With impressive agility, decent fuel economy, standard all-wheel drive, and an affordable price, the base version of the Subaru Legacy has a lot going for it. However, the snug interior limits its appeal as a family car. It also loses major points for tricky handling in emergency maneuvers. Electronic stability control does help this somewhat however.
Alerts
There are 13 recalls on this vehicle. Learn More.

Road Test Results

Performance
Acceleration Acceleration Acceleration tests are conducted on a smooth, flat pavement straightaway at the track. Time, speed, and distance measurements are taken with a precise GPS-based device that’s hooked to a data-logging computer.
0 to 60 mph 0 to 60 mph (sec.) The time in seconds that a vehicle takes to reach 60 mph from a standstill with the engine idling.
Transmission Transmission Transmission performance is determined by shifting smoothness, response, shifter action, and clutch actuation for manual transmissions.
Braking Braking The braking rating is a composite of wet and dry stopping distances and pedal feel. Braking distance is from 60 mph, with no wheels locked.
Emergency Handling Emergency Handling Several factors go into the rating, including the avoidance maneuver speed and confidence, as well as how the vehicle behaves when pushed to its limit.
Comfort / Convenience
Ride Ride Our expert judgment of how well the suspension isolates and absorbs road imperfections and how steady it keeps the body on various road surfaces.
Noise Noise Our expert judgment of the vehicle's interior noise level in everyday driving.
Front Seat Comfort Front Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the front seat is for drivers of various heights.
Rear Seat Comfort Rear Seat Comfort Our judgment of how comfortable the rear seat is for two passengers to sit across.
Interior Fit and Finish Interior Fit and Finish An expert evaluation of the interior quality and craftsmanship.
Trunk/Cargo Area Trunk/Cargo Area Our rating is based on the amount of luggage or cargo space that a vehicle has in the trunk or cargo area.
Fuel Economy & Emissions
Fuel Economy Fuel Economy We perform our own fuel-economy tests, independent of the government's often-quoted EPA figures and the manufacturers' claims. Using a precise fuel-flow measuring device spliced into the fuel line, we run two separate circuits to represent city and highway consumption.
CR's Overall Mileage CR's Overall Mileage CR's overall mileage is a composite of measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course and highway cruising; and CR's 150-mile test trip of mixed driving, if tested. In recent road tests, we've discontinued the 150-mile trip test.
CR's City Mileage CR's City Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed city course.
CR's Highway Mileage CR's Highway Mileage Measured fuel usage on a prescribed highway cruising.
Annual Fuel Cost Annual Fuel Cost The cost and amount of fuel used in 12,000 miles and is calculated from CR's overall mileage.
Greenhouse Gas Greenhouse Gas The Greenhouse Gas Rating represents the amount of carbon dioxide the vehicle emits compared to other vehicles of the same model year. This score from the EPA ranges from 1 (worst) to 10 (best).
NA
Smog Rating Smog Rating The Smog Rating represents the amount of health-damaging and smog-forming airborne pollutants the vehicle emits compared to other vehicles of the same model year. This score from the EPA ranges from 1 (worst) to 10 (best).
NA

Owner Reports

Worse Better
Reliability History Reliability History The reliability charts are based on responses on hundreds of thousands of vehicles from our latest Annual Auto Survey. Consumer Reports subscribers reported on any serious problems they had with their vehicles during the past 12 months that they considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime, in any of the trouble spots included in the table below. The results are presented relative to the average model that year. Extra weight is given to the more serious areas such as major engine or transmission problems. Based on this data and further analysis, we predict reliability for the latest year. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
NA
2001
NA
2002
NA
2003
NA
2004
NA
2005
NA
2006
NA
2007
NA
2008
NA
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
Reliability Trouble Spots
Engine Major Engine Major Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.
NA
Engine Minor Engine Minor Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.
NA
Engine Cooling Engine Cooling Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.
NA
Transmission Major Transmission Major Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.
NA
Transmission Minor Transmission Minor Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.
NA
Drive System Drive System Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.
NA
Owner Satisfaction Owner Satisfaction To learn about satisfaction, CR has collected survey data from our annual survey on more than half a million vehicles. Our subscribers provide great insights into their satisfaction by answering one simple question: If they had it to do all over again, would they definitely buy or lease the same model? In addition, respondents also rate their cars in six categories: driving experience, comfort, value, styling, audio, and climate systems. N/A indicates that we did not receive a large enough sample size to provide data for a specific year. An X indicates that the vehicle was not manufactured for a specific year.
2000
NA
2001
NA
2002
NA
2003
NA
2004
NA
2005
2006
NA
2007
NA
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
Driving Experience Driving Experience Includes acceleration and handling
Comfort Comfort Includes seats, climate control, noise, and ride
Value Value Did you get what you wanted relative to the price you paid?
Styling Styling How it looks inside and out
Safety Equipment
ABS available, standard from 2000. Side air bags available from 2000, standard from 2005. Head protection air bags standard from 2005. ESC available from 2007, standard from 2009.
Road Test

With impressive agility, decent fuel economy, standard all-wheel drive, and an affordable price, the base version of the Subaru Legacy has a lot going for it. However, the snug interior limits its appeal as a family car. It also loses major points for tricky handling in emergency maneuvers. Electronic stability control does help this somewhat however.

