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PERFORMANCE | 9 out of 10
“2.5GT models get a significant boost in performance”
“Continuously variable automatic transmission takes a while to serve up the passing power”
“A smooth cruiser on the highway and a capable back-road bomber”
Car and Driver
Although one of Subaru’s hallmarks is its devotion to safety, the brand has maintained a strong performance emphasis (see the WRX lineup). For the Subaru Legacy, 2010 brings some upgrades in performance capabilities, and once again this sedan is more than deserving of the “sport sedan” moniker.
The 2010 Subaru Legacy sedan offers three engine choices. According to JDPower.com reviewers, Subaru Legacy “2.5i models are powered by a revised, 2.5-liter 4-cylinder boxer engine,” while the 2010 Subaru Legacy “2.5GT models get a significant boost in performance from a 2.5-liter turbocharged/intercooled engine (based on the Impreza WRX engine).” At the top end of the cylinder count, Car and Driver reports that “the $25,690 R model upgrades from a 3.0-liter flat-six to a 3.6-liter flat-six making 256 hp.” All three engines rate well in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, but the WRX-sourced turbo-four is definitely the favorite. Edmunds warns that “the base 2.5-liter engine won’t elicit any grins, but its power is certainly adequate for most folks.” Cars.com confirms that assessment, finding it “gets up and goes without protest.” All the reviews surveyed by TheCarConnection.com rave about the new 2.5-liter turbo four-cylinder that Edmunds says “is much more of a thrill.” Autoblog considers the turbocharged Subaru Legacy “the most engaging” vehicle in the lineup “by a winding country mile,” calling the powerplant “a flexible gem with fuel economy equal to that of the 3.6R.” Speaking of the six-cylinder option, Autoblog declares it “a markedly better package than its predecessor,” with “plenty of juice under all conditions.”
In addition to the new powerplants, the 2010 Subaru Legacy sedan features a new transmission option: the oft-derided CVT, although Subaru has executed its CVT rather well. Car and Driver reviewers say the “CVT surprised us,” as it “manages to keep the revs low when cruising and the droning, golf-cart-style acceleration typically associated with a CVT to a minimum.” The Subaru Legacy 2010 lineup also offers a pair of more standard transmissions, with JDPower.com finding a “new 6-speed manual…on 2.5i models,” as well as a standard five-speed automatic that pairs with the six-cylinder engine. Some prospective buyers will be disappointed to hear Edmunds note there is “no automatic transmission available with the turbocharged engine,” but Subaru figures that most drivers opting for the sportiest of Legacies will want to row their own gears anyway.
One of the benefits of the CVT offered on the base 2.5i is that it affords excellent fuel economy, especially once you factor in the standard AWD that comes with each Subaru Legacy 2010 model. According to the official EPA estimates, the 2010 Subaru Legacy 2.5i with the CVT should return 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway, while the standard manual 2.5i gets a 19/27 mpg rating. Moving up the power chart, the EPA estimates that the Subaru Legacy 2.5GT will get 18 mpg city and 25 highway, as will the six-cylinder option.
All versions of the 2010 Subaru Legacy feature tight tuning that makes them a joy to drive hard; Cars.com is particularly pleased to find that the 2010 Subaru Legacy offers “the same nimble steering the 2009 model had,” while Automobile Magazine reports that overall “body motions are well controlled, and the Legacy is stable going down the road thanks largely to its wider track and longer wheelbase.” JDPower.com credits the Subaru Legacy’s “new rear suspension” for the capable handling, and Autoblog asserts that the new suspension gives the Subaru Legacy “more composed handling with less roll.” Braking response has been improved significantly as well—Automobile Magazine states that “Subaru claims a 20 percent improvement in response from the new brake booster.”
Handling is excellent, and acceleration is strong in all but the base 2.5i; that model redeems itself with class-leading fuel efficiency from the CVT.