Ben's Car Blog
May 19, 2024 /

Legacy XT Long Term Review

Legacy XT Long Term Review

Buying a mid-size sedan in this age of SUVs and trucks might seem like an odd choice. After all, as of late 2022 almost 75% of new vehicle sales were SUVs, crossovers, and trucks, with no sign of slowing down.

So when it came time to find a replacement for my beloved WRX, I was faced with a tough decision: do I put my money where my (enthusiast) mouth is and pick from the increasingly small selection of sedans, or do I drink the SUV kool aid? Objectively, an SUV is a more practical vehicle, but could I really stomach the idea of putting another nail in the sedan coffin?

Sedan or SUV?

My search ended at the Subaru dealership, having narrowed my choices to either the 2022 Legacy or Outback. Given that they are built on the same platform with the same engine and powertrain, it was a pretty straight comparison. They offered nearly identical levels of refinement, features, technology, and performance, differing only in practicality and driving dynamics.

The sharper handling of the Legacy was a much closer approximation of my WRX, however the extra weight and lack of a manual transmission made for an OK driving experience at best. But I knew that if I went with a more hardcore sport sedan, I'd be making compromises in the name of comfort and drivability - both must-haves for a shared family car.

The day I bought the Legacy XT

Of course, I'd eventually pick the 2022 Legacy Touring XT, and over the next two years it would serve as my part-time daily driver and pinch-hitter-family-mobile for our 2017 Outback. My wife and I would use it for nearly everything: grocery runs, date nights, family trips, home projects, and of course the occasional "fun" drive! But as our daughter gets bigger and everything else seems to be getting smaller, we decided to trade in the Legacy for a bigger, more practical family car.

So, in retrospect how did the Legacy do over 16,000 miles? Do I regret not getting an Outback? What are the quirks and features of the Legacy that I loved the most, and what drove me nuts?

Let's dig in!


One of the most enjoyable (and sometimes inconvenient) parts of owning the WRX was the constant attention it got. I got countless thumbs ups, waves, and people approaching me in parking lots/gas stations. My wife loved it! /s

The Legacy on the other hand, is about as understated and unnoticeable as it gets. Even amongst my new tube sock, white New Balance-wearing Legacy brethren, I was anonymous pretty much everywhere I went.

The Legacy doing its best to blend in (and succeeding!)

That said, the exterior of the Legacy grew on me significantly over that time, and I came to appreciate some of the understated nuances of its design. The taillights look great at night and, combined with the full-LED exterior lighting, have a very premium look! Creases and body lines that are generally invisible become more pronounced in certain light, giving the Legacy a much more aggressive stance.

Also, kudos to Subaru for putting real exhaust tips on the Legacy in 2022!

I do think the XT would look awesome with a WRX-style hood scoop, but according to a salesman I talked to, most Legacy/Outback customers were actually turned off by them! As a result, Subaru decided to buff up the hood to allow the top-mounted intercooler to be fed from the front grille, which, thanks to the low-slung Boxer engine, has a negligible impact on visibility.

On the subject of questionable choices: The chrome bothered me every time I looked at it! But, eventually I managed to black everything out, which made the exterior more aggressive looking. Thankfully, Subaru toned down the chrome the following year, so maybe this trend is starting to die? 🤞

The chrome trim on the door mirrors blacked out with vinyl

The XPEL Ultimate I had installed on the front did a great job, and kept the Crystal White Pearl paint looking brand new, even through several hard winters. One unexpected annoyance with the PPF was a larger buildup of dirt and minor peeling at the edges of the film! I'm not sure if this is because the lines of dirt are more noticeable on white paint than the dark blue of my WRX, but regardless, the film performed perfectly!

Overall exterior-wise, the Legacy is pretty boring and generally understated. There's not much to suggest there's any real performance under the hood, but as I discovered, the XT is no slouch!

Engine + Performance

First and foremost, the Legacy XT is not a sport sedan. But it tries it's darndest to be a good big brother to the WRX!

The 2.4L Boxer 4-cylinder FA24

The 2.4L 4-cylinder turbocharged Boxer engine in the Legacy XT was originally developed for the Subaru Ascent - released back in 2019. As a result, Subaru has had a few generations to refine and work out any major kinks, resulting in a wonderfully refined and surprisingly peppy performance in the Legacy/Outback!

The new engine produces 260 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque, which is about what my WRX kicked out, prior to throwing a tune at it. But, unlike the WRX's six speed manual, the Legacy puts its power to the ground via a high-torque variant of Subaru's CVT. And before you sharpen your anti-CVT pitchfork, hear me out...

