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2010 Subaru Legacy

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$4,163 — $13,019 USED
19
Photos
Sedan
5 Seats
21-27 MPG
(Combined)
Key specs of the base trim
 — 
Compare 8 trims

Overview

Is this the car for you?

The Good

  • Responsive steering
  • Roomy backseat
  • Good gas mileage for an AWD car
  • Available turbocharged drivetrain
  • Well-equipped base model
  • Wintry-weather suitability

The Bad

  • Middling cabin materials
  • Tiny stereo controls
  • Overly restrictive USB/iPod integration
  • Significant body roll in base model
  • Road noise
  • Crosswind susceptibility
2010 Subaru Legacy exterior side view

What to Know

about the 2010 Subaru Legacy
  • Full redesign for 2010
  • Larger, restyled interior
  • Three engine choices
  • Manual or automatic
  • Standard AWD
  • Standard electronic stability system

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Our Take

from the Cars.com expert editorial team

Cars.com's Kelsey Mays takes a look at the 2010 Subaru Legacy.

By Kelsey Mays

The Subaru Legacy has been redesigned for 2010 and now boasts a bigger backseat and improved gas mileage, with the same nimble steering the 2009 model had. Snowbelt drivers will appreciate its standard all-wheel drive, which few competitors offer.

Among midsize family sedans, the Legacy is a jack of all trades. In trying to do everything, though, it doesn't master very much. The Legacy doesn't feel as high-rent as some of its competitors — particularly the suburb-infesting Honda Accord. Nor will its polarizing styling work for everyone.

The 2010 Legacy — you can compare it with the '09 model here — comes in base, Premium and Limited trim levels, with a four- or six-cylinder engine. The related Outback wagon, also redesigned for 2010, is covered here. I drove a four-cylinder Legacy Limited. There's also a turbocharged four-cylinder available in Premium and Limited trims, though it only comes with a stick shift.

On the Road
Today's four-cylinder family cars are hardly the dogs they used to be (my point of reference being the mid-90s Accord I drove in high school — a car that won me few stoplight-revving contests and even fewer dates). The Legacy gets up and goes without protest, with around-town oomph that's comparable to a four-cylinder Accord or Toyota Camry. At highway speeds, Subaru's continuously variable automatic transmission takes a while to serve up the passing power you asked for, and the same is true on hills. I...

The Subaru Legacy has been redesigned for 2010 and now boasts a bigger backseat and improved gas mileage, with the same nimble steering the 2009 model had. Snowbelt drivers will appreciate its standard all-wheel drive, which few competitors offer.

Among midsize family sedans, the Legacy is a jack of all trades. In trying to do everything, though, it doesn't master very much. The Legacy doesn't feel as high-rent as some of its competitors — particularly the suburb-infesting Honda Accord. Nor will its polarizing styling work for everyone.

The 2010 Legacy — you can compare it with the '09 model here — comes in base, Premium and Limited trim levels, with a four- or six-cylinder engine. The related Outback wagon, also redesigned for 2010, is covered here. I drove a four-cylinder Legacy Limited. There's also a turbocharged four-cylinder available in Premium and Limited trims, though it only comes with a stick shift.

On the Road
Today's four-cylinder family cars are hardly the dogs they used to be (my point of reference being the mid-90s Accord I drove in high school — a car that won me few stoplight-revving contests and even fewer dates). The Legacy gets up and goes without protest, with around-town oomph that's comparable to a four-cylinder Accord or Toyota Camry. At highway speeds, Subaru's continuously variable automatic transmission takes a while to serve up the passing power you asked for, and the same is true on hills. If you prefer to shift your own gears — or just want to save $1,000 — a six-speed manual comes standard.

The all-wheel-drive system provides a confident grip — six-cylinder models get a more sophisticated all-wheel-drive system that's supposed to give the car a more rear-wheel-drive-like experience — and the steering wheel carves corners with admirable precision. Unfortunately, those same maneuvers cause excessive body roll, like you'd expect in a Camry. Subaru says suspension tuning is the same across all variants.

