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Subaru Legacy vs. Hyundai Elantra

1. Introduction

An all-American sedan vs. a Korean wannabe. The Mitsubishi Lancer, Toyota Camry, and Honda Civic were pitted against the Hyundai Elantra to see how it would fare amongst consumers. This test was on consumer insight about product improvement and customer satisfaction in the compact car segment. The Hyundai Elantra surprisingly beat the Honda Civic for 3rd place and was trailing behind the Toyota Camry. This was a surprising result as most people would pick the Japanese-made cars over a Korean car due to perception of quality, high maintenance, and parts price. The Hyundai Elantra had tied 2nd place with the more well-equipped and popular Toyota Camry. This was considered a major achievement for Hyundai as the Toyota brand is renowned for its reliability and build quality. This test was positive as it gave Hyundai a clearer direction for product improvement and customer satisfaction as mostly data came from current Japanese market car owners. The Consumers Union New Car Reliability report gave all models of the Elantra an "average used car predicted reliability" rating. A recent 2002 JD Power Initial Quality Survey rated Hyundai 8th just below the industry average. The Elantra is now proving to the public it is still keeping its end of the promise for better quality and greater satisfaction for consumers at a very high competitive level. This now leads us to the test between the Subaru Legacy and Hyundai Elantra for this comparo where these cars will have a good head-to-head tussle at a higher competitive segment level for product improvement and to fulfill the wants of the consumer. This would, in turn, lead into a reinvestment of more money and resources to build a better car in the long run for future consumers and make it a global car. Now the Legacy is 10 years ahead generation-wise and technology-wise, and the newly launched Elantra still has a long way to go. But product improvement runs in a vicious cycle. This is a good learning experience for Hyundai to know what consumers want and a good test for Subaru to keep pushing the bar higher. This will play a key role for anyone who will be looking at a Japanese car, take a step ahead and compare and in contrast with an import.

Comparison between Subaru Legacy and Hyundai Elantra. Subaru Legacy has been a bestseller for years because of its dependability and all-wheel drive capability. In 2003, it gained accolades and praise from its peers as it won IIHS's coveted "top pick" award. On the other hand, the Hyundai Elantra, much younger in the compact passenger car segment, was only introduced into the Malaysian car market in 2001 and is quite upbeat about taking a crack at Subaru's success in this category. Completing 4 of the most popular Japanese-made passenger cars, the Hyundai Elantra was tested, which came up with a surprising result.

1.1. Overview of Subaru Legacy and Hyundai Elantra

The Hyundai Elantra or Hyundai Avante is a compact car produced by the South Korean manufacturer Hyundai since 1990, now in its sixth generation. In North America, Australia, some European markets, and Singapore, the Elantra is known as the i45. A variety of Elantra body styles have been offered, including three-door hatchback, four-door sedan, five-door hatchback, and two-door coupe. A five-door hatchback called the Elantra Touring has also been introduced in certain markets. The GT version of the Elantra went on sale in the states in the summer of 2012 as a 2013 model. Gone was the two-door and the GT, a European car that was made in Korea was recently redesigned and then had unibody. This version was offered only in the United States. This model is also known as the wagon or the overseas wagon in the United States during the late 1990s.

The Subaru Legacy is Subaru's mid-size car which has been produced in Japan since 1989, in Lafayette, Indiana since 2004, and also in the USA as a variant of the Legacy with an outdoor package, titled Subaru Outback. The maker of Subaru Outback was Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI), the parent company of Subaru. The car is a successor to the well-known Subaru Leone/Loyale which was in production from 1972 to 1994. In Europe and the USA, the Legacy was originally only available with a limited level of luxury, with a higher specification limited to the Subaru Impreza. However, the current North American Legacy is built to a higher specification level.

1.2. Purpose of the Comparison

Another purpose of this comparison is to evaluate how reliable the Elantra is compared to Legacy. This is important because many Elantra buyers bought this car specifically for its longer warranty for added peace of mind. A car's cost of ownership is usually closely correlated with its reliability. The Legacy has a history of being a very reliable vehicle and it is expected that the 2010+ models will be no different. On the other hand, the Elantra is known to be a reliable compact car with its newer models significantly improving from Elantras of the past. A budget car such as the Elantra is an attractive option for someone seeking reliability for the best price. An Elantra buyer would choose a Legacy if it can be proven that the cost of a Legacy over an Elantra is relatively close for it being a more reliable car. A comparison of this aspect will assist both parties in making their decision.