The manual transmission in Subarus just...aren't that great. Compared to my Fiesta ST, the WRX was a pretty big step backwards in terms of it's shifter. I could shift the ST with one finger and a toe, but the WRX clutch was much more unforgiving, (not to mention had it's share of issues) and the shifter typically required a little extra hutspah to engage a gear.

Now, CVTs have come a long way since they were first released, and most manufacturers have done a great job of tuning them so the "rubberband" feeling and droning acceleration are largely a non-issue. Subaru does a great job with their CVTs, and I've come to actually prefer them most of the time to a traditional automatic!

The high-torque CVT in the Legacy XT is actually pretty good!

The Legacy XT's CVT is exceptionally smooth and refined, and does a decent job playing along if you start driving like an idiot. A pull of the left paddle on steering wheel will force the transmission into a lower "gear", and will try to keep the engine in the power band, giving you a little extra oomph for passing or merging. The paddle shifters are pretty slow to respond, but if you work with the car and treat them like they're there to give the car a heads up - "Hey, I'd like higher revs for a bit" - they work great, actually!

As I mentioned in my first impressions, there's a lot more acceleration on tap in the Legacy than you might think! And because there's no real "gears" to shift through, the engine just keeps dumping power seamlessly. The CVT does a great job keeping the engine in the ideal rev range, but will eventually simulate a shift and drop the revs as the speed builds. This helps add some theater to the experience and cuts down on the dreaded CVT engine drone quite a bit!

Overall the Legacy XT is surprisingly fun daily driver! Its happiest toodling around town, but will tolerate an occasional red light blast. Approach any corner at a reasonable speed though, and the limits become immediately apparent.

I sometimes found myself missing the tighter, locked-down handling of my WRX, and occasionally missed rowing my own gears, but never found myself resenting the Legacy. The disdain for the CVT never came, because for my use case(s), it performed as advertised!


The interior of the Legacy is truly what won me over. The moment I hopped in the Touring XT trim, I said "Wow, this is a Subaru?", and I wasn't the only one! Over the two years I had passengers in the car, nearly everyone commented on the quality of the interior - especially the leather seats.

The luxurious interior of the Legacy XT Touring featuring nappa leather

If you've driven or owned an older Subaru, opening the door of a new Legacy or Outback might surprise you - there's a substantial weight to the door itself, and it's easy to tell that the Subaru Global Platform makes for a significantly more refined car overall.

Inside, it's hard to miss the brown nappa leather covering the seats, doors, and dashboard. I quickly fell in love with the contrast of the brown against the white paint, and never tired of it over the course of ownership.

The seats themselves are excellent, with a great balance of support and comfort. The extendable thigh bolster on the drivers seat was something I never knew I needed, but as a 6' 2" tall dude, wow! It sure made a difference on longer road trips! With loads of adjustability and even ventilation (another first for me), the seats made hours on the highway just fly by.

Elsewhere in the cabin, the brown leather of the seats extends onto the door panels and dashboard creating a luxurious cocoon for the front passengers. Contrasting black soft touch materials are present on nearly all of the main touch points, including the upper trims of the doors, and transition into harder but better-wearing plastics near the bottom of the door.

The lovely mixture of materials on the Legacy XT Touring dashboard

There is some satin chrome plastic around the vents, door handles, and center stack, but it actually does a good job breaking up the brown and black color scheme. The steering wheel is wrapped in an exceptionally higher-quality, softer leather than any other Subaru I've driven, and was heated - which came in extra handy (heh) during the cold winters!

The electroluminescent gauges are wonderfully simple and very easy to read in both direct sunlight and the pitch black of night. The center LCD display doesn't have a ton of information, but the digital speedometer is appreciated, especially after getting used to it in our Outback.

The gauges of the Legacy XT are wonderfully simple and easy to read in any light

Interior storage is where the Legacy falls down a bit - there just isn't many places to put your stuff! The door cubbies are strangely shaped and difficult to access, and the drink holder doesn't fit a taller water bottle at all.

The center console has a small area in front of the shifter for your smartphone, but its extremely awkward to access around the shifter. Once your phone is stored away, you're not going to be easily getting it back out until you stop.

On the passenger side of the Legacy, there's a few shallow cubbies as well, but we were constantly struggling to find enough places to put our phones, keys, bottles, sunglasses, etc. when taking trips anywhere.

The rear seats are excellent, and passengers are treated like first-class citizens - with dedicated climate vents and heated seats. There's a ton of leg room for this size of vehicle, which came in handy when installing our daughter in her rear-facing car seat! We were able to snugly fit the car seat in place and have a passenger in the seat in front without too much discomfort for them. Taller folks might struggle, but it's usable in a pinch.

