You’d be forgiven for declaring the 2020 Subaru Legacy drab or uninspiring, but there’s more to this AWD midsize sedan than meets the eye. Under the 2020 Legacy’s slightly evolved design, the new sedan packs a ton of goodness including a new multimedia system, an improved suspension, plus the return of a turbocharged engine option—and we’ve got track-tested performance numbers.
Practical and Luxed Up
The 2020 Subaru Legacy’s pragmatic look reveals its benefit as soon as you step inside. There’s plenty of space regardless of where you sit, and the upright profile and expansive glass area make for excellent visibility. Got stuff to haul? No problem. The Legacy has a massive trunk and split-folding rear seats to accommodate long or bulky items.
Both of our testers featured high-quality materials. The gray and black two-tone cloth upholstery in the Sport felt sturdy, and the contrasting red stitching on the seats looks attractive. Our Touring XT tester’s black and caramel Nappa leather interior provides an upscale look that news editor Alex Nishimoto called “sumptuous for the class.” Minimal exterior noise enters the cabin even at highway speeds, making the Legacy a great long-distance cruiser.
Vanilla or French Vanilla?
An updated 2.5-liter flat-four with 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque paired to a CVT comes standard in the 2020 Subaru Legacy. As in other vehicles that use the same powertrain like the Forester and Outback, it’s barely enough power, forcing the CVT work double time. As a result, the Legacy takes 8.1 seconds to hit 60 mph ; that’s half-a-second slower than the base-engine Camry and Accord from a late-2017 comparison, but then again, only the Subaru offers all-wheel drive (and it’s standard). The 260-hp 2.4-liter turbo-four in the AWD Legacy XT is an impressive 2.0 seconds quicker to 60 mph. Even so, at 6.1 seconds to 60 mph, that’s a tad slower than the FWD Accord 2.0T (5.7 seconds) and FWD Camry V-6 (5.8 seconds). Many staffers, however, noted that the CVT doesn’t work as smoothly in the turbo engine. MotorTrend en Español managing editor Miguel Cortina observed that between the turbo lag and the CVT, the Legacy XT doesn’t react as quickly as it should for passing, merging, and accelerating from a stop.
The 2020 Legacy Sport and Touring XT stopped from 60 mph in 127 and 128 feet, respectively. We suspect the narrow all-season tires are partially to blame for the long braking distances. On the handling front, the Legacy Sport finished the figure-eight course in 28.3 seconds with a 0.59 g average. The Legacy XT is a second quicker with a 0.64 g average—those numbers put the Legacy in line with most midsize sedans except the Honda Accord, which has better grip and overall handling.
Out on the road, the 2020 Subaru Legacy impressed us with its superb suspension calibration. “The suspension is pretty spectacular,” Detroit editor Alisa Priddle opined. “On undulations and rough pavement, this is pretty unflappable.” With its standard all-wheel-drive system, the 2020 Legacy is stable through corners. Well-controlled body motions give the driver more confidence; just don’t push the car too hard, or it’ll default to understeer and plow into corners. Steering feels more disconnected, especially compared to the Honda Accord and Mazda6, further highlighting the Legacy’s focus on comfort.
Along with its Outback SUV sibling, the Legacy introduces the latest version of Subaru’s Starlink infotainment interface. On higher trims, you can opt for a new portrait-oriented touchscreen with big icons. Unfortunately, the system’s reaction times are slow, and using it on the move takes your attention away from driving. “I like the 11.6-touchscreen, which looks premium for a car like the Legacy. But once you start using it, you see a lot of flaws,” Cortina said. “You have to really press on the icons and be very precise.” Other staffers also complained about key functions being buried in submenus, so it takes time to change the settings for things like driver assistance features, the engine stop/start system, and climate controls. Limited and Touring models also come with a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system that provides one of the best listening experiences in the segment thanks to its clarity and balanced sound distribution.
Subaru’s EyeSight driver assistance suite comes standard on all 2020 Legacy models. On higher trims, it’s expanded to include rear automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert. The suite works accurately on well-marked roads in clear conditions. However, it gets erratic when lane lines disappear or in foul weather. “Subaru’s innovative, low-cost Eyesight system is starting to reach the limits of its capability and is now noticeably behind other driver assist systems in terms of performance in some areas,” international bureau chief Angus MacKenzie noted. Other staffers complained that the lane centering function bounces the car between the lines then suddenly deactivates and sends you into another lane while playing a cheerful chime.
The 2020 Subaru Legacy is an all-weather midsize sedan that embraces pragmatism. Even with the XT’s turbocharged engine, the Legacy doesn’t have sporty ambitions—it’s a comfortable cruiser. With its improved appointments and chassis tuning, the 2020 Subaru Legacy now has wider appeal. It’s no longer just for SUV-averse consumers living in regions with four seasons. Even if you reside in a place like Los Angeles, the Legacy’s blend of practicality and comfort remains attractive, especially if you’re looking for a daily driver that can double as an occasional road trip warrior.
|2020 Subaru Legacy||Sport (2.5)||XT Touring (2.4T)|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$30,090||$36,795|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||2.5L/182-hp/176-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve flat-4||2.4L/260-hp/277-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve flat-4|
|TRANSMISSION||“8”-speed cont variable auto||“8”-speed cont variable auto|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,528 lb (59/41%)||3,756 lb (59/41%)|
|WHEELBASE||108.3 in||108.3 in|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||190.6 x 72.4 x 59.1 in||190.6 x 72.4 x 59.1 in|
|0-60 MPH||8.1 sec||6.1 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||16.2 sec @ 87.5 mph||14.8 sec @ 94.5 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||127 ft||128 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.79 g (avg)||0.78 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||28.3 sec @ 0.59 g (avg)||27.3 sec @ 0.64 g (avg)|
|REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB||00.0/00.0/00.0 mpg||00.0/00.0/00.0 mpg|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||27/35/30 mpg||24/32/27 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||125/96 kW-hrs/100 miles||140/105 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.64 lb/mile||0.72 lb/mile|
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