A New Motor
To say that Subaru's vehicles typically don't follow mainstream convention would be an understatement, and the 2013 Legacy 2.5i Limited is no different. While most cars on the market use motors with a V or inline engine layout, Subaru opts for the horizontally-opposed (also referred to as flat, Hx, or boxer) engine layout. Instead of pistons that go up and down, Subaru's boxer designs move sideways. The benefits of this are perfect symmetry and a low center of gravity, yielding better stability and handling. Porsche is the only other manufacturer with a boxer motor.
New to the 2013 Legacy 2.5i family is a FB25 2.5-liter H4 motor that debuted in the 2011 Subaru Forester. While power figures remain similar to the previous-generation EJ25-series at 170 hp, the updated design greatly improves fuel efficiency and maintenance. There’s also a slight bump in displacement to 2,498 cc (compared to the EJ25’s 2,457 cc), resulting in four more pound-feet of torque.
Subaru eliminates the previous motor's timing belt for a chain that should last longer and facilitate longer intervals between dealer services. A dual AVCS variable valve timing system and dual overhead cams make an appearance on the FB25 as well. Incidentally, Subaru's FB-series motor is the first all-new four-cylinder engine since the EJ-series debuted more than 20 years ago.
Carrying over from the 2012 model is Subaru's Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) that replaced the previous-generation Legacy's four-speed automatic. Although the company only recently started offering CVT transmissions in place of automatics through most of its portfolio, it actually shipped the first mass-produced car in the U.S. with a CVT: the 1987 Justy. A CVT doesn’t excite us like a traditional manual gearbox, but Subaru tries to satisfy more sporting drivers by enabling manual shifts with steering wheel-mounted paddles that emulate six shift points.
The Lineartronic CVT and FB25-series motor offer fuel economy ratings of 24, 32, and 27 MPG in city, highway, and combined driving. Those numbers are up 1 MPG from the EJ25-equipped 2012 Subaru Legacy. Minor though the gains may be, we think the Legacy's mileage is quite respectable considering the previous-generation version (2004-2009) was rated for 20, 26, and 22 MPG, respectively, using the four-speed automatic transmission.
We found that the fuel economy ratings were fairly accurate during our week with Subaru's 2013 Legacy 2.5i. Despite driving with a lead foot through a mix of highway and city roads, we averaged 26 MPG. That's an impressive feat for a vehicle armed with all-wheel drive.