Seating
2 front, 3 rear
Drive Wheels
AWD
Warranty
Coverage varies among versions of this vehicle

In most cases, automotive warranties are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), and the warranty will be valid regardless of ownership. The dealership can tell you exactly how much warranty is left.

Read more about extended warranties
Body Styles
sedan
Transmissions Available
  • 5-speed Manual
  • 5-speed Automatic
  • 4-speed Automatic
  • 6-speed Manual
Engines Available
  • 2.5-liter 4 turbo (243 hp)
  • 2.5-liter 4 (170 hp)
  • 3-liter 6 (245 hp)

Owner Reported Trouble Spots

The Reliability score is based on our latest subscriber survey of 2009 Subaru Legacy owners. The owner comments describe problems respondents experienced with this vehicle.

Engine Major

Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain or timing belt.

What Owners Say

Engine rebuild or replacement

"The engine lost compression and now is completely useless"

Anonymous, SD (2009 Subaru Legacy Special Edition 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Engine suffered both an oil pressure sensor and engine temperature sensor failure at the same time. By the time I received the dash "check engine" alert (due to exhaust emissions issues) the engine was already almost empty of all oil and was seizing up. Upon checking at the shop, the engine had less than 1/2 quart of oil inside, but had just been serviced 3 days prior. The engine failed while on the way to the service center for diagnosis and repairs associated with the dash light, a 3 mile drive from the point of alert. The engine camshaft became welded to the block. It has been described to me as a once in a million failure by a 40-yr mechanic. He had only heard of this dual-sensor failure happening in one other instance."

Anonymous, IN (2009 Subaru Legacy Special Edition 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Engine spun a bearing, required full replacement of the short block"

Anonymous, CA (2009 Subaru Legacy GT Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl turbo)
Head gasket

"This engine over several years was produce with a faulty head gasket on both sides, but with mine, the drivers side is weaker. It is a 3000 dollar fix, including some other related timely work"

Anonymous, OK (2009 Subaru Legacy Special Edition 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Head gasket began slowly leaking oil at 75,000 miles. At 90,000 leaking was significant enough to warrant head gasket replacement. No catastrophic failure occured. Service was conducted at the same time as the clutch replacement as recommended by mechanic"

Anonymous, WA (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"After doing some research, I learned that many Subarus made before 2010, with the L-4 engine, had some particular problems. One of those was the leaking of coolant with the need for a new head gasket. These cars also had problems with catalytic converters. The problem with the head gasket was repaired at a Subaru dealership for approximately $4000.00 , including water pump, timing belt, and other smaller items. I think that it's safe to say that I would not have bought this car had I known about some of the problems which seemed to be built into it. This was not the first Subaru which I have owned and looking back on my 2000 Outback, I realize that some of the same problems still existed with the 2009 Legacy."

Anonymous, CT (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Failed. Expensive fix."

Anonymous, PA (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Caused oil leaks and overheating. Currently being repaired."

Anonymous, OH (2009 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"2.5L engine is prone to head gasket problems. 4 Subarus in the family have needed head gasket replacement."

David W., ON (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Did a preemptive head gasket replacement due to oil seeps. Occurred both sides, right was worse. No cooling issues and ran fine at the time. Mechanic suspects cause was bolts were stretched beyond spec"

Anonymous, WA (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"The right head gasket went at about 65k miles...took it to the local Subaru dealer, and they replaced the left head gasket by mistake. They replaced the right head gasket after I made them aware of their mistake, but they initially denied making a mi"

Anonymous, PA (2009 Subaru Legacy Special Edition 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Scheduled timing belt replacement

"No problem just maintenance. Bad timing chain design"

Anonymous, CA (2009 Subaru Legacy Special Edition 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Timing belt or chain

"The vehicle started sounding different so I took in to the dealership. They gave me an estimate of $2500 because they were going to have to pull the engine out. Took it to my garage who gave me a higher quote but recommended I just scrap the car. I ended up having it done at the dealership"

Anonymous, ON (2009 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Exhaust

Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks.

