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First Drive Review: Refined 2020 Subaru Legacy impresses with turbo engine, high-tech features

Subaru has redesigned its Legacy sedan for the 2020 model year.

Photo courtesy of Subaru

In a midsize sedan conversation dominated by the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord, the Subaru Legacy has been content to take a back seat awaiting its moment. This is its moment.

Built on the Subaru Global Platform, the completely redesigned 2020 Subaru Legacy has the same underpinnings as the 2020 Subaru Outback. It's even powered by the same two engine options: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder or a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder. The 2.5-liter produces 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque while the turbo gets 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque.

2020 Subaru Legacy engine The 2020 Legacy has two available power plants, the same ones that are in the 2020 Subaru Outback.Photo courtesy of Subaru

The base 2.5-liter power plant is best for daily driver duties. Stepping up to the turbo 2.4-liter is a move in the right direction if you plan on tackling mountain roads or just like the extra oomph of the added horsepower. Both engines are paired with a continuously variable transmission (though different CVTs), which is noticeably noisier in the lower-power model. Still, road noise is much less apparent in this new generation compared to the old.

Driving the turbo up California's Route 33 in Ojai, the Legacy handled the steeps with ease, with its AWD keeping the car gripped to the road while the Legacy's new framework kept body lean at bay. The Legacy's steering is engaging and the car is agile.

Subaru estimates that the turbo will get 24 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. These are the same numbers as the similarly engined but less powerful front-wheel drive Nissan Altima and Mazda Mazda6 (again, the Legacy has standard all-wheel drive). All-wheel drive tends to hamper performance because of the added weight of the system.

2020 Subaru Legacy The Subaru Legacy comes standard with all-wheel drive.Photo courtesy of Subaru

Subaru will sell the Legacy in six trim levels: base, Premium, Sport, Limited, Limited XT, and Touring XT. All models get the Legacy's beefier but refined exterior as well as LED headlights, high beam assist, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, rearview camera, and roof rack anchors. XT models have the turbocharged engine.

Seventeen-inch wheels are standard. Buyers can upgrade to 17-inch alloys, black 18-inch alloys, or 18-inch alloys depending on trim level.

Inside, from the B-pillar forward, the Legacy is the same as the Outback, though the materials and appointments are different, finely tuned for the customer base. That means more surfaces that are pleasing to the touch over the outgoing Legacy model and there are finer materials throughout including sophisticated soft-touch surfaces.

2020 Subaru Legacy The Legacy has been refined for the 2020 model year, including its fresh interior.Photo courtesy of Subaru

A 7-inch infotainment touch screen is standard. Subaru's new 11.6-inch tablet-like infotainment screen is centrally located and standard on Premium, Sport and Limited trims. The tablet is easy to use, but a bit juvenile in some of its design and color choices. It features the option of split-screen navigation, using a portion of the screen to show directions and another to show audio controls.

The model also comes standard with Bluetooth. A Wi-Fi hot spot is available as well as the Starlink Concierge packages which offers hotel concierge-like recommendations. Touring XT trims also feature a forward monitor, which is handy when pulling into parking spaces.

2020 Subaru Legacy The Legacy comes standard with Subaru's EyeSign safety and driver assistance technology.Photo courtesy of Subaru

Subaru EyeSight driver assist technology is also standard and features adaptive cruise control and lane centering, among other technologies. The DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System, which uses infrared technology similar to what is in an iPhone to scan the facial features of the driver and tell if the driver is not watching the road and alert them, is available on Limited and is standard on both XT trims.

Pricing for the 2020 Subaru Legacy starts at $22,745 and tops out at $35,895. When you consider it comes standard with all-wheel drive, the Legacy is priced very competitively. All Legacys come with an additional $900 destination and handling charge.

The 2020 Subaru Legacy is not available at dealerships nationwide.

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The 2022 Lexus ES will debut next week.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

The meat and potatoes of the Lexus sedan lineup, the ES, is due for a refresh, and it will get one. The 2022 Lexus ES will be shown publicly for the first time this Sunday as part of the festivities of the Shanghai auto show.

While the photo doesn't tell a lot, there's some things you can bet on in the 2022 ES. For starters, look for all the improvements that the auto has gotten over the last two years to carry over into the new model. That includes the addition of all-wheel drive to the lineup and standard blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.

