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MM Test-Drive: 2019 Subaru Legacy 2.5i

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MM Test-Drive: 2019 Subaru Legacy 2.5i

 
Old 06-07-19, 06:43 PM
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mmarshall
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Default MM Test-Drive: 2019 Subaru Legacy 2.5i













https://www.subaru.com/vehicles/legacy/index.html

Recently, a lady from my church, whom I have known for many years, asked me for some advice on replacing the Nissan Altima that she has leased....with the lease-term soon to expire. She actually has had several Altimas, and, this time, was thinking about an AWD (All-Wheel-Drive) version, since Nissan now offers that option on the Altima...in fact, it is Nissan's first AWD sedan in the American market, and possibly ever. The D.C. area here is not known for the kind of severe winters typically found further north and west, but we do get occasional snowstorms, and she still has to commute to work in sometimes less-than-ideal road conditions...so the AWD may be a good investment.

She mentioned to me that she is not impressed with the way she's been treated with her local Nissan dealer, so I suggested some AWD alternatives. At the D.C. Auto Show this year, the Nissan representatives, on the floor, were pushing the idea that the Altima is the only mid-sized sedan in its class, here in the U.S. market, that offers AWD. I pointed out to them that both the mid-sized Subaru Legacy sedan offers standard AWD, and some versions of the mid-sized Ford Fusion also offer it as an option, and they gave me a funny look and claimed that the Legacy and Fusion weren't in the Altima's class. As far as I'm concerned, that's B.S...they are all roughly the same size, and all three compete directly against each other....and other Front-Wheel-Drive rivals. It's true that Ford has been up and down lately on the Fusion's future in the American market, and it may be living on borrowed time. But, as of now, it's still officially offered on Ford's American market website, so they haven't shut down the plant yet.

No matter, though....she said she already looked at the Fusion, and didn't like the way it was designed, and that she found it cramped inside. Fusions have also had spotty reliability....some of them have ben quite good, others lemons. I told her I was also somewhat leery of the long-term quality and reliability of Nissan products now that Renault owns them....they don't make bulletproof vehicles like they did 20 years ago in the 1990s. Her (previous) leased Altima's have been OK and reasonably reliable, but she has only kept them a few years and not put that many miles on them.


So, that left the Subaru Legacy, which IMO, along with other Subaru products, has the best car-based AWD system on the market. I myself had an Outback for almost six years, and nothing would stop it in the winter. She didn't really want an Outback, as she prefers sedans for their lower stance. So, that gets us back to the Legacy, as it is the same platform and drivetrain as the Outback, but in a lower-stance sedan. Today, I looked at, and test-drove, a white 2019 Legacy 2.5i (base-model) with black cloth interior. I was in for a few surprises.

The first surprise was the car's very low sticker price for a mid-sized sedan.....especially with AWD. Base-model four-cylinder Legacys start at only $22,545, and the one I drove, with minimal options and basically just a shipping charge, listed for an extremely reasonable $23,780, and the dealer-asking price for it was $22,028. That's almost as low as the smaller, less-substantial, compact Impreza sedan, which doesn't have as much interior room or refinement....the base-level Legacy is substantially more car for just a few more dollars. Of course, for a price that low, nothing's a free lunch.....you give up some features you would typically get in more-expensive trim versions, like, in this case, having to start the engine with a older-type key/fob and side-column ignition-switch instead of the now-quite-common Start/Stop push-button. But, still, I can think of a lot worse things to do than having to crank my own ignition switch LOL. I don't know this for a fact, but I'm guessing, with a fairly strong guess, that the reason Subaru prices the current Legacy so low is the depressed sedan-market in the U.S. and that they just aren't selling very many Legacys. The huge number of Outback and Forester sales (and more recently, the Crosstrek) has left the Legacys sitting almost unnoticed in the corner of the lot. The Subaru shop I was at, for example, had put a nice dark red Legacy Limited (with beige leather interior) just inside the front door of the showroom, next to the sales-manager's desk, so it was the first car you saw as you walked inside.

