The BBC Trust report examined the corporation's news coverage.
It found "strong audience approval" for much of its work, but evidence showed young audiences, as well as women, ethnic minorities and people from working-class backgrounds, were less likely to tune in and did not feel the BBC reflected their experiences.
The review stated: "Our research found a clear view from under-served parts of the audience that much of BBC News is distant from their lives, both in tone and subject matter."
Research found BBC News reached 85.1% of UK adults aged 55 and over, compared to 70.7% of people aged 16 to 34. It also showed that the reach of BBC News fell by 14% among 16 to 24-year-olds in the 10 years from 2003.
The report also said the corporation's current affairs shows needed to "do more to cover stories and issues which stand out".
It found audiences rated its rival Channel 4 News more highly for investigative journalism and stated: "The challenge facing the BBC's Current Affairs is therefore to make greater impact."
The findings come after a troubled few years for flagship BBC shows. Panorama was criticised after filming undercover during a student trip to North Korea, while Newsnight's dropping of a report into Jimmy Savile's crimes put it into crisis and cost George Entwistle his job as director general.
The trust, the BBC's governing body, said the review found there was no need for "radical change in editorial direction", but "audiences need to recognise their own lives" in coverage.