2020 Subaru Legacy Debuts In Chicago With Turbocharged Engine

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
2020 subaru legacy debuts in chicago with turbocharged engine

The 2020 Subaru Legacy made its debut at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show on Thursday. While most casual observers will probably assume the model has undergone a mild visual refresh, what’s actually on display is an entirely new vehicle.

Whereas previous incarnations of the Legacy provided more of an upscale WRX experience, the outgoing sixth generation saw the car fitted with a livable continuously variable transmission and engine options that moved it away from anything that could be described as truly sporting. Fortunately, Subaru is attempting to remedy that for the 2020 model year.

Now riding atop the Subaru Global Platform, the seventh-gen Legacy gains structural integrity and turbo power. While base models retain the current 2.5-liter flat four, the optional 3.6-liter six-cylinder unit has been replaced with something smaller and more capable, utilizing forced induction.

Split by trim, the standard mill produces 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque in base, Premium, Sport, and Limited versions of the Legacy. Meanwhile, the new 2.4-liter boxer turbo delivers 260 ponies and 277 pound-feet of torque by the time your tachometer hits 2,000 rpm. However, that engine’s reserved for the Limited XT and Touring XT trims. Obviously, Subaru still intends to keep all-wheel drive standard across the board.

While we would have liked to see Subaru call the more powerful Legacy the “2.4GT spec.B,” as a nod to the old 2.5GT spec.B, the mandatory inclusion of CVTs across the model range made us a little less eager. There’s also the matter of 260 hp being less impressive today than it was in 2007. Subaru claims the new Legacy XT can still reach 60 mph in a very respectable 6.1 seconds, but so can a well-maintained spec.B making less power.

However, Subaru has done more than tweak the sedan’s powertrain. Ultra high-tensile-strength steel, new assembly methods, and even some changes in the manufacturer’s choice of foam and adhesives works together to improve structural rigidity. According to Subaru, rear subframe stiffness is now 100 percent higher than on the previous model while torsional and front suspension rigidity is said to be up by 70 percent.

Despite being heavily revised with new stabilizer bars and springs, the basic suspension setup will still be familiar to Subaru faithful. Up front, the Legacy receives a reworked MacPherson strut while a double-wishbone setup handles the rear. Subaru claims the alterations should create a noticeable improvement in both responsiveness and comfort.

Visually, the 2020 Legacy doesn’t do much for us. Edges have been softened, but this only serves to make the model appear slightly older than it actually is. Our guess is that Subaru hoped to establish an inoffensive and timeless design but only managed to achieve the former. We don’t hate it, but there isn’t much to cling to.

Things are better inside. Higher trimmed cars receive a 11.6-inch Starlink multimedia infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and optional navigation while lesser trims get a more basic 7.0-inch unit. A 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system is also available, along with heated leather seats (even in the back). Wheel options are limited to 17 or 18-inch rounds wrapped in all-season rubber.

Subaru’s EyeSight driver assistance suite comes on every Legacy, offering forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane keeping with centering, and adaptive cruise control. However, the Touring grade adds a front-view camera. Optional driver assistance features include Subaru’s DriverFocus system, blind-spot monitoring, rear automatic emergency braking, and rear cross-traffic alert.

The 2020 Subaru Legacy goes on sale this fall. Expect prices to be roughly the same as the outgoing version, with base models starting under $25,000 after destination.

[Images: Subaru; © 2019 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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  • Chetter Chetter on Feb 08, 2019

    Beige is back!

  • Akear Akear on Feb 08, 2019

    I looked at this car and it is in every way better than the Malibu. However, I will support the home team for now and purchase the demo model Malibu. Besides, the Malibu I am looking at has only 700mls on it and is cheap.

  • Jim Bonham Full EVs are not for everyone, they cannot meet all needs. Hybrids do a much better job of providing the benefits of EVs without most of the drawbacks. I have a hybrid sedan with plenty of room, plus all the bells and whistles. It has 360 hp, AWD, does 0-60 in just over 5 sec.(the instant torque is a real benefit), and I get 29 mpg, average. NOT driven lightly. I bought it used for $25k.Sure, it's a little heavier because of the battery, motor, etc., but not nearly as much as a full EV. The battery is smaller/lighter/cheaper and both the alternator and starter motor are eliminated since the motor assumes those functions. It's cool to watch the charge guage show I'm getting energy back when coasting and/or braking. It's even cooler to drive around part of the time on battery only. It really comes in handy in traffic since the engine turns off and you don't waste fuel idling. With the adaptive cruise control you just let the car slowly inch along by itself.I only wish it were a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV). Then, I'd have A LOT more EV-only range, along with even more of that instant torque. The battery would be bigger, but still a fraction of the size of a full EV. I could easily go weeks without using much, if any gas (depending upon my commute) IF I plug it in every night. But I don't have to. The gas engine will charge the battery whenever it's needed.It's just not as efficient a way to do it.Electric companies offer special rates for both EVs and PHEVs which lower your operating cost compared to gasoline. They'll even give you a rebate to offset the cost of installing a home charger. You can still get federal (up to $7,500, plus some state) tax credits for PHEVs.What's not to like? My next daily driver will be a PHEV of some kind. Probably a performance-oriented one like the new Dodge Hornet or one of the German Hybrid SUVs. All the benefits, sound, feel, etc., of a gas vehicle along with some electric assist to improve fuel economy, performance, and drivability. None of the inherent EV issues of cost, range anxiety, long charging times, poor charger availability, grid capacity issues, etc. I think most people will eventually catch on to this and go PHEV instead of going full EV. Synthetic, carbon-neutral eFuels, hydrogen engines, and other things will also prevent full EVs from being 100% of the fleet, regardless of what the politicians say. PHEVs can be as "clean" (overall) as full EVs with the right fuels. They're also cheaper, and far more practical, for most people. They can do it all, EVs can't.
  • Ron rufo there is in WaSHINGTON STATE
  • ToolGuy @Chris, your photography rocks.
  • ToolGuy No War for Oli.If you have not ever held a piece of structural honeycomb (composite sandwich) in your own hands, try it.
  • ToolGuy You make them sound like criminals.