Apparently, Subaru hasn’t received the memo that sedans are dead, as evidenced by the release of its 2020 Subaru Legacy midsize 4-door. Now maybe the fact that it shares a platform, underpinnings, drivetrains, some sheet metal and even interior furnishings with the wildly popular Outback lightens the investment load to the point that keeping Legacy around isn’t a financial burden. Economy of scale and all of that. On the other hand, to hear Subaru execs talk about the Legacy, it seems to be holding its own within Subaru’s product strategy.
However the bookkeeping shakes out, the 2020 is the best Legacy yet. It looks better, drives better, is more fuel efficient, and has more standard connectivity and safety/driver-assist technology than its predecessors. You can choose one of two flat-four engines: a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder or a 2.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. Both are paired to a CVT to send engine output to all four wheels.
This is also the quietest Legacy ever due in no small part to the liberal use of sound-deadening structural adhesive and the sound-insulated windshield. This seventh-generation sedan also has a bigger trunk than previous Legacy models. Yet, it still provides a roomy cabin for front-seat and rear-seat passengers, alike. By the time you read this, dealers will have Legacy models in the showrooms with an entry-level price of $23,645.
What’s New for 2020?
Subaru totally redesigned Legacy. See the 2020 Subaru Legacy models for sale near you
What We Like
- Affordable price
- Standard all-wheel drive
- Standard EyeSight Driver Assist
- Standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
- Roomy cabin
What We Don’t
- Base engine is a little sluggish
- Softer-than-expected handling
Subaru offers two trim-based engines in Legacy. The base, Premium, Sport and Limited are armed with a 182-horsepower 2.5-liter flat-four engine. It generates 176 lb-ft of torque. The two top grades (Limited XT and Touring XT) come with the 260-hp 2.4-liter turbocharged flat-four (optional on Limited) borrowed from the Ascent. It delivers 277 lb-ft of torque. Both engines transfer power to all four wheels through a CVT with 8-speed manual shift mode. Fuel economy with the 2.5-liter is a government-estimated 27 miles per gallon in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. The turbocharged engine scrubs a mile or two off those numbers at 24 mpg city/32 mpg hwy.
Standard Features and Options
The 2020 Subaru Legacy comes in base, Premium, Sport, Limited, Limited XT and Touring XT trim levels. AWD is standard across the lineup. Prices include the $900 factory delivery charge.
Base ($23,645) comes standard with EyeSight Assist Monitor with advanced adaptive cruise control, lane centering, pre-collision braking, lane-departure warning and sway warning, Starlink with dual 7-in screens, audio system, two front USB ports, engine start/stop, hill-hold assist, automatic climate control, 12-volt power outlet, LED headlights, automatic high-beam assist, power fuel-door lock, full power accessories, 17-in steel wheels, 60/40 split/folding rear seat, active torque vectoring, a rear-vision camera, remote keyless entry, a tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel and Bluetooth connectivity. The only available factory option is 17-in alloy wheels.
Building on the base content the Premium ($25,895) adds or substitutes two USB ports in the rear seat, integrated turn signals in outboard mirrors, upgraded Starlink with 11.6-in touchscreen, 17-in alloy wheels, 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, a second 12-volt power outlet, All-Weather Package with heated front seats, heated outboard mirrors and windshield wiper de-icer, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a leather-wrapped shift knob. Options include keyless access with push-button start, a navigation system, blind spot monitoring with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert, LED fog lights and a power moonroof.
Sport ($27,845) adds or substitutes 18-in alloy wheels, alloy pedal covers, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, keyless entry with push-button start, LED fog lights, and red stitching for the steering wheel, dash panel and center console. Sport’s options include blind spot monitoring with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert, a navigation system, a power moonroof, and automatic braking in reverse.
Limited ($30,645) enhances Sport features with an 8-way power-adjustable passenger seat, auto tilt-down in reverse for outboard mirrors, automatic headlight-height adjustment control, steering-responsive headlights, fast-cabin heating, automatic braking in reverse, blind spot detection with rear cross-traffic alert, heated rear seats and perforated leather-trimmed seats. Limited options include a heated steering wheel, a navigation system, driver distraction mitigation, the turbocharged engine and a power moonroof.
Adding to Limited, the Limited XT ($35,095) comes standard with the turbocharged engine, dual exhaust pipes, and all of the Limited’s other listed options.
Topping off the lineup, the Touring XT ($36,795) adds a 180-degree front-view monitor, power-folding outboard mirrors, perforated Nappa leather seating, upgraded leather wrapping the steering wheel and ventilated front seats.
The Legacy comes standard with the usual safety systems like anti-lock brakes, brake assist, stability control and eight airbags. Even the base trim comes with hill-hold assist, LED headlights with automatic high-beam assist, and EyeSight Driver Assist technology with adaptive cruise control, precollision braking, lane departure warning and sway warning. Available on Premium and Sport grades, but standard on the upper trims are blind spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert. Optional on Sport, but standard on the higher trims is automatic reverse braking. On Limited and above grades, automatic height-adjustment-control headlights and steering responsive headlights are standard. Optional on Limited and standard on the higher trims is driver distraction mitigation.
No third party has crash tested the redesigned Legacy.
Behind the Wheel
When Subaru invited us to the Ojai Valley to air out its fresh sedan, we had the opportunity to drive it on country roads, mountain twisties and the highway. We drove both engines. If you want to push a car to its limits, opt for the turbocharged four. The 2.5-liter is okay for running around town or highway cruising. Subaru does a bang-up job with its CVTs and this one didn’t disappoint. Put a foot into it and you would be hard pressed to notice the CVT isn’t a traditional automatic tranny. Subaru has built in some shift points to further mask the CVT.
Subaru jettisoned last year’s flat-six engine upgrade in favor of the turbocharged four also found in the Ascent. It was a blast to drive. Plenty of acceleration. Considering Subaru baked more rigidity into the Legacy, and armed it with brake-based torque vectoring, it didn’t feel quite as athletic as we hoped. But, generally, it’s does everything pretty well.
Inside there is an abundance of passenger and cargo space. The interior closely follows the styling cues of the Outback, but that’s not a negative. We love the tablet-sized touchscreen in all but the base trim.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 Toyota Camry — Toyota took a swing for the fences with the current Camry. It only barely resembles earlier Camry models. Top-notch materials and craftsmanship, as well as it’s finally a hoot to drive.
2019 Mazda6 — Oddly, the new Camry reminds us more of the Mazda6 than the previous Camry. That’s saying something, as the 6’s handling and driving experience in general are the sportiest and most driver-focused in the segment. This is a very strong alternative.
2019 Hyundai Sonata — Like the Mazda above, the Sonata received a significant, if not complete, overhaul a couple of years ago. Its styling was made a little less frumpy and its driving experience was enlivened.
2019 Honda Accord — The Camry was on top of the midsize sedan world for a few short months until an all-new Accord launched and stole much of its thunder. Make sure to drive both the Camry and the Accord — both are excellent.
If your idea of transportation is a midsize sedan, you can’t go wrong with the Legacy. When you consider that both the affordable pricing and solid fuel economy are for an AWD vehicle, it makes the choice even more appealing. We think the sweet spot is the Sport grade. It’s priced right at 30 grand and offers an amazing array of standard features and options. Find a Subaru Legacy for sale