Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2017 BMW 3 Series VS 2017 Subaru Legacy Near Scottsdale, AZ

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2017 BMW 3 Series

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VS

2017 Subaru Legacy

Safety Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan’s 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.

The 3 Series Sedan (except 320i) offers an optional Surround View to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Legacy only offers a rear monitor.

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the Legacy have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, available all wheel drive, crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems and blind spot warning systems.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the BMW 3 Series Sedan is safer than the Subaru Legacy:

 

3 Series

Legacy

 

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Compression

.6 inches

.6 inches

Neck Stress

115 lbs.

153 lbs.

Neck Compression

44 lbs.

88 lbs.

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

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 BMW 3 Series Sedan is safer than the Subaru Legacy:

 

3 Series

Legacy

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Spine Acceleration

38 G’s

40 G’s

Hip Force

513 lbs.

736 lbs.

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

Warranty Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan 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.

The 3 Series Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Legacy’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 3 Series Sedan for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Subaru doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Legacy.

Reliability Comparison

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The battery on the 3 Series Sedan is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures which can degrade battery life. By keeping the 3 Series Sedan’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Legacy’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the 3 Series Sedan third among compact premium cars in their 2016 Initial Quality Study. The Legacy isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2016 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW fifth in initial quality, above the industry average. With 24 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 22nd, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2016 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 14th in reliability, above the industry average. With 24 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 23rd.

Engine Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan has more powerful engines than the Legacy:

 

Horsepower

Torque

320i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

180 HP

200 lbs.-ft.

330i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

248 HP

258 lbs.-ft.

340i 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

320 HP

330 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.

The 3 Series Sedan’s 2.0 turbo diesel produces 5 more horsepower (180 vs. 175) and 106 lbs.-ft. more torque (280 vs. 174) than the Legacy 2.5i’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. The 3 Series Sedan’s 2.0 turbo diesel produces 33 lbs.-ft. more torque (280 vs. 247) than the Legacy 3.6R Limited’s standard 3.6 DOHC 6 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the BMW 3 Series Sedan is faster than the Subaru Legacy (automatics tested):

 

320i

330i

Legacy 2.5i

Legacy 3.6R

Zero to 60 MPH

6.6 sec

5.5 sec

9.2 sec

7 sec

Quarter Mile

15.1 sec

14.1 sec

17 sec

15.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

90.7 MPH

97.9 MPH

84.9 MPH

96.5 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

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On the EPA test cycle the 328d xDrive gets better fuel mileage than the Legacy 2.5i (30 city/40 hwy vs. 25 city/34 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the 320i xDrive gets better fuel mileage than the Legacy 3.6R (23 city/34 hwy vs. 20 city/28 hwy). The 340i xDrive gets better fuel mileage than the Legacy 3.6R (21 city/31 hwy vs. 20 city/28 hwy).

Regenerative brakes improve the 3 Series Sedan’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Legacy doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the 3 Series Sedan’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Legacy doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

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For better stopping power the 3 Series Sedan’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Legacy:

 

320i/330i

340i

Legacy 2.5i

Legacy 3.6R

Front Rotors

12.3 inches

13.4 inches

11.6 inches

12.4 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

13 inches

11.8 inches

11.8 inches

The 3 Series Sedan stops much shorter than the Legacy:

 

3 Series

Legacy

 

70 to 0 MPH

159 feet

179 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

107 feet

123 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 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 3 Series Sedan’s optional 225/40R19 front and 255/35R19 rear tires have a lower 40 series front and 35 series rear profile than the Legacy Sport/Limited’s 50 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 3 Series Sedan offers optional 19-inch wheels. The Legacy’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires available on the 3 Series Sedan can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Legacy doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan 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 3 Series Sedan 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 3 Series Sedan’s wheelbase is 2.3 inches longer than on the Legacy (110.6 inches vs. 108.3 inches).

The 3 Series Sedan’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (50% to 50%) than the Legacy’s (58.9% to 41.1%). This gives the 3 Series Sedan more stable handling and braking.

The 340i xDrive handles at .94 G’s, while the Legacy 3.6R Limited pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The 340i xDrive executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2 seconds quicker than the Legacy 2.5i Limited (25.6 seconds @ .75 average G’s vs. 27.6 seconds @ .6 average G’s).

Chassis Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan is 6 inches shorter than the Legacy, making the 3 Series Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the 330i is quieter than the Legacy 3.6R Limited:

 

3 Series

Legacy

At idle

40 dB

44 dB

Full-Throttle

71 dB

74 dB

70 MPH Cruising

66 dB

69 dB

Passenger Space Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan has .3 inches more front headroom and .7 inches more rear headroom than the Legacy.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

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A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the 3 Series Sedan easier. The 3 Series Sedan’s trunk lift-over height is 26 inches, while the Legacy’s liftover is 27.2 inches.

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the 3 Series offers cargo security. The Legacy’s non-lockable remote release defeats cargo security.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the 3 Series Sedan’s available trunk can be opened just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Legacy doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its trunk, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Ergonomics Comparison

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The 3 Series Sedan (except 320i) offers an available heads-up display which projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Legacy doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the 3 Series Sedan and the Legacy have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the 3 Series Sedan is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Legacy prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The 3 Series Sedan’s 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 down on the 3 Series Sedan w/Comfort Access the driver can raise them all using the key in the outside lock cylinder. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from outside the vehicle using the key in the outside lock cylinder or the keyless remote. The driver of the Legacy can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The 3 Series Sedan’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Legacy’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the 3 Series Sedan to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Legacy doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The 3 Series Sedan offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Legacy doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The Legacy Premium/Sport/Limited’s optional cornering lamps activate a lamp on the front corner when the turn signal is activated. The 3 Series Sedan’s optional adaptive cornering lights turn the actual headlight unit up to several degrees, depending on steering wheel angle and vehicle speed. This lights a significant distance into corners at any speed.

A power rear sunshade is optional in the 3 Series Sedan (except 320i) to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Legacy doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

The 3 Series Sedan’s 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 3 Series Sedan is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Legacy’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

On extremely cold Winter days, the 3 Series Sedan’s 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 3 Series Sedan 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/Limited.

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the Legacy offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the 3 Series Sedan 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.

The 3 Series Sedan (except 320i)’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Legacy doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages Comparison

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According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the 3 Series Sedan is less expensive to operate than the Legacy because it costs $378 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the 3 Series Sedan than the Legacy, including $57 less for front brake pads and $188 less for front struts.

Recommendations Comparison

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The BMW 3 Series Sedan has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

 

3 Series

Legacy

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

TRUE

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

FALSE

The 3 Series was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 20 of the last 23 years. The Legacy has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

The 3 Series was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” for 13 of the last 21 years. The Legacy hasn’t been picked since 2006.

The BMW 3 Series outsold the Subaru Legacy by 42% during the 2016 model year.

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