2020 Subaru Legacy Limited - Quick Spin Review

2020 Subaru Legacy Limited - Quick Spin Review
2020 Subaru Legacy Limited: sole choice for all-wheel drive family car all of the time

IN RESPONSE TO FLURRY OF NEW ALL WHEEL DRIVE  FAMILY SEDAN OFFERINGS: from Toyota [upcoming Camry] and Nissan [current Altima] optionally equipped available with select powertrains, Subaru stands alone with standard full time all-wheel drive.

NEW ROOTS: an all new 2020 Subaru Legacy hops aboard the Japanese automaker's global architecture.

FAITHFUL BOOTS: Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive is derived from fitment to the Subie tradition of horizontally opposed flat gas engines.


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2020 Subary Legacy 2.5 Limited highlights:

• Starting price, including destination = $23,645 all-wheel drive, 16V DOHC 2.5L flat-4 cylinder + 8-step Continuously Variable transmission. As tested 2.5 Limited all-wheel drive = $32,690 suggested retail price.

• Standard Symmetrical all-wheel drive, featuring viscous center clutch, nominal 60:40 Front:Rear torque split

• 182 hp, 2.5L direct & port injected DOHC inline-4 cylinder, start-stop idle


• Hopping onto the new Subaru Global Platform BT complemented rather than revolutionized the Legacy recipe. Revisions over the Mk. 6 BS series are subtle. The beltline crease is vanishing and the trunk deck lid rises concave in the way of the Mk. 4 BL. Standard LED headlamp housings grow inboard "Zs", as rear directionals are now amber. Thinner is the hexagonal grille with black rungs save for a central chrome one. Front lower foglamp housings are encased in swept chrome bezels. Appealing to the outdoorsmanship of the brand, prominent dark cladding appears at mid front and rear lower fascia.

2020 Subaru Legacy Limited
2020 Subaru Legacy Limited


• Cabin updates, minimalist though they are, play a game of catch-up. Fatigue reducing soothing white backlit ELD twin dial gauges sandwiching a color trip display are in the best tradition of informative analog design. New tactily improved steering audio and ADAS switches were invited to the horizontal steering wheel spoke. Stubbornly the hanging fruit MFD and steering heating push-pull switches, at 8 and 4 o'clock respectively, were retained.

• White on black contrast stitching, beige webbed A-pillars and headliner, and a mouse fur lined glovebox are the few efforts at upfitting. Replacing the Mk. 6 Limited's wood grain trim are dollops of piano black center stack and console accents and simulated brushed metals don't tremendously enliven the cabin darkness. Soft touch materials are present but their appearance lacks a graining refinement that several mainstream sedans offer in their base trims. It's increasingly hard to excuse Legacy's misaligned panels in entry vehicles.


• Opt for Legacy trim above base and join the Tesla, Volvo crowd with a jump from dual upper and lower 7.0" touch LCD media and climate control displays to a single embedded Starlink 11.6" vertical glossy tablet unit. Reactions times got slow when swiping sideways, and when selecting Starlink App options. Menu icons are usefully immense and attractively colorful in a smart phone kind of way.

+1 Starlink Apps: Chimani, an onboard guide to landmark travel; Ebird ornithological identifier favoring Audubon members; Eve Connect monitors connected home security and climate.

-1 Without a hood, the glossy Starlink 11.6" vertical infotainment screen can't escape glare or fingerprint showcasing.

• Android Auto / Apple CarPlay projection are standard in all 2020 Legacies, they only display on the upper half of the 11.6" screen. TomTom HDD GPS navigation, albeit with a limited voice command repertoire concerning Points of Interest, is optional in models fitted with the 11.6" Starlink display.


• Legacy legacy = the low cowl, low beltline imparting an airy cabin. Oddly, though wheelbase has gone unchanged, an extra inch of inch of rear legroom has been eeked out, as has an extra 0.3" of headroom. Outboard armest integrated door pulls makes benefits egress swing.

• Stuffing larger luggage into what looks like a substantial sized trunk is impaired from a tall load liftover.  Cargo area carpeting among some competitors betters the wafer thin / industrial stuff within the new Legacy's boot. Annoyingly, a loosely fitted wheel jack in a sub-cargo floor styrofoam filler, above the donut spare, emitted some jangling.