By comparing the prices and cost of ownership between a Legacy and Elantra, the first distinction will be the clear difference in price. This ranges from the initial cost of the car to maintenance and fuel costs. The Elantra is a very inexpensive car and is considered to be a great value for all the features it has. However, this article will show that the Legacy is actually quite more comparable in terms of cost to the Elantra when considering all costs over the life of the vehicle.

The purpose of this comparison is to aid consumers in making informed decisions about vehicle purchases. By assessing similarities and differences between two cars that are frequently cross-shopped, one can make a decision best suitable for his or her needs. The Subaru Legacy is a popular sedan in the United States that comes equipped with all-wheel drive. Many consider the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry as strong competitors. The Hyundai Elantra is another popular sedan that is less expensive. This comparison will aid someone thinking about purchasing a Legacy and Elantra owners who might be interested in the similarities between the two. This comprehensive comparison can also be used to essentially compare any midsized sedan to a compact car.

2. Performance and Engine

In terms of fuel efficiency, it would seem that Subaru has done well in recent years to maintain performance while increasing fuel efficiency. Legacy achieves a fuel consumption of 10.2L/100km city and 7.1L/100km highway. The Elantra, on the other hand, has quite high fuel consumption, at 11.3L/100km city and 7.8L/100km on the highway. One would expect this from the engines on both cars, but the difference is quite minimal and really key for the Legacy to outperform in this section. High fuel costs are sure to drive people away from purchasing a V-6 car in the future, and the Elantra is not the most economical choice. This is a huge contrast to the fuel efficiency of some of the smaller Hyundai's available today and is another great point for the Legacy if this is what customers are looking for in a mid-sized vehicle.

**Performance and Engine** This is where the Subaru can be quite different from many mid-sized competitors. The Legacy has the flat 4-cylinder engine that has been synonymous with Subaru for the last 20 years. This is in contrast to the Hyundai which uses a V-6 engine. The four cylinder produces 170 horsepower and 170 pound feet of torque while the V-6 on the Hyundai produces 234 horsepower and 226 pound feet of torque. What does this mean for the speed demons? Well, the Hyundai is sure to be a little faster with the extra horsepower, however, neither car could be considered a ball of fire.

2.1. Powertrain Options

The 2020 Hyundai Elantra has four engine options. The standard engine is a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine with 147 horsepower and 132 lb-ft of torque. This engine comes in most models. The Eco model has a 1.4-litre 4-cylinder engine with a horsepower of 128 and 156 lb-ft of torque. The Eco model has an estimated fuel tank range of 522 miles. The fuel efficient Limited model has a fuel tank range of 518 miles and comes with a 1.6-litre 4-cylinder engine with 122 horsepower and 113 lb-ft of torque. The high performance Elantra Sport model comes with a 1.6-litre 4-cylinder engine with 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. This is the same engine that comes in the Hyundai Veloster. All Elantra models come with a Smartstream Intelligent Variable Transmission except for the Elantra Sport, which comes with a 7-speed dual clutch transmission.

The 2020 Subaru Legacy has two engine options. The first option is a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder Subaru Boxer engine. This engine has a total horsepower of 182 and 176 lb-ft of torque. The second option is a 2.4-litre 4-cylinder Subaru Boxer engine. This bigger engine has a total horsepower of 260 and 277 lb-ft of torque. The smaller engine comes standard in most models, and the larger engine only comes in XT models. All Subaru Legacys come with a Lineartronic CVT transmission. The 2020 Subaru Legacy has an estimated fuel tank range of 666 miles to 740 miles depending on the engine and transmission options.

2.2. Acceleration and Top Speed

The Legacy comes standard with a 2.5-liter boxer engine, producing 175 horsepower (HP) at 6000 rpm and 169 lb.-ft of torque. This engine, when coupled with the CVT, achieves a fuel economy of 23 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. The Elantra SE model comes with a 2.0-liter Nu 4-cylinder engine generating 147 hp at 6200 rpm and 132 lb.-ft. of torque, and an estimated 29 mpg city and 38 mpg highway. One category where the Legacy has the upper hand when compared to the Elantra is acceleration - the ability to increase in speed quickly. It takes the Legacy around 8.4 seconds to reach 60 mph from standstill, whereas the Elantra takes around 9.7 seconds. At the top end, the Legacy can reach a speed of 130 mph compared to the Elantra's 125 mph. This means the Legacy has more safety "in reserve" for when overtaking or on-ramp acceleration. In case you were wondering, the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T takes around 7.0 seconds to reach 60 mph, and the 2010 Subaru WRX takes around 6.1 seconds. Both cars can reach a top speed of 155 mph. These figures are, of course, to be expected given the more sporting nature of both cars when compared to more standard sedans like the Legacy and Elantra.

