What is it?
2020 Subaru Legacy First Drive
All-New and All the Better for It
The redesigned 2020 Subaru Legacy is a midsize sedan with standard all-wheel drive and a long list of safety features. Subaru is hoping the Legacy's new architecture, revised transmission, and new optional 260-horsepower 2.4-liter engine will put the Legacy front and center in a very competitive class.
Why does it matter?
Subaru has been able to capitalize on the growing popularity of crossovers and SUVs thanks to its Forester and Ascent models. Traditionally, the Legacy sedan hasn't quite had the same success. This new Legacy combines some traditional Subaru hallmarks — such as a horizontally opposed engine and all-wheel drive — with improvements in refinement and value that should make it appealing to a wider audience than before.
What does it compete with?
You'll want to cross-shop the Legacy with stalwarts such as the Honda Accord, Mazda 6 and Toyota Camry. The Hyundai Sonata and the Kia Optima have quickly made a name for themselves as well because of their excellent value and warranties. The Legacy's standard all-wheel drive should help it stand out since the Ford Fusion and Nissan Altima are the only others to offer it as an option.
How does it drive?
In a word, or two words, really well. There's a solidity and sophistication to this new Legacy that was absent from its predecessor. Credit goes to Subaru's Global Platform that provides the underpinnings for this sedan. A lot of that solidity can be traced to the extensive use of high-strength steel and adhesive bonding that makes this new Legacy 70% stiffer than the old one.
Ride and handling are also greatly improved. Subaru redesigned the suspension components to be 38 pounds lighter than before. The Legacy is far from a sport sedan, but the changes have helped to reduced body roll considerably while maintaining a fairly soft ride over most surfaces. Subaru has struck a comfortable balance here.
Getting down the road is considerably more pleasant thanks to the improved isolation of Subaru's powertrain. The 2.5-liter flat-four engine simply hums along and has lost most of its previously unrefined behavior. With 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque, the base Legacy isn't exactly speedy. But mated to a heavily revised continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic, it makes the sedan's progress much smoother than before.
If you desire a little extra speed, Subaru's turbocharged 2.4-liter engine — which replaces the previous naturally aspirated six-cylinder engine — should be on the menu. Its 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque provide a satisfying shove and add to the Legacy's newfound drivability. As a bonus, premium fuel is not required with either engine.
What's the interior like?
With the exception of the base trim level, every Legacy is packing a new 11.6-inch tablet-style infotainment screen. It's a bold piece of electronic hardware that streamlines the interior design. Much of the Legacy's interior layout will be familiar to current Subaru owners but should also appeal to buyers who might not have been fond of Subaru's somewhat quirky interiors of yesterday.
The seats are much softer and generously cushioned than those in many other sedans. When the seats are covered in the high-grade leather found in the Touring XT model, they feel very upscale. The back seat, too, is well padded. And while it might not quite match the rear legroom of the Honda Accord, the Legacy does offer better headroom and visibility thanks to its more upright roofline. The outboard rear seats even have optional heating, and there are two USB ports for rear passengers.
How practical is it?
The use of high strength steel has its benefits when it comes to ride, agility and safety, of course. But it also benefits trunk space. By using stronger steel, Subaru was able to make the rear bulkhead thinner, and in return make the trunk just a touch bigger than last year's model. With up to 15.1 cubic feet of capacity, the Legacy's trunk can hold four roller suitcases. Loading those suitcases is easy thanks to a generous trunk opening.
Subaru likes to talk about practicality in other ways, too. The Legacy is hiding an 18.5-gallon fuel tank. When combined with its EPA-estimated 35 mpg on the highway, it gives the Legacy a bladder-busting range of 647 miles. Less time at the pump is a form of practicality, after all.
What else should I know?
The 2020 Subaru Legacy will be available in six trim levels: Base, Premium, Sport, Limited, Limited XT and Touring XT, with the XT designating the 260-horsepower 2.4-liter turbo engine. Subaru's EyeSight suite of driver aids is standard on all trim levels and includes adaptive cruise control with lane centering, even at low speeds.
With the combination of standard all-wheel drive, a long list of safety features, and an impressive new interior, the 2020 Subaru Legacy looks to be off to a good start. We're curious to see how Subaru's redesigned Legacy stacks up against the best in the midsize sedan class once we get it in for our full evaluation.