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2011 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Subaru, Test Drives

Do you sometimes find yourself unconsciously taking special note to other vehicles on the road that share the same make or model as the one you are driving? One vehicle that I took special note to but thought I would not initially notice so much was the new 2011 Subaru Legacy.  For a full week I had the chance to drive around Subaru’s midsized sedan that likes to play it safe in terms of design, value and reliability.

When someone mentions Subaru to an automotive enthusiast they immediately think about the WRX and sometimes forget about vehicles such as the Outback and 4-door Legacy, which have paved the way for the smaller and sportier Impreza WRX family. My new 2011 Subaru Legacy test vehicle is the 3.6R Limited edition featuring a robust 3.6-liter 256 horsepower boxer 6-cylinder engine.

With the flat-6 engine and symmetrical all-wheel-drive configuration, the new 2011 Legacy gets a firm grip on paved roads as well as slightly rough terrain. I was not going to take the Legacy through any serious off-road trails and risk damaging the sporty side skirts. However, it was assuring to know that the 2011 Legacy possess the same reliable all-wheel-drive system touted in rally prepped Subarus. The long lineage of Subaru’s all-wheel-drive system is an excellent choice for snowy or other inclimate weather conditions as well.

I spent most of my week of reviewing the new 2011 Legacy on normal roads. The suspension setup is somewhat soft when compared to other midsized sedans in its class. This is mainly due to a balance that Subaru attempts to keep when it comes to off-road vs. on-road competency. Fortunately, the wonderful all-wheel-drive system compensates for the extra body lean going into sharp corners from the rather spongy suspension setup. Otherwise, the new Legacy is well dampened and balanced for virtually any road surface that is navigable with a car.

The new 2011 Subaru Legacy has somewhat of a subdued styling to it. Receiving a full redesign for the 2010 model year, the 2011 Subaru Legacy retains several exterior and interior design characteristics from other Subaru vehicles. As far is looking good, let’s just say the new Subaru Legacy blends nicely along side of other common-placed luxury sedans. In other words, you would never break your neck trying to catch a glimpse of the new Legacy passing you by on the highway.

The new Legacy offers buyers a lot of diversity. A plethora of trim level selections are available starting with a 2.5-liter flat 4-cylinder engine in 4 different trim variations (2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 2.5GT Limited). The 3.6-liter 6-cylinder engine Legacy adds another 3 trim levels (3.6R, 3.6R Premium, 3.6R Limited).

My 3.6R Limited was equipped with a 5-speed automatic transmission. In the 2.5-liter Legacy variants, a CVT (Continuously Variable) transmission or 5-speed manual is available. The somewhat primitive 5-speed auto box in my 3.6R Limited edition Legacy was proficient during demanding times but could easily use another cog to improve upon the 18mpg city and 25mpg highway fuel consumption estimates. Nevertheless, I will gladly take the 5-speed auto transmission over Subaru’s CTV unit. I had somewhat of a hard time enjoying in the CVT equipped 2011 Subaru Legacy 2.5 Limited that I reviewed last year although it works well with the flat-4 cylinder engine’s powerband.

Interior appointments for the new 2011 Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited are much like its exterior styling, not a good deal to really distinguish it from the rest of the midsized sedan crowd. The use of textured plastics and a bright and easy to read gauge cluster were just enough to keep me interested. The leather seating surfaces are supportive and surprisingly comfortable. Most of the controls are easy to use with the exception of the audio system, which is integrated into the center LCD touch-screen. The LCD screen has a very low resolution and proves to be a far stretch from the norm when it comes to familiarization. This is a commonly reiterated point about Subaru’s infotainment systems from many enthusiasts.

My tester was well equipped with the Optional Package 08 adding navigation, rear back-up camera, voice-activated control, Aux/iPod/USB integration, Bluetooth, and homelink. Altogether, including a $725 destination and delivery charge, my Legacy 3.6R Limited tester came out to a price of $32,015. With a starting price of only $28,295, the new 2011 Legacy 3.6R is a bargain for a 6-cylinder powered all-wheel-drive midsized sedan. Not to mention, the new Legacy is rally inspired and to some extent, off-road capable.

Copyright: 2011


  • Price: Base Legacy 2.5i $19,995 As-Tested Legacy 3.6R Limited $32,015
  • Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC flat 6-cylinder 256 horsepower @ 6000 rpm / 247 ft-lbs. torque @ 4400 rpm
  • Wheelbase: 108.3in.
  • Total length: 186.4in.
  • Total width: 71.7in.
  • Total height: 59.3in.
  • Track: f/r-61.6/61.8in.
  • Headroom: f/r-40.3/37.5in.
  • Legroom: f/r-43.0/37.8in.
  • Turning circle: 36.8ft.
  • Fuel tank: 18.5 gallons
  • Passenger volume: 117.7cu.ft.
  • Cargo volume: 14.7cu.ft.
  • Curb weight: 3,557lbs.
  • EPA mileage 18mpg/city, 25mpg/highway

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