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Old 07-13-2009, 05:11 PM   #1
ricochet
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Default 2010 Subaru Legacy Reviewed



2010 Subaru Legacy: No More Excuses
By Ryan Douthit, Subiesport Magazine

View original article (more photos and media)
NASIOC '10 Legacy Media Reviews & Discussion

The Subaru Legacy sedan has long been the black sheep of the boxer-bred family. Whereas the WRX clearly appeals to rally fans and the Outback to hiking enthusiasts, the Legacy isn’t so well defined: The plucky sedan has been trying to find its voice ever since Subaru split the Outback and Legacy product lines.

It was way back in 2005 that Subaru last had a distinct marketing strategy for the Legacy lineup. It was a mostly forgettable series of ads that featured vaguely-lit hood lines and taglines reminiscent of Infiniti or Lexus. Problem was, even then, other cars in the mid-sized segment offered more complete packages.

The 2005 Legacy suffered from back-seat legroom only appropriate for small children, an unacceptable amount of road noise and (though it was greatly improved over the previous Legacy) an interior that was far from best in class. Remember, they were targeting Lexus, BMW and other aspirational mid-size sedans in their ads. As great a car as the 2005 Legacy was, it didn’t stand a chance when positioned in a class where owners worried less about expense and more about prestige, comfort and having a modicum of legroom.

Fast forward to 2009. It’s a different world than the heady days of 2005. Prestige is on the outs, and frugality is the new excess. That said, even though car buyers are no longer looking for as much outward flash, the basic requirements of a mid-sized sedan are unchanged. That brings us to the all-new 2010 Subaru Legacy lineup. Not one, but three core models. Each level of the new line has been tweaked to meet a particular set of demands in one of the most competitive markets. Has Subaru succeeded? Let’s take a look.

Subaru Legacy 2.5i CVT
31mpg on the highway. That’s the big news. We don’t know of a more fuel-efficient full-time all-wheel drive sedan. (If you can name one which scores better, feel free to comment below, we’d really like to know!) The stellar economy is thanks to modest improvements in the naturally-aspirated 2.5 boxer and, even more so, a new Lineartronic continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Subaru pioneered the CVTs in the Clinton era with the good ol’ Justy sub-compact. Though it hasn’t recently shipped any CVTs to the North American market, it continued to develop and sell these fancy transmissions in other world markets. The CVT in the new Legacy is a chain-driven, zero maintenance unit that transforms the driving experience.

What’s so special about a CVT? No gears. None. Instead of the traditional winding of the tach through each cog, a CVT winds up to optimal load and stays there. 10mph to 80mph, the motor sits (to borrow a sports metaphor) “in the zone” at all times. As is the style, even the Subaru CVT is available with paddle-shifters, so you can mimic the old-fashioned past-time of running through the tach as you carve through your favorite set of corners, but it’s technically no longer required.



On the road, “fake shifting” the paddles is brisk and enjoyable. A voice in the back of my head kept reminding me that it was nothing more than masturbatory motoring. Empty pleasure. Still, it was a good drive, even with the smallest motor Subaru offers on any Legacy, the 2.5-liter 170-hp unit, pulling duty (note: the CVT is currently only available with the N/A 2.5 H4.)

With the optional CVT the 2010 2.5i Legacy is priced at a very appealing $21,690 (inc. destination). Though you can spend 1G less and get it with a 6-speed transmission, in this range we’d recommend at least trying the CVT before committing to cogs.

Subaru Legacy 2.5GT
Targeting enthusiasts who have outgrown the WRX and are ready for something more sophisticated and spacious, Subaru’s lone Legacy turbo option carries on similar power figures from the outgoing model, 265-hp and 258 ft-lbs of torque. But that’s not to say Subaru rested on its laurels. The top-mounted intercooler is larger by 25-percent and the turbo placement is now under the car, resulting in more power, sooner than ever. The stock performance is noticeably better off the line and the trick puts the Subaru turbo more in line with the very likable VW 2.0 turbo’s performance curve.

If you want an automatic or a wagon version, you’re out of luck. The 2.5GT is only available as a sedan and with a new 6-speed manual transmission. The new 6MT is a variation on the previous 5MT and not the stout STI stick. (Tuners: we don’t know how much power the new Legacy 6MT can take, pump your power at your own peril.) Subaru claims that the performance customers shopping for the GT wouldn’t pull their wallets out for either the wagon or an automatic. Based on past sales performance, we’d have to agree with this logic.



