2020 Subaru Legacy

By May 4, 2020

The 2020 Subaru Legacy sedan is new, with a sleeker body, a state-of-the-art 11.6-inch touchscreen in top models, a quieter cabin with softer materials including nappa leather for the first time, and two new engines, with the base engine still bringing 30 mpg or more.

The base engine is a 2.5-liter flat-4 that makes 182 horsepower mated to a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and all-wheel drive. The Limited XT and Touring XT models use a 2.4-liter turbocharged flat-4 that makes 260 hp while being considerably less fuel-efficient.

Few if any sedans at this price are as quiet and comfortable as the Legacy. It’s quite roomy, with excellent leg room in the rear and a decent-sized trunk with a wider opening for 2020.

The EPA rates the Legacy at 27 mpg city, 35 highway, 30 combined. The more powerful turbo is rated at 24/32/27 mpg.

The Legacy earns near-perfect safety scores. The NHTSA gives it five stars overall, and the IIHS calls it a Top Safety Pick+. Every Legacy is equipped with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control. Blind-spot monitors and rear automatic emergency braking are optional.

Model Lineup

The Legacy comes in base, Premium, Limited, Limited XT, Sport, and Touring XT trims.

Starting at $23,645 including destination, the base Legacy gets cloth seats, dual 7.0-inch touchscreens for vehicle functions and infotainment including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, LED headlights, active safety features, two USB ports, 17-inch wheels, Bluetooth connectivity, and automatic climate control.

The Legacy Premium, at $25,895, gets the new 11.6-inch touchscreen, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and four USB ports. Keyless ignition, navigation, blind-spot monitors, and a moonroof are optional.

The Limited brings the availability of the turbo-4 engine, for $4,450 more.

The Touring XT, at $36,795, comes standard with that engine. It adds nappa leather, 18-inch alloy wheels, navigation, a heated steering wheel, heated and cooled front seats, sound-deadening front windows, a forward-facing camera, a driver-attention monitor, and four USB ports.


The Legacy is plainer than most rivals. The changes for 2020 result in it being a bit sleeker. The front bumper and area around the grille are slimmed down. The roofline drops to the trunk more steeply. The character line through the doors is straighter and deeper. The rear doors are wider. The decklid spoiler is tamer, and the trunk opening is wider.


The 2020 Legacy is nearly the same length, width and wheelbase as the 2019. Subaru uses the space well, to provide good seating for five adults.

Inside, the big 11.6-inch touchscreen in the Limited and higher models dominates the dash, which is softer this time around, along with other cabin materials. It’s also lower, improving forward vision.

The front seats are wide and comfortable, with adequate bolstering and extendable thigh cushions on top models. Surprisingly for a practical-thinking Subaru, the storage spots are a bit small and awkward. The bin forward of the cupholder in the center console is too small for many smartphones, and an optional CD player eats into center console space.

The wider rear doors for 2020 make it easier to climb in back, where the seat is roomy enough for three adults to ride in comfort, with 40 inches to almost stretch their legs. The roofline cuts into head room a bit more than with the Outback wagon.

The 15.1-cubic-foot trunk can carry four full-size suitcases. The trunk cutout is wider for 2020, while the liftover is relatively low.

Every Legacy gets a sound-deadening windshield that cuts out road noise, while Limited XT and Touring XT sedans get sound-deadening front windows as well.
Not everything is controlled by the new touchscreen; there are still hard buttons for some climate and audio adjustments, which is a good thing, because they’re not always easy to find on the touchscreen. The vertical touchscreen is divided into regions. It operates fairly well, as long as you touch or swipe with conviction, although it isn’t always quick. Using the built-in smartphone software is OK but not ideal.

Driving Impressions

The two new engines promise more efficiency and more power, respectively.

The base engine is a 2.5-liter flat-4 that makes 182 hp. It accelerates to 60 mph in more than 8 seconds, but a responsive throttle makes it feel quicker. It’s mated to a CVT with paddle shifters and simulated gear steps. Subaru’s CVT is one of the best in the business; it doesn’t lag, and is totally devoid of that rubber-band feeling of primitive CVTs.

The 260-hp turbo-4 is borrowed from the Subaru Ascent three-row crossover. In the Legacy XT, it accelerates to 60 mph in about 6 seconds. Its power winds up past 3,000 rpm, and passing is effortless.

The steering is light but accurate. The front struts and rear multi-link suspension are tuned more for comfort than sport, with softer dampers. Most Legacy sedans will ride on 17-inch wheels, although Sport, Limited, and Touring editions ride on 18-inch tires. The ride is comfortable and sedate, with a little bounding over bumpy roads at high speeds.

Final Word

The 2020 Subaru Legacy is a fine and affordable sedan. It has all the virtues of an Outback while lacking only the wagon capability. It transports five people in quiet comfort and supreme safety. Its engine is pedestrian but very fuel-efficient, while the upgrade turbo is powerful but thirsty. With Subaru’s CVT you’ll never miss an automatic.


—by Sam Moses with driving impressions by The Car Connection

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