8. 2017 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Sport
Market segment: Midsize car
Body style: Four-door sedan
Base price: $26,815
Price as tested: $28,910
Key options: EyeSight + Navigation package, $2,095
For: Standard all-wheel drive, roomy interior, affordable safety features
Against: All-wheel-drive adds weight, but nonessential in sun belt
Next big change: Freshening for model year 2018
Legacy is the only car on our Best-under-$30K list with all-wheel drive, but that’s not the only reason it’s on our list. There’s a lot to like about this solid midsize sedan, including one of the roomiest and most comfortable cabins in the segment, a spacious trunk and — given its all-wheel drive (AWD) – good gas mileage. AWD is standard, by the way. Among direct competitors, only the Ford Fusion and Buick Regal are available with AWD, but only on select models. Subaru’s AWD systems are widely held to be among the best in the industry, one reason its cars are favorites in the Northeast and Northwest.
Legacy’s six-cylinder model costs over $30,000, leaving a quartet of four-cylinder trim levels under the 2.5i banner. The leather-upholstered 2.5i Limited begins at $29,660, but equipping it with the latest safety tech costs another $1,995. To make our $30K limit, we turn to the 2.5i Sport, a new-for-2017 model that livens up Legacy’s otherwise conservative looks with special 18-inch alloy wheels, dark gray grille, gloss-black-surrounded fog lamps, and silver-finished mirrors. Inside, it features an exclusive two-tone interior with piano-black-and carbon-fiber-patterned trim. Like all 2.5i models, the Sport has a 175-horsepower 2.5-liter with Subaru’s low-slung horizontally opposed cylinder configuration. It uses a continuously variable automatic transmission. Overall, this is a good-performing sedan.
And at a base price of $26,815, it’s a good value. Standard features include a rearview camera and full hands-free phone and audio streaming, including Pandora linking. We’re pleased to pony up for a $2,095 option package that adds imbedded navigation with a 7-inch dashboard screen, plus blind-spot and rear-cross-traffic detection, automatic high-beam headlamps, and automatic braking to prevent a collision while reversing. Most important, the package includes Subaru’s EyeSight driver-assist system. This brings adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and, vitally, autonomous emergency braking that can stop the car to avoid a frontal collision. Legacy’s so equipped qualify for the coveted Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.