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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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Ford has cowboy up with the new Expedition King Ranch and Platinum for 2020.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

As is true with the 2020 Ford F-150, the 2020 Ford Expedition's King Ranch trim level sits in a sweet spot in the lineup. It's neither too inelegant to appeal to refined palettes nor too fancy to appeal to more rugged types. On top of that, Ford has given the model the type of accommodations that are good for children and adults.

As tested, the 2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch came in at $74,885, That includes the $72,895 base price, $595 paint color surcharge, and a $1,395 destination and delivery fee. Granted, that's a lot of money, but it's not nearly as expensive as the Expedition's more premium rivals like the Cadillac Escalade. Out of the Expedition's four trim levels, the King Ranch sits three out of four with only the Expedition Platinum being better appointed and pricier.

2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch The Expedition mirrors the last-generation Explorer in the looks department.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Expedition, for all intents and purposes, is the SUV version of Ford F-Series. While its exterior looks more like the last-generation Explorer than the F-150, it's setting foot in the interior that tells the true story. The entire dashboard, center console, and seat design is straight from the F-150 and Super Duty playbook. This isn't a bad thing. The F-Series lineup is filled with very good trucks.

The exterior of the Expedition King Ranch has a more panache than the trucks. From its standard 22-inch six-spoke painted machined-face aluminum wheels with dark tarnish-painted pockets and King Ranch center caps to the Stone Gray-colored grille mesh, lower bumpers, power running boards, rear bumper skid plate, trailer hitch cover, roof. rack side rails, and side mirror caps, the model wears a bit of its upscale sheen right up front where all those near the Expedition can see it.

The King Ranch theme continues to the interior of the Expedition where Ebony Del Rio leather covers the door trim and Mesa Del Rio leather covers the armrests and steering wheel. Kingsville stitching, named after the town where the historic King Ranch is located in Texas, features on the steering wheel. The center console is a combination of Del Rio leather and Ziricote wood veneer.

2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch The interior of the model is richly appointed.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The result is a look that rivals the materials in the redesigned 2021 GMC Yukon and 2021 Chevrolet Suburban, the Expedition's chief rivals. The seats in the Expedition's front and second row are just as comfy and small item storage is just as available.

Where the competition has the edge is the Expedition's infotainment system. The standard 8.0-inch screen is small compared to what others in the vehicle's class now offer. That being said, the roster of tech that accompanies the screen is good and includes satellite radio, voice recognition, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a Wi-Fi hot spot. Upgrading gets a buyer keyless entry, remote start, a panoramic sunroof, navigation, two additional USB ports, wireless device charging, a Bang & Olufson sound system, HD Radio, and a rear-seat entertainment system.

Ford Co-Pilot360 is standard on all Expeditions. The suite of driver assist and safety technology includes automatic high beams, blind spot warning with cross traffic alert, lane keep alert and assist, pre-collision assist with emergency braking and pedestrian detection, and a rearview camera. Upper tier models gets adaptive cruise control. The system works as advertised and doesn't prove too annoying during daily use.

2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch The leather-wrapped steering wheel features Kingsville stitching.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Driving the Expedition King Ranch is easy but there's no getting around the fact that it's a large SUV based on a truck platform. Driving the Suburban and Yukon is an easier, more connected experience. Still, driving these SUVs is nowhere near as taxing as it was 15 years ago.

The Expedition is powered by a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque for use. Acceleration off the line creates confidence, but you won't see the SUV making any speed records any time soon. The larger engines in the General Motors rivals deliver a more inspiring effort but are slightly less fuel efficient (19 mpg vs. 17/18 mpg for the Suburban when similarly equipped).

The 2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch is the most premium model you can get without going full Platinum. For daily driving, it's all the Expedition you'll need, coupled with higher-end appointments and sophisticated looks.

2020 Ford Expedition King Ranch The second-row seats in the Expedition are nearly as comfortable as those up front.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

However, if you're looking to spend $70,000 or more on an SUV, it is worth cross-shopping the new Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon. Both offer compelling reasons to choose them over the Expedition. That being said, if you're a Blue Oval family and opt for the Expedition, when you go out to your driveway and hop inside, you likely won't be disappointed.

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Subaru Motorsports takes center stage in the newest season of "Launch Control".

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

The award-winning "Launch Control" documentary series will return December 2 for its eighth season. The show will air on YouTube and Amazon Prime Video.

Season 8 of "Launch Control" picks up where Season 7 left off. The Subaru team has just won the rally and rallycross championships but the future of the team is uncertain.

The program, which has been chronicling the Subaru Motorsports teams since 2013, documents the challenging 2020 season of the driving sports, which included a new rally driver lineup, a shortened and delayed season due to COVID-19, and the return of ace driver Scott Speed following a season-ending back injury in 2019.

Season 8: "Launch Control"

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

"Launch Control" will also include a two-part sneak peek at the one-off WRX STI build that Subaru worked with Vermont SportsCar to create for the next installment of the "Gymkhana" franchise, where Subaru driving star Travis Pastrana will take over the feature roll from Ken Block.

New episodes documenting the stage rally season will release every other Wednesday through December and January, with the two-part Gymkhana STI build special arriving in February.

"'Launch Control' has always been an unflinching look at the reality of running a top-level motorsports program," said William Stokes, Motorsports Manager for Subaru of America. "This year brought more challenges than anyone expected, but we're a rally team, and in rally we press on regardless. As tough as this season was, we're thrilled to bring the series back—especially for the fans who couldn't come to events in 2020, who we've missed most of all."

The program is a production of Formula Photographic and Bowes Media with the support of Subaru of America.

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