2020 Subaru Legacy: A New Era Begins

Strong points
  • Powerful turbo engine
  • Exceptional AWD system
  • Competitive pricing
Weak points
  • Will the new turbo prove reliable?
  • Disappointing rear-view camera display
Full report

If you’re a fan of Subaru’s flat-six engine, chances are you were disappointed to learn that it will no longer be part of the lineup. Fortunately, new models like the 2020 Subaru Legacy have a few tricks up their sleeves to remain competitive.

The Car Guide attended a media event in Kelowna, B.C. to find out just how good it is.

Available Turbo-Four

First introduced with the Ascent, the new turbocharged 2.4-litre four-cylinder Boxer engine makes its way under the hood of the Legacy GT for 2020. It produces 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque—both higher figures than the previous six-cylinder (256 horsepower and 247 pound-feet).

As was the case with the sixth-generation Legacy, a naturally aspirated Boxer comes standard, though Subaru claims it features 80 percent new components. By the way, it’s the exact same mill you’ll find in the redesigned 2019 Forester. Output is 182 horsepower, backed by 176 pound-feet of torque. For most drivers, that’s ample enough.

In combined city/highway driving, the Legacy consumes 7.9 L/100 km for the naturally aspirated engine. It climbs to just 8.7 L/100 km in the case of the turbo four.

Both engines are mated to a continuously variable transmission which, as we discovered, has some trouble handling the power of the turbo Boxer at higher revs. That wasn’t the case with the six-cylinder Legacy from the previous generation.

Photo: Germain Goyer

The new turbo-four’s long-term reliability is a concern—much like the associated maintenance costs, which will likely be higher than those of the base engine (a proven performer and a safer bet overall). Surprisingly, Subaru is recommending regular gasoline.

Incidentally, the same comments apply to the new 2020 Outback, which we’ll review shortly.

Standard AWD

While some competitors offer all-wheel drive as an option, the Subaru Legacy continues to come standard with the system. The latest-generation Nissan Altima is now doing the same, but Subaru owners are typically loyal to the brand and wouldn’t consider buying anything else. Still, we’re curious to see where both Legacy and Altima sales go from here.

Photo: Germain Goyer

The benefits of AWD systems—Subaru’s, in particular—are now widely recognized and a majority of Canadian drivers make it a priority when shopping for a new car or SUV. The Japanese automaker owes much of its reputation to this technology and a short test drive on loose gravel or in the snow will convince you.

Slightly Refined Interior

Comfortably settled in the new 2020 Subaru Legacy, we no longer felt like we were sitting in the cabin of a tractor. The layout is stern, yet highly functional with ergonomically positioned controls.

Photo: Germain Goyer

In base trim, you get a pair of seven-inch screens; every other version features an iPad-style 11.6-inch display that’s not unlike the one in Teslas or the Ram 1500. Subaru designers need to be commended for retaining the physical buttons that control the radio and the temperature. It’s way less distracting than going through various menus. A minor complaint is that the image from the rear-view camera appears on only half the screen.

Competitive Pricing

If you think the 2020 Subaru Legacy is more expensive than other midsize sedans, we have a pleasant surprise for you. It starts at $26,395 in base trim, while a luxuriously equipped, turbocharged GT model costs $37,095.

The company’s marketing strategy with the new Legacy is to try and win over customers who are shopping for an SUV/CUV. This car has standard AWD (which is optional or not even offered on some crossovers) and plenty of passenger room, along with the sporty driving dynamics and spirited acceleration (with the turbo engine) that most SUVs lack. We quite like that.

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