2020 Subaru Legacy: The survivor

Andrew Muzamhindo

The all-new Subaru Legacy is now more competitive than ever.In life or in business, if you want to survive you have to find yourself a niche.

Chances are if you do not you will become extinct with time. Species compete for scarce resources, therefore, finding a niche will sharpen your skills, experience and expertise.

Giraffes evolved their long necks so they could reach the trees other animals could not. The crocodile has become an expert in water stalking and hunting. The new-car market is not so different, and with sedans continuing to lose ground to crossovers, sedan makers must fight over fewer and fewer customers. Just as it is in the animal kingdom, surviving in a class dominated by the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry is all about finding a niche. The Subaru Legacy has definitely just done that.

Developed alongside its related Outback crossover sibling, the 2020 Subaru Legacy is built around the same Subaru Global Platform (SGP) underpinnings and offers the same drivetrain options: an updated naturally aspirated 2,5-litre flat-four that makes 182hp and 176lb-ft of torque, and a new turbocharged 2,4-litre boxer four-cylinder that pumps out 260hp and 277lb-ft.

Regardless of the engine you choose, you will get a CVT and standard all-wheel drive. The Outback is the clear breadwinner of the two — in 2018, Subaru sold more than four times as many Outbacks as it did Legacies — but the automaker sees a viable competitor in its seventh-generation mid-size sedan offering.

The 2020 Subaru Legacy is quieter than before, thanks in part to a new door weather strip design, sound-insulated glass for the windshield (and front door windows of the turbo model), and the natural sound-deadening properties of the new platform’s structural adhesive, which is used heavily throughout.

You will not win any drag races with the Subaru 2,5-litre engine, but you also will not be left wanting for more power in most situations. The boxer four-banger is adequate enough for tooling around the small.

The most exciting news about the 2020 Subaru Legacy is the return of a turbocharged engine option in the new XT model.Hustling the turbocharged Legacy around corners can be entertaining enough for any Subaru extremist. There are a number of them in Zimbabwe. All Legacy models get an improved brake-based Active Torque Vectoring system that is intended to improve cornering ability.

The car’s relatively soft suspension and ample body roll also do not aid the impression of sportiness, though Subaru says body roll has been reduced by 45% with the switch to the SGP architecture. If you were hoping for a reborn Legacy GT, you have lost your bet. It might not be a sport sedan, but the XT does have advantages. The turbo engine’s mid-range punch makes passing on the highway significantly easier, and you will be glad to have boost on tap when climbing a steep grade.

One area where the Legacy has evolved is in its cabin. Passenger volume grows by nearly 28 litres, and rear legroom is up 3,6cm. The interior design, like the exterior, remains conservative, but it is now more modern-looking with higher-quality materials.

Nappa leather is available for the first time in Subaru’s history on the range-topping Legacy Touring XT. There is also a soft-touch leather-look dashboard wrap that’s colour-matched to the seats and uses real double stitching. But the real star of the interior is the new 11,6-inch central touchscreen, standard on all but the base model.

That Denso-supplied unit features sharp resolution and well-thought-out menus, but the screen could be more responsive to swipes. Higher-trim models get an onboard navigation system developed by TomTom, which has graphics reminiscent of Google Maps that fill the majority of the vertically-oriented screen.

In addition to offering standard all-wheel drive, Subaru has made safety a major part of its niche. Subaru has the most IIHS Top Safety Pick+ winners of any brand for 2019, and it expects the 2020 Legacy to achieve TSP+ status as well this year. Every Legacy gets Subaru’s EyeSight suite of advanced safety features, which now includes adaptive cruise control with lane centering, standard.

Not bundled with that group of features is the DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System, an option on the Limited trim and standard equipment on all XT models.

Subaru is one brand that has found a niche in the minds of consumers. It has its hardcore converts who are emotionally attached to the brand. It is here for the long run. — andrew@muzamhindo.com

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