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If you are in the market for a new mid-size sedan, then you might want to check out the 2021 Subaru Legacy. This crowded, popular segment is full of brand-loyalty from buyers, so if you have bought a Subaru before, you are likely to buy one again. But if you have never owned a Subaru, then you are in for a treat with the Legacy.
Part of the seventh generation of the Legacy (which was introduced last model year), the Legacy offers a beefed-up turbocharged engine option that nets the Legacy a solid 260 hp, making this vehicle the most powerful it has ever been. You can even opt for an appropriately sized 11.6-inch tablet-style infotainment display.
As is the case with Subaru vehicles, the Legacy comes with standard all-wheel drive. Its ability to provide traction in slick weather conditions is superb due to the amount of traction the vehicle provides. While the Legacy is still somewhat slow to accelerate (with a 0-60 mph time of 8.5 seconds), its handling performance outdoes much of the competition. You will feel some body roll while going through tight turns, but the amount of road grip is above-average for this segment. Also, the steering column is incredibly responsive and well-weighted. Just be prepared to experience some nosedive if you need to make an emergency stop.
Comfort is where Subaru really excels. The Legacy's front seats might not have a high amount of power adjustments, but they offer a ton of support without feeling too stiff. The rear seats are even sculpted for max comfort and far outdo the basic flat benches that you will find in some of the Legacy's rivals. Also, despite being powered by a continuously variable transmission (CVT), the Legacy is well enough muted from any noise it generates.
Technology is where things go a bit awry. Trying to search for points of interest in the built-in navigation system is utterly pointless. Apple CarPlay is standard but crashes a lot, and the voice control system fails to work like it should. On top of that, some of the EyeSight driver aids are finicky. Adaptive cruise control reacts way too quickly when changing traffic situations, and forward collision warning pumps the brakes and sets off its alarm when you are braking.
Could the 2021 Subaru Legacy be the right mid-size sedan for you? Let's take a look at what the different trim levels have to offer. That way, you can make a more informed buying decision. Be sure to read through until the end, as that is where we will tell you which trim level we think is the best overall deal.
Compare the 2021 Subaru Legacy Base vs Premium Trim Level. - What is the Difference?
The base Legacy trim and the Premium share the same turbocharged 2.5-L 4-cylinder engine that generates 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque. This engine is paired with Subaru's Lineartronic CVT, and AWD is, of course, standard issue. This means you also get active torque vectoring, stability and traction control, and a fuel economy of 27 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. 17-inch steel wheels are standard on the Base trim, but on the Premium, you get upgraded to 17-inch aluminum alloys done in black with a machine finish.
Exterior features are much the same on both trims. Both trim levels come with steering responsive LED headlights, a single exhaust outlet, and two-speed variable intermittent windshield wipers with a mist feature. The Premium adds heated side mirrors and windshield wiper de-icer (as part of the All Weather Package) and folding side mirrors with built-in turn indicators. It also adds options for LED fog lights and a power tilting and sliding glass moonroof.
Inside, you will find quite a few differences. The Base trim level offers manually adjustable front seats while the Premium switches to power adjustability. It also gives the front seats standard heating. Both have a 60/40-split folding rear seat and cloth upholstery, but the Premium gains a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shift knob.
Of course, both trim levels are packed to the brim with standard amenities that should meet your creature comfort needs. They both include standard auto/off-on wiper-linked headlights, an electronic parking brake, auto-up/down and anti-pinch protection on the front windows, advanced adaptive cruise control, a 3-spoke multi-function steering wheel, a manually adjustable tilting and telescoping steering column, transmission paddle shifters, two front USB ports, a total of 8 cup and bottle holders, an overhead console, dual sun visors with illuminated vanity mirrors, a center console, and an under-floor storage tray for the trunk. The Premium trim level adds an option for keyless access with push button start and PIN access and two standard rear seat USB charging ports.
The Base trim level has a manually adjustable CFC-free air conditioning system. The Premium gets upgraded to a dual-zone climate control system. The 7-inch STARLINK Dual Multimedia system comes standard on the Base trim, while on the Premium, you get the 11.6-inch screen with the Multimedia Plus system. This gives you standard smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, SiriusXM Satellite Radio and Travel Link, HD radio, and Bluetooth connectivity. The Base has a 4-speaker sound system while the Premium gets an additional two speakers. The Multimedia Navigation system is an option for the Premium, which also gets standard 4G LTE Wi-Fi capability.