Subaru’s GT is only available in Premium ($28,690) and Limited ($30,690) trims. This is a point on which we disagree with Subaru: they claim that enthusiasts wouldn’t be interested in a Base trim GT. It would only save about $1000 (based on 2.5i price differences between Base and Premium,) but that would be an extra $1000 to use for a re-flash and a tune, or whatever other tuning options come down the pike. But, alas, no dice for now.

Regardless of which option you pick, every GT comes with 18-inch alloy wheels (with wider 225/45R18 rubber), Subaru’s standard Symmetrical all-wheel drive (of course) and disc brakes on all corners. We’ll need more time with the car to give the shoes a real workout, but on roads befitting a country drive, they seemed both capable and compliant.

Subaru Legacy 3.6R
Considered to be the flagship Legacy, this is one model we were less impressed with. The problem is the H6 motor. It’s a lovely motor, but side-by-side to the turbo, we really don’t see the point. Granted, it can take regular fuel and the turbo requires premium. But other than that the performance is very similar. This isn’t a beefy Nissan V6, which it very well may be cross-shopped against. This is a naturally-aspirated, relatively small, H6 with a flat and less-than-interesting torque curve.

There are two things I would personally look for in a 6-cylinder: quieter freeway cruising and/or more power off the line. The Subaru H6 doesn’t deliver either. Granted the luxe interior is certainly worthy of the $26,690 asking price of the H6 premium, but nobody looking for fuel savings is going to be shopping for a 6-banger anyhow. If they are, it will be for the Outback set, not a sport sedan mind.



Why, also, is the 3.6R Limited considered the “Flagship” (Subaru’s words) when it’s priced $2,000 less than the 6MT GT Limited turbo? The delta is even greater when you consider the H6 is only available with an automatic transmission, which is usually valued at $1-2k more on vehicles where it’s a straight option, and the GT only with a 6MT. Considering that the GT Limited is, in fact, the most expensive Legacy offered in the 2010 model, why isn’t it christened as the top-of-the-line model? If the GT is the true flagship, why not adorn it with at least 290-300hp we know the motor is easily capable of, right out of the box? No self-respecting car maker has a flagship sport sedan with less than 300 horsepower these days.

The 3.6-liter H6, though significantly better than the old 3.0R motor, continues to be a puzzlement. Sure enough there are buyers out there that buy based on check box requirements, “V6? Check!”, “Rear legroom? Check!” For those buyers Subaru offers a solution in the way of the 3.6R. Though, I personally think Subaru should just offer the turbo with a choice of transmissions and be done with it. Keep the H6 in the rugged Outback and Tribeca where they belong.

Across the board
Though the suspension is slightly modified based on engine weights, tire selection and other considerations, all Legacy models have similar setups. Moving from the CVT to the GT to the 3.6R results in very little difference in overall handling characteristics. Similarities between models doesn’t end with suspension, every model now has a quick-ratio (14.5:1) steering rack, vehicle dynamics control (VDC) and electronic traction control (TCS). The only real options are if you want the voice activated 8-inch navigation unit (includes streaming Bluetooth audio and personal media player USB compatibility,) a moonroof or the all-weather motoring package.

If you’re looking for the SI-DRIVE control dial, stop looking. Subaru decided it wasn’t worth the added expense. Instead, it is applying “[tuning] maps that make sense” to each model, based on what the expectations are for each configuration. The GT gets something close to the old S# (pronounced S Sharp) setting full time, which is the most aggressive throttle and power mapping.

All models can be purchased with Base, Premium or Limited trim levels. (With the exception of the GT, which doesn’t have a Base option at this time.) Limited models get the spiffy Harman/Kardon sound system, leather, wood inserts, dual-zone climate control a 10-way power adjustable driver’s and 4-way power adjustable passenger’s heated seats. Premium gets cloth (though you can add the stereo for extra coin), a 10-way adjustable heated driver’s seat and a leather-wrapped wheel. For the extra $2,000 we don’t really know why anyone would seriously consider the Premium over the Limited, other than the Premium sticks you with the woodgrain trim inserts.

A final word on the interior. It’s really remarkable for a Subaru. The plastics have been seriously upgraded and both fit and finish are top-notch for this class. You have to see it in person to get the full effect. It’s stunning; even on the base trim 2.5i. The brushed metallic center stack is contemporary without being gaudy. The design is practical too, as it hides everyday scratches better – something particularly problematic with the previous Legacy interior design.

Space has been dramatically improved. The car is bigger all around, which results in (finally!) human-sized rear legroom. The front seat also slides back further to accommodate those of us with a longer set of limbs.

Finally, Subaru has a car that is right for the class, and right for the times. It’s bigger, smarter, and isn’t saddled with excuses regarding dimensions or details for the first time since it was the original runaway hit in the 90s. Subaru still hasn’t delivered a true “flagship” Legacy that I know they can build, but there’s always hope for next year. Maybe a Ken Block special edition? This chassis is now just aching to have best-in-class power to truly make it come alive.

