Mar
05
2020 Subaru Legacy Limited

2020 Subaru Legacy Limited in Crimson Red Pearl

2015 Audi Q52020 Subaru Legacy Limited

Class: Midsize Car

Miles driven: 827

Fuel used: 27.1 gallons

CG Report Card
Room and ComfortB+
Power and PerformanceC+
Fit and FinishB
Fuel EconomyB
ValueB+
Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
Big & Tall Comfort
Big GuyA-
Tall GuyA
Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
Drivetrain
Engine Specs182-hp 2.5-liter
Engine Type4-cylinder
Transmission CVT automatic
Drive WheelsAWD

Real-world fuel economy: 30.5 mpg

Driving mix: 20% city, 80% highway

EPA-estimated fuel economy: 27/35/30 (city, highway, combined)

Fuel type: Regular gas

Base price: $29,745 (not including $900 destination charge)

Options on test vehicle: DriverFocus distraction-mitigation system, heated steering wheel, STARLINK navigation/multimedia system, sunroof ($2045)

Price as tested: $32,690

 

Quick Hits

The great: Standard all-wheel drive with fine fuel economy; nicely finished interior in topline trim; extensive list of safety and technology features

The good: Balanced road manners; interior room

The not so good: So-so acceleration; anonymous styling

More Legacy price and availability information

 

John Biel

You can’t have everything.

That’s the valuable life lesson you will learn if, like the Consumer Guide editors, you find yourself in a 2020 Subaru Legacy Limited. The midsize sedan has been redesigned, with new styling on a stiffened unitized body shell, a raft of new technology and convenience features, and one new engine.

2020 Subaru Legacy Limited

The Legacy’s conservative styling won’t set many hearts afire, but it has a clean, cohesive look nonetheless.

For 2020 it’s out with a 3.6-liter 6-cylinder “boxer” engine and in with a 2.4-liter turbocharged “flat four” as Legacy’s top powerplant. However, that 260-horsepower unit is reserved for the Limited XT and Touring XT. (You can check out our test-drive review of the Legacy’s SUV-flavored wagon sibling, the Subaru Outback, for our experience with the turbocharged XT engine.) The remaining four trim levels use an improved version of the existing naturally aspirated 2.5-liter boxer four. This engine now makes 182 horsepower, a gain of seven, even as it is projected to go a little bit further on each gallon of gas.

Test Drive: 2020 Subaru Outback Onyx Edition XT

2020 Legacy Cabin

In Limited trim, the Legacy’s cabin has a convincingly upscale, near-luxury look and feel. The 11.6-inch, vertically oriented infotainment screen is one of the biggest in the class, and we appreciated the extra-large digital icons.

Frankly, the 2.5 does not make for the briskest of performers from a standing start. If you want to get somewhere in what seems like a hurry, the turbo is a better bet. Consider that the 2.5 has to wind up to 4400 rpm to tap all of its modest 176 lb-ft of torque, but the turbo mill has an additional 101 lb-ft available at less than half that many revs. Plus, both Legacy engines are hooked to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that slows the climb to those torque checkpoints. That said, with the chance to stretch out on the highway, the 2.5 cruises without a lot of strain or noise—you’re more likely to hear some wind whistle—and the CVT won’t terribly hamper getaway acceleration when it comes time to pull out to pass.

Test Drive: 2020 Toyota Avalon Limited

2020 Legacy Cabin

Rear-seat passengers in Limited models get air vents, dual USB charging ports, and heated outboard seats. The rear-seat area is spacious enough for average-sized adults to ride in comfort.

EPA fuel-economy estimates are 27 mpg in city driving, 35 mpg in highway use, and 30 combined. With a weekend trip from Chicago to Detroit with three other adults and a bit of luggage accounting for most of his 671 test miles (only 12 percent in city conditions), this driver averaged 31.3 mpg overall—but the better of two fill-ups came in just shy of 34 mpg. Under those conditions, range of more than 500 miles from a single 18.5-gallon tank of gas is in reach.

