THE 2013 SUBARU LEGACY 3.6R REVIEW
Full Review by Andy: A Safe Bet
The car world is much like a poker game. Imagine auto manufacturers sitting around an oaken table sheathed in red velvet. Rolls-Royce lounges in a matte black Armani tuxedo, surrounded by deep stacks of yellow and gray chips. Chevrolet has elbows on the table, wears camouflage overalls, and spits chew near the sneakers of Subaru, a short, quiet fellow with dark glasses who folds often but never bleeds, never bluffs, and always cashes out. The current bet is about mainstream midsize sedans. The pot is big and almost every player is in. Toyota and Ford peek at their cards and toss in handfuls of blue chips to up the ante. It is Subaru’s turn. He peeks at his cards – the Subaru Legacy 3.6R – as he watches the flop. Does he fold, match, or raise?
A Fish Amongst Sharks
The year 2013 marks a refresh year for the Legacy. Subaru’s bread-and-butter midsize sedan, the Legacy competes with the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Mazda6, Ford Focus, and other popular sedans for a chunk of America’s biggest and most lucrative market. At $25,000-$30,000, the Legacy not only challenges pedestrian marques but also invites budget-conscious BMW, Audi, and Lexus buyers. In the past, however, the Legacy has been relegated to a niche favorite.
In fact, the list of apparent faults for the 2013 Legacy 3.6R is long indeed. Its 256-horsepower six-cylinder boxer engine is not particularly efficient, averaging only around 20 mpg, and the only transmission is a five-speed automatic with shift paddles. Acceleration is well below the class average.
Based on that information alone, one would assume that Subaru holds something like a King high card or maybe a 3-3 pair. Yet the Legacy has something that holds it apart from rivals, a little something Subie likes to call Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive.
A favorite of outdoor enthusiasts everywhere, Symmetrical AWD comes standard on every Subaru. The Legacy uses a planetary-type center differential to distribute torque between the front and rear wheels, and power can be shifted to any individual wheel. Default distribution is 45/55 rear-wheel biased. Unfortunately, due to AWD’s added weight, the Legacy 3.6R is slightly slower and less efficient than otherwise. However, many other midsize sedans do not even offer all-wheel drive, and most of the available four wheel systems pale in comparison to the one standard on the Legacy.
Due to its all-wheel drivetrain and its powerful, robust powertrain, the 2013 Legacy 3.6R is a solid, fun performer. It is swift and sure-footed, a veritable mountain goat on four wheels. The taut suspension provides an engaging ride but absorbs bumps and jitters. Subaru says its latest mechanical magic has reduced body roll by up to 40 percent. In short, the Legacy is one of the best-driving family-friendly cars, and with the death of the Legacy 2.5GT, it is Subaru’s sportiest midsize sedan.
Sure-Footed Safety and Security
The car also scores high marks for safety and security. Every single Subaru vehicle, including the Legacy, was an IIHS Top Safety Pick in 2012, and the 2013 rendition also garners a perfect ballot. New for this year is EyeSight, a driver-assist and collision avoidance system that can see both cars and pedestrians and circumvent crashes autonomously.
A Common Carryover
Sound like a full house? Maybe a four of a kind? Unfortunately, the rest of the Legacy is not so innovative. Despite an exterior refresh, the Legacy’s conservative styling is below par. The interior is a replica from 2011 with the exception of the 3.6R Limited trim, which adds high-gloss wood trim, rear-seat air-conditioning vents, and a new electroluminescent instrument cluster. Seating accommodations in either model are spacious, comfortable, and well-bolstered.
Most of the features found on the Legacy 3.6R and 3.6R Limited are typical of the class. Both come with Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity. The 3.6R Limited replaces the mediocre base audio system with a 440-watt Harmon/Kardon stereo system, upgrades seating arrangements, and adds the contents of a Snow Belt-friendly All Weather package. The Limited also has perforated leather upholstery, which heats and cools faster than regular animal hide. Options for the Limited model include a useful rearview camera and a middling GPS system.
Lay ‘Em Down
Subaru is not going all-in with the 2013 Legacy 3.6R. Its all-weather drivetrain, spacious interior, and refreshed visage will satiate the Subie Faithful, but it may not draw new people into the pack. Regardless, the newest Subaru Legacy 3.6R is a good hand and deserves careful consideration when shopping for a midsize sedan.
3.6-liter horizontally-opposed six-cylinder: 256 horsepower @6,000 rpm/247 lb-ft of torque @4,400 rpm
five-speed automatic transmission
18/25 mpg (AWD)
3.6R Limited: $28,895
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