+1 The convenience factor of obligatory split 60/40% folding 2nd Row seatbacks is enhanced by trunk and seat mounted releases.

• Cabin storage = +1 Dashboard passenger side shelf, -1 Steep angled lower center stack handheld device bin;  √ 6 cup, bottle holders, √ Overhead retracting sunglass bin.

+1 Mouse fur lined large glovebox = treat.

-1 Slipping center armrest bin lining; Short door pockets


• Adding Toyota tech direct to existing port injection in the flat-4 DOHC engine nets higher compression and a modest 7 horses up to 182. One of your more responsive, wide ratioed, 8-stepped Continuously Variable Transmissions is fitted with standard dorsal steering wheel shift paddles.

+1 No Slip in Air Frozen Precip: Exclusive among mid size family cars is an always on all-wheel drive. Tenacity in the white stuff, whether slushy or powdery inspires a higher level of confidence than offered by competing part time multi-clutch diffs.

2020 Subaru Legacy Limited: symmetrical full time all-wheel drive status displayed on Starlink 11.6" LCD infotainment screen
2020 Subaru Legacy Limited: symmetrical full time all-wheel drive status displayed on Starlink 11.6" LCD infotainment screen

-1 Start/ Stop engine idle = real shaker

At the Pump: observed 28 MPG EPA combined fuel economy = par for the segment but trailing a naturally aspirated Mazda6 2.5. Chalk it up to the always running AWD.

• At first brush, it seems Subaru went to real work on the chassis. A faster and more linear electronic steering gear has markedly improved fast sweeper lane tracking accuracy. With the new SG platform, boasting +77% torsional rigidity and nary any weight gain, tauter springing was expected. The ride around down is tautly plush while the rear end feels disconnected over bigger undulations. Outside wind whistle is better filtered now, though driveline noise permeates in the distance. Front binder rotors have gained an incremental amount of diameter, but that goes more towards fade than initial stopping force. As to any implied sports sedan aspirations the new Legacy merely teases.


IIHS Safety Pick Plus; 8 Airbags; Rear camera with predictive grid; 

EYESIGHT suite STANDARD on all models = Pedestrian detection braking; Forward collision avoidance braking; Lane departure & Rear cross traffic warning; Adaptive Cruise Control; Automatic High beam LED headlamps; Rain sensing windshield wipers.

+1 Accurate lane tracking

-1 Over sensitive Driver Focus warning if not watching directly ahead, confounded by polarized sunglasses; Blind Spot Warning standard only in Limited trim.


• INCLUDED (in Limited) =  Power windows, all full express; Keyless entry & ignition; Heated mirrors; Cruise control; Automatic 2 zone climate control; Leather seating, heated front bucket seats, 10-way driver's, driver's 2 position memory, 8-way passenger's power adjusting; Heated leather tilt/ telescope steering; Bluetooth handsfree communications; 11.6" vertical embedded touch LCD infotainment screen; 700W 12-speaker Harman Kardon HD radio streaming audio; Sirius XM (120 days trial), Android Auto, Apple CarPlay projection; USB x 2, 12V x 1.

• MAJOR OPTIONS = HDD GPS Navigation, power moonroof, heated steering; Driver Focus

2020 Subaru Legacy 2.5 Limited PROS:

  • Standard full time all-wheel drive
  • Snappy 8-step paddle shifting CVT
  • Improved steering centering
  • Standard Eye Sight advanced driver assistance
  • IIHS Safety Pick Plus
  • Low cowl and beltline for +1 visibility
  • Comprehendible infotainment
  • Compliant ride
  • Available 11.6" touch vertical LCD media display
  • Android Auto & Apple CarPlay projection
  • STARLINK Apps reach out to park lovers and birdwatchers

2020 Subaru Legacy 2.5 Limited CONS:

  • Styling still lacks pizzazz
  • Soft springing, body undulations
  • Average fuel economy
  • Cheap appearance of piano black cabin accents
  • Rough start/stop
  • Driver Focus warning over-reactive
  • Tablet style media display sunglare prone

2020 Subaru Legacy 2.5 Limited =  Conservative update, with all the modern cabin trappings, of sedan staring down snow as well as any SUV.

ANY COMPETITION: Nissan Altima 2.5 AWD: +1 seats, ride

(Contributing Editor: S. Frissell)