The Limited—no XT—is the plushest of the models with the 2.5 engine. At $30,645 (with delivery) to start, it adds things like 18-inch machine-finish alloy wheels, steering-responsive LED headlights, leather-trimmed upholstery, heated front and rear seats, 12-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts, and keyless access and starting to the standard-equipment manifest. That’s on top of features passed up from further down the line like dual-zone automatic climate control; a 10-way power driver’s seat; STARLINK Multimedia Plus with an 11.6-inch touchscreen; Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration; satellite radio; and EyeSight Driver Assist with adaptive cruise control, lane centering, pre-collision braking, lane-departure and sway warning, and lane-keep assist.

Test Drive: 2020 Nissan Altima SL AWD

2020 Legacy Trunk

The Legacy’s trunk has 15.1 cubic feet of cargo space, which is on par with most class competitors. The rear seat backs fold to create a level load floor.

The big, new vertically oriented touchscreen is a bit of a mixed blessing. There’s a lot to see there, including—but not confined to—audio, climate, and optional navigation displays. Separate power and tuning knobs make the radio easy to operate, speeding up selection of station presets. Touch points for climate controls are at the lower part of the panel. Temperature settings are made via repetitive-press arrow buttons (give us dials every time), but activating and modulating things like fan speed or seat-heat levels require tapping on the screen to open further touch points that didn’t always get the message on our first try. The navigation system—part of a $2045 package with a heated steering wheel, power moonroof, and DriverFocus “distraction mitigation”—has bright graphics and effective voice commands, and provided a helpful detour around roadwork. However, it requires the user to first determine whether the desired destination is local or not, or it might not recognize the address being tapped out on the screen.

EyeSight’s cruise control and lane centering, activated by steering-wheel buttons, provide a rudimentary autonomous-driving capability. (Drivers do have to maintain some hand contact with the wheel to make it work.) It includes a head-up windshield display for warnings and system-status information. As for DriverFocus, it’s a good thing that it is thrown in with popular high-value options. It’s hard to imagine anyone going out of their way to buy a device that essentially nags the driver to pay attention to the road. The irony of the driver being drawn to read this admonishment in the instrument cluster seems to be lost on the Legacy.

There is a comfortable if not ostentatious vibe in the Limited cabin. Soft-touch materials grace the instrument panel, console, and all doors. There is good head- and legroom for four adults—rear-seat legroom grows 1.4 inches for 2020—and doors open wide for easy-in/easy-out passage. Front-row storage is provided by a glovebox that sits low in the dash, a modest console box with built-in small-item tray (it attaches to the inside of the lid when you want to use the full box area), a pocket in the passenger side of the console, exposed console cup holders, and door pockets with bottle holders. In back are pouches on the backs of the front seats, smaller door pockets than in front, and cup holders in the pull-down armrest.

Test Drive: 2019 Volkswagen Arteon R-Line

2020 Legacy Engine

The Legacy’s base engine is a horizontally-opposed 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that puts out 182 horsepower. Eighteen-inch wheels with a machine finish are standard equipment on Limited models.

For this tester’s out-of-town trip, the trunk easily held a couple small pieces of luggage, an incidentals bag, and suit and dress bags on the flat trunk floor with plenty of room to spare. Liftover to the widemouth trunk is low. The 60/40-split rear seats fold flat, albeit slightly above the level of the trunk floor—but a hinged panel links one surface to the next.

All-wheel drive and active torque vectoring are standard to assist handling. Steering is responsive to inputs, but dynamically the Legacy is tuned to be easy, not edgy. It delivers fine ride comfort in open-road driving, where it steps smartly over most road imperfections. It doesn’t get too shook up at lower speeds either.

No, you can’t have everything, even for the $32,690 that CG’s test car cost as equipped. Sometimes, though, just enough will do.

First Spin: 2020 Subaru Legacy

2020 Legacy Profile

The Subaru Legacy is one of a handful of mainstream-brand midsize cars to offer all-wheel drive (the others are the Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, and Subaru’s own Outback wagon). Even without the competitive asset of AWD, the Legacy is a balanced, nicely finished sedan that can be outfitted with an excellent range of features.

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2020 Subaru Legacy Limited