What Owners Say

Catalytic converter

"When the catalytic convertors (there are two of them) went out, it also disabled the vehicle ABS and cruise control systems. Bad design! Cost about $600 to fix."

Anonymous, OH (2009 Subaru Legacy Unsure 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"I have had to replace the catalytic converter twice. The head gaskets also went. Haven't been very happy with the repairs I have had on this vehicle."

Anonymous, PA (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Loose/rattling heat shield

"Rattling heat shields recur periodically. I have given up, just listen to them..."

Brian M., WV (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Other/unsure

"Airbag light on. Dealer advised a $200 air bag control needed replaced."

Anonymous, PA (2009 Subaru Legacy Special Edition 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"The huge recall of the airbags: Despite living in the large city of St. Louis, the dealers ran out of replacements and made me wait for six months before I could get the new airbags. We had no choice but to drive the car anyway. The airbags were eventually replaced with apologies from the dealer."

Daniel M., MO (2009 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"I had an air bag that had to be replaced."

Anonymous, MI (2009 Subaru Legacy)

Body Integrity

Squeaks, rattles, wind noises, loose or cracked seals and/or weather-stripping, air and water leaks.

What Owners Say

Seals and/or weather-stripping

"the side windows don't have frames and sometimes leak when they're raised up with the door closed. The weather strip at the base of the front windshield is bowing upward in the center"

Anonymous, CO (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Squeaks or rattles

"Loose shield repaired nd noise returned within a month"

Alan K., WV (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"heat shield on exhaust system gets loose and vibrates due to corroded bolts. Relatively easy to repair, but annoying."

Anonymous, (2009 Subaru Legacy Special Edition 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"There is a rattling sound going along smoother neighborhood streets that seems to be coming from front suspension or steering linkage. This noise has not affected the performance at all. Also, the door seals do not cut out any road or wind noise at all. It is a very loud drive because of poor insulation."

Anonymous, OK (2009 Subaru Legacy Special Edition 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"heat shield was found to be loose and new clamps applied"

Dwayne F., PA (2009 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Suspension

Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering (pumps and hoses, leaks), wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension.

What Owners Say

Ball joints

"Around mid-2019 a metallic knocking noise became more pronounced during turns and over larger bumps in the road. Turning became more difficult and less smooth. Problem was fully resolved by replacing both CV joints."

Anonymous, (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Ball joints needed to be replaced to keep the car in alignment."

Anonymous, MI (2009 Subaru Legacy)
Power steering leaks

"To fix the leak the rack and pinion has to be replaced, I used a stop leak powerfluid instead to try to resolve the problem"

Anonymous, MO (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Power steering pumps and hoses

"Replaced power steering pump, second time"

Aaron P., TX (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Shocks or struts

"Had to replace all struts, but only after >100K miles. Normal wear and tear"

Aaron P., TX (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Transmission Major

Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, clutch replacement.

What Owners Say

Clutch replacement

"Throw out bearing went bad. Made some noise during shifting. Eventually lead to breaking of "fins" within the clutch assembly"

Anonymous, WA (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"clutch wore out"

Anonymous, IN (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Torque converter

"Torque convertor went bad at 90K. Also heard others were having the same problem. Also, front windshield shows defects, hard to see through in the sun"

Anonymous, PA (2009 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Known manufacturing defect but out of warranty"

Anonymous, ON (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

"The car felt as if it was on a rough road when lightly stepping on the gas peddle to maintain speed on a slight uphill grade. Had to downshift to smooth out the ride. It got worse until it was diagnosed at the dealer"

John O., CO (2009 Subaru Legacy GT Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Brakes

Antilock system (ABS), parking brake, master cylinder, calipers, rotors, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, brake failure or wear.

What Owners Say

Normal routine brake wear

"Brakes needed replacement after 76,000 miles"

Michele K., NJ (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Premature brake wear

"Only 5000 mi since last inspection 1 yr ago"

Anonymous, PA (2009 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Rotors

"Rotors should not have to be replaced Head gaskets leaking with only 47,500 miles on car in 6 years!"

Anonymous, PA (2009 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Rotors had to be replaced with brake job"

Michele K., NJ (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Power Equipment

Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior lights, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, remote engine start, alarm or security system

What Owners Say

Engine harness

"Very loud noise when starting cold. Dealer cannot fix"

Anonymous, NY (2009 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Spark plugs or wires failure

"The check engine light started flashing and the engine was misfiring. replacing the wires fixed the problem"

Anonymous, SC (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Starter

"Starter is making grinding noises. needs to be replaced"

Anonymous, WI (2009 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Starter is starting to not disengage properly resulting in momentary grinding after starting up"

Anonymous, CA (2009 Subaru Legacy GT Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl turbo)

Electric System

Alternator, starter, hybrid battery and related systems, regular battery, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electronic ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure.

