Subaru's midsize sedan has always been an outlier. While many of its competitors are turbocharged, few are available with all-wheel drive. But the Subaru offered both long before these traits were must-haves. The previous model, which lasted from 2012 to 2019, did away with the turbo in exchange for a V6. But that left Subaru enthusiasts wanting for a more dynamic powertrain akin to the Legacy's sportier WRX and STI siblings. And the aging interior left everyday shoppers less than enthused.
At the Chicago Auto Show, Subaru finally unveiled an all-new 2020 Legacy, and it has a host of improvements that should make the car more appealing all around, from a punchy turbocharged engine to a massive new infotainment screen to tons of safety features.
Familiar Body, New Chassis
Styling-wise, there's nothing revolutionary going on here. Edges have been softened and massaged, and we appreciate the more balanced visual weight between the front and back half of the car. The front fascia has a new frameless grille that, combined with new features in the lower bumper, makes the front end appear wider. But under the surface, it's another story entirely.
The softer-edge 2020 Subaru Legacy features an entirely new chassis based on a modular platform prosaically dubbed Subaru Global Platform. Subaru says it's 70 percent stiffer in torsional rigidity due to the use of more high-strength steel, structural adhesive, and a crossmember filled with a lightweight, rigid foam. To assemble the new chassis, Subaru had to implement an entirely new manufacturing process in which the inner chassis structure is built first and the outer body welded on afterward. Subaru says this stronger body can handle 40 percent more energy from front and side impacts, making it safer in case of a crash.
To match the chassis, Subaru also stiffened both front and rear subframes by 70 percent and 100 percent respectively, allowing for more precise suspension and steering motions. The suspension parts have even been lightened and strengthened to make them more responsive.
The 2020 Subaru Legacy shares a redesigned interior that's similar to that of Subaru's three-row Ascent SUV, and it features many of the same technology items. Subaru's camera-based EyeSight Driver Assist system comes standard on all Legacy trims. It features the same front collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning capability as before and adds active lane centering to help keep the Legacy pointing straight down the road. Subaru's DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System, which actively scans your face to ensure you're paying attention to the road (and can store driver profiles and preferences based on facial recognition), is also available on Limited and both Limited XT and Touring XT models.
Opt for any trim but the base model, and the new feature that you'll notice right away is the gigantic 11.6-inch touchscreen display. This screen runs Subaru's familiar Starlink infotainment system, but it now controls the climate control system along with entertainment, connectivity and navigation. The icons for all of the features can be moved and customized as you wish, and the display can even be split to show two functions at once. An available Front View Monitor feature shows a 180-degree forward view, eliminating blind spots directly in front and to the sides of the car. Adaptive headlights, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and reverse collision mitigation are also all available. Feeding all of the connectivity services is a new onboard LTE modem with a built-in hotspot.
The base model won't come with the big screen. Instead, it'll have a traditional 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with separate climate control buttons, like what's currently available in other Subaru products.
We've had qualms with cabin noise in Subaru models in the past, but Subaru has taken steps to address those issues. All the improvements to the chassis didn't just improve safety and performance; they made the ride quieter, too. Subaru says it modified weather seals and sealing surfaces and added thicker sound-insulating glass. All told the 2020 Legacy is quieter by 3 decibels, letting you enjoy the tunes from an available 12-speaker audio system to the max.
For enthusiasts, the big headline for the 2020 Subaru Legacy has to be the new 2.4-liter turbocharged flat-four engine available on the Limited XT and Touring XT models. At 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque, this engine makes 4 more horsepower and 30 more lb-ft of torque than the outgoing flat-six engine. This boost should improve takeoff and highway passing abilities. Sending the power to all four wheels is Subaru's tried-and-true CVT automatic that can be manually shifted via paddle shifters on the wheel if so desired. Subaru says the new powertrain is good for a 0-60 mph sprint of 6.1 seconds, which is brisk for the segment.
The other four models — base, Premium, Sport and Limited — will come with a revised 2.5-liter non-turbocharged flat-four engine that produces 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque, 7 more horsepower and 2 more lb-ft of torque than the previous engine. Nearly 90 percent of this engine's parts are new, and all work to make more power without sacrificing efficiency. As before, power goes to all four wheels through a CVT automatic. Subaru says this pairing can send the Legacy from 0 to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds.
A Better Legacy
So will the 2020 Subaru Legacy turbo appease enthusiasts? Since it's not the new STI S209, probably not directly. But we've sampled this turbocharged engine before and found it snappier and more willing than the flat-six. Even with the standard engine, the Legacy's chassis improvements to performance and quietness should be instantly noticeable to any Subaru fan and appeal to more buyers. More importantly, the modern infotainment system means buyers can show off their Legacy even when the weather is excellent, and the larger 15.1-cubic-foot trunk makes the car more usable.
2020 Subaru Legacy Release Date and Pricing
The all-new 2020 Subaru Legacy will hit dealer showrooms this fall, so stay tuned as we keep you updated on its exact on-sale date.
And though Subaru didn't have any pricing information at the Chicago Auto Show, we anticipate the base model will start around $25,000, while the top-dog Touring XT should start around $36,000. The Premium, Sport (with its unique design cues), Limited and Limited XT models will fall in between.