The 2020 Subaru Legacy gains an upgrade in the new decade
The storms that slammed into Connecticut during the early weeks of the winter of 2019-20 may have served as a reminder of the reasons many New Englanders choose Subaru crossovers, sedans and SUVs. Models like the Legacy, a midsize sedan that was redesigned for 2020, are equipped to deal with all kinds of weather, yet deliver the ride, handling and comfort of a modern, medium-priced passenger car.
The Legacy, a 4-door sedan built in Lafayette, Ind., has a base price of $22,745 when equipped with the 182-horsepower Boxer Four. Our test car, a Legacy Limited XT, had the 260-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. Its sticker price was $35,095.
The last three years have been progressively lean for the Legacy, with U.S. sales declining from 65,306 in 2016 to 40,109 in 2018. Another sales drop is in the cards for 2019. The usual explanations apply: Americans increasingly prefer crossovers and sport-utility vehicles to sedans, and the sedan segment remains highly competitive. Overall, Subaru has experienced higher sales every year since the late 1960s, and its current lines of crossovers and SUVs — including the new midsize SUV called the Ascent — have kept the Japanese automaker in the game.
The Legacy’s rivals include the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Chevrolet Malibu, Nissan Altima, Mazda6, Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima. These all are good cars, but Subaru has one major advantage: Its midsize sedan comes with all-wheel drive, standard, at all trim levels. Among the competitors, only Nissan offers an all-wheel-drive option.
Our Legacy Limited XT was rated at 24 mpg city, 32 highway, using regular unleaded gasoline. Equipped with the standard engine, fuel economy increases to 27/35. Most of the competitors do a little better, in part because they don’t have all-wheel drive. The Camry’s fuel economy climbs into the mid-40s in models with Toyota’s gasoline-electric hybrid system.
The last Subaru we drove, a Forester, seemed to lack the excellent road feel that characterized Subarus we’d driven in the past. It didn’t feel centered on straight highways, though it cornered fairly well. Whatever was going on with that Forester, it was not discernible in the Legacy. It handled the way Subarus always have, thanks in part to the Boxer engine’s low center of gravity — secure and locked down, whether straight ahead or in a sharp turn.
2020 Subaru Legacy Limited XT
Engine: 2.5-liter turbocharged Boxer Four, 260 horsepower, 277 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: continuously variable automatic
Weight: 3,779 lb.
Suspension: MacPherson strut front, double-wishbone rear
Wheels: 18-in. aluminum alloy
Tires: 225/50R18 95H all-season
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 15.1 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 18.5 gallons
Fuel economy: 24 mpg city, 32 mpg highway
Fuel type: regular unleaded gasoline
Subaru has made numerous improvements in the Legacy for 2020. Among them: an 11.6-inch touchscreen controlling audio, heat, cooling and other systems; the turbocharged engine, which replaces the Boxer 6; improved fuel economy; slight increases in passenger room; option WiFi hotspot; the EyeSight Assist Monitor; and the DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System. However, blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert are unavailable in the base model, optional in the Premium and Sport, and standard in the Limited and Limited XT.
For 2019, the Legacy was rated a Top Safety Pick Plus by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Steven Macoy (email@example.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel.