I'm thankful that Subaru builds something truly different in a segment brimming with V-6-powered beige boxes. With its standard all-wheel drive, the Legacy already handles better than most family sedans. Adding a clutch pedal and an energetic turbocharged four-cylinder engine only makes it more compelling.
In the areas where mid-size sedans are most commonly judged, the Subie mostly measures up quite well. My only complaints are with the dash materials, which look nice but are hard to the touch, and with the somewhat brittle ride.
As Jennifer Misaros noted, the 2.5GT sets itself apart from other sedans when you step on the gas. Sure, there are lots of powerful family sedans these days, but few of them can put their power to the ground with the authority of all-wheel drive, and even fewer add the spice of an eager turbocharger and the ability to pick your own gears.
The only problem I have with this Legacy is that it leaves me wanting for even more performance. Specifically, I'd like a bit firmer damping (the 2.5GT shares its setup with the 3.6R save for the larger wheels) and a somewhat smoother gearbox. I believe Japanese-market buyers already have these options. If Subaru is going through the effort to bring the manual transmission and separate powertrain to the States, it should offer all the hot-rod goodies as well. Given that the WRX STI now goes for $35,000 and up, and that there are plenty of Gen-Xers looking for baby-seat room, I'd bet a Legacy STI would be a profitable proposition for Subaru.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor