2013 Hyundai Sonata vs. 2013 Subaru Legacy

By Teddy Field

As we all know, taste is relative. If it weren’t, Kenny G would still be a long-haired golf pro. So it makes sense that there’d be a couple of midsize sedans, designed for people who actually miss parachute pants. For these people, the 2013 Hyundai Sonata looks expensive, and the 2013 Subaru Legacy looks sporty. But truth be told, they both look busier than Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory at Easter. However, they’re chock full of goodies that you probably wouldn’t expect.

For this midsize car comparison, we’re going to look at the middling sedans from Hyundai & Subaru. So get ready folks, it’s Hammer Time!

2013 Subaru Legacy

When you say “Subaru”, most people probably envision a sky blue Subaru Loyale from the 1980’s, complete with white wheels, and rusted rocker panels. But Subaru has come a long way since Peg Bundy graced our console TVs. And a suite of new technologies is threatening to drag dear old Subaru into the mainstream.

2013 Subaru Legacy

Newly available on the 2013 Subaru Legacy is something called EyeSight Driver Assist. This suite of safety features is controlled by a pair of cameras mounted above the rearview mirror, which seems more advanced than the current crop radar-based systems. Subie’s camera system can stop the car if the Pre-Collision Braking system thinks you’re about to crash (at speeds up to 19 mph). The Adaptive Cruise Control can accelerate and brake the car to keep you a pre-set distance behind the car in front of you. And the Lane Departure Warning system will make a bunch of racket to remind you to pay attention to the road.

Finding such advanced safety gear on a more expensive European car, wouldn’t be that surprising But on a Subaru? Impressive. Too bad the exterior looks like the winning entry of an ADD design contest. There’s bulges, massive headlights, and a big chrome moustache. The 2013 Subaru Legacy is the the Mr. Potato Head of cars. Surprisingly though, the interior’s a nice place to be. And all of those odd proportions have led to a very roomy cabin.

2013 Subaru Legacy

Since Subaru is famous for their Symmetrical All Wheel Drive system, every trim level of the 2013 Subaru Legacy comes with it. And yet, it manages FWD-like fuel economy numbers of 24/32/27. This is partly due to the new 173-hp engine in the 2013 Subaru Legacy 2.5i, and the new second-gen CVT transmission. Which even has a program to mimic 6-forward gears, and you can change them with the paddle shifter.

A 256-hp is available from the flat-6 (like a Porsche 911) in the 2013 Subaru Legacy 3.6R. And all 2013 Subaru Legacy models benefit from a beefed-up frame, stiffer springs, and bigger sway bars. No matter what you think of the looks, this flagship Subaru is actually a pleasure to drive.

2013 Hyundai Sonata

When Hyundai birthed the bulbous Sonata a few years ago, it caught everybody off-guard. Nobody was expecting Hyundai to make anything daring. Up to this point, Hyundai cars were about as interesting as oatmeal. But this swoopy new Camry fighter had real presence. And it was priced right too.

2013 Hyundai Sonata

Besides the preschool art class bodywork, the 2013 Hyundai Sonata has a direct injected 200-hp 2.4L 4-pot, and it can achieve 35 mpg on the highway. The 2013 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T gets an even more impressive 274-hp 2.0 liter turbo-4, and the 2013 Hyundai Sonata SE has an (mildly) aggressive sport suspension. And then there’s the interior…

2013 Hyundai Sonata

It would appear that the interior designers on the 2013 Hyundai Sonata, never met the guys that designed the exterior. There’s a graceful center stack, cool blue lighting, and the two-tone color combinations add a rich ambiance. You can even get a full glass roof, and a fancy infotainment system (Hyundai Blue Link) which can slow down, then immobilize the car if it’s stolen. And it can send you a text message if the panic button on the keyfob is pressed, or the alarm is triggered. It can also text you if the car travels outside of a pre-determined area, above a preset speed, or past a curfew time. Think of it as Mother Hyundai looking out for your teen driver.

Similar to the Porsche Panamera, the 2013 Hyundai Sonata is a car that you’ll love once you’re inside. Just try to avoid looking at the reflection in store windows.

<strong>Car Comparison: 2013 Hyundai Sonata vs. 2013 Subaru Legacy</strong>

SPECIFICATION2013 Hyundai Sonata2013 Subaru Legacy
Fuel Economy24/35/28 2.4L / AT24/32/27 2.5L / CVT – AWD
22/34/26 2.0T / AT21/28/24 2.5L / MT – AWD
Suburban Snob Factor6 / 10 Camrys5 / 10 Camrys
NHTSA RankingTop Safety Pick = YTop Safety Pick = Y
NHTSA Ranking5 / 5 StarsN/A

(Note: All vehicles provided by manufacturers for comparison test purposes. Photos provided by Hyundai and Subaru.)