Should You Take the Subaru Legacy Off Road?

You can take your Subaru Legacy off road in a pinch, but tackling seriously rough terrain is not recommended.
Written by Jacqulyn Graber
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Subaru
is known for its rugged-looking crossovers, but the Subaru Legacy is actually a midsize sedan. So, does it have the same off-road chops as its larger counterparts? In short, no—but you should still be able to power through a bit of dirt and mud in a pinch.
The specs that affect your Subaru’s performance off road are as follows: ground clearance, torque, drivetrain, tires, and angles. And while the Legacy includes some features that allow it to safely power over bumps and divots, other specs suggest it can’t handle seriously rough terrain.
Here to discuss the Subaru Legacy’s off-road rating is
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extraordinaire,
Jerry
. At Jerry, we’re also experts on all-things Subaru and have compiled this handy guide so you can be, too! We'll even show you how to save on your
Subaru Legacy insurance costs
, so let's go!
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Can the Subaru Legacy go off road?

Sometimes—the Subaru Legacy can certainly handle small amounts of dirt and mud with much more gusto than similar midsize sedans. However, it’s not quite equipped for serious off-roading adventures.
With a starting MSRP of $22,745, the Legacy is a great family vehicle, especially because of its roomy interior. And while its drivetrain helps it power through dirt, snow, and mud, its ground clearance, torque, tires, and angles suggest that you’re better off sticking to paved roads unless you’re in a pinch.
Let’s break down each of the relevant specs.

Ground clearance

The space between the lowest point of your vehicle’s chassis and the ground is known as its ground clearance. This is one of the most important specs when thinking about off-roading. The lower the ground clearance, the higher the risk of damaging your vehicle when off road—or even getting stuck!
The Subaru Legacy has a ground clearance of 5.9 inches, which is higher than plenty of midsize sedans but nowhere near the suggested off-roading ground clearance of at least 8.5 inches
Just as a comparison, consider the 2021
Jeep Wrangler
—everyone’s favorite off-road vehicle. It has a ground clearance of a whopping 9.7 inches, an integral feature for rugged adventures. 

Torque

The Legacy’s engine produces 176 lb-ft of torque at 4,400 rpm. Not only is this a small amount of power, but it takes quite a bit of RPMs to access it! For ideal off-roading chops, you’ll need low-end torque—or high amounts of torque at a low rpm. 
Experts recommend engines that can access their full potential between 2,000 and 3,000 rpm. Keep in mind that torque is far more important than speed when off-roading—so even if your vehicle is fast, it may not be equipped to leave paved roads.

Tires

All-terrain tires
, or A/T tires, increase your vehicle’s traction with a widespread tread pattern, making them the best option for vehicles that split their time on and off road. 
Unfortunately, your Legacy will come standard with P225/55VR17 all-season tires. While all-season tires are built to last (and far more durable than all-terrain tires), they don’t offer nearly as much traction. 

Drivetrain

Here’s where the Legacy shines—like almost all Subarus, it is all-wheel drive! All-wheel and four-wheel drivetrains seriously step up your vehicle’s ability to take on rough terrain compared to front-wheel or—even worse—rear-wheel drive.
If you need to pull out of your snowy driveway or power through a muddy parking lot, you will likely be able to do so thanks to your Legacy’s drivetrain.

Angles 

Your vehicle’s approach angle is the maximum angle onto which a vehicle can climb from a horizontal plane without interference. Its departure angle is similar, except it measures a vehicle’s ability to descend without interference. 
Here’s how the Subaru Legacy measures up:
  • Approach angle: 18 degrees 
  • Departure angle: 29 degrees
This means that your Legacy will be more equipped for declines—proceed with caution up hills. 

Off-road rating: In a Pinch

We’ve rated the Subaru Legacy using
Jerry’s
super-technical DIRT rating system, broken down in the table below:
Rating
Meaning
Description
D
Don’t Try It
Vehicles better suited to highway conditions
I
In a Pinch
Vehicles that can handle off-road conditions in certain circumstances
R
Rough and Ready
Vehicles designed for casual off-roading
T
Trail Boss
True off-road vehicles capable of tackling a range of terrain
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The Subaru Legacy earns an I rating—In a Pinch. While we recommend avoiding off-road situations when possible, your Legacy can handle rougher conditions than other similar midsize sedans, such as a snowy driveway or unpaved parking lot.
Just be sure to drive carefully, and don’t push your Legacy to the limit! 
MORE: Winter tires vs. all-season tires: Which is better?
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If you’re shopping around for a midsize sedan and want to know how some of the Legacy’s top competitors compare, here are a few:
Model
Price
Description
2022 Nissan Altima
$24,900
Although the Altima’s ground clearance is slightly lower than the Legacy’s—measuring at 5.1 inches—it is the first Nissan sedan to offer AWD!
2021 Volkswagen Passat
$23,995
You can select 4-motion all-wheel drive when shopping for the Passat, plus its ground clearance is 5.7 inches.
2021 Kia K5
$23,590
The K5 offers up to 311 lb-ft of torque depending on its engine, making it way more powerful than the Legacy!
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How to insure your vehicle on and off road

No matter where the road takes you—and even if you find yourself trekking beyond the pavement—you can protect your vehicle with a top-notch, customized car insurance policy.
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