Inside the car, I tried to evaluate the interior in terms of what she would like (and need). It fit my (formerly) 6' 2" frame and baseball cap with no problem...though I suspect that as I have aged (I don't have one foot in the grave yet, but I'm still no Spring Chicken) I might have lost a little in height, as many older people do as their spinal-column compresses. Still, even so, that was the second-surprise.....I had adequate headroom, even with the seat-cushion not adjusted entirely all the way down (there were manually-operated seat levers, of course, in the base model Legacy). The front seat itself was comfortable for me, despite the fact that Subaru seats tend to be quite-firmly-padded....that was one of the few complaints I had with my 2006 Outback, but the firm padding in this latest version of the Legacy, for some reason, just seemed more comfortable. The third surprise (also inside) was, except for some of the cheap plastic center/stack controls/buttons and video-screen, most of the materials used were not bargain-basement...which was even more surprising at that low price. The upper-dash, most of the door-panel trim, arm rests, console, and the majority of interior trim-pieces had either actual padding or soft-touch surfaces. It was not particularly plush-looking in physical appearance, but actually felt a lot better than it looked. The stereo-sound quality sounded like something out of a more expensive vehicle. There were a couple of flaws inside, though...the worst was probably the overly-complex menu/scrolling for the Driver's Information Center...trip odometer, tire-pressures, oil-life monitor, etc.... You not only had to scroll through numerous complex pre-menus, but had to choose between Metric and English readouts for virtually every function and hand-set them. It was so complex I gave up and had a sales-rep coach me through part of it...but, once you get everything set the way you want it (or need it), you probably won't have to adjust it much any more.

On the road, it was typical Subaru four-cylinder, without a turbo, with the typical Subaru flat-four engine characteristics. That means a small amount of grating sound at idle, and under acceleration, that Subaru flat-fours are known for. Not noisy by any means, but noticeable compared to some in-line or V-engines. Power level is adequate for most normal driving (and especially since she tends to be a sedate driver), but the CVT (Continuously-Variable automatic Transmission) could use some fine-tuning. It was a little jumpy starting up from rest unless you feather-foot the throttle...but you get used to it after a few minutes and compensate. There was a faint hint of CVT motor-boating (engine-RPM slip on acceleration) characteristics, but not high or pronounced. The CVT has a manual-shift mode (if desired) with solid-feeling shift-paddles on the steering column, and five built-in "Steps" that simulate gears in a conventional automatic. I told her that she wouldn't avoid getting a CVT even if she went with a new Nissan Altima, as American-market Altimas come with a standard CVT...in fact, from the same transmission-supplier that Subaru uses.

General driving characteristics make the Legacy feel like a slightly smaller car, although it is, in fact, a mid-size sedan, not a compact. The hood line doesn't block much of the road in front of you, steering response is reasonably quick, and there is a reasonable amount of road feel for an electric power-steering unit. Ride quality, something that is VERY important in my book, and reasonably important in hers, was not bad at all (Subarus are known for good suspension engineering), and the standard 55-series tires on the base Legacy model have a decent amount of give, in the sidewalls, over bumps and pothole-impact protection for the wheel-rims. Wind-noise was well-controlled from the high-quality construction of the door-fits and window-seals, and there was only a small amount of road noise. Brakes were effective, and I noticed no problems with my big shoe (her foot is definitely smaller than mine LOL) and gas/brake pedal placement.

Past versions of the Subaru non-turbo four cylinders have had problems with, first, head-gaskets, and, later, premature oil-use from defective piston rings in the engine. From what I can tell, though, the head gasket problems more or less ended around ten years ago, and the defective rings only from 2012 to 2014 (maybe also some 2015s). The standard engine/powertrain warranty, like that of most mainstream Japanese brands (also Nissan's, of course) is 5 years/60,000 miles on the drivetrain and 3 years/36,000 miles on the rest of the vehicle. So, if she wants a new Legacy, I can definitely recommend one....especially at the base-model Legacy's bargain price.

And, as Always, Happy Car-Shopping.

MM

Last edited by mmarshall; 06-07-19 at 07:09 PM.
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Old 06-07-19, 07:16 PM
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Are sales up or down on the year for this car?
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Old 06-07-19, 07:28 PM
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Originally Posted by LexsCTJill View Post
Are sales up or down on the year for this car?

In the American market, down. The numbers so far, for 2019, are just over half of what they were four years ago, in 2015.

http://carsalesbase.com/us-car-sales...subaru-legacy/

It never was that big a seller in the American market, compared to the huge numbers of the Forester and Outback.

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Old 06-07-19, 07:59 PM
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I do like the car. But it reminds me of the 2012 Camry
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Old 06-07-19, 08:08 PM
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My front door neighbor has one of these; he is an engineer in his late 60's who works only a few days a week.
Another neighbor down the street also has one too.
The Legacy is usefully 49" tall, and I guess maybe the neat but very conservative styling lets it down, otherwise it deserves to be more popular.
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Old 06-07-19, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by peteharvey View Post
I guess maybe the neat but very conservative styling lets it down,
How does it let down? It's not supposed to be a sports car, though, admittedly, sport-sedan Legacy GT models, with the turbo 4 and manual transmission, were sold for a number of years. They didn't sell enough in the American market to keep the GT in production, though.

