The 2021 Subaru Legacy’s Handling Sends a Strong Message to Competitors

Despite its strengths, the Subaru Legacy doesn’t get much attention compared to many midsize sedans. Like most other Subies, it has standard all-wheel drive and a sharp-looking interior boasting the latest technology. For its 2020 redesign, the Legacy also received a more powerful and efficient optional engine.

However, the Legacy’s base engine is equally appealing, as proven in a recent MotorTrend comparison test. The analysis also includes the Hyundai Sonata and Honda Accord, two other popular sedans. So, how does the Subaru Legacy measure up to these rivals?

Under the 2021 Subaru Legacy’s hood

The Subaru Legacy’s base engine is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder capable of 182 hp, paired with a continuously variable transmission. Its 176 lb-ft of torque unlocks slower than the rest of its rivals at 4,400 rpm. It also has the lowest redline of the three at 6,000 rpm.

Both the tested Hyundai Sonata and Honda Accord pack turbo-fours, but the Accord’s engine boasts the most horsepower. The Accord has a CVT like the Legacy, while the Sonata has an eight-speed automatic transmission. Unlike the Subaru Legacy, these base trims come standard with front-wheel drive.

The Subaru Legacy has the worst fuel economy among the three midsize sedans, but not by much. It also has the largest fuel tank. Despite being an AWD car, it’s rated for only 1 mpg less overall than the Hyundai Sonata. The Honda Accord gets the best gas mileage, rated for 33 mpg combined city/highway.

The Subaru Legacy’s handling

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MotorTrend likes the Subaru Legacy’s updated structure, giving it a much smoother ride than previous generations. The suspension held up commendably after multiple twists and bumps on the test track. Testers also found the handling engaging. They said the Legacy provides the best overall ride quality. 

It’s still the slowest of the three, with a 0-to-60 mph time of 8.3 seconds. The Subaru Legacy also has a unique engine noise, but it’s not as satisfying as its rivals’ turbo motors. MotorTrend says that though the Legacy corners well, body lean is noticeable inside the vehicle.

The Hyundai Sonata offers the worst ride quality, with little body control and uncontrollable shaking, MT’s tester report. It doesn’t cruise over hard bumps gracefully, and one tester thought that smaller bumps cause even bigger disruptions. The Sonata is faster than the Legacy, but the Honda Accord leads the pack with 7.2 seconds from 0 to 60 mph.

Ultimately, MotorTrend thinks the Honda Accord offers the best handling among the three. The brakes and steering wheel have the best weight, giving drivers the most confidence on the road. Testers also found the Accord’s CVT more refined compared to the Subaru Legacy’s. 

Is the Legacy worth the price?

Even with standard AWD, the Subaru Legacy is surprisingly not the most expensive sedan in this comparison test. The trim that MT test retails for $30,820, while the Hyundai Sonata costs $29,305. The optional turbo-four on MotorTrend’s tester brings the price to $32,174.

MT’s Accord is the most expensive model at $32,285. Though it provides the most agile handling, MotorTrend thinks it’s the most underwhelming in interior and exterior design. With its stylish interior and unconventional grille design, the Sonata stands out the most.

The 2021 Subaru Legacy won’t win any fashion contests, but that’s hardly a dealbreaker. It still has the best drive quality with the added utility of AWD included in the price. If you’re willing to sacrifice some handling prowess, it’s a good pick over the Honda Accord.