These days we hear a lot about leaving a legacy behind. But Subaru is not about to do any such thing, as despite slumping midsize family sedan sales here in the U.S. Subaru has just introduced an all-new legacy 4-door. And the only things it leaves behind are boring styling and outdated technology.
If Subaru were to have a legacy, other than this 2020 Legacy sedan of course; it would be, making all-wheel-drive standard in the late 1990s. And for many years, the Legacy was your only mass-market choice if you wanted a 4-door with all-wheel-drive.
That’s no longer the case, as other carmakers are increasingly seeing the performance, capability, safety, and of course marketing benefits of all-wheel-drive. Not to mention, systems are readily available from all of their car based crossovers. All that is to say, this new Legacy needs to offer a lot more than just 4-wheel traction to stay competitive.
For starters, the 20-20 Legacy’s base engine is still a 2.5-liter boxer-4. But it’s been heavily revised to deliver both additional power, as well as increased efficiency. Horsepower is up 7, to 182; with 176 lb-ft. of torque. No more 6-cylinder option, but XTs get the Ascent’s stout, 260-horsepower 2.4-liter turbo.
No manual transmission either; all come mated to a CVT.
The boxer engine allows for a low center of gravity; and while never a handling standout, Subaru took advantage of their new global platform, which is 70% stiffer, and also lighter, to dial up the fun factor a bit.
They’ve also put more effort into the suspension to reduce body roll, without sacrificing ride quality; and indeed, the Legacy now has one of the most polished rides in the segment. The MacPherson strut front and double-wishbone rear suspension remains family car soft, but there was noticeably less weight transfer through the cones.
Active Torque Vectoring applies the brakes selectively, working with the all-wheel-drive system to channel power to the wheels that can use it most effectively; but you do need to keep inputs smooth, as Subaru prioritizes safety over everything else, and will shut things down quickly if it senses you’re getting out of control.
On that safety front, EyeSight with Automatic Emergency Braking, and Adaptive Cruise Control with a new Lane Centering function, is standard on all Legacies.
Between the all-wheel-drive, and the relatively low power output, you won’t have to worry about wheel spin. 60 miles-per-hour reached in a leisurely 8.3-seconds.
Power builds slowly, and really doesn’t come on in full until you’re near the top-end of the tach. Then, both it and you settle in for a workmanlike trip through the ¼. It’s not quick, but it would make a great bracket racer; as no matter what we did, we hit exactly 16.5-seconds at 86 miles-per-hour every time.
In panic stops from 60, we saw a fine average stopping distance of 115-feet; but with some very noisy ABS racket.
Ever so slightly bigger than before, there’s fractionally a little more space inside, but the Legacy already felt plenty roomy to us.
What we can appreciate, is the Legacy’s more upscale turn. Materials are improved all around, and the space just seems more inviting than before.
We’ve already seen this available 11.6-inch tablet-style touchscreen for Subaru’s Starlink multimedia navigation system in the Outback, and appreciate its quick response and ease of use. It’s in every Legacy except for base trim, which gets a 7-inch screen along with physical controls for the HVAC.
All Legacy climate controls include automatic operation. Other standard features include electronic parking brake, LED headlights, and remote keyless entry. Our Limited tester adds power leather seats for both up front, charge ports for rear passengers, and heated seats for all.
Gauges have a traditional, and welcomed twin dial setup, with a small full-color info display in between. Everything is clear, precise, and easy to read.
While far from flashy, the new, and more attractive exterior design will certainly attract a few more eyes than before.
Fender flares are more exaggerated, and the rear deck is higher. Combine that with less glass in profile, and you’ve got an overall sleeker, lower looking silhouette.
Beneath that taller rear deck is slightly more trunk space, at 15.1 cubic-ft. 60/40 split folding seatbacks are standard.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 27-City, 35-Highway, and 30-Combined on Regular gas. The Energy Impact Score is better than average, however, with 11.0-barrels of oil burned and 4.9 tons of CO2 emitted annually.
Pricing begins at $23,645; with top Touring XT starting at $36,795.
So, a little more style and a lot more substance should go a long way towards keeping this Subaru relevant in today’s crossover-crazy world. And while we can’t say what your Legacy will be, despite the decline in sedan sales, this 2020 Legacy, looks to be a lasting one for Subaru.
Engine: 2.5 liter
Torque: 176 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 8.3 seconds
1/4 mile: 16.5 seconds @ 86 mph
EPA: 27 mpg city / 35 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 11.0 barrels of oil /yr
CO2 Emissions: 4.9 tons/yr