2020 Subaru Legacy review: A feature-rich sedan with a vanilla wrapper

It won’t win fashion competitions, but the real beauty of the legacy lies in that.

Jon Wong / Roadshow

While the Subaru Legacy pictured in 2020 doesn’t look too different, it is a brand new sedan. And while it doesn’t stir any emotions with its design, those looking under the conservative sheet metal will discover a roomy interior wedge full of new technology, not to mention a more rugged chassis that makes the Legacy a lot nicer to drive.

To like

  • Standard four-wheel drive
  • Comfortable driving comfort
  • Massive infotainment screen

I do not like it

  • Boring exterior
  • Base engine is somewhat gutless

Under the skin

The 2020 Legacy rides on Subaru’s new global platform, which also supports Ascent, Crosstrek, Forester, Impreza and Outback. That stiffer, stronger frame forms the bones of a sedan that’s roughly the same size as before, with a 108.3-inch wheelbase.

For those hoping that the stiffer platform will result in tighter and more responsive handling, I sadly have to say that it doesn’t. When you throw the Legacy Sport in corners, you will dive a little when turning in when braking and when rolling in in a controlled manner. The car’s roadholding is just fine around corners, but if you push it moderately hard, it howls from the 18-inch Yokohama Avid GT BluEarth tires. Even with the most aggressive Sport Sharp driving mode engaged, the Legacy’s steering is not centered, although the weight increases as it turns. The brakes have a strong initial bite at the top of the pedal stroke and are easy to modulate.

Where the Legacy really shines is in the Ride Comfort department. The soft sprung suspension and sidewall tires of the 50 series are ideal for comfortable jogging in the city and smooth bumps through bumps and ruts on the way.

Updated base and new turbo engine options

The 2020 Legacy has a new 2.4-liter turbo engine option that replaces the old boxer-six. With an output of 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque, it’s the same turbo-charged flat-four you’ll find in the Ascent and Outback.

The 2.5-liter four-cylinder should return 35 mpg on the highway with all-wheel drive.

Jon Wong / Roadshow

My sports gear, however, rocks an updated version of Subaru’s 182 hp, 176 lb-ft 2.5 liter suction boxer 4 paired with a continuously variable transmission and standard all-wheel drive. In the Sport Sharp setting, the engine delivers an adequate grunt to rev up the highways merging legacy. However, when the car is in Standard Smart Mode, acceleration is leisurely at best.

The Legacy’s CVT switches seamlessly between gear ratios so that the engine doesn’t hum like crazy during full throttle applications. You can also change the gear ratios yourself using the steering wheel paddles, but the response is so frustratingly muffled that it is best to let the computers “do the shifting”.

In terms of fuel economy, the base powertrain setup delivers an EPA-estimated 27 miles per gallon in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. That’s not shabby considering the Legacy comes with all-wheel drive as standard.

The cabin is designed to be comfortable and clean.

Jon Wong / Roadshow

Clean styling with fresh technology

The Legacy is undoubtedly an understatement when compared to more fashionable mid-size sedans like the latest Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Mazda6 and Nissan Altima. Even with the added details of the sports model like the unique grille, black mirror caps, black wheels and trunk spoiler, the car just gets lost in the crowd. However, if you prefer to fly under the radar, this may be the limo for you.

At least inside it gets more interesting. The Legacy’s cabin is airy with lots of glass that lets in tons of natural light. There is ample space for passengers in the front or rear, with the latter gaining 1.4 inches of legroom compared to the old Legacy. The interior has a relatively uncomplicated design and everything is made of high quality materials wrapped in leather, soft to the touch and beautifully sewn surfaces. Even the hard plastic parts feel robust and are beautifully processed. The seats are comfy, there are plenty of cubes to stow away, and the 15.1 cubic foot trunk will swallow almost anything you throw on it.

The 11.6-inch display is colorful and easy to use.

Jon Wong / Roadshow

There’s a massive 11.6-inch touchscreen in the center that houses the Subaru Multimedia Plus infotainment system. It’s packed with extras like a TomTom navigation system, Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Satellite radio and bluetooth. While these occupy the middle part of the display, there are climate adjustments such as fan speed, ventilation settings and three-stage heated front seats in the lower area. For the most part, I like the intuitive infotainment interface. It has large, clearly labeled icons and quickly switches pages between different menu screens. Thankfully, Subaru doesn’t put everything on the touchscreen, with a couple of buttons and a couple of hard buttons on the side to adjust the volume, mood, and cabin temperature of the radio.

In driver assistance technology, every Legacy comes standard with Subaru’s EyeSight suite of features, including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and pedestrian detection. My test car is also equipped with available blind spot monitoring, automatic reverse braking and lane change assistant, all of which work as advertised.

As I would specify

After spending a week with the serviceable but somewhat overwhelming base engine, my ideal Subaru Legacy had to have the turbo. I would go for the Limited XT which starts at $ 35,095, including $ 900 for the target. With options like heated seats, a heated steering wheel, blind spot monitoring, and a cross-traffic warning standard, I’d leave it at that and be happy like a clam. It’s a whole lot more than the $ 30,090 car tested here, but believe me, if you can swing the turbo, get it.

The Legacy offers solid value for all-wheel drive.

Jon Wong / Roadshow

All-wheel drive value game

With the Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry now available with this technology, midsize all-wheel drive sedans are no longer as sparse as they were before, although the Legacy remains the only one in the category with this standard. And with a base price of $ 23,645, the Subaru is the cheapest option if you’re looking for a midsize sedan that has power transferred to all four wheels. To get all-wheel drive in the Altima, you’ll need to part with at least $ 26,575, while the Camry will set you back to $ 27,365 for starters.

Yes, the Legacy lacks outstanding style and is not behind the wheel, but it is a very well-rounded, comfortable sedan, packed with technology and has a spacious cabin at an affordable price. It won’t set hearts ablaze, but those are still some strong merits to stand on.

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