The ES Black Line may not make its way to the 2022 version of the midsize sedan. Generally, blacked out editions are available only at the tail end of a model run ahead of a refresh or generational redesign. However, the blacked out elements could become available as part of a package.

The headlight photo that Lexus has offered as a teaser shows a housing that is not dissimilar to the one that the Lexus IS wears. However, the daytime running light is on the bottom here, instead off the top. Like the IS, there are strong hood lines.

At the back, the preview video shows a vehicle that is very similar to the current model. It's taillights, a strong chrome line that runs the width of the year, and rear lip spoiler all look mostly same as before.

As for what to expect underneath the body of the car, there's not a lot of indication from the teasers, which leads one to believe that's where the biggest changes are coming. There's a good chance that we'll finally say goodbye to the Lexus touch pad in favor of a touch screen display that's within a comfortable distance.

It's also likely that Lexus will fine tune the dynamics of the ES in a similar fashion to how the Lexus IS got more performance-focused driving dynamics in its latest redo.

Stay tuned for more specifics are the curtain is pulled back on April 19 in China (April 18 in the U.S.).

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The F-150 has gotten an available hybrid power plant for 2021.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Don't get so focused on similarity of the headlights and bed of the redesigned 2021 Ford F-150 that you miss the significant new details that make the truck one of the best you can buy. Consider that its revisions are a response to consumer demands and the F-150 really begins to shine.

One of the shiniest spots of the F-150 PowerBoost comes from its hybrid powertrain. Its also one of its sorest points. Each F-150 hybrid is equipped with a 3.5-liter hybrid V6 engine. Unlike some engines that are calibrated for fuel economy ahead of power availability, the Ford engine allows for both delivering 430 horsepower and 570 pound-feet of torque upon request.

2021 Ford F-150 interior features The interior of the F-150 is quite well-appointed, but not as luxurious as the Ram 1500. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

It never really feels like the truck wants for power, but switching from all-electric power off the line to a traditional hybrid power combination while getting up to speed makes the truck shutter to life. Playing it easier on the accelerator does help, not that you need to be a lead foot to make the shutter happen.

Through it all, the transmission doesn't question what is happening. It's smooth as silk, with the same gear ratios with the hybrid engine as it has with all other available F-150 engines.

Buyers can get their PowerBoost powertrain with either two- or four-wheel drive. The 2WD version is more efficient, but just barely, putting up 25 mpg combined to the 4x4's 24. The other F-150 engines fall between 19 and 21 mpg combined. Towing and hauling will significantly impact those numbers (it has a 12,000-pound towing capacity).

As tested in the mid grade Lariat trim, the Ford F-150 felt just right. It wasn't as fancy as the Platinum or King Ranch versions of the truck, but comfortable enough to be lived in with the right blend of refinement and tech. It's a truck you can use every day, not worry about getting dirty, and take your date out in on a Friday night.

2021 Ford F-150 Lockable rear under-seat storage is a major plus when it comes to grocery shopping. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

With the SuperCrew box, the F-150 Lariat starts at $47,055. For the average customer the truck's equipment list is going to make it feel pretty loaded: 12-inch driver information screen, 12-inch infotainment screen, dual-zone automatic climate control, a Wi-Fi hot spot, leather-trimmed seats, 10-way power-adjustable front seats, a Class IV trailer hitch, and Ford Co-Pilot360 2.0.

Plus, it has most of the features that Ford has included as part of its generational revision like the tailgate work surface, lockable rear under-seat storage, flat fold-out work surface in the center console, and foldable shifter.

It all works well, almost too well, as a matter of fact. The features of the interior of the truck are almost nice enough to get you to forget how well the Ram 1500 is appointed for a similar price tag. But, the Ram 1500 doesn't have a full hybrid system, on-board generator, or a host of other technologies that the Ford has.

2021 Ford F-150 interior features The center console folds out to a flat surface that can be used for work or as a table. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Ford is better than the Chevrolet 1500, GMC Sierra 1500, and Ram at all but one thing. Fix the shutter from a stop and the F-150 PowerBoost will quickly become the best choice for pickup truck buyers.

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