2020 Subaru Legacy Limited XT new car reviews

[Editor's Note: Exterior photography features a 2020 Subaru Legacy Sport]

A turbocharger has been missing from the engine bay of the Legacy for a few years, but is now making a faithful return for the 2020 model year.

The Limited XT and Touring XT trims drop the naturally aspirated, 182-horsepower, 2.5-liter flat-four available across the rest of the range in favor of a turbocharged, 260-horsepower 2.4-liter flat-four shared with the Ascent and XT-trim Outbacks.

We were tossed the keys to an Limited XT, which sits below the range-topping Touring XT and above the top naturally aspirated trim, the Limited.

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David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

Dear Subaru,

What did you do to the Legacy? It now feels like a Lexus–and it feels so nice.

My unofficial sign that a car has gone up-market? Auto windows in all positions. The Legacy has them.

I’ve been a fan of Subarus for ages. They’ve always had that Subaru vibe to them–something that marches to its own beat. And with that vibe sometimes comes with a few harsh edges. It builds character, right?

The new-for-2020 Legacy still feels like a Subaru, but somehow also brings a lot of Lexus to the table. And this is good stuff. Keep reading. Trust me.

The touch points aren’t just soft, they feel luxurious. Just the detail work around the shifter is top-notch. This might be the nicest center armrest ever.

The seats are WRX-worthy. They’re not overly bolstered, but they’re supportive, comfortable. And they look good, too.

The steering wheel feels great. Proper gauges.

An 11.6-inch display–an iPad, basically–dominates the center of the dash. Fortunately knobs still exist for the radio. Personally, I’d love one more knob: for fan speed. Let's say 9/10.

Rear seat space seemed spot-on. I could easily sit behind myself with plenty of knee room to go.

Our test car had the turbo 2.4-liter engine paired with the Lineartronic CVT. Don’t make that face. Subaru seems to be one of the few who can make a CVT work, with this one being its best yet. It just does what it should: connect power to the wheels.

The turbo engine delivers a flat, flat torque curve. Pair the two, and it’s basically go and stop. No wait, no drama.

From the Subaru media site: “For 2020, the Legacy’s CVT hydraulic system features a lower viscosity oil that reduces horsepower loss by 32 percent compared to the previous model’s CVT, helping the new model achieve both higher fuel economy and greater driving performance.”

So maybe that’s part of the new secret sauce.

Price for our car is $34,195 plus delivery–so $35,095 total. That sum, more or less, also purchases a loaded Camry or Accord. The Camry easily wins the horsepower game, but it’s still a close race. Then add in something unique to the Subaru: all-wheel drive.

One more thing, again from the Subaru media site:

“All Subaru products are manufactured in zero-landfill production plants and Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. is the only U.S. automobile production plant to be designated a backyard wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.”

Thanks, Subaru.

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View comments on the GRM forums
Feedyurhed UltraDork
7/17/20 5:26 a.m.

Nice write up. I like Subaru too. And Lexus. Crossing of the two is not a bad thing.  Might have to check it out.  Now if they would only put a manual and a turbo into the Forester. 

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/17/20 5:47 a.m.

As Subaru has been building CVT transmissions since the Justy, I would hope they would have them "right" by now.

Honestly, I didn't know Subaru was still making a sedan version of the Legacy.

DirtyBird222 UberDork
7/17/20 9:57 a.m.
Ian F (Forum Supporter) said:

As Subaru has been building CVT transmissions since the Justy, I would hope they would have them "right" by now.

Honestly, I didn't know Subaru was still making a sedan version of the Legacy.

Their CVTs are hot garbage like Nissans IMO. The baby momma has had a 2014 Forester, 2016 Forester XT, and 2019 Crosstrek all with the CVT and they are all trash. The Forester XT had the most issues with low speed bucking that felt like one of those 25 cent space ship rides you used to see outside of convenience stores in the 80s and 90s. Subaru techs would always say "we can't duplicate the issue" or "its just normal Subaru CVT operation." 

Anyways - it's cool to see this big car will no longer be anemic. It's a step closer to a Legacy Wagon we'll never get. 

7/17/20 10:36 a.m.

That 2.4 "world" engine is really getting around, but it's tunes have a wild range- 260 here, but near 300+ in the Ascent.

I second that feeling on Subie CVTs being clunky. They aren't like Nissans where they break routinely but they DO a lot of weird stuff that doesn't feel nice. Mine sends what I can only describe as a "Pulsing vibration" when it's heated up and I've been driving frequently; it starts at the rear and goes into the right rear tire.

Robert Sherman
Robert Sherman New Reader
7/18/20 7:44 p.m.

In reply to Feedyurhed :

You cannot get a manual (I assume you mean 'transmission'

Rodan Dork
7/18/20 8:27 p.m.

Almost 16 years ago, we bought an '05 Legacy GT.

At that time, they were as quick as a Boxster, and were a great, affordable option in the AWD sport sedan market.  A real alternative to Audi.  And came with a manual transmission.

15 years later, it has a whopping 10 more hp, no manual (or auto!) trans, and a Camry looks better.

What happened, Subaru?

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