2020 Lexus IS Series vs. 2019 Subaru Legacy

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/11/17

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Lexus IS Series have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Subaru Legacy doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The IS Series’ optional pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Legacy doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

Both the IS Series and the Legacy have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available all-wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Lexus IS Series is safer than the Subaru Legacy:

IS Series

Legacy

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

15 inches

17 inches

Spine Acceleration

39 G’s

40 G’s

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/11/17

The IS Series comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Legacy’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

Lexus’ powertrain warranty covers the IS Series 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Subaru covers the Legacy. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the Legacy ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

The IS Series’ corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the Legacy’s (6 vs. 5 years).

Reliability

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/11/17

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus 8th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 23 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 25th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus first in reliability, above the industry average. With 30 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 14th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Lexus first in reliability. Subaru is ranked fourth.

Engine

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The IS Series has more powerful engines than the Legacy:

Horsepower

Torque

IS 300 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

241 HP

258 lbs.-ft.

IS 300 AWD 3.5 DOHC V6

260 HP

236 lbs.-ft.

IS 350 3.5 DOHC V6

311 HP

280 lbs.-ft.

Legacy 2.5i 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.

175 HP

174 lbs.-ft.

Legacy 3.6R Limited 3.6 DOHC 6 cyl.

256 HP

247 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Motor Trend the IS 300 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. is faster than the Legacy 2.5i 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl.:

IS Series

Legacy

Zero to 60 MPH

7 sec

9.2 sec

Quarter Mile

15.4 sec

17 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

89.9 MPH

84.9 MPH

Brakes and Stopping

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/11/17

For better stopping power the IS Series’ brake rotors are larger than those on the Legacy:

IS Series

Legacy 2.5i

Legacy 3.6R Limited

Front Rotors

13.1 inches

11.6 inches

12.4 inches

Rear Rotors

12.2 inches

11.8 inches

11.8 inches

The IS Series stops much shorter than the Legacy:

IS Series

Legacy

70 to 0 MPH

177 feet

179 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

111 feet

123 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/11/17

The IS Series’ standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Legacy 2.5i/2.5i Premium’s standard 55 series tires. The IS Series’ optional 225/40R18 front and 255/35R18 rear tires have a lower 40 series front and 35 series rear profile than the Legacy Sport/Limited’s 50 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

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The IS Series has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Legacy’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The IS Series offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The Legacy’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the IS Series’ wheelbase is 1.9 inches longer than on the Legacy (110.2 inches vs. 108.3 inches).

The IS Series’ front to rear weight distribution is more even (53% to 47%) than the Legacy’s (58.9% to 41.1%). This gives the IS Series more stable handling and braking.

The IS Series AWD handles at .89 G’s, while the Legacy 3.6R Limited pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The IS 350 AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.6 seconds quicker than the Legacy 2.5i Limited (26 seconds @ .72 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .6 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the IS Series’ turning circle is 2.6 feet tighter than the Legacy’s (34.2 feet vs. 36.8 feet). The IS Series AWD’s turning circle is 1.4 feet tighter than the Legacy’s (35.4 feet vs. 36.8 feet).

Chassis

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The IS Series is 4.8 inches shorter than the Legacy, making the IS Series easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The IS Series 300 RWD offers available computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Legacy doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the IS 350 F Sport is quieter than the Legacy 3.6R Limited:

IS Series

Legacy

At idle

42 dB

44 dB

Full-Throttle

73 dB

74 dB

70 MPH Cruising

65 dB

69 dB

Cargo Capacity

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/11/17

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the IS Series offers cargo security. The Legacy’s non-lockable remote release defeats cargo security.

Servicing Ease

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The IS Series has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The Legacy doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

A maintenance reminder system is standard on the IS Series to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals for oil changes, spark plug replacement, air filter replacement, tire rotation, radiator flush, brake pad replacement and transmission fluid replacement based on odometer mileage. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Subaru doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the Legacy.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Lexus service is better than Subaru. J.D. Power ranks Lexus second in service department satisfaction. With a 52% lower rating, Subaru is ranked 19th.

Ergonomics

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Unlike the driver-only memory seat in the Legacy Limited, the IS Series offers an optional driver and passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat, steering wheel position and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The IS Series’ optional easy entry system raises the steering wheel when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Legacy doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The IS Series’ front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Legacy’s standard passenger windows don’t open or close automatically. With the Legacy Premium//Limited’s optional power windows, only the front windows open or close automatically.

If the windows are left open on the IS Series the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. (This window function must be activated by your Lexus service department.) The driver of the Legacy can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The IS Series’ optional wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Legacy’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

A power rear sunshade is optional in the IS Series to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Legacy doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

The IS Series’ standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Subaru only offers heated mirrors on the Legacy Premium/Sport/Limited.

When the IS Series with available tilt-down mirrors is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Legacy’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the IS Series keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Legacy doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the IS Series’ optional heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The Legacy doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The IS Series has a standard dual zone air-conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air-conditioning is only available on the Legacy Premium/Sport/Limited.

Both the IS Series and the Legacy offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the IS Series has standard rear air-conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Legacy Base doesn’t offer rear air-conditioning vents, only heat vents.

Model Availability

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/11/17

The IS Series is available in both rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations. The Legacy doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

© 1999 - 2019 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2019/11/17

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the IS Series is less expensive to operate than the Legacy because it costs $436 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the IS Series than the Legacy, including $15 less for front brake pads.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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