What Owners Say

Headlights

"Repeated burnout of one headlight, had to be replaced multiple times. Problem may have been related to issues with AC, which had a relay that needed to be replaced."

Anonymous, PA (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"one of the lights kept coming out of the socket. I had it repaired and it continued to happen"

Ruth M., NY (2009 Subaru Legacy Special Edition 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Tire pressure monitor

"It started after I got new tires. The book says there is a problem with the system. I say there is a problem with the Gov. saying I have to have it. They can fix it when I sell the car. I managed without it for 54 years!"

Anonymous, WI (2009 Subaru Legacy)
Warning lights

"The warning lights will not turn off. When the dealership says they turned them off them they come back on a day later."

Anonymous, WA (2009 Subaru Legacy GT Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Body Hardware

Power or manual windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top.

What Owners Say

Doors or sliding doors

"The exterior door handle snapped off, or, half of it broke off"

Robin L., NY (2009 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Glass defects

"Front windshield went bad around 50K. Hard to see through the internal cracks, dents, etc. Outside is spotless , w/o any defects"

Anonymous, PA (2009 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Sunroof

"Sunroof sits in the roof and it is not level, and inside the trim around the cutout in the headliner is coming off and ripped"

W W., CT (2009 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Transmission Minor

Gear selector or linkage, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, rough shifting, slipping transmission.

What Owners Say

Hydraulics (clutch master or slave cylinder)

"Experience quick/slightly rough gear changes, Clutch master cylinder was leaking. and was replaced to solve the issue. Master cylinder never failed completely, was replaced prior to failure"

Nick H., WA (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Rough shifting

"I bought this car from a Subaru dealership it was two years old. One month after purchasing the car I was shocked to find the transmission fluid was black! I had it flushed and replaced it with synthetic ATF from a high-quality garage. At about 80,000 miles it started shifting very roughly under moderate acceleration slamming into gear and then also when it shifts back into drive. All-wheel-drive automatic transmissions can be extremely expensive to repair and not worth it in low-end high milea"

Stephen S., MD (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Transmission leaks

"Oil pan rust caused a leak."

Anonymous, ON (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 3.0-L 6 Cyl)

Drive System

Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, differential, transfer case, 4WD/AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, electronic stability control (ESC), electrical failure.

What Owners Say

4WD/AWD components

"Rubber accordions on axles excessively costly to replace (axles need replaced every several years when rubber deteriorates)."

Brian M., WV (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Noisy differential, dealer repair"

Anonymous, ME (2009 Subaru Legacy)
Driveshaft or axle

"Right axle started leaking badly. Very rough ride resulted. It was replaced with a new axle."

Daniel M., MO (2009 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Engine Minor

Accessory belts and pulleys, engine computer, engine mounts, engine knock or ping, oil leaks.

What Owners Say

Accessory belts or pulleys

"There is a screeching sound occasionally when the car starts primarily when it is cold outside and the mechanic changed the serpentine belts to fix the problem, but the car still makes the noise at times"

Anonymous, SC (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Oil leaks

"head gaskets show sign of wear, including slight oil leakage."

Anonymous, (2009 Subaru Legacy Special Edition 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

"Still developing"

David W., ON (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Paint/Trim

Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, or peeling), loose interior and exterior trim or moldings, rust.

What Owners Say

Loose exterior trim or moldings

"Trim moldings around the inside edge of the fenders come off easily. A fastener holding the inner fender on broke causing the fender to hang down"

Anonymous, CO (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)
Loose interior trim or moldings

"The interior trim around the sunroof is defective"

W W., CT (2009 Subaru Legacy 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Climate System

Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage, electrical failure.

What Owners Say

A/C compressor

"A/C compressor was replaced. Unit failed at some point during mid-2019 and was not evident until temperatures rose in the summer. A/C compressor failure led automatic climate control to not function as intended, and air conditioning was non-existent as that aspect of the car's climate control was unable to function."

Anonymous, (2009 Subaru Legacy Limited 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Fuel System

Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation.

What Owners Say

Fuel pump

"The fuel pump failed and the car stopped as a result. Vehicle was towed, fuel pump replaced, then good as new. No issues since then"

Anonymous, NH (2009 Subaru Legacy Special Edition 2.5-L 4 Cyl)

Engine Cooling

Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating.

In-car Electronics

CD or DVD players, radio, speakers, GPS, communication system (e.g., OnStar), display screen freezes or goes blank, phone pairing (e.g. Bluetooth), voice control commands, steering wheel controls, portable music device interface (e.g., iPod/MP3 player), backup or other camera/sensors.

Change Vehicle