2010 Subaru Legacy 3.6R: All-new, bigger, roomier, and more power

February 21, 2010

3982611144_0f2ed34fc1_m.jpgThe popular Subaru Legacy that has been very successful for over twenty years has been completely redesigned in 2010. Although the new Legacy looks familiar, everything has been update on this car. The new Legacy, gets a fresh look on the outside, underneath, a new engine and transmission, and a redesigned suspension, and on the inside, a new larger interior and trunk. And of course, it comes with that well-known Symmetrical all-wheel drive system that put Subaru on the map.

This is the fifth-generation Legacy since it was first offered two decades ago. The best way to describe what Subaru has done for 2010 is to say that it is that there is more room and it is bigger than the previous generation. It comes with a 3.2-inch longer wheelbase adding nearly 4 inches of rear seat legroom, 9 percent increased passenger volume, and 30 percent increase in trunk space.  But it's only 1.4 inches longer overall, thanks to shorter overhangs. In addition, the Legacy has been widened by 3.6 inches and its chassis stiffened by 39 percent for better ride, handling and stability.

I test drove the 3.6R Premium ($25,995) which comes with the new 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine and five-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and 17-inch alloy wheels. Also included in the Premium package are a 10-way power driver's seat, cold weather package, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. It also came with the optional package ($1,990) with harmon/kardon Premium Audio System, Bluetooth, and a power moonroof. Other options included the popular equipment group ($695) with remote engine start, and auto-dim mirrors.

The 2010 Legacy is very comfortable on the inside, with redesigned front bucket seats and high quality materials throughout. One big difference in the new Legacy is in the size of the trunk. The trunk has increased by 14.7 cubic feet, which is a huge increase over the previous generation and large enough for four snowboards and all your gear.

There are four noticeable improvements upon driving the new Legacy, the first being how quiet the Legacy is on the inside. According to Subaru, this is due to a number of things, such as framed door glass and double sealing of all four doors. The second is the size of the rear doors which are 15 inches wider making it easier to get in and out.  The third is the center console now offers more space thanks to a new standard electric parking brake, which includes the Hill Holder system that now lasts until the car accelerates. The fourth is the electronically controlled heating/air system, with powerful and quiet air conditioning with an optional dual climate control.

Another of the key things contributing to the silence of the interior is the engineering of the new rigid chassis. According to Subaru, it's a fully reinforced cage of high-strength steel, although heavier, the new Legacy is still only 49 pounds heavier than before. There are also new fluid engine mounts, which add to the exceptional smoothness of the car. The suspension is all new with MacPherson struts in front, double wishbones in rear, and larger anti-roll bars. The wider track is part of the package for more stability, 2.7 inches wider in front and 3.3 inches in rear, which is considerable. In the week I drove the Legacy, there is a noticeable difference in the stability of the sedan especially during hard cornering.

Under the hood, the 3.6R horizontally opposed 6 cylinder engine has had a 20 percent increase in size over the previous 3.0R. The 3.6R offers the same 265 horsepower as the performance 2.5GT. It delivers smooth power along with the new 5-speed automatic transmission, while getting an estimated EPA 18 to 25 mpg on regular fuel. All models have Subaru's Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, and the 3.6R model uses Variable Torque Distribution which sends more power to the rear wheels but adjusts to the front when it senses the need. This makes it perform like a rear wheel drive with the benefits of all- wheel drive when you need it. Perfect for cold climates or warm.

It seems like Subaru has not missed a single area in improving the 2010 Legacys performance. They have updated the engine with more power, redesigned suspension, wider track, an improved five-speed transmission, more responsive brakes, and a quicker steering ratio. You cant do much more than that. With the advances in the engineering of the Subaru Legacy 3.6R, it is clearly ahead of the competition like Accord, Camry, Altima, Mazda6, and Passat.

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