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TheCarConnection.com's editors drove the new Subaru Legacy in order to give you an expert opinion. TheCarConnection.com's auto experts then researched available road tests on the new Subaru Legacy to produce this conclusive review and to help you find the truth where other reviews might differ.
The Subaru Legacy allows both all-weather capability and a sportier character than most other mid-size sedans. For 2009 Subaru boosted its all-wheel-drive Legacy sedan lineup by adding a second six-cylinder model, the new 3.0R, and several other models get increased standard equipment.
The 2009 2.5i and 2.5i Limited models pick up a 170-horsepower, 2.5-liter horizontally opposed ("flat") four. Models with the base engine have either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. With the base engine, the 2009 Subaru Legacy has adequate power when carrying a light load, but if you plan on hauling a lot of stuff or driving in the mountains, the engine can feel taxed. It's made worse by the four-speed automatic, which can shift abruptly and has rather widely spaced gears.
The 2.5 GT Limited and Spec.B models upgrade to a high-performance turbocharged 2.5-liter flat-four making 243 horsepower. Turbo models have either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic, which comes with Sportshift paddle shifters and a rev-matching downshift throttle-blipping feature for performance driving. The turbocharged engine in the GT Limited and Spec.B is the most responsive, with none of the turbo lag that sometimes plagues turbos, but the six is the smoothest and most refined.
At the top there's a 245-horsepower, 3.0-liter flat-six powering the 3.0 R Limited. The six-cylinder engine comes with just the five-speed automatic. 2009 Subaru Legacy models with the turbocharged four or the six-cylinder engine get SI-DRIVE, a system that has three different modes that allow throttle response, transmission shift, and other characteristics to change from smooth to sharp as desired.
Handling is especially sharp in GT Spec.B models, though not at the expense of comfort. The 2009 Subaru Legacy Spec.B model brings additional performance hardware to bring better handling and get the most out of the turbo engine's additional power. The functional extras include a Bilstein sport suspension, larger brakes, summer performance tires, a heavy-duty gearbox, four-pinion front differential, and rear Torsen limited-slip differential; these are joined by other extras, including a moonroof, fog lamps, heated mirrors, heated seats, dual-zone climate control, a navigation system, and many appearance enhancements.
Top 3.0R models see many of these same improvements, plus the flat-six engine. Even in one of the less expensive models, the 2009 Subaru Legacy handles very well on the road, with crisp, rather communicative steering and not much body lean. Ride comfort is quite good as well, but road noise can be an issue inside on coarse road surfaces.
Seating in the Legacy is comfortable in front, though front-seat occupants might find headroom tight. Overall, the interior is rather basic but attractive with matte-metallic materials and mid-grade plastics; there are no overt luxury pretenses here, except in the top 2009 Subaru Legacy models, which pile on the convenience features and upgrades.
Anti-lock brakes, front-seat side airbags, and active front head restraints are all included. Electronic stability control isn't available on much of the line, but it's included in the GT Spec.B and 3.0R. The 2009 Subaru Legacy is one of the safest sedans of any size or price; it receives top five-star results from the federal government in both frontal and side-impact tests, as well as straight "good" ratings (the best possible) from the IIHS for frontal, side, and rear impact.
The Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) stability and traction control system is now standard on the 2.5i models, and all Legacys, except the base 2.5i, receive a new 385-watt Harman Kardon audio system
Some of the latest expected tech features, such as a Bluetooth interface, an iPod interface, and live traffic updates aren't available on the Legacy.