Caraganza First Drive Review 2020 Subaru Legacy: This is no Brat


We all have preconceived notions about things; we stereotype, assume something based on many things, mainly our experience. When we do this with people, or groups of people, it is of course a very bad thing.

But we can stereotype other things as well. When I hear ‘ice cream sundae’ for example I picture that dessert the way I like it (without nuts, and with a lot of chocolate) which is based on my experience.

When I hear the word ‘Subaru’ I think of one of the first vehicles I owned after joining the military, a 1984 Subaru Brat. ‘Brat’ stood for Bi-drive Recreational All-terrain Transporter by the way. It was sort of a squashed up El Camino. I remember the one I had for the two oddly placed rear facing seats in the bed that faced backwards and had grab handles instead of seatbelts.

Since I’ve started reviewing cars the only Subaru vehicle I’ve had for review is an Outback, which I liked very much for the record.  And while I am quite aware there is the BRZ, when I hear the word ‘Subaru’ I think of something other then a sedan.

Guess what? They do in fact make a sedan. A couple in fact, and I got to spend a week with one recently.

Subaru redesigned the Legacy for 2020. They sent me the seventh generation with the new 260-hp turbocharged engine option with a leaner more athletic profile and an upgraded interior.  They also make the Impreza which is a bit less money, and a bit more compact.


A 1983 Subaru BRAT

The Legacy is available as a Base, Premium, Sport, Limited, Limited XT and Touring XT. Each trim level offers a mix of appearance and luxury upgrades with the XT trims adding even more including that new, more powerful, engine. Option packages are minimal and straightforward, and they give you similar features on each trim level.

The Base, Premium, Sport and Limited are powered by a 2.5-liter flat-four engine (182 horsepower, 176 lb-ft) mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive. All models come standard with Subaru’s EyeSight, a package of driver aids that includes adaptive cruise control, lane centering, automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning.

The Premium trim adds some niceties such as 18-inch alloy wheels, the larger 11.6-inch infotainment screen and a Cold Weather package. The Sport is similar but adds black-painted wheels and special exterior and interior trim. Above that, the Limited equips the Legacy with leather upholstery, adaptive LED headlights and blind-spot monitoring among other things. The XT trims are the only ones that have the turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine (260 horsepower, 277 lb-ft torque).

I had the Limited XT for my week.

From the outside the Legacy sort of resembles a VW Passat or Jetta perhaps. Inside however, is where the similarities end.

The front dash is dominated by a vertical tablet style 11.6-inch touchscreen infotainment system. I was immediately reminded of the Volvo interior which has a similar screen.  After doing some digging, I found out that the screen has been development for six years. The cabin itself is comfortable with plenty of space for driver and passenger.


There are a few minor issues, however.

On the road the drive is acceptable.   I say that ‘simply’ because the CV transmission feels as though it missed out on the upgrades.  I wasn’t a fan of the CVTs a few years ago as they never seemed to ‘shift’ and were always seeming to continue to wind out.  Most manufacturers solved, or got close to solving, this issue developing CVTs that mimic a traditional transmission.  Subaru seems to have been left behind and that makes the drive a bit annoying.   The 260 turbocharged horses never seem to catch up. And despite the fact that Subaru claims to have an 8-step shift, I never really felt it.

The infotainment system can also be a bit hard to figure out, and perhaps a bit glitchy.  When I first got in and turned the ignition on, the radio simply refused to turn on. After starting the car and shutting off again, the radio worked (and sounded) fine for the rest of the week.

The system also seems to have selective memory.  There is an auto start-stop function (which I find to be the most annoying thing in the history of annoying things) that has to be disabled but only after digging down into the settings.  Most vehicles with this annoying function at least have a visible button.  And when the car is turned off and restarted the auto start-stop function is enabled again.  While most other vehicles will remember the last setting, and keep it, those that don’t at least have a much easier way to disable it.  Oddly, the map settings will also reset, but I used the heated seats once, and it decided to keep them on the next time I started the car. Like I said, glitchy.

However, there is more ‘good’ to the Legacy than not good.  My fully loaded Limited XT had an MSRP of $35,095 and for that the Subaru Legacy can be considered a good value and a consideration for those in the Honda Accord, Mazda 6 or Altima market.

I do hope Subaru can fix the few tech glitches and the CVT.  Beyond that I liked the Legacy, and for the price it’s a very good sedan.  And at least there’s no rear facing seats with handles instead of seatbelts, so there’s that.

The 2020 Subaru Legacy Limited XT
MSRP: $ 34,195
MSRP (as tested): $35,095
Engine: 2.4 L 4-cyl. 260 hp @5600 rpm, 277 lb-ft torque @2000-4800 rpm
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 24 city, 32 highway, 27 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested mixed conditions): 29 mpg
Base Curb Weight (lbs) 3499

Interior Dimensions
Passenger Volume (ft³) 105.5
Second Head Room (in) 37.2
Front Shoulder Room (in) 58.1
Second Hip Room (in) 54.8
Front Head Room (in) 39.4
Second Leg Room (in) 39.5
Passenger Capacity 5
Front Hip Room (in) 55.5
Front Leg Room (in) 42.8
Second Shoulder Room (in) 57.4

Exterior Dimensions
Length, Overall (in) 190.6
Min Ground Clearance (in) 5.9
Track Width, Front (in) 62.2
Width, Max w/o mirrors (in) 72.4
Wheelbase (in) 108.3
Track Width, Rear (in) 63.4
Height, Overall (in) 59.1
Cargo Area Dimensions
Trunk Volume (ft³) 15.1

Basic Miles/km 36,000
Basic Years 3
Corrosion Miles/km Unlimited
Corrosion Years 5
Drivetrain Miles/km 60,000
Drivetrain Years 5
Roadside Assistance Miles/km 36,000
Roadside Assistance Years 3

Greg Engle