At this year’s Chicago Auto Show, Subaru transformed their usual booth into a National Park and dog adoption center. It was absolutely glorious – the best booth I have ever seen at any auto show in the years I have attended or worked at them.
It affirms Subaru's reputation of creating vehicles based on a standard horizontally-opposed engine and an all-wheel-drive platform for most (except for the BRZ) of their vehicles to be driven on. It also affirms how Subaru has leveraged the massive popularity of the Outback wagon (OK, crossover) as a cornerstone of everything they do – sort of.
That disclaimer comes with a twist. While the Outback and Forester found both repeat and new customers for Subaru, we often forget where they came from. In particular, the Outback. Without the Legacy sedan, there would not be the Outback.
In other words, Subaru customers would walk by the Legacy to reach the Outback of their dreams.
Let me bring you back to this sedan for a moment. Tell me which mid-sized family sedan offers all-wheel-drive? A few, true. But, is all-wheel-drive a standard feature on any of them? That leaves you with the Subaru Legacy.
For 2020, there is a new Legacy riding on the Subaru Global Platform. This flexible platform was suited for the Legacy and Outback, as its modular structure can accommodate various sizes of vehicles with the integrity of the all-wheel-drive system and the "Boxer" engine. Having some of Subaru's latest models on this platform, I can only say that it should be a very solid sedan in a class that is struggling to get back into vogue with automotive consumers.
Looking at the Legacy, I thought it looked familiar. Subaru did not mess with a good thing, only to adapt it to the new platform with some nice evolutionary touches. While the Legacy rides on the same wheelbase as the previous model, but there is a bit more length this time around. Still, the Legacy shows off some sleek lines and a bit of swagger that customers really like.
The 2020 Legacy comes in six different trim levels. My Limited model is not the top of the line, but it does include a set of 18-inch alloy wheels and additional driver assistance technology. It is quite the handsome devil with a bit of panache that will entice you to ride along.
And, when you step inside, be ready for the biggest dramatic change in Subaru history. You will be amazed at the higher level of quality and technology. It starts with a new instrument panel, featuring an improved TFT information screen in-between two large analog dials. The piece de resistance is the astounding 11.6-inch STARLINK infotainment screen. The screen is responsive and quick and is integrated for smartphone connectivity. Not to mention the 12 Harmon Kardon speakers making music just a treat to listen to.
The seats inside the Legacy are pretty sporty with solid bolstering for front seat occupants. Power adjustments are available for rake, height, front cushion tilt, recline, and lumbar support. Rear seat room is quite good, though the roofline may be tight on headroom for taller people. The trunk is large for the class at 15.1 cubic feet. The rear seatbacks do fold down for longer cargo. That’s all you need to know, right?
Powering this Legacy Limited is an updated 182-horsepower 2.5-liter Boxer four-cylinder engine. Connected to a continuously variable transmission, this engine sends power to the Symmetrical all-wheel-drive system. This driveline is responsive, fluid, and effortless – three words you never thought would describe a Subaru. It also turned in a decent fuel economy, averaging 27.3 MPG in my care.
The ride quality is smooth, but there was some feedback from not-so-good road surfaces. I noticed some bump noise coming from the rear double-wishbones, which were a mystery to me. However, the Legacy's handling was good and responsive, and the cornering was very smooth. The brakes are solid with a lighter feel from the pedal. The Legacy stopped very well in normal and panic situations.
The steering system starts with a thick-rimmed wheel for the driver to work with. The turning radius is very good, although it tends to feel light on-center. There is a button on the steering wheel that helps hold the wheel within the lane when the Adaptive Cruise Control is on. We found it to be a bit obtrusive and lacked correction when it is enabled.
If you want one of the best driver assistance technologies ion the business, look no further than Subaru’s EyeSight system. A great example of this system at work is the DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System. It scans the driver to make sure their eyes are on the road, as well as to pre-set your identity and your settings as you drive your Legacy. I know my eyes aren’t the greatest, but it helps that the Legacy knows who I am and how to keep me reigned in for the drive.
Starting at $22,745, the 2020 Subaru Legacy is priced right in the segment. My Limited tester came with a sticker price of $32,690. There are two other models above this – both with a new 260-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
If there is a justification for buying a 2020 Subaru Legacy, just consider where you live. If you’re like me and live in a climate that goes from sub-zero winters with icy roads and plenty of snow to hot, humid, rainy, mosquito-infested summers, you may want to take a good look at the Legacy sedan. You can take it to one of our country’s 62 National Parks and feel right at home.
In fact, go visit a National Park today!
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Subaru of America
All Photos by Randy Stern