Ace of Base: 2020 Subaru Legacy

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy

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.

Matthew Guy
Matthew Guy

Matthew buys, sells, fixes, & races cars. As a human index of auto & auction knowledge, he is fond of making money and offering loud opinions.

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3 of 37 comments
  • ToddAtlasF1 ToddAtlasF1 on Aug 29, 2019

    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?

    • Krhodes1 Krhodes1 on Aug 29, 2019

      Because they need that extra .5mpg, and the current style is that sedans must have swoopy-coupy rooflines.

  • Conundrum Conundrum on Aug 30, 2019

    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.

  • Tassos I never used winter tires, and the last two decades I am driving almost only rear wheel drive cars, half of them in MI. I always bought all season tires for them, but the diff between touring and non touring flavors never came up. Does it make even the smallest bit of difference? (I will not read the lengthy article because I believe it does not).
  • Lou_BC ???
  • Lou_BC Mustang sedan? 4 doors? A quarterhorse?Ford nomenclature will become:F Series - Pickups Raptor - performance division Bronco - 4x4 SUV/CUVExplorer - police fleetsMustang- cars
  • Ede65792611 Got one. It was my Dad's and now has 132K on it. I pay my Mercedes guy zillions of dollars to keep it going. But, I do, and he does and it's an excellent vehicle. I've put in the full Android panel for BT handsfree and streaming with a backup cam.
  • Lou_BC Wow. People say they want sedans and there should be more of them. Goes to show that internet warriors do not accurately represent the desires of the general population. What do people buy? Pickups and CUV'S. Top 10:1. F Series2. Silverado3. Ram4. Toyota Rav45. Model Y Tesla6. Honda CRV7. Sierra8. Toyota Camry9. Nissan Rogue10. Jeep Grand Cherokee Only 2 sedans.#5 Is a sedan and an EV#8 The ubiquitous Camry The only way to resurrect the sedan is by banning crewcab pickups.