My front door neighbor has one of these; he is an engineer in his late 60's
He's probably enough of an engineer to appreciate the relatively simple, symmetrical way that Subaru designs their AWD systems...considered arguably the best ones on the market.
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Old 06-07-19, 08:20 PM
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One other nice thing about the Legacy is that, like some other Subaru models, it is built at the Subaru plant at Lafayette, IN, so one can buy or lease a new Legacy knowing that he or she has helped support American labor. Every job, in every American auto plant within our borders, becomes more and more important every day, especially in this age of constant globalization.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subaru...utomotive,_Inc.
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Old 06-07-19, 10:22 PM
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A smart buy, but one would be getting a dated vehicle. It's at least one generation behind everything else.
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Old 06-08-19, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Fizzboy7 View Post
A smart buy, but one would be getting a dated vehicle. It's at least one generation behind everything else.

Not everyone cares about having the newest or most advanced of everything. And Subies, brand-new or not, still have what are some of the best car-based AWD systems in the book....simple, refined, and easy to repair. If one is willing to give up a couple of small conveniences, the 23K 2.5i Legacy I sampled is a lot of car for the money.
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Old 06-08-19, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Fizzboy7 View Post
A smart buy, but one would be getting a dated vehicle. It's at least one generation behind everything else.
I agree. I look at this and I see 2012 Camry. I think at the time the two vehicles shared assembly or parts stuff. I do think it gets updated for 2020

Last edited by LexsCTJill; 06-08-19 at 06:49 AM.
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Old 06-08-19, 06:56 AM
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Originally Posted by mmarshall View Post
like, in this case, having to start the engine with a older-type key/fob and side-column ignition-switch instead of the now-quite-common Start/Stop push-button. But, still, I can think of a lot worse things to do than having to crank my own ignition switch LOL.
MM
II agree with you. I don't think a manual switch is that bad. I used to have a push button start and went but to a manual method. At a higher price point in better be push button.

Originally Posted by mmarshall View Post
Inside the car, I tried to evaluate the interior in terms of what she would like (and need). It fit my (formerly) 6' 2" frame and baseball cap with no problem...though I suspect that as I have aged (I don't have one foot in the grave yet, but I'm still no Spring Chicken) I might have lost a little in height, as many older people do as their spinal-column compresses. Still, even so, that was the second-surprise.....I had adequate headroom, even with the seat-cushion not adjusted entirely all the way down (there were manually-operated seat levers, of course, in the base model Legacy). The front seat itself was comfortable for me, despite the fact that Subaru seats tend to be quite-firmly-padded....that was one of the few complaints I had with my 2006 Outback, but the firm padding in this latest version of the Legacy, for some reason, just seemed more comfortable. The third surprise (also inside) was, except for some of the cheap plastic center/stack controls/buttons and video-screen, most of the materials used were not bargain-basement...which was even more surprising at that low price. The upper-dash, most of the door-panel trim, arm rests, console, and the majority of interior trim-pieces had either actual padding or soft-touch surfaces. It was not particularly plush-looking in physical appearance, but actually felt a lot better than it looked. The stereo-sound quality sounded like something out of a more expensive vehicle. There were a couple of flaws inside, though...the worst was probably the overly-complex menu/scrolling for the Driver's Information Center...trip odometer, tire-pressures, oil-life monitor, etc.... You not only had to scroll through numerous complex pre-menus, but had to choose between Metric and English readouts for virtually every function and hand-set them. It was so complex I gave up and had a sales-rep coach me through part of it...but, once you get everything set the way you want it (or need it), you probably won't have to adjust it much any more.


M
I do like the interior a lot. I like the traditional design compared to the newer cars that have the pop up tablet.

Originally Posted by mmarshall View Post
And, as Always, Happy Car-Shopping.

MM
This was a good review. I enjoyed reading it.



Last edited by LexsCTJill; 06-08-19 at 07:01 AM.
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Old 06-08-19, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by LexsCTJill View Post
II agree with you. I don't think a manual switch is that bad. I used to have a push button start and went but to a manual method. At a higher price point in better be push button.
Many years ago, on American cars, you had to use both a key and a button to start. You inserted a key in the ignition switch and turned it to activate the electrical system, and then pressed a starter-button to actually crank the starter. Then, it went to a simple key in a dash-mounted switch (Ford and AMC, unlike Chrysler and GM, used a double-sided key which worked either way......GM was even worse, with separate flimsy door and ignition keys). Then, in 1969, GM, as an anti-theft measure, invented the key/column-lock, on the steering column, which locked the steering wheel when not in use. The next year, 1970, the government made the new lock standard across the board for all new cars. There it pretty much remained, until, with advances in electronics, it went back to starter-buttons, this time without a key....just with the electronic fob close by.


I do like the interior a lot. I like the traditional design compared to the newer cars that have the pop up tablet.
Yes, it's not plush-looking, but uses surprisingly nice materials that (almost) all have either padded or soft-touch surfaces. Subaru really got grilled on the hard Plastic-O-Matic interiors of the Imprezas/WRXs some years ago (somewhat similar to the 2012 Honda Civic), and, I think, learned from that.



