First Drive: 2010 Subaru Legacy

Bigger, faster, more fuel efficient

These words aren't paired together very often, but they perfectly summarize the 2010 Subaru Legacy sedan. The Legacy has grown longer, taller, and wider with a modest weight gain of 49-65 pounds, depending on the trim and equipment level. The engines are more powerful and more fuel-efficient than last year's. If you opt for the 2.5GT, the 0-to-60-mph sprint is estimated to be 5.9 seconds -- two full seconds faster than a year before. Is the Legacy finally ready for the mainstream midsize-sedan segment?

The Legacy grows up

For 2010, the Legacy grows 1.4 inches longer and 3.3 inches taller, and its track is 2.7 inches wider in the front and 3.3 inches wider in the rear. Those changes give passengers in the rear seat an additional 3.9 inches of legroom and make for a much larger door opening. Interior volume is now 103 cubic feet, just larger than the Toyota Camry's 101.4 cubic feet, but still a bit behind the Honda Accord's 106 cubic feet. Golfers can now consider the Legacy, as the 14.7 cubic feet of storage in the trunk will accommodate four golf bags.

Graceful and mature

Outside, the Legacy might not be the most exciting midsize sedan, but it looks tasteful and modern. The grille is a reverse trapezoidal shape that works especially well with the hood scoop on the turbocharged 2.5 GT models. It's easy to identify the Legacy as a Subaru, but the design is generic enough to appeal to most midsize sedan shoppers. We appreciate the subtle bulge at the wheel flares, which gives the profile some character and a hint of muscle. It also showcases the standard all-wheel-drive.

The features get more mature, too

Subaru may be associated with earthy, frugal owners, but the Legacy offers many luxurious technologies and features inside the cabin. Starting with full-frame doors that bring noise, vibration, and harshness levels down considerably, the Legacy also includes an auto-up driver's window. (Sometimes, Subaru is strangely behind the curve on commonplace features.) You'll also find larger, more comfortable seats, better materials, including some very supple leather on the high-end cars, and nicer looking gauges than on other Subaru products. Options are limited but include an upgraded Harman-Kardon stereo, Bluetooth phone and iPod connectivity, a backup camera, a moonroof, and a voice-activated navigation system.

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