2020 Subaru Legacy: A sedan with SUV-like confidence

By Author: admin, Date: Mar 02, 2020

Words and photos by Jill Ciminillo

The 2020 Subaru Legacy hit dealers at the end of last year, and I had my second look at this all-new vehicle as winter weather hit the Windy City.

Thank goodness for standard all-wheel drive.

While sedans are having a tough time trying to survive in an SUV-centric society, there is always room for the hearty few – and in my book the Legacy makes the cut.


Other than the AWD, a few features that push it ahead of its competition include Subaru’s standard EyeSight safety suite, cavernous rear-seat legroom and decent trunk space.

Plus, the base engine is solid.

I’m an aggressive driver – especially in urban environments.

In fact, sometimes I feel like I’m playing a sophisticated game of frogger when I’m pulling out of my side street to a well-trafficked main thoroughfare. Do I have enough power to make it through a small traffic window to the other side? I’ll take a good look at all oncoming traffic, find my hole, take a breath and floor it.

With 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque, the 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine fit the bill nicely. I never felt any lag or had any fear the approaching traffic would catch me.

Score one for the Subaru Legacy, as we both live to play another day.

While in previous articles I said I would opt for the up-level 2.4-liter, turbocharged, 4-cylinder Boxer engine found in the XT trims, I’m going to rescind that statement. In side-by-side tests, that engine is certainly the winner, when evaluating the 2.5-liter as a stand-alone, I didn’t find it lacking at all.

The icing on the cake is that sticking with the base engine will save you $4,450 – the price difference between a Limited and Limited XT.


Legacy is a midsize sedan, so the size helps to make it maneuverable in tight urban situations. I’ve been driving a lot of SUVs and trucks lately, and it was a relief to drive something smaller — something I could parallel park and take into tight city garages without worrying I wouldn’t fit or find a spot.

It handled bumpy city streets without too much jarring, and the cabin itself was quiet, keeping most of the exterior city noise at bay.

Plus, with AWD and good tires, I didn’t have to worry about my unplowed alley, either. After climbing over the snow curb at the foot of my driveway into the alley, I had no concerns about getting stuck. Even if the wheels slipped a little, I was still able to make forward progress.

The Legacy inspired a kind of confidence in wintery conditions that I don’t normally feel with a sedan.


After living with the Legacy for a week, I noticed a couple of bonus points over the first time I drove it at the press preview.

First, I took the time to set up the available DriverFocus feature – and I use the word “time” loosely. Basically, the car noticed I was a new driver and asked if I wanted to get set up. I tapped yes on the info screen, it scanned my face and voila finis!

Thereafter, when I entered the vehicle, my face was scanned and all my settings and controls were remembered. Since I was the solo driver during the test week, it wasn’t a huge benefit, but imagine how awesome this would be in a two-driver household. No buttons to push, no adjustments to make. All you have to do is sit in the car, and your memory settings return.

Pure brilliance.

OK, I will admit it’s a little creepy, too. The idea of facial recognition in a vehicle makes me think of artificial intelligence and the rise of the machines. (Yes, I just made a “Terminator” reference. It’s has the potential to be that kind of creepy.)


My husband and I often play a tug-of-war with the buttons in my test vehicles. From the radio to the air conditioning, he touches everything immediately when sitting in the passenger seat – often countermanding my selections.

And before the vehicle is in “Drive,” he’s looking for the auto stop/start OFF button. I don’t blame him because I hate this feature, too. But I feel it’s my duty to give it a fair shake in every vehicle, which can be tough is he is riding shotgun.

Luckily, I drive alone most of the time.

Because the feature was not being turned off every time I got in the car I noticed that Subaru measures how much fuel you save while using auto stop/start. While I still loathe this feature in modern cars – mostly because it slows your HVAC and hesitates to turn the engine back on when you need to make a quick move – I hate it a little less when I can actually see the measurable benefit.

As long as my husband was not in the vehicle, I was more apt to leave it on just to see how much fuel I would save during my test week.

For the record, the engine disengaged at stops for a total of 4 minutes 8 seconds, which resulted in a fuel savings of 0.04 gallons over 44 miles of city driving. Not earth shattering, but it would add up over a longer period of time.


Subaru hasn’t always been the most tech-forward automaker, and that is part of the reason I like the Legacy so much. It is leaps and bounds ahead of the previous generation, and though the exterior is a bit boring, the interior makes up for it.

The centerpiece in up-level trims is an 11.6-inch info screen on the center stack. It is designed into the console, rather than looking like an aftermarket add on, and the large vertical design has clear graphics and easy-to-reach placement.

Plus, rather than incorporating all controls into the screen, there are hard buttons and dials for the most important items: temperature control, volume and audio tuning.

My tester was a Limited model, and I fully appreciated the higher-level appointments. The black leather was smooth, though not quite sumptuous, but the white reverse stitching is well done and looks nice on seats and dash alike.

Another huge bonus: heated front seats, heated rear seats and heated steering wheel. You get heat, and you get heat, and YOU get heat!


The trim level breakdown is as follows:

Legacy ($23,645): This base trim is equipped with a 2.5-liter engine and has standard features such as all-wheel drive, EyeSight, LED headlights, automatic high beams, Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, SiriusXM satellite radio, rear-view camera, roof rack anchors and 17-inch wheels.

Premium ($25,895): This trim adds the 11.6-inch multimedia display, all-weather package, dual climate control, WiFi hotspot, auto-dimming rearview mirror, 17-inch alloy wheels and Starlink.

Sport ($27,845): The sport level adds sport badging, a black-out package, 18-inch alloy wheels, 2-tone sport interior, SI-Drive mode, LED fog lights, rear spoiler, passive entry and push-button start.

Limited ($30,645): This level adds leather-trimmed interior, LED steering-responsive headlights, 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat, HarmanKardon premium audio, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, reverse automatic braking and heated rear seats.

Limited XT ($35,095): At this trim, Subaru adds the higher-output 2.4-liter turbocharged engine, high-torque CVT, dual stainless-steel exhaust tips, moonroof, navigation, sound-insulated front door glass and DriverFocus.

Touring XT ($36,795): This top tier trim adds vented front seats, Nappa leather trimmed seats, power folding side mirrors, 180-degree front monitor and a CD player.


IMHO, the Subaru Legacy is an incredible value proposition at $24K with an excellent base engine and standard features such as the Subaru EyeSight safety suite, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and all-wheel drive.

While I do think the exterior design is lackluster, it has so much else going for it. I would put this at the top of any must-test list for someone looking at buying a sedan – especially for those living in Northern climes with snowy, winter weather.