Insights that Echo Beyond the Echo Chamber


2024 Subaru Legacy vs. 2024 Subaru Impreza Comparison

There’s a decision to make: buy a compact car or stretch to a midsize sedan? Luckily, one decision has already been finalized. It has to be a Subaru. If so, then we’re looking at the hatchback-only compact Impreza or the bigger Legacy sedan. It isn’t such an easy call. For example, their starting prices are only about $2,000 apart. And sorry to use that terrible “lifestyle” word here, but what kind of life do you want to live with your new Subaru? Let’s break down some of the facts and see if we can get closer to a verdict.

2024 Subaru Legacy

The Toyota Camry and Honda Accord have burned themselves into the collective consciousness by being so good for so long, but the Subaru Legacy has a lot of similar attributes. It’s built a strong reputation for reliability, delivers solid resale value, and places an emphasis on safety. Prices start at $24,895.

Subaru Legacy Highlights

Passenger space: Most people sitting in the back are going to prefer the Legacy over the Impreza. This sedan’s rear legroom is a generous 39.5 inches. Compare that to the Impreza’s 36.5 inches, which is nevertheless bearable.

Trunk space: The area beneath that lockable steel lid measures 15.1 cubic feet — the same as the Camry, but a fraction smaller than the Accord. Still objectively big, though. We’ve also noticed that the aperture is nice and wide, and the rear seats will split and fold in 60/40 fashion for a little extra flexibility when hauling a longer item.

Engines: The least powerful engine in the Legacy is just as muscular as the top engine available in the Impreza: 182 horsepower. Or buyers can choose a turbocharged 260-horsepower engine. It’s a little thirstier, rated for 26 mpg in combined city/highway driving, but the smaller engine achieves fuel economy figures similar to the Impreza’s base unit: 30 mpg combined.

Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the Legacy models for sale near you.

2024 Subaru Impreza

Red 2024 Subaru Impreza RS hatchback

This generation of Impreza debuted for the 2024 model year and comes solely in hatchback form. What it lacks in sedan gravitas it makes up for in practicality. And it’s one of the few compact cars to have all-wheel drive. Prices start at $22,995.

Subaru Impreza Highlights

Hatchback versatility: Carrying people and things isn’t always straightforward. There are odd shapes and sizes to take into account. And then there’s the luggage. The Impreza’s ability to fold one or all of its rear seats to create a large (56 cubic feet) cargo area is one of the big benefits of a hatchback body. The space behind the rear seats is still a highly usable 20.4 cubic feet.

Resale values: The Impreza has been able to beat almost every other compact car in terms of retaining its worth. We say almost, because the Honda Civic tops the table. Even so, the Impreza remains a smart buy.

Compact size: This can be a double-edged aspect, but the positives are that the Impreza is easy to park, and even quite engaging when zipping around canyon roads.

Check this week’s Fair Purchase Price or see the Impreza models for sale near you.


All-wheel drive comes as standard in both the Legacy and the Impreza, yet their prices are competitive with rivals that are often front-wheel drive exclusively. We also like the way both cars’ interiors are laid out. Everything is right where it should be and there’s nothing too distracting. Each contender comes with a comprehensive array of driver assistance features, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given both a maximum 5-Star overall score. The Impreza does edge the Legacy in the eyes of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), since it was named a Top Safety Pick+; the Legacy still took Top Safety Pick. We’ve calculated that the Legacy and the Impreza lead their respective classes in terms of running costs over five years.


Carrying tricky cargo regularly — like a bicycle? Go for the Impreza and appreciate its ability to fold down the rear seats and take all kinds of stuff. If the preference is for something more refined and powerful — dare we say more mature — the Legacy should hit the spot. It offers a greater choice of trim levels than the Impreza: five against three. The ride is more comfortable. And it’s especially accommodating for taller passengers sitting in the back.

Of course, it might all come down to money. Instead of paying about $2K more for a base Legacy, buyers might prefer to spend that on a higher Impreza trim. Our ultimate recommendation is to test-drive both and see which one makes the most sense. It’s a cop-out, we know, but when is there ever a true one-size-fits-all solution?

  2024 Subaru Legacy 2024 Subaru Impreza
Starting Price $24,895 $22,995
Popular Powertrains    
Engine 2.5-liter 4-cylinder 2.0-liter 4-cylinder
Horsepower 182 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm 152 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
Torque 176 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm 145 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission CVT automatic CVT automatic
Fuel Economy 30 mpg combined (27 city, 35 highway) 30 mpg combined (27 city, 34 highway)
Also Available Turbocharged 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine
Basic Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles 3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty 5 years/60,000 miles 5 years/60,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety 5 stars 5 stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 108.3 inches 105.1 inches
Overall Length 191.1 inches 176.2 inches
Width 72.4 inches 70.1 inches
Height 59.1 inches 58.3 inches
Turning Diameter 36.8 feet 34.8 feet
Headroom, Front 39.4 inches 39.8 inches
Headroom, Rear 37.2 inches 38 inches
Legroom, Front 42.8 inches 42.9 inches
Legroom, Rear 39.5 inches 36.5 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 58.1 inches 56.8 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 57.4 inches 55.3 inches
Cargo Volume 15.1 cubic feet 20.4 cubic feet (rear seats up)/56 cubic feet (rear seats down)


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