Ride quality is good and wind noise is low, but road noise with my test car's 17-inch wheels seemed loud. Above 70 mph, crosswinds can make the steering wheel a bit jittery. I spent a good chunk of time on the interstate making minor corrections to stay on course. The Camry has its own problems — mostly its numb, lollygagging highway steering — but the Accord feels more settled than the other two.

Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes are standard, with turbo and six-cylinder models getting beefier discs. My Legacy's brakes worked well, with a linear pedal feel and decent stopping power.

Gas mileage, at an EPA-estimated 23/31 mpg city/highway with the CVT, is better than last year's four-speed automatic Legacy, but it trails segment leaders like the 33-mpg Camry and Chevrolet Malibu and the 34-mpg Ford Fusion. Subaru's standard all-wheel drive adds weight. With that in mind, its mileage is hardly below par: The all-wheel-drive Fusion's best mpg numbers are 18/25 mpg (though that's with a V-6 engine). Ford doesn't offer all-wheel drive with the four-cylinder, so the Legacy's price of entry for an all-wheel-drive midsize sedan is roughly $8,000 less than Ford's, with 5 mpg of fuel savings to boot.

The Legacy's gas mileage with a manual transmission and non-turbo four-cylinder is 19/27 mpg. Trade the 170-horsepower four-cylinder for either of the more powerful drivetrains — the 256-hp six-cylinder with a five-speed automatic or a 265-hp, turbo four-cylinder with a six-speed manual — and mileage drops to 18/25 mpg.

Horsepower fans, take note: The turbocharged Legacy requires premium fuel. Other drivetrains use regular gas.

The Outside
I liked the outgoing Legacy. Its appearance — assertive up front, aggressive in profile — set it apart from a number of tubbier-looking competitors. Sadly, times have changed. The Legacy has caught up in girth, which Subaru says was in response to shoppers finding the last one too small. It isn't appreciably heavier by the numbers, but it no longer looks skinny, at least to my eyes.

The actual styling is a whole other affair. I see some Infiniti G37 up front, a Saab 9-5 in back and some Subaru Impreza along the sides. I find it not so much controversial — that can be a good thing — as simply overwrought, chaotic even. It's no worse than the Accord, another car stuck nursing wounds from the ugly stick. Decide for yourself about the Legacy's appeal, and drop me an email when you do.

The Inside
The cabin boasts more conventional lines and adult-friendly room, with a number of welcome changes. The doors now have window frames, yielding a more substantial thunk when you shut them. The backseat gains 4 inches of legroom, Subaru says, and it's about as roomy as the Accord's, which has been a benchmark for backseat comfort since its 2008 redesign.

Still, I can't shake the feeling that the interior feels low-rent. Too many areas — the wood trim, the silver-painted center controls, the italicized gauges — look trendy, chintzy almost, as if Subaru picked style over substance in a dozen small ways. (To be fair, other Cars.com staffers found the interior quality more to their liking.) The center controls feel needlessly crammed together, and major dials like volume and stereo tuning are too small to find without looking away from the road. The leather upholstery falls closer to Mazda6 territory than to Accord or Camry cowhide. Small gripes, perhaps, but the sum of them all determines whether a cabin feels like something $20,000 to $30,000 ought to get you. Relative to an Accord, Malibu or Fusion, the Legacy's interior feels a few grand short.

Drivers of various sizes should find the space adequate, thanks to long adjustment ranges for both seats. The front seats have less padding than the Fusion's or Camry's chairs, however, and my back grew sore over a few long interstate trips. Shorter drivers should also note that the center armrest doesn't extend forward to accommodate their elbows, as several competitors' armrests now do.

Cargo volume, at 14.7 cubic feet, is comparable to that of an Accord or Camry. If you're looking to pack in suitcases or golf clubs, the Mazda6 and Fusion lead the pack with more than 16 cubic feet apiece.

Tech Features
The optional navigation system includes a large screen with excellent graphics and plenty of street labels, but some simple actions — canceling route guidance, for instance — require an excessive number of intermediary screens.

An MP3 jack is standard on all trims, and the navigation system adds USB/iPod integration. The iPod controls leave something to be desired: A few songs into my iPod's classic rock playlist, I wanted to meander off into some deeper Who cuts. No dice. As Subaru later confirmed, the Legacy's system doesn't let you change playlists, albums or artists unless the car is stopped. I'll agree that distracted driving should be avoided — which is why a lot of navigation systems don't allow you to enter new destinations while you're on the move — but locking out simple music changes is equivalent to barring radio-station changes during a road trip. I've never seen another system that does this. It's nannying at its worst, and it defeats the point of having a massive song library on your iPod in the first place.

The navigation system includes a backup camera, something many family sedans now include. Just a few years ago, you were lucky to find backup cameras in luxury cars.

Safety & Pricing
The new Legacy has yet to be tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Standard safety features for 2010 include six airbags, an electronic stability system and antilock brakes. Click here to see the full list. Active head restraints are no longer included — they were standard last year — but Subaru says the 2010 Legacy's seats use a whiplash-mitigating design.

The base Legacy 2.5i starts at $19,995. That's $800 less than last year, and in league with competitors' base trims — not bad, given the Legacy's standard all-wheel drive. Other four-cylinder trims include the 2.5i Premium and 2.5i Limited. The six-cylinder Legacy 3.6R comes in base ($24,995), Premium ($25,995) and Limited ($27,995) trims, while the turbocharged 2.5GT comes only as a Premium ($27,995) or Limited ($29,995). Premium models get a power driver's seat, while the Limited adds a power passenger seat, leather upholstery and dual-zone automatic climate control. Heated seats, a moonroof and Harman Kardon audio are optional across most trims; the navigation system is optional only on the Limited trim level.

Check all the boxes, and a 2.5GT Limited tops out around $33,000.

Legacy in the Market
Subaru calls the 2010 Legacy a response to what its customers wanted — durability, value and performance, with a bit more cabin room. Those customers ought to be happy: The Legacy is all that, and it should continue to serve as a mildly unconventional alternative for buyers who equate Accord or Camry ownership with a voyage of the bland. Whether Subaru can go toe-to-toe with those heavy hitters, however, remains to be seen. The Legacy will find its buyers, but until Subaru irons out some usability issues and moves its cabin quality upstream, its midsize sedan will have a tough time breaking into the mainstream.

Send Kelsey an email  


Consumer Reviews

What drivers are saying

4.5
56 reviews — Read All reviews
Exterior Styling
(4.5)
Performance
(4.3)
Interior Design
(4.3)
Comfort
(4.7)
Reliability
(4.5)
Value For The Money
(4.5)

Read reviews that mention:

(5.0)

Love my Subaru

by beccaM from Greensburg on November 1, 2018

awesomely great car, the vehicle I wanted! This maker has top safety ratings and since I drive my grandchildren, it was a no-brainer!! Read vehicle reviews before buying anything else! Read full review

(5.0)

Fun, fast, reliable, best car in the snow ever!

by Ken B from Naperville, IL on May 28, 2018

265hp six-speed boxer engine. Just a great car. Reliable, fun, fast. Best car I have ever driven in the snow. 104,000 miles and it drives like the day I bought it. This was my 1st Subaru. Just bought ... Read full review

Safety

Recalls and crash tests

Recalls

The 2010 Subaru Legacy currently has 10 recalls


Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2010 Subaru Legacy 2.5i

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Warranty

New car and certified pre-owned programs by Subaru

New Car Program Benefits

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    36 months / 36,000 miles

Certified Pre-Owned Program Benefits

  • Maximum Age/Mileage

    5 years/80,000 miles

  • Basic Warranty Terms

    Coverage available for purchase

  • Powertrain

    7 years/100,000

  • Dealer Certification Required

    152-point inspection

  • Roadside Assistance

    Yes

  • View All CPO Program Details

Latest 2010 Legacy Stories

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Legacy received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker

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