Skip to main content

As roads get more congested and chaotic, having a safe vehicle feels more important than ever. For those on a budget, there is only one car under $25,000 that earns the best safety ratings in all IIHS categories. Naturally, it’s a Subaru. And while it may be easy to forget about the 2023 Subaru Legacy, it is the king of affordable, safe vehicles in 2023.

The 2023 Subaru Legacy is the only car under $25,000 to earn top safety scores
2023 Subaru Legacy | Subaru

Most cars under $25,000 fall short on safety in 2 areas

Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room. Modern cars are safer than they have ever been. Even cheap cars like the Nissan Versa and Hyundai Elantra come with advanced driver assistance features. From that standpoint, getting a safe, affordable car is a breeze in 2023.

That said, the Subaru Legacy bests its sub-$25,000 competition in two key areas:

  • Headlights
  • Updated side impact testing

Visibility and the ability to take a hit from a large vehicle may be just two categories, but they are two big factors when it comes to staying safe on the road. It’s these factors that give the Legacy the best safety ratings, all for less than $25,000.

The Subaru Legacy scores big in updated side-impact testing

The 2023 Subaru Legacy in white
Subaru Legacy Sport | Subaru

Not long ago, the IIHS updated its side-impact testing to account for the added weight of modern vehicles. Rather than using a 3,300-pound sled, a 4,200-pound sled is attached to the testing rail. In addition, speed increased from 31 mph to 37 mph to better simulate real-world traffic speeds. In total, the added weight and speed mean a lot more force in the event of a crash.

While other sub-$25,000 vehicles have done well in the older IIHS side-impact test, the 2023 Subaru Legacy is the only one to earn the best safety rating with the updated test. Improved door crash structures and side airbag placements allow the Legacy to keep its top safety marks. Even better, it does so while staying remarkably affordable.

Adaptive headlights aid nighttime visibility

The other, perhaps surprising factor keeping the Legacy at the top of the heap is its standard headlights. The Subaru sedan features steering-sensitive headlights even in standard models. That means for less than $25,000, it offers swiveling headlights that improve cornering visibility at night.

Other models do well here, but fall one spot short of top honors. The Mazda3 is the next car under $25,000 to earn top safety ratings in every other category. Furthermore, that model does offer adaptive headlights in it’s $30,000 trim.

Additional factors that make the Legacy the only car under $25,000 to earn top safety scores

The IIHS conducts safety testing and analysis based on a wide range of factors. These include advanced driver assistance systems, front, side, and rear impact testing, and restraint and airbag analysis. Each factor is weighed individually and given a grade from Good to Poor.

For most tests, the competition keeps up with the sub-$25,000 Subaru car. Models like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Hyundai Elantra have no trouble with front and rear impact safety.

It’s only when pushed to the new standards that the Subaru Legacy comes out on top. Admittedly, its price tag is higher than the competition. But to get the best safety grades in every category for less than $25,000, it is the only model to make the list.

Related 2 Subarus Make the Top 5 Small SUVs or Reliability, Value, and Safety

2 Subarus Make the Top 5 Small SUVs or Reliability, Value, and Safety