Subaru Legacy Ground Clearance: What to Know

in Model Info
Red Subaru Legacy

2020 Subaru Legacy by Kevauto — CC BY-SA 4.0

Over three decades as the Subaru’s flagship, the Subaru Legacy has undoubtedly lived up to its name. Throughout its many generations, the Legacy has remained a stylish sedan with upscale interior finishes, available at a reasonable price. Its boxer engines may not be the most powerful, but they are fuel efficient and robust enough to get the job done, especially the turbocharged 4-cylinder upgraded option on higher trims.

It split into two distinct models in 2000 when the hatchback line became the Subaru Outback. These days, the two have become very different models, with the Outback designed more for roughing it in the wilderness, while the Legacy is the perfect daily driver on the roads, but they still both share a relatively high ride.

The Subaru Legacy’s ground clearance at its lowest point is 5.9 inches off the ground. We’ll review what that means for the ride and how it compares to similar cars.

What You Can Do with a Subaru Legacy

The Legacy does have a pretty high ground clearance for a midsized sedan. This means it is well-equipped to handle the rough roads that some other cars can’t. There is always the risk of a wheel getting stuck in a pothole, no matter how high off the ground the car is, so you should do your best to avoid poorly maintained roads.

But if it comes to it, the bottom of a Subaru Legacy is safer from scraping the street beneath it than the competition. On top of the chassis and floor, beneath your feet, are the driveshaft and rear differential responsible for transferring power from the engine to the two rear wheels. This is great because the parts underneath the car can get quite expensive to repair. This is true for domestic vehicles and even more so for imports like Subarus.

Most of the exhaust system is down there, too, with the catalytic converter in the middle of the car. That can be very expensive to replace since it uses some expensive metals to change the chemistry of your exhaust and make it less dangerous to release.

If the catalytic converter gets damaged and you have to replace it, you’ll be paying for metals like platinum, palladium, and copper. On top of that, the undercarriage is also where the gas tank lies.

You can also feel comfortable driving over speed bumps and ramps confidently. Typical speed bumps sit between three and six inches tall, mostly on the shorter end. With something like a Chevy Malibu, which only has 4.6 inches of ground clearance, you have to crawl over every speed bump in case the suspension has enough, given that the bottom of the car will dip down and scrape the bump.

Your chances of damaging the undercarriage with a Subaru Legacy’s ground clearance are less than other sedans. With a low enough, long enough car, you might risk getting stuck on the peak of a ramp at worst or at least scrape the undercarriage. There is also less risk of grinding the middle of the car’s body when going over a ramp. The Legacy should be high enough to avoid this expensive, inconvenient fate.


The CoPilot app isn’t just for buying a car - our new CoPilot for Owning tool will help you keep track of recalls and gives you advice on which scheduled maintenance tasks are most important.

What You Can’t Do with a Subaru Legacy

It may be one of the highest sedans, but the Subaru Legacy is still a road car. You might be able to drive it onto a flat field of grass or a dirt lot, but don’t expect much more.

The standard all-wheel drive can help you in a pinch if you have to take a dirt or gravel trail to get to a camping site, but if you want to try roughing it in the backcountry, the Legacy is not the car for you. If you love Subarus but need more off-road capability, there are other options you can look for, like the Outback, Forester, or Crosstrek, which each have 8.7 inches of ground clearance and are designed to be more rugged.

While it won’t be prohibitive in your everyday experiences driving the car, the Legacy is not known for its handling. You get more versatility from your vehicle to take on whatever you throw at it, but with a higher center of gravity and taller suspension, the steering won’t be as tight and responsive. That is one of the major compromises you must make with high ground clearance.

This shouldn’t pose any issues on the road, but the Legacy’s ground clearance means it won’t be well suited to weekends at the racetrack like some of the sportier sedans available.


We looked into price, reliability, features, and more to create this list of the best used SUVs under $10k on the market today. Take a look - some of the best used SUVs have gone mostly overlooked or forgotten. 

How Does the Subaru Legacy Compare to the Competition?

The Legacy’s ground clearance is higher than most other sedans in its segment. On the very low end of the spectrum are cars like the Toyota Corolla (4.7 inches), the Nissan Sentra (4.7 inches), and the Chevy Malibu (4.6 inches).

These small sedans are very low to the ground, which can help with tight handling in the city but won’t fair well on rough roads. Similarly, there are cars with average ground clearance, like the Volkswagen Jetta (5 inches), Nissan Altima (5 inches), and Hyundai Elantra (5.3 inches). Closer to the Legacy are the Honda Accord (5.5 inches), Mazda 3 (5.5 inches), and Toyota Camry (5.7 inches).

The only major sedan these days with more ground clearance than the Subaru Legacy is the Honda Civic which sits 6.3 inches off the ground at its lowest point. Within Subaru’s stable are the Impreza, a small sedan with 5.1 inches of ground clearance, and the WRX sedan and BRZ coupe with only 4.9 inches of ground clearance.

For more off-road-ready options, Subaru offers Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, and Ascent SUVs with 8.7 inches of ground clearance. Any of the Subaru models should provide you with plenty of versatility, and unlike any other major brand, all cars come standard with all-wheel drive.


When it comes to hauling a lot of people and cargo, the minivan is hard to beat. We’ve factored in reliability, affordability, and functionality to create this curated list of the 8 best used minivans on the market today.

Should You Buy the Subaru Legacy?

The Subaru Legacy is a capable midsize sedan with plenty of utility and standard AWD. Since the Legacy is part of the Subaru family of vehicles, you may think it’s also an excellent off-roading vehicle like its crossover siblings. But is it worth investing in one?

In reality, the Legacy is anything but an off-road vehicle, especially considering it’s a midsize sedan with a ground clearance of 5.9 inches. Sure, you can power through a bit of mud and dirt if needed with its standard AWD, but it’s not ideal. It’s simply not a vehicle for traversing rough terrains. You’ll want a car with at least 8.5 inches of ground clearance for excellent off-road performance. Otherwise, you’re risking significant damage to your vehicle.

Outside of rugged applications, the Subaru Legacy is a solid midsize sedan that offers a pleasant ride quality, a comfortable interior, and an optional turbo engine. Safety-wise, it features the Subaru EyeSight, a collection of standard driver aids like lane centering, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning.

If you’re looking for a used Subaru Legacy, we highly recommend our write-up about the Legacy years to avoid.

Get a Curated List of the Best Used Cars Near You

The CoPilot car shopping app is the easiest way to buy a car. Tell us what you’re looking for and we’ll search the inventories of every dealership in your area to make you a personalized list of the best car listings in your area.

Only looking for newer models? CoPilot Compare is the search engine for nearly-new cars. Only see cars five years or newer with low mileage — CoPilot Compare is the best way to find off-lease, early trade-in, and CPO cars.

The best part? CoPilot is built using the same technology that dealerships use to buy and sell their inventories, so we have more info on each vehicle than competitors. CoPilot doesn’t work with dealerships, so there are no sponsored posts or other shady practices — just the most info on the best cars. Check out our About Us page to see how CoPilot works.