By on August 28, 2019

Subaru has been on something of a tear lately, cashing in on the crossover craze and ringing up ledgers full of sales. In fact, as of July this year, the company can boast of 92 consecutive months of year-over-year growth. That month was also the second best in Subaru history, just 435 units off its best month ever, recorded in December of last year.

For 2020, the Exploding Galaxy has paid attention to its Legacy sedan, imbuing it with fresh styling and all manner of safety features. Despite these advances, this big car still bears a base price of just $22,745. And, yes, all-wheel drive is standard.

Those long of memory will recall a time when Subaru’s family sedan could be had with a stickshift. Those days are long gone, primarily thanks to market preferences and development costs. A continuously variable transmission bearing an octet of simulated gears and the brand’s Lineartronic name is the only offering, hooked to a 182 horsepower boxer four in the base car, which is simply called “Legacy.”

Subaru’s nifty EyeSight Driver Assist technology is standard even on this entry-level model, packaging the likes of adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, and lane keeping. This is a remarkable level of kit for the price, especially given that this sum equates to roughly $11,200 in 1989 when counting for inflation. Thirty years ago, my parents paid more than that sum for our family Ford in which the greatest features were A/C and wind-up windows.

The Legacy offers about the same front-seat legroom as its smaller Impreza cousin but, as you’d guess, has much more legroom in the second-row for families whose members include budding NBA stars. Whoever’s in the pilot’s seat will enjoy a tilt/telescope wheel onto which flappy paddle shifters are attached, all manner of USB charging points, and a cloth seat that adjusts six different ways.

Air conditioning is standard, as one would expect these days, but splashing out an extra $2,220 is required to get dual-zone controls. Save yer bucks and tell passengers to live with your climate choices. Wireless phone charging is also not available on the base car at any price, nor is any interior cloth color other than Somber Gray.

Base infotainment screens inhabit the same real estate as the Tesla-esque 11.6-inch unit available in snazzier Legacy sedans. Subaru’s done a good job of integrating the smaller display, though, avoiding the sad and empty look adopted by some other manufacturers that only serves as a reminder of your cheapness. Plenty of smartly designed storage peppers the interior, including creative uses of dash and console spaces.

Subaru is no longer trying to outweird its competition, meaning the Legacy doesn’t come with Birkenstocks and a Whole Foods membership as standard equipment anymore. This is surely one reason why the company’s sales are through the roof. However, enough quirkiness remains to let your neighbors know you march to the beat of a slightly different drummer. At under 23 large, they’ll also know you’re a pretty shrewd shopper.

[Images: Subaru]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments and feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and priced in American Dollars. Your dealer may sell for less.

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37 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2020 Subaru Legacy...”


  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Has the quality improved any? While they may be nice-looking cars and reasonably capable, my next-door neighbor has an ’18 that in the last nine months has gone through one transmission and FOUR rear differentials!

  • avatar
    incautious

    Boxster engine and CVT. I pass

  • avatar
    7402

    The Legacy is not the Subaru to buy at the base trim level. If you want to spend less, get the Impreza. If you can afford a bit more, get the Forester.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Those seats look so comfy.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The best Legacy would be a combo they don’t (yet) sell.

    The SPORT model with turbo-4. You can get a Sport (with “sport mode”) with the sad little N/A 4 cyl and you can get a turbo 4 (in either Touring or Limited trim) but not SPORT & turbo 4.

    Although this being a Subaru I’m sure the will be decent aftermarket support for the Legacy.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      When? Per my next-door neighbor (mentioned above), there is little to no aftermarket support and he complains loudly about how flimsy the differential gears are.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Sorry I just thought as enthusiastic as Subaru owners are there would be aftermarket support.

        Those guys in WRX have kids eventually…

        Doing a quick Google search I’m finding things for the last gen Legacy (not gears specifically)…

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          I wouldn’t know, personally, though I was very nearly a Subaru owner, 10 years ago. The neighbor has two sons and two daughters that I know of, so even as a father he races his car–and it’s not a WRX model, even if it does have the turbo under the hood (his oldest daughter drives a WRX, though.)

