Subaru vehicles are known for having all-wheel drive, good safety ratings, notable reliability, and smooth handling. Many Subaru owners choose a sedan like the Legacy or the Impreza because of their solid reputation and superior performance. Although the Legacy and the Impreza are both 4-door sedans, there are some notable differences between these two popular cars.
The Subaru Legacy is a mid-size sedan that has been manufactured since 1989 as Subaru’s flagship car. The car is on its 7th generation today and also includes a 5-door station wagon model.
Impreza is a compact car geared more towards performance. Previous iterations included a coupe and hatchback model. In existence since 1992, the Impreza was first sold under the name Subaru Outback Sport for three generations and is on its 5th generation today.
We’ll cover the differences between these two best-selling vehicles and which one is right for your family.
Subaru Legacy vs. Subaru Impreza: Performance
Both the Legacy and the Impreza are well-known for their impressive AWD performance and handling.
The Subaru Legacy repeatedly earns notoriety in the all-wheel-drive subcategory of vehicles for its strong handling and turbocharged engine on upgraded models. The base model offers Legacy owners a respectable 182 hp with the potential of increasing your power to 260 hp with a purchase of the top-tier Limited XT model. Although it is not specifically marketed as a sport sedan, the Legacy still delivers a smooth ride that packs a powerful punch, especially with the XT’s turbocharged SUBARU BOXER® engine. When it comes to engine performance, the Legacy is the unexpected clear winner.
On the other hand, although the Impreza is built for a sporty appearance from top to bottom, the desire to keep costs low means that engine specs are not as impressive as on the Legacy. The Impreza offers drivers just 145 lb-ft of torque and 152 hp from a 2.0 Direct-Injection SUBARU BOXER® Engine. On the plus side, the base model comes equipped with a standard 5-speed manual transmission, and upgraded trims feature CVT transmission and paddle shifters. The sport trim also includes features like a torque vectoring drivetrain, STI short-throw shifter, and a tuned suspension. These enjoyable sport features may help some drivers forgive the Impreza’s mediocre engine specs.
* Winner: Subaru Legacy
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Subaru Legacy vs. Subaru Impreza: Safety
One of the most important features that many car shoppers look for is safety. Both the Impreza and the Legacy earn outstanding marks when it comes to crash test ratings and overall safety ratings.
According to U.S. News & World Report, the NHTSA Safety Ratings for the Subaru Impreza award the 2022 model with a perfect 5-star rating in the event of a frontal crash, side crash, or a rollover. Likewise, the 2022 Subaru Legacy earns the same high marks when it comes to crash testing safety. Both models earn nearly identical IIHS Safety Ratings with the exception of the headlights rating, where the Impreza scores as “marginal” compared to the Legacy’s “good” rating.
As a budget compact car, the base model of the Impreza is sorely lacking in modern safety features. However, advanced safety features are available as optional upgrades for the base model Impreza and become standard after the Premium trim level. Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist technology suite includes impressive aids such as automatic braking in emergencies, lane departure alerts, and adaptive cruise control. Higher trims also have the option for additional features, including blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic monitoring, and automatic high beams, which are standard on the Limited trim.
On the other hand, the Legacy offers several advanced safety technologies, including adaptive LED headlights, and the EyeSight suite of safety features is standard on every single Legacy trim. Optional upgrades include rear cross-traffic braking and blind-spot monitoring.
In summary, while both vehicles offer superior protection to their inhabitants, the Legacy offers more in the way of safety features and technology, especially when comparing the base models.
* Winner: Subaru Legacy
Subaru Legacy vs. Subaru Impreza: Reliability
Once again, both models are very comparable here. According to U.S. News & World Report, the 2022 Subaru Legacy is rated at a 76 out of 100, and the 2022 Subaru Impreza is rated slightly higher at a 78 out of 100. These quality and dependability scores from J.D. Power focus on both initial owner feedback and long-term ownership experiences. Most impressively, there have been NO safety recalls in either model, a very honorable distinction.
In addition, both the Legacy and Impreza are covered by industry-standard policies that cover the vehicle up to 3 years / 36,000 miles under a limited warranty and up to 5 years / 60,000 miles under the powertrain warranty.