2.3. Fuel Efficiency

Luckily for those with a small budget, fuel efficiency is a dead heat between the two. The Subaru is slightly more frugal around town, using 10.5L/100km to the Hyundai's 10.9L/100km. It is beaten on the open road cycle, using 7.0L/100km compared to the Hyundai's 6.9L/100km. Over a 14,000km driving year, this means around 14L more fuel is used in the city and 21L less is used on the highway by the Hyundai. Unfortunately for the Legacy, fuel efficient PZEV engines are only offered in the USA. During the emission testing phase, in clear win for the Koreans both vehicles achieved the illustrious Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle standard, the Legacy making this rating available since 2009 MY and all Elantras being certified as PZEVs since 2004 MY. This means a 20% reduction in greenhouse emissions compared to standard vehicles of the same class. Each vehicle also comes with a 12 month fuel economy guarantee, offering to trade in the vehicle if the customer has not saved the difference in fuel costs compared to buying a similar class 2005 or newer vehicle within the first year of ownership. This does not apply to Legacy models sold in California, where customers get free basketball tickets instead (seriously). Juicy. Overall, the Legacy is going to cost more to run despite a close duel. Keep in mind that all fuel data uses the New Zealand 2008 95 octane fuel standard, which is 10-20 cents cheaper than the 91 octane equivalent.

3. Features and Technology

Subaru Legacy brings an upscale interior with premium materials, supportive seating, and lots of room. The Elantra also has nice materials, plenty of room, and lots of features for the money. The Subaru Legacy brings an interior that feels a class above in terms of refinements according to Car and Driver, which notes the Legacy's solid and substantial feel. The publication also noted the roomy cabin and spacious seating that can accommodate even taller individuals. MSN Autos calls the Legacy stylish and sophisticated, and Subaru boasts of a rich appearance and feel; the design of the Legacy seeks to place function over flair though there's plenty of that too, such as stylish blue backlit gauges and an available leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Elantra uses some big car features not common in this class; options include proximity key entry with push-button start, and dual-zone automatic climate control. When fully loaded, shoppers will find features usually reserved for luxury cars, like a navigation system, Bluetooth, and a backup warning system. There's also a power seat and a sunroof on the options list. Interior space is very good for a small car, and lots of cubbies and storage areas are scattered about the cabin. MSN Autos says that with the Elantra, Hyundai set out to prove that even an affordable vehicle can be rife with high-end features. Step over the SE to the Limited model and you'll find a rich environment with an upscale feel, says Kelley Blue Book. Visual and audio climate and info systems are intuitive and easy to use, and most surfaces are textured - so much so that it's sometimes hard to believe this is just a compact car.

3.1. Interior Comfort and Design

Consider the eight-way power driver's seat with dual-memory functions for the Legacy, whereas the Elantra provides the equivalent in its Limited trim. Only at that same level, the Hyundai sedan is equipped with leather seating and a six-way power driver's seat that provides adequate comfort and support. However, neither is it possible to possess a telescopic steering wheel—adjustability pertaining to tilt only—along with a power moonroof, for example, the Legacy GT Limited. Cost more effectively fruition for Hyundai in comparison to its Japanese rival, during Legacy Limited an electro-luminescent instrumentation is deliverable, and both top models contain a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. Dual-zone automatic climate control becomes conventional equipment for your Elantra SE version, a feature Legacy GT Limited already has, whilst it is surely an option at the VDC grade, which is the flagship of the road. Additionally, heating and ventilating functions for front seats are available only on certain Elantra trims and are not provided on any Legacy. Step we then again to the Legacy, the Legacy is spacious, providing ample head and legroom for both front and back occupants, while the much-criticized Elantra falls short in this instance too. This fact even will play a part at a distance during testing frontal crash ratings for both cars. Opting for the Subaru sedan, occupants are now being given additional peace of mind while standard/curtain airbags and front-seat active head restraints can help mitigate collision forces.

