg with the CVT.

Both the 2013 Legacy 2.5 GT and the 2012 3.6R models should continue to share a rating of 18/25 mpg city/highway, 21 mpg combined. Recognizing its turbo engine, Subaru probably will again require premium-octane gas for the 2013 Legacy 2.5GT Limited but specify less expensive regular-octane for the other Legacy models.

2013 Subaru Legacy Release Date back to top

The 2013 Subaru Legacy should be available in September 2012.

What's next for the 2013 Subaru Legacy back to top

The Subaru Legacy is set to receive what’s known as a midcycle update for model-year 2014. The intent is to sustain showroom interest until the car’s next full redesign, which probably won’t happen until model-year 2016.

Don’t expect major changes with the 2014 freshening. The Legacy will retain its basic exterior appearance and dimensions, probably enhanced with a revised front-end treatment and a modestly updated rear-end look. Typically this is achieved with a new grille and reshaped front and rear fascias and accompanied by revamped headlamps and taillights. The interior probably also would get a slightly different look with new gauge faces, switch graphics, and upholstery patterns. Subaru also could introduce such infotainment advances as smartphone-app-tapping software to help the Legacy keep up with some of its gadget-crazed competitors.

As for the sixth-generation Legacy due in model-year 2016, look for new styling to be accompanied by lighter weight and improved powertrains, the latter in the service of better fuel economy. Indeed, gas mileage will be paramount, given federally mandated corporate average fuel economy standards that require an incremental 40 percent increase between model years 2012-2016.

A future Legacy will likely make use of lightweight materials such as aluminum to help shed fuel-wasting pounds. The engine and transmission lineup will likely be optimized with fuel economy in mind, too. Both the current turbo four-cylinder and the six-cylinder engine could be replaced by a direct-injected turbocharged four that would generate equivalent or greater power but use less fuel.

Expect future mainstream equivalents to today’s 2.5i Legacy models to use a smaller four-cylinder engine, perhaps a next-generation variant of the 2.0-liter four introduced in the redesigned 2012 Subaru Impreza compact car. Subaru would likely need to upgrade to at least a six-speed automatic transmission, though probably will stay with the CVT for some Legacy models.

It’s also possible the next-generation Legacy would include a gas-electric hybrid version based on technology borrowed from Subaru’s minority corporate shareholder, Toyota. The line might eventually include a plug-in hybrid that could operate for an extended period solely on battery power, provided its battery is fully charged via a wall outlet or charging station.

Two things remain near certainties: the Legacy will continue with horizontally opposed engines and include all-wheel-drive as standard equipment.

2013 Subaru Legacy Competition back to top

Honda Accord: The 2013 edition of this midsize benchmark will be the first all-new Accord since model-year 2008. Expect the return of sedan and coupe body styles, but with new sheet metal and likely slightly smaller dimensions than today’s versions. Bucking the trend toward all-four-cylinder engine lineups in this class, the 2013 Accord likely will retain a choice of four- and six-cylinder engines. And a gas-electric hybrid is expected to return for the first time since 2007, though this time aimed at maximum fuel economy, not optimized performance. Some reports also hint at the addition of a plug-in hybrid for model-year 2014. Exterior and interior styling changes likely will be more evolutionary than revolutionary, with assorted high-tech features added to help the 2013 Accord stay current. A wagon-like crossover-SUV version should continue to be offered as the Accord Crosstour. Expect a 2013 Accord base-price range of roughly $24,000-$33.000.

Ford Fusion: Also to be redesigned for model-year 2013, Fusion and its upscale sibling at Lincoln, the MKZ, will switch to Ford’s global midsize-car platform. That suggests it’ll be somewhat smaller than the outgoing edition but still accommodate five passengers. The global architecture should give it European-grade road manners. And a newly available four-cylinder version of Ford’s turbocharged EcoBoost engine promises the acceleration of a V-6 with the fuel economy of a four. The base engine will likely remain a 2.5-liter four-cylinder. A gas-electric-hybrid probably will return, too. If a V-6 is again offered it would be confined to the sportiest 2013 Fusion variant. All-wheel-drive should remain available as an alternative to the standard front-wheel drive. Added connectivity and infotainment features will be added, including the controversial MyFord Touch operating system. Estimated base-price range for the 2013 Ford Fusion is $21,000-$30,000.

Toyota Camry: Coming off a model-year 2012 redesign, the 2013 Camry should continue with only minor changes. The base 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine should again produce 179 horsepower, the available 3.5-liter V-6 around 268. The surprise star of the lineup would again be the fuel-saving Camry Hybrid that pairs a 2.5-liter four-cylinder with an electric motor/generator for a net 200 horsepower and a combined city/highway EPA rating of 41 mpg. Camry will continue to emphasize a comfortable ride and easygoing handling over flashy features or cutting-edge infotainment. Estimated 2013 Camry base-price range is $23,500-$32,000.

2013 Subaru Legacy Next Steps