###

Short videos from the press launch (Ryan's VBlog, Roadflix.tv):


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Last edited by ricochet; 07-14-2009 at 03:20 AM.
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Old 07-13-2009, 05:19 PM   #2
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These things are quite incredible. I still need to see the new turbo location and the new exhaust manifold. At least the days of the uppipe will probably be gone.
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Old 07-13-2009, 05:25 PM   #3
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that looks beautiful
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Old 07-13-2009, 05:28 PM   #4
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They're growing on me.
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Old 07-13-2009, 05:42 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ozzy370 View Post
These things are quite incredible. I still need to see the new turbo location and the new exhaust manifold. At least the days of the uppipe will probably be gone.






And you can see the intake in this one, just right of the airbox.

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Old 07-13-2009, 05:46 PM   #6
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Need to see the exterior in person...but I love the looks of the interior from the photos! If it has soft touch plastics I am going to be super jealous as my STI has the hard, look at it and it scuffs plastic

I wonder why there are two o2 bungs on the cat? I also wonder why it is so close to the turbo? Hotter EGT = better emissions?
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Old 07-13-2009, 05:53 PM   #7
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subaru made a toyota..... on the outside?

that Turbo is gunna heat up the radiator!!!

hmmm
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Old 07-13-2009, 05:54 PM   #8
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that design is pretty radical IMO
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Old 07-13-2009, 06:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geddesk2 View Post
If it has soft touch plastics...
it doesn't
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Old 07-13-2009, 06:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sack View Post






And you can see the intake in this one, just right of the airbox.

Look at the -25 whp sitting right next to the turbo! So easy to get to...

Definatly an interesting setup, the header looks rather efficient.
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Old 07-13-2009, 06:27 PM   #11
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I always wondered why Subaru could never bring forth an uppipe-less design for the boxer. It seems they're learning. The days of the uppipe may indeed be over.
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Old 07-13-2009, 06:30 PM   #12
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Wow that interior shot made my day looks very nice.
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Old 07-13-2009, 06:42 PM   #13
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It's a freaking boat. To me it looks like an old person's car. Too Oldsmobile for me. I'll pass and wait for another iteration of the Legacy or pick up an STI when the times comes.
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Old 07-13-2009, 06:49 PM   #14
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I love the new look. I can already see it lowered with wheels and an aero package
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Old 07-13-2009, 06:55 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shipjumper View Post
subaru made a toyota..... on the outside?

that Turbo is gunna heat up the radiator!!!

hmmm
I doubt it, the radiator is front, and unless you're driving in reverse, the air will blow the heat backwards.
Quote:
Originally Posted by geddesk2 View Post
I wonder why there are two o2 bungs on the cat? I also wonder why it is so close to the turbo? Hotter EGT = better emissions?
Oxygen and Temperature.
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Old 07-13-2009, 07:01 PM   #16
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What are the pros and cons of having a turbo there?
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Old 07-13-2009, 07:25 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluefoton View Post
What are the pros and cons of having a turbo there?
Pro- Quicker spool

Con- No more boxer rumble
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Old 07-13-2009, 07:36 PM   #18
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boxer rumble = OVERRATED
Im growing sick of the boxer rumble after my 3rd wrx and sti to own. Car is screaming for smoother exhaust flow. Loving the new design, agree with most that the egt's will be through the roof. Load up on heat wrap.
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Old 07-13-2009, 07:40 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluefoton View Post
What are the pros and cons of having a turbo there?
can swap out to a very large turbo for some serious topend performance.

I wander if the new manifold could be used on the older Subaru's
alot of new potential .
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Old 07-13-2009, 08:37 PM   #20
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And having a turbo @ the bottom in winter/salt/slush conditions, prone to local flooding with cold water isn't an issue?
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Old 07-13-2009, 08:40 PM   #21
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It's hard to make any appearance conclusions with those hideous factory rims on there. Those are literally all I see when I look at the car. I will have to see tastefully modded 2010 before I will know if I like it or not.

New turbo setup is very interesting though
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Old 07-13-2009, 08:46 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluefoton View Post
And having a turbo @ the bottom in winter/salt/slush conditions, prone to local flooding with cold water isn't an issue?
^^^^^+1 good question
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Old 07-13-2009, 09:02 PM   #23
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Old 07-13-2009, 09:03 PM   #24
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Gotta wait and see what the tuners have in store for this Closet Case Subaru.
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Old 07-13-2009, 09:24 PM   #25
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I knew the new legacy will be good. Subaru.
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