3.2. Infotainment and Connectivity

The standard system for both cars provides good usability due to the large physical knobs for volume control, tuning, and general functionality when operating the system. The Legacy is more usable in that it has very simple-to-use hard buttons for all functions on the screen, while the Elantra's buttons are only for the screen's off/on, the volume, and tuning. Both vehicles' infotainment systems will serve any driver well, but the Legacy's larger functionality with the addition of CarPlay and Auto will make for a more satisfying experience.

Hyundai's Elantra comes with a standard 5-inch touchscreen, which provides an AM/FM radio and can be synced to your phone with the appropriate cable so that you can play audio through the car's speakers. Upgrading to the Limited and Sport models, however, yields an 8-inch touchscreen and on-screen navigation in addition to the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration. The Elantra also boasts an Infinity 8-speaker system with a subwoofer and external amp.

The infotainment and connectivity in the Subaru Legacy consists of a 6.5-inch touchscreen featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. The system also comes with 4 speakers and a CD player for those who have not yet gone completely digital. The Premium model also comes with a 6-speaker sound system. The Limited adds an 8-inch touchscreen and a Harmon Kardon audio system to further enhance the audio experience. The Legacy's infotainment is an area of strength. It should be noted that at the time of publishing, Subaru is offering 0% financing on the Legacy from 04/14/20 - 04/20/20, so this may be an opportune time to purchase a Legacy.

3.3. Advanced Safety Features

In addition to this feature, Subaru provides the driver and front passenger with an airbag designed to inflate in a small overlap frontal crash. When the vehicle crashes and the airbag inflates with great speed, it disperses the gas from the inflator to the airbag and forces it to escape through holes provided. For the front passenger airbag, a safety mechanism based on the difference in weight between the driver and the passenger determines whether the airbag should inflate at a low level or be designed to not inflate at all, preventing possible injury for children or small adults. This type of safety feature is also available in the Outback and has helped both Subaru vehicles earn the top rating of "good" in a rigorous new crash test conducted by IIHS. Other safety features provided by Subaru include a side airbag system for the rear seat and a ring-shape reinforcement frame designed to provide better protection in a high-speed frontal collision.

Subaru Legacy has an advantage in terms of safety features. The new generation Legacy vehicles offer a radar-based adaptive cruise control system with the collision avoidance feature, which helps to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front. The system can detect a possible collision threat, provide an audio and visual warning to the driver, and apply the brakes if necessary. This EyeSight system can mitigate or prevent frontal crashes and has been tested by IIHS. Other Eyesight features include a lane departure warning system and a pre-collision throttle management system.

Both Subaru Legacy and the Hyundai Elantra are built with an advanced safety engineering that utilizes carefully integrated crash avoidance mitigations and a series of passive and active safety features. The vehicles have earned the Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Subaru, with its Eyesight system now recommended by Consumer Reports, also achieved test results that small overlap frontal test, moderate overlap frontal test, side impact test, and roof strength test all earned "good" ratings. Hyundai Elantra improves from "acceptable" to "good" rating in the small overlap frontal test, side impact test, rollover, and whiplash test.

4. Pricing and Value

The trim levels for the Legacy are: 2.5i, Premium, Sport, and Limited. The Elantra has 6 trims: SE, Value Edition, Eco, Sport, Limited, and Ultimate. After comparing the trims, the price range of the Legacy trims can be found in about 2 different Hyundai trims. Subaru's highest level trim "Limited" is worth $27,095, while the similar Elantra "Limited" is only $100 more. The equipment included with the Elantra trims compared to the Legacy trims provide a better bang for the buyer's buck.

The base price of a 2016 Subaru Legacy 2.5i starts at $21,745, which is about $300 more than the base Elantra, and is roughly about $4,000 more than the base Elantra after comparing the price of similar trims.

Pricing and value are very important to compare because they have a direct impact on the buyers' finances. The price that is paid is a determining factor in the vehicle that is chosen, and the specified cost of maintenance is important to the vehicle owner with reliability in mind. Lastly, the resale value will determine the long-term cost of ownership, while avoiding steep depreciation costs. Subaru will be compared as closely as possible to the Elantra.

