2010 Subaru Legacy
In the mid-sized sedan game, the Subaru Legacy is something special. Whereas titans like the Honda Accord
and Toyota Camry
are happy to offer customers living in sunny climates the joy of a fuel-efficient, front-wheel drive car, Subaru serves up an inexpensive sedan with an all-wheel drive system that can take on the worst nature has to offer. Until now, quiet styling and lackluster fuel economy has kept the Legacy out of the spotlight, but the company is hoping to change all that with the all-new 2010 model. No one will ever be able to accuse the car of wearing bland lines again thanks to easily-identifiable nose and muscular fender arches that define the front fenders. What’s more, Subaru seems to have been able to cure that pesky mpg problem. The new Legacy boasts up to 31 mpg on the highway when equipped with the CVT, meaning the surefootedness of all-wheel drive and solid numbers at the pump are no longer mutually exclusive. For the first time in a long while, Subaru may have a shot at bruising its competition’s ego.
What's to Like
The 2010 Legacy’s exterior styling isn’t for everyone, but it’s a long way from the vanilla lines of the last generation. Thanks to a stretched wheelbase and taller cabin, there’s loads of room inside, too. Great fuel economy for an AWD car and a variety of trim levels make sure there’s enough power on tap for everyone.
What's Not to Like
The Legacy doesn’t leave us with too much to complain about besides a few niggling things, like loud NVH and a somewhat dead steering rack in all models, but for an AWD sedan with a sub-20k sticker, it comes with the territory.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
While the new Subaru Legacy will never be mistaken for the WRX STI, the Legacy does a fine job – driving-wise – competing against mid-sized sedans like the Toyota Corolla, Honda Accord and the Ford Fusion. The Legacy never feels overmatched, even in its base naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder 2.5i trim. We liked the CVT transmission on this model best, as the shifts occur, if you play with it, close to the redline. The steering is somewhat vague, which is expected, and the braking, while not up to STI rally car standards, is pretty good considering the price of the vehicle. The turbocharged 2.5GT version seems like a car for the aging WRX buyer who needs a sedan rather than a hot hatch.
Engine and Drivetrain
Subaru offers three powerplants for the Legacy, starting with a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, standard in 2.5i trim. The engine produces 170 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque, and is mated to either a six-speed manual transmission or an excellent CVT. A 3.6-liter, horizontally opposed six-cylinder is available in 3.6R trim, and it produces 256 horsepower and 247 lb-ft of torque. It’s only available with a five-speed automatic transmission. The most powerful option comes in the 2.5GT, and the turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder produces 265 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. It can only be had with a six-speed manual transmission.
Interesting Vehicle Features and Options
The optional CVT available in 2.5i trim is one of the best constant-velocity units we’ve had our hands on. Subaru has incorporated a manual mode that allows the driver to “shift” the transmission via paddle shifters, and while it’s not the kind of experience one gets from a true dual-clutch transmission, the shifts are smooth and remarkably quick. It also boasts the best fuel economy return of any of the gearboxes, seeing 31 mpg highway. Choosing the CVT will bump your price tag up around $1,000, but is well worth it. For those who opt for the manual transmission, Subaru’s hill holder function – which holds the break on a hill for an indefinite amount of time – is a boon for hilly city dwellers.
Key Technology Evaluation
Jump up to Premium trim on any of the three base models and you can get your hands on tricks like a Harmon/Kardon 440-watt sound system with iPod/USB interface and Bluetooth hands-free calling or voice-activated navigation. The Premium trim usually carries a $1,000 bump in price.
Green Evaluation/Gas Mileage
The star of the Legacy’s gas mileage show is the 2.5i equipped with the CVT. In that configuration, the car boasts 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway. The six-speed manual drops those figures to 19 mpg city/27 mpg highway. Surprisingly enough, both the 3.6R and the more powerful 2.5GT see a similarly impressive 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway. The 2.5i carries a PZEV rating.
A Closer Look: Vehicle Details
The 2010 Legacy is the roomiest Legacy of all time thanks to a wheelbase that’s nearly four-inches longer than the out-going model and a taller roof line that makes plenty of room for just about anyone. The dash is attractive enough with brushed accents and chrome gauge bezels, too.
Don’t let the pictures fool you. The Legacy’s new design is much more attractive in person than it is on screen. A striking nose with forward-raked headlights sets the tone for the car’s exterior, and it carries its extra height well thanks to a tall shoulder line. The new Legacy sedan is 1.4 inches longer, 2.7 inches wider and 3.3 inches taller than the previous model, which gives the owner more legroom and interior volume. The Legacy is all grown up.
Market Segment and Pricing
Pricing for the 2010 Subaru Legacy starts at $20,690 for the base, yet nicely equipped, 2.5i and rolls all the way up to a killer $30,690 for the 2.5GT Premium, including destination and handling. Those numbers put the Legacy in the same basket with sedans like the Honda Accord
for $20,905, the Toyota Camry
at $19,395, though neither of those cars offers full-time all-wheel drive. To get that luxury, you’ll have to look toward cars like the Audi A4
, starting at $31,000 or the Ford Fusion Sport AWD
at $27,675. If a turbo is what you want, look to spend $28,690 for the base 2.5GT and $30,690 for the 2.5GT Limited.
What We Think
The Legacy has always been remarkable by offering up an unparalleled combination of all-wheel drive and economy. The newest generation expands on that tradition by delivering massive interior space, a striking exterior and fuel economy that’s on par with the best front-wheel drive options out there. If you were in the market for a mid-sized sedan, you’d be hard-pressed to do better than the 2010 Legacy. If money is tight, the 2010 Subaru Legacy 2.5i at $19,995 is, to us, the best deal on the market today for a luxurious all-wheel drive sedan.