The spacious rear seat of the Legacy XT

The only thing really missing from the rear is integrated sun shades. No matter which window covers I tried (magnetic, suction, etc.), they all struggled to cover the oddly-shaped rear window of the Legacy. As someone who pretty regularly uses the car as a family hauler, integrated shades would've made longer trips (and naps) much more comfortable for our kiddo!

Overall, the interior of the Legacy XT is a great place to be! With excellent build quality, fantastic materials, and lots of amenities (which I'll cover in more detail here shortly), the interior is really only let down by a lack of storage and some questionable ergonomics. It's very functional as a daily driver for a family, and it's clear Subaru has come a long way with their interiors.


The Legacy offers a ton of technology and advanced safety features, a few of which I had grown accustomed to in our Outback - like the Eyesight system.

Eyesight is Subaru's cruise control and accident avoidance system, which leverages a pair of large cameras mounted adjacent to the rear view mirror to manage things like the adaptive cruise control, lane departure, and collision warnings.

View of the Eyesight driver assistance system

My 2022 Legacy no longer has the "latest" Eyesight system (it was upgraded in 2023 with smaller + more cameras), but it worked exceptionally well during my usage. Like in our Outback, the adaptive cruise control is very accurate, and continued working in all sorts of inclement weather. I'm constantly impressed at how consistently it performs, in spite of the system using no radar sensors!

However, another (new) safety system - the driver monitoring - left me continually frustrated and didn't really feel like it ever added much value. I covered this more in-depth in my infotainment review, but in short, the driver monitoring system is VERY unforgiving and was often more distracting than it was useful.

Which brings us to the elephant in the room (er, the interior): The infotainment.

The latest-gen Subaru infotainment system

I've already written a fairly lengthy post on the pros and cons of the new Subaru infotainment, but I'll summarize it here by saying simply: It makes an otherwise totally fantastic car extremely frustrating to use every day.

Since almost everything is managed and configured through the central touchscreen, it's impossible to ignore. And the laggy, unpredictable nature of the system is super distracting to use when the car is in motion. Combined with the overly-enthusiastic driver monitoring system barking at you to keep your eyes on the road, it's often absolutely infuriating to live with.

One other item of frustration was the auto-adjusting drivers seat. When you enter the car, you can have it scan your face and load in your presets for mirror and seat position - a super handy feature! However, when adjusting from my wife's seating position (higher and closer than mine), the seat would always adjust forwards before adjusting downwards. This meant that every single time I got in the car, the seat would smash my knees into the steering column! Not fun!

There are a lot more technology things the Legacy does well, however! For starters, the standard steering-responsive LED headlights are excellent, and they truly make a difference when you live in an area with lots of blind corners or tight carousel highway ramps like I do.

The standard LED steering-responsive headlights on the Legacy XT are excellent

The 12 speaker Harmon Kardon stereo is also fantastic. I had relatively low expectations that a branded "upgrade" was worth the money, but I was pleasantly surprised! There's lots of bass and clear highs, but the system does get overwhelmed and distorts a bit at the louder end - it's happiest blasting music at medium volume.

Overall the Legacy Touring XT offers a competitive, albeit not class-leading amount of technology for the price. There are a few creature comforts I wish were included at this price point, such as a 360 camera, but overall it's a very functional package, and a huge step up from older Subarus!


When the time came to trade in my WRX, I knew that it was leaving big shoes to fill. As an fun to drive, do-it-all daily driver, the WRX is frankly hard to beat. I explored lots of options, but settled on the Legacy because in a lot of ways, it felt a lot like a "grown up" WRX with lots of extra luxury features.

My beloved 2018 WRX

It wasn't a purchase with the heart like the Fiesta ST or WRX, but it never left me regretful over the two years I drove it. The Legacy shuttled my wife, daughter, and dog reliably in comfort and safety. It might not offer an "exceptional" driving experience, but it also punches above it's weight in performance, and did almost everything else well!

When I handed in the keys a few months back, I didn't feel the same pang of sadness I felt when I left my WRX - it just wasn't as "special" of a car to me. But I am sad to hear Subaru will be stopping production of the Legacy after 2025!

For many reasons, sedans are dwindling in desirability - hell, I myself see the benefits of a lifted SUV like our Outback! But I have so many memories associated with sedans and hatchbacks from my childhood, it makes me sad to think they might be going away.

I really enjoyed the last two years with the Legacy, and while it's replacement might not be a sedan (or a Subaru!), so far I'm loving having the Outback as my new daily driver! Stay tuned for a post about our new family car coming soon!

So long to my 2022 Legacy XT Touring!


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