4.1. Base Price and Trim Levels

The Subaru Legacy's base price in 1990 was $10,974. The 1990 Legacy was available in three trim levels, with the base trim being the L. The L, with a base price of $10,974, came equipped with a dual range 5-speed manual transmission, air conditioning, intermittent wipers, a cargo cover, a quartz digital clock, and a liftgate spoiler. The LS came loaded with features including the previously mentioned cruise control and an available automatic transmission. The top of the line trim level was the LSi, which we were fortunate enough to review. This polo package required a base price of $14,074, and boasted optional ABS, power moonroof, power adjustable driver's seat, fog lights, alloy wheels, and keyless entry. The tested Legacy LSi has a final total price of $15,597 after adding such options as aforementioned ABS and power moonroof, carpet floor mats, leather shift knob, and rear splash guards. 1990 to 1994 Legacy sedans run at least $750 less than comparably equipped Legacy wagons at each trim level. In recent years, Subaru's prices for the Legacy have slightly increased, but still offer great value vs. similar cars in the segment. In 2010, the base price for a 2.5i Legacy is only $19,995. The most expensive 2010 Legacy is the 3.6R Premium, which has a base price of $27,995. The Legacy continues to be available in three different trims, and same kind of well-built features can be expected from the 1990 Legacy - just now they are more advanced. Optional features like a voice activated GPS system, back up camera, and power moonroof are still available - just now they may come out to be about the same price as the LSi used to cost! Optional features on any trim of the Legacy have always been affordable and fairly priced, just like the base price of the car.

4.2. Warranty and Maintenance Costs

Subaru also offers a 5-year, 60,000-mile Powertrain Warranty, but their vehicles are designed to last and the Powertrain Warranty is considered to be a back-up plan. Subaru offers a different approach by having some of the best resale values and to ensure that their legacy of quality All Wheel Drive (AWD) vehicles remains consistent, so they offer an AWD Warranty on Legacy vehicles. This warranty lasts for the first 3 years or 36,000 miles and should the AWD system require repairs during the warranty's time frame, it will be performed at no charge to the owner.

Hyundai offers a 5-year, 60,000-mile New Vehicle Warranty and a 10-year, 100,000-mile Powertrain Warranty. They build some of the most reliable and durable vehicles on the road, so when Hyundai offers such a long warranty they hope that there will be very little repairs needed in the vehicle's life. But should there be a need for a repair, Hyundai's warranty will cover it. The bumper-to-bumper warranty covers virtually everything except for normal wear and tear on the vehicle, like brakes or tires, and the Powertrain Warranty is to ensure that most expensive vehicle repairs which are related to the engine, transmission, and drivetrain, are covered during a longer period.

Overall, both the Legacy and Elantra are good cars to own, since the two were rated to be the cheapest and most expensive mid-size sedans to own respectively. Since when comparing the larger and more costly All Wheel Drive (AWD) Legacy compared to the small and light Elantra, the operating costs are a very important factor.

4.3. Resale Value

Resale values are important to an automaker's image and track record as well. Vehicles with higher resale values will entice more customers with the promise of better long-term reliability and vehicle quality. In turn, the increased quality of customers will create a positive feedback cycle for an automaker, as higher quality, well-informed customers tend to purchase higher quality vehicles. This increase in customer quality will also drive up new vehicle sales, as generally a well-informed customer prefers to stick with a make and model that suits their needs. As the customer demographic of a given automaker increases in quality, output sales and resale values of vehicles will increase as well. This process will be mirrored in the inverse for companies putting out lower quality vehicles. In short, the higher resale value of the Legacy implies more than just cost savings for the consumer, but a better long-term investment in vehicle and company quality.

The resale value of a car is one of the most important points of consideration when purchasing a new vehicle. Depreciation often makes up for the biggest cost of car ownership, and purchasing a vehicle with a better resale value can make up for some of that cost. Typically, Japanese vehicles tend to hold their value best, while Korean vehicles tend to have lower resale values. In the case of the Elantra and the Legacy, both vehicles' resale values are above average for their class, but the Legacy's resale value is significantly higher. According to Kelley Blue Book, the Legacy has the best resale value in its class, and Edmunds corroborates this claim. KBB states that after 5 years, a Legacy will retain 49% of its value, while Edmunds reports a 52.4% residual for the same time period. In comparison, the Elantra retains 35-38% of its value after 5 years according to both sources. One reason for the wide variance for the Elantra is the recent increase in gas prices. This made fuel efficient compact cars increase in value, allowing the 2009 Elantra to retain a healthy 42% of its value. However, the current economic climate has driven new car prices down, and the Elantra will be affected by this drop.