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Weidel on Wheels: Subaru has a standout in the mid-size sea

Legacy sedan has a new, edgier look and good performance
By: Jeffrey Weidel
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Americans have always loved their mid-size vehicles. For proof, check out last year’s numbers: There were more than 3,000 mid-size automobiles sold, a figure that was exceeded only by the trendy crossover segment. No doubt gas mileage has something to do with the mid-size sales volume. Who doesn’t like to stretch the distance one can travel on a tank of gas? Price is another consideration for a segment that typically won’t elicit a large monthly car payment. Because they have always been volume sellers, the competition is pretty fierce. Everyone knows about the popularity of Honda and Toyota models. Although never sharing that same notoriety, Subaru has always produced a solid entry in the Legacy. A remodeling for 2010 has the Legacy in its fifth generation. Unlike some redesigns that offer only modest changes, the Legacy made significant alterations. The difference everyone notices immediately is outward appearance. This Legacy has a somewhat edgy design, making a departure from the past with some hefty flared fenders, large headlights and a beefy front end. Sleek it’s not. All trims have the same outward appearance, but there are certainly variations in performance. The 2010 Subaru Legacy GT driven here had impressive power. It can back up the new sporty look with a high-performing 2.5-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder that has 265 horsepower. Even though the 3.6-liter, V-6 version would seem more powerful, it has nine less horsepower and can’t beat the turbocharged Legacy off the line. The more modest entry level Legacy is a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder with 170 horsepower. However, don’t let performance lead you too far astray — keep an eye on the price tag. The entry-level model goes for $19,995, while the turbo takes a huge leap to $29,995. Both are good on gas, with the GT Turbo getting slightly less at 18 to 23 miles per gallon. Note that all Subaru models still come equipped with all-wheel drive as a standard feature. With an increase of 3.3 inches in height, 3.5 inches in width and 3.2 inches in wheelbase, the Legacy provides substantial gains in roominess in all areas — head, shoulder and leg. The front seat is roomy and the backseat can now accommodate three adults without the usual squeeze. Trunk space is long and can store quite a bit. The Legacy has always been one of the better handling mid-size sedans and that hasn’t changed. It sticks to the road, aided naturally by its all-wheel drive capacity. Subaru says the ride is even smoother, thanks to the addition of a new double-wishbone rear suspension. The Legacy handles the bumps well and brakes confidently even with the additional weight. __________ 2010 Subaru Legacy GT Price: Starting at $29,995 Mileage estimate: 18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway Power: 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 265 horsepower Standard features include: All-wheel drive; antilock disc brakes with brake assist; stability control; eight-way power driver seat, four-way power passenger seat; automatic climate control; leather upholstery; keyless entry; power windows, doors, mirrors