* Winner: Subaru Impreza
Subaru Legacy vs. Subaru Impreza: Value
While both of these vehicles have competitive starting prices, optional upgrades and top-tier models can run up the price you pay to drive off the lot. The Legacy is the more expensive choice of the 2, but for a good reason. The Legacy costs more than the Impreza because of its luxurious interior features, standard safety suite, more powerful engine, and a whole host of other upgraded technologies.
The starting MSRP of the 2022 Impreza is just $18,795, making it a popular choice for many families and individuals on a budget. On the other hand, the 2022 Legacy begins at a slightly higher yet still modest $22,995 MSRP for its base model.
Are you looking to upgrade? The top-tier Sport Sedan model of the Impreza will cost you a minimum of $23,595, while the most advanced Legacy (Touring XT) runs around $36,195 and up. (And if you are interested in the 5-door Impreza, the Limited 5-door edition will run you upwards of $26,395.)
So if having the best features and upgrades means the most to you, keep in mind that a tricked-out Sport Sedan Impreza is the same price as the base model Legacy! For what it’s worth, MotorTrend rates the 2022 Impreza as a 10 out of 10 for value.
* Winner: Subaru Impreza
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Subaru Legacy vs. Subaru Impreza: MPG
While the MPG will vary depending on which trim you choose to purchase, we can get a general idea of the difference in MPG by comparing the two base models. Once again, the difference between the Impreza and Legacy in this category is very slim - with just 1 MPG difference in the 2022 Impreza and 2022 Legacy.
The 2022 Legacy is rated as having 35⁄27 Hwy/City MPG, and the 2022 Impreza is rated as having 36⁄28 Hwy/City MPG. The Impreza Sport Sedan reduces slightly to match the Legacy’s 35⁄27 Hwy/City MPG, while the top-tier Legacy Limited XT and Touring XT trims drop down to just 32⁄24 Hwy/City MPG.
Both vehicles perform very well when it comes to MPG and are ranked best-in-class in fuel economy.
* Winner: Subaru Impreza
Subaru Legacy vs. Subaru Impreza: Interior Design & Features
The Legacy offers an impressive array of interior features, especially for a vehicle in its price point. The quality of materials used for the Legacy, even in the base model, is top-notch. The cabin design is fresh, clean, and modern, with comfortable seating for 5, manually adjustable front seats, and a 7-inch touch screen infotainment system.
In the Legacy, the infotainment system comes standard with everything from satellite radio to USB charging ports. Optional upgrades to this system include a 12-speaker premium stereo, Wi-Fi hot spot ability, two rear USB ports, navigation, and even wireless device charging. Other technologies that are available include keyless entry, push-button start, remote start, a power sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, and more. Interior design features available for upgrade include the option for leather upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, heated front AND rear seats, ventilated front seats, a heated leather steering wheel, and even driver’s seat memory settings.
The Impreza’s interior is a bit more simplistic than the Legacy, but these features make the car easy to use and enjoy. As a budget vehicle, the Impreza may leave some features and design to be desired for those who are used to more luxurious interior spaces, especially with the base trims.
On the plus side, the interior is roomy and comfortable for five passengers, and a variety of upgrades are available. Optional interior features include leather seating, heated front seats, a leather steering wheel, and a moonroof. Available technology upgrades include a larger touch screen, voice recognition, navigation, automatic climate control, keyless entry, and push-button start. A 6.5-inch touch screen infotainment system complete with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Bluetooth is standard.
* Winner: Subaru Legacy
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Subaru Legacy vs. Subaru Impreza: The Bottom Line
While either of these Subaru sedans is an excellent choice for your next vehicle, the decision of which car to bring home will depend on which features you find most attractive and how much you are looking to spend.
The 2022 Subaru Legacy is rated #2 in mid-size sedans by MotorTrend and earned an impressive 8.6 out of 10 by this reputable auto magazine. Likewise, the 2022 Subaru Impreza scored a solid 7.7 out of 10 and the #7 spot in the compact sedan subcategory.
If you are looking to score a high-performance sporty sedan on a budget, the Impreza certainly delivers, whereas the Legacy is a solid family car with advanced features that are built for reliability and longevity.
Both the Legacy and the Impreza boast the latest technology, excellent safety ratings, powerful AWD, reliable craftsmanship, impressive MPG, and upgraded interiors for a very affordable price. No matter which one you choose, you can’t go wrong with a purchase of either of these best-in-class sedans.
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