          Now me, had Subaru kept the Baja just one more year, I might well have purchased that instead of my Jeep Wrangler JKU back then. Probably would still be driving the Colorado today, however, since more than once over the last year I’ve had a need to tow and the first time I had nothing to tow WITH and had to rent a truck to carry what I wanted to tow and tow the car I’d driven to get there. Not even the Baja could have met that need.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        Sounds like a manufacturing issue. Stock Subie diffs historically are freakishly strong and hold up to all sorts of boost+traction abuse.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          @gtem: FOUR of them, my friend? Four consecutive stock Subie diffs and shredded under this guy’s driving. He finally got a set of high-strength gears to prevent that and ended up shredding the tranny.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Which model is it and what exactly is he doing with this car?

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @gtem: It’s a turbo-six Legacy and he CLAIMS he’s racing at the local drag strip. I’m betting more strongly on street racing. Apparently he wins enough to pay for what he needs but he’s having a long dry spell now that he can’t race.

            Works as part of a highway construction crew, so he gets pretty good pay. As for the way he acts about his car, you’d think he was an old man with his, “Get away from my car, you kids!” attitude.

          • 0 avatar
            jh26036

            While I also believe Subaru’s are not terribly reliable in my opinion, sounds like it is your neighbors problem because blowing diffs don’t really quite happen to a normal person. I am going with user error. Tell him to buy a car without a rear diff, problem solved.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        I always assumed these were basically front wheel drive with the rears working only as needed. Anybody know what the rear ring gear dia is?

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    That is…kind of a shockingly good value. For a segment fewer people shop anymore, sure, but…huh.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    The 7 people who buy one of these will probably like it.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Hey hey hey…

      Subaru said they sold in the 10s of thousands last year.

      We have the Outback to thank for the Legacy still existing.

      The Ascent’s porker status as the reason for having a turbo 4 again.

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        I refer primarily to the base trim level. In this SUV market, sedans are sold to fewer and fewer. A Subaru sedan…much fewer still.
        The pool of buyers who buy a Subaru base model sedan is fewer still. We have gotten down to a pretty small number.

      • 0 avatar
        gottacook

        PrincipalDan: I wish we could still write “We have the Outback to thank for the Legacy WAGON still existing.” It’s not like they were ever that different, and of course they were made at the same Indiana factory. It’s just that the Outback was more profitable. (The other side of that coin was that Legacy wagons were offered very well equipped for reasonable money; we got 15 great years out of our 2003 Legacy SE 5-speed wagon.)

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          I had an uncle who was a die-hard Subaru buyer from the Loyale wagon days who eventually moved up to a Legacy GT wagon – including owning one of the last of the breed.

          He died before Subaru got rid of the wagon. I think he would have been very disheartened.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      “The 7 people who buy one of these will probably like it.”, and Mazda wishes they could get half that many to purchase a Mazda6.

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    5 Star safety ratings all around are not ubiquitous enough in this segment and price range to leave it out of the article.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    never really understood the concept of “dual zone” when youre sitting a foot away from the person in the other “zone”. when it comes out of the vents, doesnt the air just blend into the cockpit?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      @SoCalMikester – Ever been married?

      My in-laws have dual zone (actually 3 zone) in their 1st Gen Acadia and the driver and passengers controls are always set to different settings.

    • 0 avatar
      CKNSLS Sierra SLT

      SoCalMikester-It’s the air that’s blowing towards you. Yes-eventually it blends in to the cockpit. There are alot of options available on vehicles-that you really don’t have an appreciation for them (not saying dual-zone is one of them) until you have them in your car/truck. I am in Utah-it gets cold-not as cold as some parts of the country and with my latest vehicle purchase (2019 Silverado Crew Cab LTZ) I can’t fathom how I lived before without remote start/and heated steering wheel.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I regularly drive with somebody who is always cold. She can turn her side up to 75 while I keep mine at 60. We can both be comfortable and the bit where it mixes doesn’t really make much difference.

      Riding in her car is unbearable because the temp is always at its warmest and the fan always high. Turns into a rolling sweatbox in short order. Needless to say, I usually drive.

  • avatar
    trout

    I think Subaru means Seven Sisters (Pleiades) constellation. Although I do like exploding galaxy.

  • avatar
    ABC-2000

    Hubcaps?
    looks so cheap!

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    About four years ago, my best friend bought a new Legacy 3.6R for his fiancé to drive. They only ended up keeping it a few months, but I didn’t remember it looking that bland. I pulled up some photos though, and apparently it did look that bland. If you’re going to make a sedan that looks like a generic stand-in for a car insurance commercial, why not have a roofline that doesn’t compromise rear seat headroom?