Now, let's talk about safety features. Every Subaru now comes with the EyeSight bundle of driver aids. This means that no matter which trim level you buy, you can utilize adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning with a sway warning, and lane keep assist to help keep your vehicle safe on the road. You also get high beam assist, Vehicle Dynamics Control, Brake Assist, a brake override feature, a tire pressure monitoring system, a rear-view camera, and LED daytime running lights. The Premium trim level adds the option for a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross traffic alert and lane change assist.
Compare the 2021 Subaru Legacy Premium vs Sport - What is the Difference?
The Sport trim level is not too entirely different from the Premium, although it does have a few noteworthy upgrades. It rides atop 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels that have a black finish, and it gets standard LED fog lights. The exterior has more changes than just that though. There are Crystal Black Silica-finish side mirrors with integrated turn signals and a trunk spoiler.
Inside, you will find a few upgrades, such as red contrast stitching on the Sport cloth upholstery. The Sport also has standard keyless access, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror with a compass and HomeLink integrated into it, and auto-up/down with anti-pinch protection for all of the windows. Reverse automatic braking becomes optional, but the rest of the safety features remain the same.
Compare the 2021 Subaru Legacy Sport vs Limited Trim Level. - What is the Difference?
The Limited trim level is typically a popular choice for Subaru drivers, and it is no wonder why. This year's Limited offers 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels done in black with a machine finish. It also has a 10-way power adjustable driver's seat with lumbar support and 2-position memory along with an 8-way power adjustable front passenger seat. The rear outboard seats gain a heating function, and you can opt for a heated steering wheel. Chic leather-trimmed upholstery comes standard.
A 12-speaker Harman Kardon Premium Sound System is swapped in, and it has a 576-watt-equivalent GreenEdge amplifier. Buyers can opt for a DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation system, and reverse automatic braking and blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert are now standard.
Compare the 2021 Subaru Legacy Limited vs Limited XT - What is the Difference?
The XT trims are unique in terms of their mechanical components. The XTs are powered by a 2.40-L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that musters up an impressive 260 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque. This only takes the fuel economy down a notch to 24 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.
While the Limited XT has the Limited's standard features, it standardizes some of the Limited's options. The power tilting and sliding moonroof comes equipped, as do dual stainless steel exhaust outlets. The heated steering wheel also becomes standard, as do the 11.6-inch STARLINK Multimedia Navigation system, and the DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System.
Compare the 2021 Subaru Legacy Limited XT vs Touring XT. - What is the Difference?
There does not seem like there could be a whole lot for the Touring to add, right? Well, it does make a few upgrades that border on luxury. There are satin chrome-finish caps on the power-folding and heated side mirrors with integrated turn indicators. Nappa leather-trimmed upholstery adorns the seats, and a CD player gets included for those of you who still like to pop in your favorite CD. A 180-degree front-view monitor gets added as well. Otherwise, that is about all you will find different on the Touring XT trim level.
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Which Trim to Choose?
The 2021 Subaru Legacy offers a line-up that is designed for a nice balance of comfort, power, and technology. It offers a budget-friendly alternative to higher-priced luxury sedans without compromising on creature comforts, which should draw in plenty of attention as per usual. People have been buying Subaru Legacy models for several decades now for good reason - they are affordable and can last for years.
If you are trading in your old Legacy for a 2021 model, you will need virtually no time at all to adapt to the physical controls and even the infotainment system. The tablet-style screen is not exactly our top pick for a screen, but tablet users might just find that they enjoy its set-up.
So, which trim level should you get? We recommend the Limited trim level, although the Premium is a very close second. The Premium is definitely well-packed with standard features, but the Limited offers just enough more to make it more attractive. And the price jump between them is nothing too extreme, which can help you justify purchasing the Limited over the Premium.
Of course, if you have the extra cash available in your budget, the Limited XT is a lot of fun to drive. The turbo engine does not guzzle gas like some do, and it provides you with a massive boost in power - something the Legacy needs, as the base engine is fairly slow to accelerate. The ride quality is enjoyable, and the amount of features you get is bountiful. We just don't recommend the Touring XT since it does not add enough features to justify the cost.
The Limited should do just fine for most buyers though. While competitors like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord have dominated the segment for years, we expect to see quite a few 2021 Subaru Legacy models hitting the road and staying there for a few decades.
• Compare the 2020 Subaru Legacy Trim Levels