Monday, October 12, 2009

A Legacy of Value: Subaru Still a Leader

Its looks say middle-class and mid-size.

But the value, quality and fuel economy say the 2010 Subaru Legacy is at or near the head of its class when it comes to the competitive sedan market.

Subaru has enlarged its five-passenger Legacy for this model year. But it has given it a starting sticker price of around $20,700, which ranks it as the lowest-priced all-wheel drive sedan on the U.S. market.
The 2010 Legacy can also score points in fuel economy, with its 23 mpg city/ 31 highway ratings (with the continuously variable transmission, which boosts the base price by about $1,000).
Subaru says that those numbers are also best in class.

Subaru has always been known for building quality vehicles, and the Legacy has always been known as a good sedan.

Problem was the Legacy was a little too smallish for people who needed to haul around other people and maybe a few items.

Not anymore.

The latest Legacy's wheelbase is 3.2 inches longer, and the body is 3.2 inches taller and 3.6 inches wider.

But the growth is managed efficiently.

The body parts that go beyond the front and back wheels barely grew, making overall length only 1.4 inches longer than the previous generation.

But inside, there are four more inches of rear-seat legroom, so it's now up to 37.8 inches, thanks to improved engineering.

Front seat legroom remains a robust 43 inches.

Those of us who are on the tall side also appreciate the Legacy's rear-seat headroom of 37.5 inches.

Subaru says shoulder room is better too.

But people also carry stuff, and they can do so with Legacy's bigger trunk -- now 14.7 cubic feet.

Interior styling improves nicely, with the tester having very comfortable and attractive fabric seats and a quality plastic trim on the inside of the doors.

Interior noise is minimal, and the comfort and convenience make it pleasant for driver and passenger.

Subaru offers three all-wheel drive systems for the Legacy, including a 2.5i Premium with base, 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine and CVT. The all-wheel drive system is such that the continuously variable transfer clutch was electronically managed to distribute power among the front and rear wheels as driving conditions determined.

The Legacy offers its highest torque of 170 pounds-feet, and power overall is certainly adequate and steady.

Subaru changed the engine a bit for this model year and with its new Lineartronic CVT, the powertrain efficiently supplies power and strong fuel economy.

In a weeklong test drive with the 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine, my fuel economy was about 23 mpg in city and highway driving.

Plus, Subaru says you can go almost 500 miles before needing a fill-up in the Legacy with four-cylinder engine and CVT, thanks to the larger fuel tank.

The CVT optimizes mileage by manipulating without set gears and giving variability among gear ratios.

The Legacy has standard paddle shifters on the steering wheel if you wish to get a more spirited feel from the shifting.

And while you might not think you need all-wheel-drive, it's nice to have not just on snowy roads but also rainy roads where you need more traction.

The tester carried a sticker price of $29,141, including satellite radio and premium audio system.

The Legacy of great quality and value carries on.

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