It’s better to call the “new” 2018 Subaru Legacy “refreshed,” because that’s what it is. A little nip here. A little tuck there. A trip to the beauty parlor and a little debutante ball action, and here she is, the “new” 2018 Subaru Legacy.
The thumbnail sketch of what’s new breaks down like this: The 2018 Subaru Legacy has revised front and rear styling for a “sportier look.” The interior has also been gone over and redesigned with more premium materials. The chassis tuning has been tweaked for a smoother and quieter ride.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard along with new multimedia capabilities. And there is now an available Steering Responsive LED Headlight system.
Updating the front and rear styling is the easiest way to keep a car looking new during the mid-cycle refresh, before it gets a complete redo. People identify cars primarily from their grille design and front end treatment, so mucking about with that will get noticed. And from a manufacturer’s perspective, new front and rear bumpers (just as an example) are much cheaper to do than revamping the rest of the sheet metal.
Whether it results in a “sportier look” I’ll leave up to prospective buyers. Subaru says the Legacy is now a “sportier, yet more elegant design,” as if the two are mutually exclusive. They’re not. Just look at a 60s vintage Ferrari Lusso, for example. If that doesn’t say “athletically capable” and “elegant” at the same time, I don’t know what does.
But after all, this is a sedan, so maybe they’re not too far off?
The Legacy’s interior has also gotten a touch up, with both a redesign and higher quality materials. This has been a long time bug-a-boo for Subie. And the Legacy is, after all, the top of the Subaru line. So if any model is going to have to up its game, it’s going to be this one.
Power & Performance
The chassis tuning is more responsive, making the 2018 Subaru Legacy more comfortable, quiet, and agile. Steering and brake feel have been improved too, especially through the Electric Power Steering. The smoother more responsive system works in tandem with the firmer, more direct brake-pedal which is always, always a good thing. Furthermore, Subaru updated the shocks to reduce the impact of bumps while also reducing body roll.
Where it’s really at though is under the hood where you get two choices of boxer powerplants. The Legacy 2.5i is motorized by a double overhead cam, 2.5-liter boxer engine, producing 175 horsepower and 174 lb-ft. of torque. There is a DOHC 3.6-liter 6-cylinder plant in the Legacy 3.6R, cranking out 256 horsepower and 247 lb-ft. of torque. Keeping with their quiet theme, the Lineartronic CVT on 2.5-liter models now features an ultra-short-pitch chain, while engine timing adjustments during acceleration further reduce powertrain noise.
All models come with Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system (natch) with an electronically managed, continuously variable transfer clutch for torque distribution.
For The Birds?
The Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and the new multimedia capabilities are both cool and ridiculous.
You get useful stuff like Magellan NAVI with advanced cloud-based mapping services and a Quick Guide digital reference guide for the vehicle. You get potentially useful stuff like Best Parking to locate and compare parking rates, and RightTrack monitors driving habits and recommends improvements.
You also have access to features which have sod-all to do with cars, driving them, or any combination thereof. For example, YELP for crowd sourced reviews of businesses? (“Oo look! A drycleaner with a five star rating!!”) and this thing called Glympse that provides real-time location sharing (why?). eventseeker (all lower case for some reason) provides information on local events, and yes, I don’t get that one either.
But the Pièce De Résistance has got to be eBird. That’s right. You heard me. I said eBird. What, you may ask is eBird? Well I hope you’re sitting down, because eBird advises of local bird sightings and locations.
Imagine that. You’re just cruising down the ville, and all of sudden thanks to eBird, you see there is an unexpected gathering of Throat Warbler Mangroves close at hand. You slam on the brakes (which are improved thanks to that new pedal tuning), slew a hard left, and nearly mow down a fruit cart, all so you can see your elusive avian friends up close and personal.
No doubt after digital admonishments from the RightTrack system, that is.
So, eBird or no, the 2018 Subaru Legacy makes a fine choice for people who are into Subarus in general, or might find themselves in less than temperate climes. The vehicle will make its debut at the Chicago Auto Show, which opens to the public on February 11th.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.