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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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