When the Legacy arrived in 1989, it represented a major shakeup in the highly competitive North American midsize car landscape. Then, five years later, it shook the foundations of the ultraconservative midsize lineup by offering all-wheel drive as a standard feature – regardless of trim level. No other manufacturer even came close to that bold strategy.
But the prized setup for a lot of Subaru enthusiasts was a Legacy with a turbocharger. From 1991 to 1994, the Legacy Sport Sedan featured a turbocharged EJ22T – a completely unique engine from the EJ22E, the non-turbo engine in less powerful Legacy models. After three model years (two for the Touring Wagon), the EJ22T would be the last turbocharged Subaru product available for sale in North America until the WRX arrived in 2002.
Two generations of Legacy sedans would pass before a turbocharger would nestle again in the engine bay. For the 2005 model year, the stylish fourth-generation Legacy marked the return of the turbocharged engine to the Legacy lineup. Derived from the WRX STI engine, the 2.5-liter turbocharged SUBARU BOXER® engine was available on the first 5-speed automatic transmission offered in a Subaru, with SPORTSHIFT® technology licensed from Prodrive.
A turbocharged EJ25 engine arrived with the fifth-generation Legacy in the 2010 model year, but bowed out when the sixth-generation Legacy arrived in the 2015 model year.
That brings us to the 30th birthday of the Legacy in 2019. Subaru of America announced at the Chicago Auto Show® in February that the turbo is back for the seventh-generation Legacy in model year 2020 – and it’s better than ever.
Standard in both the Legacy Limited XT and Touring XT trim levels is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder SUBARU BOXER with 260 hp at 5,600 rpm. With a flat torque curve – 277 lb-ft anywhere between 1,000 and 4,800 rpm – the turbocharged Legacy offers confident acceleration on busy on-ramps or carving twisty mountain grades.
Almost as important as the turbocharger is the high-torque Lineartronic® CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). It helps the turbocharged engine deliver an impressive 24/32 mpg city/highway fuel economy,1 but it can also launch the Legacy XT models to 60 miles per hour in an estimated 6.1 seconds. The CVT’s hydraulic system pumps lower viscosity oil that reduces horsepower loss by 32% compared to the previous CVT, allowing for both better fuel economy and greater driving performance. A manual mode with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters allows even greater driver control.
The 2020 Legacy Limited XT and Touring XT are just as much about cornering performance as they are about acceleration. The new Legacy is built on the Subaru Global Platform and, as a result, the entire structure is 70% stiffer in torsional and front-suspension rigidity. Both front lateral flexural and rear subframe rigidity are improved by a factor of 100%.
Better stiffness equals greater performance. The steering is more responsive and handling is sharper, resulting in both better cornering performance and hazard avoidance in emergency situations. Crash protection increases, too, because the structure can absorb 40% more energy in both front and side crashes than previous models.
Even the location of the engine is calculated to provide better performance. The Legacy features a Boxer 4 engine, which inherently offers a lower center of gravity than a similar-sized inline 4-cylinder. But the Subaru Global Platform mounts the engine lower in the chassis, improving the sedan’s overall center of gravity dramatically.
The 2020 Legacy Limited XT and Touring XT both benefit from a newly engineered suspension to match that stiffer chassis. Up front, the MacPherson-type struts include a new internal rebound spring, aluminum lower L-arms and a 23 mm hollow stabilizer bar. At the rear is a double wishbone setup mounted to a subframe, with coil springs and a new 19 mm hollow stabilizer bar. The V-rated all-season tires ride on 18-inch alloy wheels, and the stopping power comes from four ventilated disc brakes.
It all adds up to the 2020 Legacy Limited XT and Touring XT offering the highest levels of dynamic performance and ride comfort in the model’s entire 30-year history.
1 EPA-estimated highway fuel economy for 2020 Legacy 2.5L models at 35 highway mpg and 2020 Legacy XL models at 32 highway mpg.
2 Harman Kardon® is a registered trademark of Harman International Industries, Incorporated.