New 2010 Legacy chases the market leaders
You don’t need a degree in marketing to realize that the fringes of the family-sedan segment are not the most profitable place to be. Subaru has been trying to carve out a place for itself in the thick of the profitable family-sedan marketplace for two decades, ever since the first Legacy rolled off the production line in September 1989. For 2010, the fifth-generation Legacy, which debuts at the 2009 New York Auto Show, looks like it has the potential to finally run with the big players: the , the , the Mazda 6, the , and domestics like the and the Chevy Malibu.
A little bit bigger, a lot better looking
First off, the 2010 Legacy has been completely restyled inside and out, and although the resulting car is not exactly what you’d call beautiful, it’s sleek and modern and still identifiable as a Subaru, what with its reverse-trapezoidal grille flanked by wings and its big hood scoop for the turbocharged model. The 2010 Legacy is only 1.4 inches longer than its predecessor, but it boasts 3.9 more inches of rear-seat legroom, addressing a common complaint of Subaru loyalists: that as their kids grew older, the family no longer fit in the Legacy. The front track is 2.7 inches wider and the rear is 3.3 inches wider, while the wheelbase grows by 3 inches and overall height by 3.3 inches. All this means more interior room: 103 cubic feet, which falls just slightly short of the Accord‘s 106 cubic feet but surpasses the Camry‘s 101.4 cubic feet. Trunk volume is a respectable 14.7 cubic feet, and Subaru says it will fit four golf bags. Since when do Subaru owners golf? Don’t they all mountain bike and garden?
Bigger, more luxurious cabin, and an auto-up window!
The interior is also much more contemporary, with quality materials; bigger, more comfortable seats; handsome, expensive-looking gauges; and available state-of-the-art telematics, including navigation, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity, and a Harman-Kardon stereo. An electric parking brake with a push-button control to the left of the steering wheel frees up space in the center console for cup holders and other storage. With a wry grin, Subaru officials make much of the fact that the Legacy finally has an auto-up feature for its driver’s-side window.
Small, medium, or large suspension, all the same design
In terms of technology, the Legacy falls in line with other Subaru models in now having a strut-type front suspension and a double-wishbone rear. Subaru expects that this will make the Legacy easier for dealership technicians to service, because the basic suspension design is now uniform across the Impreza (small); Legacy (medium); and Tribeca (large). Tires are available in 16-inch and 17-inch all-season spec and, for the sporty 2.5GT, 18-inch Bridgestone Potenza RE050As.
Three available engines; first CVT with a boxer engine
As before, there are three available boxer engines: a 2.5-liter four making 170 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque, mated either to a brand-new (for the USA) six-speed manual transmission or a new CVT (continuously variable) gearbox; a turbocharged version of that engine making 265 hp and 258 lb-ft, available only with the manual and only in the GT models; and a new, larger version of the existing six-cylinder engine. The boxer six now displaces 3.6 liters and produces 256 hp and 247 lb-ft through a five-speed automatic. Paddle shifting is standard with both the CVT and the automatic.
Three all-wheel-drive systems
Naturally, all-wheel drive is standard on all Legacys, and there actually are three different systems: models with the six-speed manual transmission get AWD with a viscous center differential and a 50/50 torque split; the CVT is paired with a more sophisticated, electronically controlled, slip-clutch setup; and the five-speed automatic (with the six-cylinder) gets Subaru‘s VTD setup with a planetary gear set and a 45/55 percent torque split. Electronic stability control is standard.
Not much weight gain
The base Legacy 2.5i sedan is said to weigh 3379 pounds, which reflects an increase of only 49 pounds from the 2009 Legacy.
For the base 2.5-liter engine, Subaru expects EPA ratings of 23/30 mpg for the CVT, 22/29 mpg for the manual.
For the turbocharged 2.5-liter in the 2.5GT, Subaru hopes for 17/23 mpg and predicts a 0-to-60-mph time of at no more than 5.9 seconds.
For the six-cylinder 3.6R model, Subaru also expects 17/23 mpg and predicts a 0-to-60-mph time of 7.8 seconds.
Subaru promises very, very aggressive pricing, so we’d expect the base model to start in the low 20s. Expect to see them in dealerships in August or September 2009.
We drive the new Legacy in Seattle this June; check back at automobilemag.com then for a full drive story.