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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 engineThe 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 LegacyThe 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 LegacyThe 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 LegacyThe 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 Ascent got updated styling and fresh tech.

Subaru

Subaru's lineup is full of useful, adventure-ready vehicles, but most are not accommodating for full-size families. The Ascent solved that issue for the automaker a few years ago, and has been a popular family option since. It got a mild update for 2023 with a facelift and new tech. The Ascent comes in five trims: Base, Premium, Onyx Edition, Limited, and Touring. It's expected to go on sale in fall 2022.

The Subaru comes with a new front fascia design that adds a new grille and aggressive styling up front. Lower air ducts help improve aerodynamics, and in higher trims the components come with chrome trim. The SUV's C-shaped taillights got a refresh as well, and now feature a sharper shape to better match the vehicle's overall styling.

2023 Subaru AscentThe new front fascia design is more aggressive than before. Subaru

The Ascent's powertrain remains in place, which is a turbocharged 2.54-liter four-cylinder making 260 horsepower. It sends power to all four wheels through a continuously variable transmission that offers a simulated eight-speed manual shifting mode. Subaru's X-Mode driving mode comes standard, which alters throttle response and other vehicle behavior to maintain traction in slippery conditions. Torque vectoring, which allows the vehicle to shift torque between wheels that need it most, also comes standard.

A new Onyx Edition trim joins the Ascent line for 2022. It brings a standard 11.6-inch touchscreen with navigation, a Harman Kardon sound system, power seats, and a panoramic sunroof. The base Ascent comes with features such as 18-inch wheels, USB inputs, tri-zone automatic climate controls, three rows of seating, and a whopping 19 cupholders. Subaru also offers an optional Cabin Connect system, which allows the driver or front passenger to communicate to people behind them through the stereo using a front-cabin-mounted microphone.

2023 Subaru AscentThe Ascent's interior is available with great tech, such as an 11.6-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Subaru

Subaru EyeSight safety equipment comes standard with every Ascent. The system is improved for 2023 with a wider field of vision and new software. A new wide-angle camera joins EyeSight's existing two-camera setup to provide better pedestrian and cyclist detection when approaching intersections. Blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, and lane change assist are available.

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The 2023 Crosstrek starts at $23,645.

Subaru

Subaru is one of the best at listening to its customers' needs, and the Crosstrek is a great example of that mindset. It's a useful vehicle with plenty of interior space and enough ground clearance to take its passengers well of the beaten path. Today, Subaru announced pricing for the 2023 Crosstrek and Crosstrek Hybrid. The duo will go on sale this summer.

Subaru CrosstrekThe Crosstrek's cabin is adventure-ready and packed with great tech. Subaru

The standard Crosstrek starts at $23,645 before destination and the Crosstrek Hybrid starts at $36,845. Five trims are available for the standard model, including Base, Premium, a new Special Edition, Sport, and Limited. The Hybrid comes in a single trim level. All Crosstrek variants get all-wheel drive with active torque vectoring and 8.7 inches of ground clearance.

The Base, Premium, and Special Edition trims come with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 152 horsepower. The Sport and Limited trims get a 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 182 horsepower. Most models come with a continuously variable transmission, but the Base and Premium trims come standard with a six-speed manual gearbox. The Crosstrek Hybrid comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder paired with two electric motors. The plug-in system can deliver 17 miles of electric range.

Subaru CrosstrekThe Crosstrek delivers 8.7 inches of ground clearance.Subaru

True to Subaru form, the Crosstrek comes with a full suite of advanced driver aids, including automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, lane departure alerts, adaptive cruise, and more. These features are only available for CVT-equipped models. The Limited trim and the Crosstrek Hybrid add automatic high beams, reverse automatic braking, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alerts.

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