To someone who has never been behind the wheel of The 2014 Subaru Legacy 3.6R sedan, it may look like the odd man out in the mainstream family sedan market in light of the many quirky traits still inherent to Subaru ownership. For instance, the Legacy continues its use of “boxer” horizontally opposed cylinder designs for all engines and all-wheel drive is still standard on all variants. But does this mean all Subaru all-wheel drive systems and all Subaru Legacy models are created equal? Not exactly.
During a press drive with the kind folks at Subaru, we came away pleasantly surprised by many of our test experiences and never more so than with the Legacy 3.6R sedan. Its 256 horsepower 3.6 liter V6 may sound just about average for its class from a numbers perspective but its accelerative prowess is heightened by the thrumming race car soundtrack emanating from the engine bay at high revs. This is an engine that is truly a delight to hear and not something that should be silencing Lexus-style.
The Subaru’s 6-cylinder engine shares its unique horizontally opposed cylinder design with Porsche and we were surprised at how similar the Legacy’s motor sounded to units we have heard in various 911 models over the years, albeit with much less exhaust bravado. The 2014 Subaru Legacy 3.6R would never announce itself to the world that overtly unless you asked it to with your right foot. Then it responds with a delightfully endearing mix of noise, power and driver control.
We had tested a Legacy 2.5i CVT automatic version of the current Legacy over a week last year and while that car was very nice to drive, it did not elicit any true feelings of sportiness. This is where the Legacy 3.6R really takes the mantle as the performance Subaru in this family sedan line-up to the point that we even feel it would make a better ownership proposition than other more frenetic turbocharged Subaru models.
The Legacy 3.6R can be both fun to drive, loud and aggressive but still it maintains an ability to be a soothingly quiet comfort on long commutes or drives with the family. As with any Legacy model, interior space is impressive with best in class rear legroom and a nicely shaped 14.7 cubic foot trunk.
But it’s really the driving experience that shines brightest when we think of the 2014 Subaru Legacy 3.6R thanks to nicely weighted steering, an absorptive ride calibration and tremendously strong brakes. The 5-speed automatic may be down a gear on some of the competition but is very slick and returns decent 18 city/25 highway EPA estimates. Although be warned that the Legacy 3.6R encourages hooligan-like driving behavior so achieving those figures might be tough.
Our 2014 Subaru Legacy Limited 3.6R tester came to nearly $31,000 including destination but considering that this was a fully loaded model with navigation, leather, 440-Watt Harman Kardon 9-speaker premium audio system, dual zone climate control and a power moonroof. So while that may sound like a lot of money to a 2014 Hyundai Sonata buyer, the truth is that they will never know the level of driver engagement and control that Legacy 3.6R owners enjoy even without snow on the roads.
The Legacy 3.6R has a unique all-wheel drive system set-up as well when compared to more basic 2.5i variants with purely “symmetrical” all-wheel drive. Under normal conditions the 3.6R apportions a bit more power to the rear of the vehicle to improve the handling and driver response. The system can adjust power delivery in situations where traction is lost so the Legacy 3.6R should have little trouble plowing your driveway next winter—again.