2018 Subaru Legacy: AWD family stalwart heads to Chicago with new cabin tech

Subaru's Legacy receives minor visual changes plus much-needed infotainment upgrades for 2018.

Chris Paukert Former executive editor / Cars
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015. Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.
Chris Paukert
2 min read

These days, it's almost hard to remember that Subaru is anything other than a crossover company. The Japanese automaker sells so many Outbacks, Foresters and Crosstrek SUVs that it's easy to overlook that the brand also offers some pretty nice cars.

Fortunately, Subaru itself hasn't forgotten, and it's just revealed this refreshed-for-2018 Legacy family sedan ahead of its reveal at the Chicago Auto Show later this month. On the surface, changes to the all-wheel drive midsizer seem to be of the "blink and you'll miss them" variety, but there are a number of meaningful updates worth noting.

It's tempting to skip past all of the exterior's "sportier look" styling changes, because the tweaks are so subtle as to not be immediately obvious. If you need a chart-the-changes cheat sheet, however, you'll want to note the revised C-shaped headlights (now available with cornering LEDs) bookending the broader, lower grille and reshaped bumper. Out back, new rear fascia is designed to look wider, and there's a new exhaust tip design, too (whee!).

2018 Subaru Legacy dresses up for the Windy City

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The more important news is inside, where the cabin receives improved aesthetics and a big upgrade in center-stack tech. On the tactile front, your fingers can look forward to a new steering wheel, revamped HVAC controls and nicer materials with real stitching.

The retouched Legacy can be specified with a new 8-inch touchscreen navigation system, but even the base 6.2-inch Starlink head unit receives standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. If you're tech-focused, you'll probably want to splash out for the top-end system, as it features improved voice-recognition tech furnished by Nuance, along with a more powerful processor to curb lag time. Second-row occupants will appreciate the inclusion of a pair of USB charging inputs that are new for this year.


Nicer materials and a much-updated infotainment system should yield big improvements.


As before, Starlink's suite of cloud apps includes features like news and weather, iHeart Radio and Stitcher, but 2018 buyers will also have access to apps like Yelp!, Magellan-based navigation and a bird-spotting tool, of all things.

Like last year, the Legacy will be available with the buyer's choice of a 2.5-liter flat four-cylinder engine, tuned here for 175 horsepower, or a 3.6-liter flat six-cylinder with 256 horses. Subaru says it has also refined the mandatory continuously variable transmission for improved response and feel. Other subtle changes under the skin for 2018 include a retuned electric power steering system and different dampers to improve ride comfort and roll resistance.

Subaru sold just over 65,000 Legacy sedans last year, a pittance compared to the volumes of high-riding softroaders the company turned out, and well shy of competitors like the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima. The Legacy's litany of small improvements for 2018 probably won't suddenly see this criminally overlooked four-door suddenly topping sales charts, but they should make life a lot more enjoyable for those who take the trouble to find out just how good it is.