2017 Subaru Legacy Limited Rental Review – Loaded With Everything but Power

The blower motor in my WRX seemed to be getting louder by the day and, while adding an insulation panel seemed to help, I still wasn’t satisfied. The noise was intermittent, making it hard to reproduce, though a tech working at my local dealer discovered a technical service bulletin and offered to replace it while the warranty was still in effect.

So, I scheduled an appointment to drop the car off to replace the blower motor and perform a technical service bulletin to resolve my squeaky clutch pedal issues. Because they needed time to get some extra parts in, I was told I’d be given a loaner for a few days. I dropped the WRX off and expected to walk out to a base Impreza, but was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by a plush Legacy 2.5i Limited.

The Legacy Limited seemed an odd choice for a loaner car, but the mix of options and final price explained why it ended up in loaner service instead of someone’s driveway.

This specific car, priced at $32,359 because of the Limited trim and two large option packages, came equipped with the smaller 2.5-liter flat-four making only 170 horsepower. This positions the car above the top-trim 3.6R Limited and many competitors offering more power.

One of the first things I noticed walking up to the car was the large 18-inch wheels and the tiny rotors hiding behind them. The front rotors come in at 11.6 inches — the same size you would find on a 2000 Outback. Moving past the cosmetics, the brakes served their purpose well in traffic and the back roads near my home. Still, it might have been a wise choice to combine the larger 12.4-inch brakes with the 18 inch wheel upgrade, just for presentation.

One of the first things I did after jumping in the car was to pair my phone with the StarLink system and see how it compares to my WRX. I was pleasantly surprised to see it connect over Bluetooth almost instantly; the touchscreen was much more responsive than what I was used to. Sound quality was great for my non-audiophile ears and the only thing it really lacked — for me, anyway — was Apple CarPlay.

On the road, the Legacy proved quiet and comfortable, albeit very slow. The 2.5-liter gets quite a workout trying to move almost 3,500 pounds of mass, though I suspect the CVT ratios and tuning are mostly to blame; older naturally aspirated Subarus I’ve owned seemed to perform much better off the line. Once the car gets moving, more power comes online and highway driving and passing are not an issue.

The interior is well appointed with comfortable and supportive leather seats. The materials are well fitted, but the top of the dash is constructed of a rubbery material designed to make it soft to the touch, but is mostly useful for collecting dust. Climate controls and the center console are well laid out. The interior door handle seemed familiar, and it should be — it’s the same one Subaru used in my old 2000 Legacy.

A planned trip to Costco made for a great opportunity to test out trunk space. The Legacy has 15 cubic feet of cargo volume, 25 percent more than in my WRX; a quite noticeable improvement. We were able to fit a full cart of Costco groceries in the trunk, included two 30-packs of water, a 24-pack of beer, and a large package of paper towels among other smaller items.

Much of my five days with the car was spent commuting, but fuel economy, despite mostly highway driving, was not great. The best readout from the on-board display was about 31 miles per gallon — a bit short of the model’s 34 mpg highway rating. The actual average for my time with the car ended up at roughly 26 mpg, just slightly higher than what my WRX normally gets. My first instinct was to assume I was being too heavy on the pedal. However, the figures didn’t change much even with a lighter right foot and greater use of cruise control.

The $1,995 Option Package 24 brings an upgraded Starlink System and adds the EyeSight driver assist system, steering responsive fog lights, auto high beams, reverse automatic braking, and HID headlights. I used EyeSight quite a bit over the last couple of days and was impressed with the response. The adaptive cruise worked well and Lane Keep Assist kept the car on a straight course without bouncing between the painted lines. Auto high beams are always helpful, though the HID headlight are very bright on their own. I’m not sure who demands steering responsive fog lights, as I didn’t notice their presence until after reading the options list.

Outfitted in Limited trim, the Legacy delivers plenty of high points, but the engine and CVT combination drag it down too much for me to consider buying something like this. It’s fine for the $22,000 base model but, when you pass the $30,000 mark, so many other other possibilities become available. It’s hard not to consider something like the Ford Fusion Sport, which boasts almost double the power for nearly the same price.


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