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Probably not a great idea to buy the first year of a new Subaru product. Especially recently. I waited to get a Legacy GT till the fourth model year, 2008. No problems other than wheel bearings and rusty hydraulic pipes and a front caliper for 11 and a half years. Engine was great, only ever used dino-juice oil for changes and it used almost none – gave up checking the dipstick five years ago. Turbo never hiccuped. Never added a quart in all those years, and since it tended to goad me, I revved hell out of it all the time, using paddle shifters and manumatic on every drive.

    However, all good things must come to an end, and last week something or other went wrong in the automatic transmission, and shifts became extremely hard, like banging, car-shaking hard. Oooh. Not good. Mechanics opined shift solenoids and all the dashboard lights had came on. B*gger it – I have put aside $200 a month in my car fund for ever, so it was new car time, the old beast worth b*gger all due to the tranny problem and age, rusty rear wheel lips. Still, all the buttons worked and I never needed to service the A/C. It owed me nothing.

    Most new cars are crap and excite me not – never felt the need to change after trying out over two dozen cars these last five years. Couldn’t get out of GTI’s and A3’s with my bum right knee – terrible ergonomics there. Impreza is rubbish and no sense of relaxed straight ahead on highway so you can’t even snooze while waiting for velocity changes (had a new one for a weekend – those Subie boys do try to sell), WRX CVT – gronk, also for a weekend, Legacy a perambulating snooze, new Mazda3 with AWD the ultimate pussycat but refined with no joy or any life, Accord 2.0t Sport – do you like lotsa tire noise and no way to hold a gear in the automatic? Me neither. Genesis 2.0t, no power, tramlining in road grooves, weird tranny if you back off under full power- mucho bucking and unhappiness, dull as dishwater with no eagerness and lotsa tire noise as well. Original CLA – are you kidding? I laughed it was so bad, not as good as my pal’s $22K 2014 Mazda3 except for power. BMW 330i, fast but somehow ordinary and very pricey if you want actual seats, comes with runflat tire nonsense and phone-home spy. With taxes you’re talking at least C$60K. Not worth it.

    So yesterday, I got my new car, crossovers can get lost. Didn’t drive it today, we got tropical depression monsoon Erin and four inches of rain here in the Canadian Maritimes, and I’m retired. Read the FM for entertainment. Yawn. Mazda offers a low spec 6 turbo in Canada with 17 inch wheels, so I can put my favorite Michelin Pilot Sport A/S 3+ tires on it for cheap compared to 19’s when the OEMs burn off. Gassed to the rim with premium, no corn juice here except one vendor. But we do have 15% sales tax. Out the door for $41.4K all-in including remote start, all-weather mats thrown in, before trade, or about $31K US including those taxes and freight/PDI, right around US $27K before tax with our 75 cent dollar. $13.25 for registration changeover at DMV across the road literally from the dealer. They gave me $2400 for the bust LGT. Do the math, C$38K even.

    The 6 turbo boogies without a salesman chattering alongside to distract, and haven’t gone over 3500 rpm yet. The midrange is meaty, man, and engine note gutteral under load. Don’t even notice the tranny shifting. 310 lb-ft of torque, what hill? We have lots of hills. Cheapy leather, proximity doors, 10 way power driver’s seat with power lumbar, moonish roof, paddle shifters and manumatic just like the old LGT but backwards. Titanium Mica color and wheels seem the same color at a glance. Looks mean. Mazda red is overdone. No tire noise of any note, great steering and nice ride on the balloons. Tracks dead straight on the highway, relaxing and quiet. Sportier than I had expected on my two lane backroads where I live. We shall see how it all goes, but for now I got the giddy new car shakes. Car makes me chortle.

    Subaru will eventually put their new turbo in this new Legacy, but not for cheap money, and who knows if it’ll handle. I’d guess not.

    Never considered a Buick, Norm, so there, MT handling loops and all that B/S aside. This strikes me as a real car that drives much smaller than it is on actual roads and maneuvering in the parking lot. Can get the grandkids in back, pull down the wide armrest with two USB ports and drinks holders right there. Contentment. Adjustable A/C vents in back too.

    Tomorrow the big drive! Subaru and the doggy crowd lost me.


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