The 2020 Subaru Legacy may well be the best choice in a small but important automotive niche for Pacific Northwest drivers — affordable midsize sedan with all-wheel-drive.
Although buyers have been leaving sedans for SUVs and trucks, some drivers still prefer cars. They are easier to get into and out of, more satisfying to drive, and have trunks that are harder to break into than rear glass hatches.
Luxury manufacturers know this, which is why Audi, BMW and Mercedes have not dropped their sedans, like Chevy and Ford have. The German companies also offer all-wheel-drive on their cars, which is a great choice for wet weather driving.
But, because they are luxury cars, the German sedans are more expensive than many buyers who want a midsize sedan with all-wheel-drive can afford. Fortunately there are alternatives, including the Dodge Charger AWD and the Nissan Altima, which began offering all-wheel-drive last year.
But many people will argue the Subaru Legacy is the best because the company has such a long history of making AWD standard on practically all of its vehicles. That is why they have long been such favorites in the Pacific Northwest.
And there are more reasons than ever to prefer the Legacy now because it has been completely redesigned and improved for 2020. It is larger, more refined, better equipped, and more engaging to drive than ever before — especially because of the return of the optional turbocharged four-cylinder engine that replaces the previous six-cylinder upgrade. Not only is the four more powerful, but it is lighter and gets better mileage for a win-win-win.
I have been wanting to test the 2020 Legacy ever since driving the excellent new Subaru Outback. Even though the company insists the Outback is a separate model and not a station wagon version of the Legacy, the mechanical similarities are apparent just by looking at them. Yes, the Outback rides higher, but the sheet metal and interior is the same from the grill to just behind the rear seats.
And they are both powered by the same engines, the base normally aspirated 2.5-liter flat four and the turbo 2.4, which came in our top-of-the-line Touring XT edition. It produces 260 horsepower and 277 lb.-ft. of torque.
Those figures are obviously an improvement over the base engine, which is rated at 182 horsepower and 176 lb.-ft. of torque . But it's also better than last year's 3.6-liter six, which developed 256 horsepower and 247 lb. ft of torque.
As I suspected, the Legacy feels sportier than the Outback because it is lighter and lower to the ground. Though not a genuine sport sedan, the 2020 Legacy Touring XT was still a pleasure to drive. The power produced by the turbo 2.5 was satisfying enough, especially since Subaru has been improving its Continuously Variable Transmissions, which now has an 8-speed manual shift mode.
Inside, the Legacy has gone dramatically upscale compared to previous generations, with rich materials and an extra-large 11.6-inch infotainment touchscreen that comes standard in all but the base trim, which features a 7-inch one.
Exterior styling is best described as handsome, meaning it looks good but is not trying to impress like so many other cars these days. The lines are more rounded than angular, although the larger front air dam gives the Legacy a more aggressive look than in the past.
On the road, our 2020 Legacy Touring was quiet and comfortable, with the company's signature symmetrical AWD system providing extra traction through several spring rain storms. The unique standard EyeSight safety system warned me of surrounding vehicles, including those slowing rapidly in the front.
And here's the clincher: the 2020 Subaru Legacy starts at just $22,745 with AWD standard and our Touring XT edition was priced at $36,795, which is thousands less than the luxury midsize sedans before adding AWD.
2020 Subaru Legacy Touring XT
Base price: $22,745
Price as tested: $36,795
Type: Midsize sedan
Engine: 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder (260 hp, 277 lbs-ft)
Transmission: Continuously Variable Transmission
EPA estimated mileage: 24/32
Overall length: 190.6 inches
Curb weight: 3,779 pounds
Final assembly: Lafayette, Indiana
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