The venerable Subaru Legacy mid-size sedan begins its seventh generation with a complete 2020 makeover. It now offers an upgraded cabin, additional safety features, and better technical interfaces atop a stiffer, more solid frame built on Subaru’s Global Platform.
2020 Subaru Legacy Review
The flagship Legacy is Subaru’s largest sedan, first introduced domestically in 1989, and today offers standard all-wheel drive, a rarity.
Legacy’s early success led to the production of the Outback SUV, now Subaru’s best-selling vehicle. Today, Legacy sales rank fourth behind SUVs Outback, Forester and Ascent.
This year’s safety upgrades add to a sedan already praised for safety, enlarges the cabin and improves connectivity. Legacy now also offers the company’s four-cylinder turbocharged engine.
We tested the 2.5-liter engine Legacy Limited slotted above Base, Premium and Sport trims and below Limited XT and Touring XT. The new 2.4-liter turbocharged engine gains 76 horsepower and is standard on XT trims, optional on others.
Exterior changes aren’t dramatic – mostly smaller headlights and taillights – keeping Legacy’s bland profile. Subaru claims 96% of Legacys sold in the past ten years are still on the road.
We had Legacy’s sole option for $2,045, including voice-activated navigation and a sophisticated driver mitigation system that fights distracted driving. It chimes and flashes on the dashboard when a driver’s head nods (like when falling asleep) or eyes glance away too long from watching the road.
Mated with Subaru’s award-winning Eyesight technology, Legacy boasts dynamic cruise control, blind-spot detection, a strong lane-keeping assist, rear camera cross alert, and collision mitigation which applies brakes automatically when a collision appears imminent.
With symmetrical all-wheel drive sending power to the wheels with the best grip, handling is excellent in inclement weather.
The ride’s comfortable but the newly tightened suspension allows minor road imperfections to be felt in the cabin and there is minor cabin noise, even though it’s quieter than previous editions.
Stop-start is annoyingly jerky. Turned off, it increases a mile or two more per gallon. Our 2.5-liter lacked quick acceleration but manual paddles helped during Interstate passing.
The spacious cabin’s comfortable with seats wrapped in baby-soft Nappa leather but a new vertical, easily reached, 11.6-inch touchscreen steals the show. Flanked by knobs, it is driver-configurable and easily mined for data.
Crash safety ratings are top-notch, visors extend, and the Legacy includes a spare tire. Apple Car Play and Android Auto link to smartphone apps and there is new Wi-Fi connectivity.
2020 Subaru Legacy at a Glance
LIKES: Handling, cabin, safety, all-wheel drive, reliability, large trunk
DISLIKES: Bland look, Clunky stop/start, minor cabin noise
BOTTOM LINE: Safety features, all-wheel-drive are major pluses in the highly competitive midsize segment
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Tom Crosby has written more than 1,000 automotive reviews and is a retired Vice President of Communications for AAA Carolinas. He has seen dramatic changes in the automotive industry over the past 25 years and ponders the advent of self-driving vehicles, electric-only vehicles, sophisticated in-car telematics and the financial challenges facing automotive manufacturers in an increasingly congested world-wide market.