2020 Subaru Legacy XT Drivers’ Notes | It’s what’s inside that counts
The 2020 Subaru Legacy is completely new in all of the places that can’t be seen. Subaru transitioned the redesigned sedan onto its Subaru Global Platform and gave it an entirely new interior, but the drab sheetmetal hardly looks changed from the previous generation. There’s a new 2.4-liter turbocharged flat-four thrashing away under the hood, replacing the flat-six as the upgrade engine for the Legacy. The boosted XT version of the sedan is the one that we spent a week driving. In this configuration, the Legacy offers 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque, routing it through a continuously variable transmission. Subaru claims the trip to 60 mph takes just 6.1 seconds. Of course, all-wheel drive is standard. This feature would have made the Legacy unique in this segment a short time ago, but the Nissan Altima is now available with all-wheel drive, and the Camry will soon be offered with it as well.
Our Touring XT was the most expensive Legacy that money can buy at $ 36,795. Being the highest trim, it presents well inside with tan and black high quality leather all over the place. Subaru is finally starting to put together some great interiors, and it shows. A whole list of luxury and tech features sweeten the deal even more for the Legacy. Additions like the 11.6-inch infotainment system, driver-monitoring system, power sunroof, front view monitor, satin finish mirrors, heated everything and much more all add up to make a surprisingly luxurious Subaru sedan.
Senior Editor, Green, John Beltz Snyder: I got to take this home while there was still a lot of snow packed on neighborhood roads, and boy was that a treat. Like the Outback, this Legacy feels great on soft or slippery roads. It’s fantastically easy to get this to start drifting oh so gently, and then to maintain and control that slide with zero fear of it getting too hairy. Repeatable, manageable, fun. It’s officially Subaru season.
On the cleared (but often pock-marked) roads, the Legacy is a comfortable cruiser without being too soft. It provides a good feel of the road, but is never anywhere close to punishing. Combined with all-wheel drive and slightly artificial-feeling but otherwise precise, easy and confidence-inspiring steering, this is pleasant — and sometimes even fun — to drive regardless of the road conditions.
Assistant Editor, Zac Palmer: Subaru stepped up its tech game in the 2020 Legacy with a massive 11.6-inch touchscreen. It’s an imposing vertical display in the dash that gives the cabin a premium vibe straight away. However, the fancy-looking screen isn’t all daisies and roses. For example, activating the heated or cooled seats is a trip and a half. Instead of leaving physical buttons on the center stack for the seat temperature control (there’s plenty of empty space for it, and Subaru also retained physical temperature controls), Subaru decided to force you to navigate through screen menus to activate the seats. If the software were quick, this wouldn’t be a terrible ordeal. Sadly, there was a fair amount of lag in bringing the menus up. Pressing the heated seat button on the dash makes the master climate control menu pop up onto the screen, taking up most of its real estate. Then, you’ll have to find the small touch area to press, finally activating the seats (three levels to choose from). Seem quick? Not with lag. A simple function that takes a nearly immeasurable amount of time on most new cars took about 5-7 seconds to execute on the Legacy. That feels like a big step back in technology, even if the way it happens is futuristic and cool.
The split screen function when using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is nice, but I prefer a widescreen format so that the phone app can take over the entire screen. Both Apple and Android now offer screen modes that allow you to see navigation and the current music playing on the same screen. This added functionality takes away from the extra screen space afforded by the tall vertical layout. If Subaru gave its infotainment system a massive overhaul, I may be more likely to use it instead of my phone app. As it is, this 11.6-inch screen just resembles and functions like a blown-up version of the software in every other Subaru out there. It’s fine, but it’s nowhere near the best.
Even though it is turbocharged, the XT never feels especially fast. The CVT picks up the revs and gets it into the meat of the boost after a quick second, and then it’s steady acceleration from there. A 6.1-second 0-60 mph time is swift, but don’t get any ideas about this being a sports sedan. This engine felt happiest when I was trying to jockey about in rush hour traffic, providing plentiful acceleration when called upon. It’s a much appreciated upgrade over the slower 2.5-liter naturally aspirated flat-four, but the power doesn’t revolutionize the Legacy’s driving characteristics. The best thing about this engine is how livable the CVT becomes with it. When the engine doesn’t need to scream to redline for power, the CVT melts away into the background, making its buzzing presence much less obtrusive.
Love the interior design on the 2020 Legacy with this dark tan leather, but I’m not in love with the exterior. Bout as gray as this paint to look at, which is too bad, because the XT is super enjoyable to drive. @therealautoblog pic.twitter.com/DPoCtFv3xe
— Zac Palmer (@zacpalmerr) November 26, 2019
Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore: While Zac honed in on the tech, I’m going to take a step back and look at the interior as a whole. The materials and layout are a noticeable upgrade over old Subarus, and it’s a pleasant place to spend time. The color scheme is tasteful with tan leather and black structural pieces. It’s sort of a subtle woodsy vibe. The visibility is solid, and the steering wheel feels just a bit larger than other sedans in this segment, which I like. The infotainment system, which is the anchor of the dash, is colorful, but a little dense. My main takeaway from that: Don’t make seat heaters part of the touchscreen.