Affordable midsize sedans are having a tough go of it these days, but that’s not necessarily the case with the Subaru Legacy. It’s the one of many models that exemplifies the automaker’s longstanding commitment to provide all-wheel-drive as standard equipment on nearly every vehicle it builds.
Other automakers have begun offering all-wheel-drive as an option for their non-luxury sedans, but Subaru’s success partially rests on its Symmetrical AWD system found in all models except the BRZ coupe. And Subaru does so while remaining competitively priced with non-AWD nameplates.
The seventh-generation Legacy that showed up for the 2020 model year isn’t significantly different from the previous iteration, but subtle changes to both ends of the car as well as restyled fenders and doors combined to make for a more appealing package.
As with most of the Subaru lineup, including the equally new Outback wagon, the Legacy is constructed using the company’s Global Platform that’s claimed to do a better job providing comfort, driving agility and collision protection. The front and rear suspension components were also engineered to deliver more precise handling and fewer jarring incidents on rough roads.
Compared with the previous Legacy, the revamped model is fractions longer between the front and rear wheels as well as for overall length and width. The cabin provides about the same ample legroom and headroom as before, but the dashboard has a more organic look and feel. All Legacy models except for the base come with a vertically orientated 11.6-inch touch-screen that somewhat resembles an Apple iPad. And since it’s not angled toward the driver, the various communications, infotainment and ventilation settings are fully accessible to front passengers and visible to those in back. The base Legacy comes with a seven-inch screen.
Engine choices consist of a 2.5-litre four-cylinder that puts out 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. It’s standard in all but the top two trims, which are fitted with turbocharged 2.4-litre four-cylinders producing a healthy 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet.
The engines connect to continuously variable transmissions with eight simulated gears controlled by steering-wheel paddle shifters. (An actual shift lever is located in the centre console.)
For best fuel consumption numbers, the base 2.5 is rated at 8.9 l/100 km in the city, 6.7 on the highway and 7.9 combined.
The AWD’s active torque vectoring system applies light braking to the inside front wheel when cornering, allowing the car to turn better.
At $28,950 (including destination charges) the base Legacy Convenience gets an assortment of dynamic safety tech, including auto-leveling and pivoting headlights but excluding distracted-driver and rear-backup mitigation.
Along with the larger touchscreen, the Touring adds dual-zone climate control, power sunroof, foglights and 17-inch alloy wheels that replace the steel versions.
Opt for the Limited or Premier and distracted-driver mitigation are included along with a navigaton system 12-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system and a wireless phone charger are standard.
Either the top-end Limited GT and Premier GT trims must be selected if you want the turbo V-6 (the same engine is used in the seven-passenger Ascent utility vehicle). It’s noted for delivering plenty of zip and for cornering with less body lean.
Both GTs are also equipped with aluminum alloy pedals, dual chrome exhaust tips and 18-inch wheels.
The Legacy’s cabin is also a quiet place with very little bothersome road or wind noise. The one complaint would be the non-direct-feeling steering that somewhat detracts from the car’s driving enjoyment.
That quibble aside, the Legacy’s mix of comfort, spaciousness and performance is equal to, or better than, that of other midsize sedans, with the added benefit of all-weather and all-road mastery.
What you should know: 2021 Subaru Legacy
Type: All-wheel-drive midsize sedan
Engines (h.p.): 2.5-litre DOHC H-4 (182); 2.4-litre DOHC H-4, turbocharged (260)
Transmission: Continuously variable (CVT)
Market position: Amongst its peers, the Legacy is the only sedan with standard all-wheel-drive. It’s also included in nearly every Subaru, which has helped the automaker steadily increase sales and market share.
Points: New styling varies slightly from the previous model, but is still more attractive. • Interior appointments are near-luxury and the various controls are easily mastered. • Base engine delivers decent power, but the turbocharged engine steals the show. • All Subaru needs to do now is add a hybrid version to the lineup.
Active safety: Blind-spot warning with cross-traffic backup alert (opt.); active cruise control (std.); emergency braking (std.); inattentive-driver alert (opt.)
L/100 km (city/hwy): 8.9/6.7 (2.5)
Base price (incl. destination): $28,950
- Base price: $31,300
- Nissan’s midsize sedan now offers standard all-wheel-drive.
- Base price: $31,450
- New-for-2021 Optima replacement has sharp looks and offers standard AWD.
- Base price: $34,100
- Popular sedans offers two turbo I-4 engines plus a hybrid option.
– written by Malcom Gunn, Managing Partner at Wheelbase Media