This was a good review. I enjoyed reading it.
Thanks. This one was, of course, not a full-review. I will have full-reviews coming up on the new 2020 Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator as soon as they are released. The Explorers should be out by the end of this month.
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Old 06-08-19, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by mmarshall View Post
How does it let down?
What I like most about Legacy is its 49 inch overall height.
Traditionally, cars have become bigger, taller and heavier with successive generations.
The Camry started life in 1984 as a compact, but today it is a midsizer.
Like the Legacy, I thought Toyota should have continued to make the current gen 2018-24 Camry taller.
In that way, I thought sales would be maintained, since the previous 2012-18 Camry peaked at a whopping 429,000 units/year USA.

Although Toyota has made the new Camry softer and quieter than ever, Toyota also decided to make the new Camry "lowered", and this could very well be why current Camry sales plummeted to just 343,000 units last year, as consumers are forced into RAV4 which peaked at 427,000 last year.

Consumers don't necessarily want to purchase the RAV4, but consumers are forced to purchase the RAV4 because new Camry has been lowered.
President Akio must genuinely go back to Toyota's grass roots and make a proper semi-luxury sedan in Camry, and abandon all the sports suspension, sports noise, and sports ride height nonsense.
Why not make a Camry F Sport and have that trim lowered by a good 2" on 20" 35 Series Tires?
President Akio must learn not to sportify the entire range, but to limit sports mods to only the sports trim.

Any how, I think Legacy is decent enough, but it only garners 40,000 sales; perhaps the styling is too ordinary is one possibility...
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Old 06-08-19, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by peteharvey View Post
What I like most about Legacy is its 49 inch overall height.
It's a reasonable height for most people to get in and out of....but definitely not as tall as its Outback cousin.

In that way, I thought sales would be maintained, since the previous 2012-18 Camry peaked at a whopping 429,000 units/year USA.
The superb 3rd-generation (1992-1996) Camry was the one that really sold Americans on its design.....I still see a lot of them running around today. IMO, it's been a long and gradual decline in quality ever since (and, to some extent, the later Camrys were selling on its previous reputation), though the latest one does have some improvements.

Although Toyota has made the new Camry softer and quieter than ever, Toyota also decided to make the new Camry "lowered", and this could very well be why current Camry sales plummeted to just 343,000 units last year, as consumers are forced into RAV4 which peaked at 427,000 last year.

Consumers don't necessarily want to purchase the RAV4, but consumers are forced to purchase the RAV4 because new Camry has been lowered.
The Highlander (and Lexus RX) are the SUVs actually done on the Camry platform. The RAV-4 (and Lexus NX) are more closely associated with the Corolla.


President Akio must genuinely go back to Toyota's grass roots and make a proper semi-luxury sedan in Camry, and abandon all the sports suspension, sports noise, and sports ride height nonsense.
Absolutely. Except for the lack of wood-tone and chrome trim inside, Toyota really got it right with the 3Gen 1992-1996 Camry I mentioned above. It drove like a luxury sedan.....for a bread-and-butter price. After that, though, cost-cutting and an increasing tendency towards sportiness gradually set in.

Any how, I think Legacy is decent enough, but it only garners 40,000 sales; perhaps the styling is too ordinary is one possibility...
The Forester and Outback have an enormous cult-crowd of buyers that just loves them.....particularly in New England and in the harsh-climate Rockies. The Legacy has just not been able to gather the same type of following, although my friend is one of the relative few that is adamant she wants a sedan rather than an SUV.
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Old 06-09-19, 06:24 AM
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Originally Posted by peteharvey View Post
What I like most about Legacy is its 49 inch overall height.
the legacy is 59” tall. the camry, accord, and altima are all 57”. i suspect the legacy is 59” to accomodate its standard awd hardware. Front headroom is the same across all of them including the legacy.

Consumers don't necessarily want to purchase the RAV4, but consumers are forced to purchase the RAV4 because new Camry has been lowered.
a last gen camry was just 1” taller at 58”. hardly forcing anyone.

President Akio must genuinely go back to Toyota's grass roots and make a proper semi-luxury sedan in Camry, and abandon all the sports suspension, sports noise, and sports ride height nonsense.
while i agree that quad exhaust SE sporty camrys are a joke, high line non-sport camrys are just what you say, premium sedan, quiet, comfortable, and of course, extremely reliable. they haven’t abandoned anything really. made it a bit more stylish, sure, but boring won’t cut it anymore.

Any how, I think Legacy is decent enough, but it only garners 40,000 sales; perhaps the styling is too ordinary is one possibility...
Subaru has a great niche, the LL Bean crowd the awd, no-nonsense design, practical features, good value, appeal to that niche. if they competed directly with camry they’d get crushed.
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