2020 Subaru Legacy 2.5i Limited Review

Steady as she goes


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: More upscale interior, huge touchscreen draws attention, good driving manners.
Negatives: Base engine and CVT are a weak pair, too many on-screen car functions instead of physical controls, overwrought styling looks busier than the last generation.
Bottom Line: The Legacy is a good sedan for those who want comfort and all-wheel drive. Too bad the base engine isn't spirited at all, and there's too much reliance on the enormous touchscreen.
Sure, everyone knows about Subaru's most popular models, the Outback and the Forester. But did you know they've made a respectable sedan for decades, and it's called the Legacy. Now, in its seventh generation, Subaru's midsize sedan has been redesigned to garner more market share in a shrinking but still sizable industry segment. Subaru promises more refinement, more features, better tech, and a new four-cylinder turbo engine that supplants the old V6. We drove the non-turbo version for a week to see how it stacks up against the best in the business, the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Toyota Camry, and the Mazda6. Read on for the full review.
 

Driving Experience

7

 

We had high hopes that the new Legacy would drive better than the old one, and it does thanks to increased rigidity, decreased weight, and upgraded suspension. The result, however, won't blow your hair back and falls short of the most of the competition when t comes to driving thrills.

Ride Quality: The ride is plush and compliant. This is no sports sedan, and buyers aren't looking for something that sends the bumps through to its occupants.

Acceleration: The base engine isn't turbocharged, and the combination of 182 horses and a CVT make it feel sluggish. It does 0-60 in a rather unimpressive 8 seconds.

Braking: The brakes modulate well, and there's no grabbiness or mushiness to speak of.

Steering: The steering is devoid of feel and lacks the crispness of the Honda Accord and the Mazda6.

Handling: There's noticeable body roll in the turns, and the Legacy feels a bit floaty. Although the car still feels composed, it's just not that fun to toss around.

Technology

8

 

Subaru stepped up its infotainment at least in one big way. The size of the upgraded infotainment screen is serious. But bigger isn't always better as we found out in daily driving.

Infotainment System: 11.6-inch portrait display comes standard on the Premium, Sport, Limited, Limited XT and Touring XT trim levels, and it's enormous, but the fact that all of the HVAC controls are onscreen makes it frustrating to use while driving. At least Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on every trim level.

Controls: There are thankfully two physical audio knobs. The steering wheel controls are good, but we just can't get past the preponderance of operations conducted via the touchscreen. It might be the way of the world, but give us real physical controls.

Styling

6.2

 

Subaru tried to make the Legacy look more aggressive, more athletic, but we think it's too busy and bulky looking. Subaru has a way of making headlights and taillights look too complicated, too. No Legacy will ever look as good as the sleek and sexy fourth-generation car.

Front: The pointy inner edge of the headlights is too complex for our liking, and the front end comes across as busy and bulky.

Rear: The long C-shaped taillights aren't bad (way better than the Forester's), but the lower half looks too bloated and makes the car look clumsy from the rear 3/4ths view.

Profile: This is the car's most conventional angle, and it comes across as boring. Even with the creased fenders and the alloy wheels, the three-box body shape is just not that interesting. When the Camry and Sonata are doing more adventurous creases and contours, the Legacy lags behind.

Cabin: Although the interior materials are improved, it still maintains the Subaru flavor if that's you're thing. It's still a bit granola and unexciting inside, falling far short of the beautiful Mazda6 and the ergonomically excellent Sonata.

Comfort

8.6

 

Subaru has done a fine job of improving the occupant comfort in front and in back. There's almost no room for complaint in this regard, and owners will find it ideal for long drives and otherwise frustrating urban commutes.

Front Seats: The seats are large and accommodating with the right amount of cushioning and good bolstering.

Rear Seats: There's more than ample room in back with a whopping 39.5 inches of legroom. It's bigger than the Camry in back and just shy of the Accord.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The interior is quiet except for the annoying CVT and the base engine when it's pushed. The Legacy feels well made over uneven surfaces, too.

Visibility: This one of the car's strong suits. Pillar size is manageable, and the seating position is very good.

Climate: The climate system is responsive and cools the car quickly in hot weather. We tried the heated steering wheel and seats very briefly, and they fired up quickly.

Safety

9.3

 

The Legacy is one of the safest sedans on the road and garners top scores across the board. What's more, Subaru has also made its EyeSight suite of driver-assistance tech standard across the model line.

IIHS Rating: It gets the Top Safety Pick+ with "Good" in every crash test, as well as "Superior" in crash avoidance and mitigation.

NHTSA Rating: The Legacy received five stars from the federal government.

Standard Tech: EyeSight includes adaptive cruise control with lane centering, automated emergency braking, and lane-departure warning. Our tester also came with Blind Spot Detection with Lane Change and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, as well as High-Beam Assist, a rear vision camera, and Reverse Automatic Braking.

Optional Tech: Our test car came with the DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System, which senses driver drowsiness or distraction via an eye position camera and sends audible warnings.

Storage/Cargo

8.2

 

Subarus are nothing, if not practical, and the Legacy does a great job at in-car and rear storage that makes commuting and traveling easier.

Storage Space: The front occupants get a deep armrest compartment, a small center console tray in front of the shift knob, and a dash tray for the passenger. Big door pockets also help and can hold larger water bottles with ease.

Cargo Room: 15.1 cubic feet of space in the trunk is competitive in the segment, on par with the Camry and the Mazda6 but smaller than the Accord and Sonata.

Fuel Economy

8.4

 

Although the base engine isn't thrilling, by any means, it does deliver good gas mileage (the CVT helps). Our local driving didn't kill it, of course, but on the highway it's efficiency is quite good.

Observed: 25.4 mpg

Distance Driven: 73 miles.

Audio

7

 

We didn't get the 12-speaker Harmon Kardon premium audio system in our tester, but the stock system is fine. It delivers clear sound but lacks the bass and fullness of a premium system. We didn't experience any distortion or that tinny sound that comes with base systems.



Final Thoughts

Sedan shoppers who want something roomy, safe, comfortable, and easy to drive should flock to the new Legacy. It shines when it comes to these attributes but falls by the wayside in terms of driving excitement. We didn't get to drive the turbocharged 2.4-liter engine model, and that's supposed to deliver more oomph and refinement. The base engine will be fine for those who are looking for efficiency and affordability. Otherwise, we'd recommend the Mazda6 or the new Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, which deliver just about more of everything.
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