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2020 Subaru Legacy gets turbo, big new infotainment screen in Chicago

A new platform and a huge 11.6-inch Starlink infotainment screen headline the midsize sedan's changes.

Subaru

Besides offering standard all-wheel drive, the Subaru Legacy has been one of the duller entries in the midsize sedan segment. In terms of performance and styling, it's been a largely forgettable car for the last couple of generations, something that wasn't always the case. 

A stiffer platform should pay dividends in handling and ride comfort. 

Subaru

Time-hop back a decade, and you could buy new a Legacy 2.5GT spec.B with a turbocharged engine and manual gearbox that was like a more mature WRX STI. With the debut of an all-new 2020 Legacy at the Chicago Auto Show, Subaru hopes to return some pep to its midsize sedan step with a new platform and return of a turbo engine option. The most important change to shoppers, however, may be its huge new infotainment screen.

With a move onto the Subaru Global Platform that debuted underneath the latest Impreza, the seventh-generation Legacy makes huge gains in structural strength. Torsional and front suspension rigidity is up 70 percent, while rear subframe stiffness doubles compared with the current Subaru Legacy. That comes courtesy of more ultrahigh-tensile-strength steel, structural adhesive and new construction techniques.

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A reworked MacPherson strut front suspension with internal rebound springs and aluminum lower control arms is bolted to the stiffer platform. A double wishbone setup is out back with the whole thing riding on either 17- or 18-inch all-season tires. Together, Subaru says the new Legacy will boast more responsive steering and handling along with smoother ride comfort.

Powering Base, Premium, Sport and Limited versions will be a familiar 2.5-liter boxer four-cylinder engine making 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. With a continuously variable transmission Subaru estimates that it'll hit 60 mph in 8.4 seconds and return 27 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.

The big engine news is the arrival of a new 2.4-liter turbocharged flat four that replaces the 3.6-liter six-cylinder in the lineup. Available in the Limited XT and Touring XT trims, it delivers 260 horses and 277 pound-feet of torque between 2,000 and 4,800 rpm. Like the naturally aspirated base engine, the turbo works with a CVT returning an estimated 24 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. Subaru says the XT models will hit 60 mph in a not superquick, but respectable 6.1 seconds.

A much more premium-looking cabin is dominated by a 11.6-inch vertical infotainment screen.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

Visually, the new Legacy isn't too dramatic a departure from the car it replaces, with a slightly sleeker front end and roofline. It's far from an exciting design, but it's clean and inoffensive. Inside, Subaru is promising quieter and roomier accommodations with the range-topping XT Touring model featuring premium Nappa leather.

The most notable cabin change is the huge, vertically oriented 11.6-inch Starlink multimedia infotainment system that's standard on Premium, Sport and Limited cars. Entertainment, available navigation, climate, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are controlled through the tablet-style display. Like a smartphone, app icons can be arranged according to personal preference on the screen. Audiophiles will be able to spring for an available 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio setup and a Wi-Fi hotspot will be offered in the Legacy for the first time.

On the safety front, Subaru's EyeSight Driver Assist Technology suite of features comes on every Legacy to include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist with lane centering. Features such as reverse automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert will be available.

A new DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System is also optional on Limited and standard on XTs that uses a camera and facial recognition software to monitor the driver for signs of fatigue or distraction. When a distracted or sleepy driver is detected, a warning will appear on the gauge cluster and center infotainment screen to alert the driver and passengers.

Top-of-the-line Touring XT versions also benefit from a 180-degree front-view monitor that shows the view of front blind spots on the center screen. That should help in situations such as pulling out of alley or into traffic when something like a parked car or sign is obstructing your view.

The 2020 Subaru Legacy will go on sale in fall. Pricing details aren't available yet, but shouldn't differ too drastically from the current car. For reference, the 2019 Legacy starts at $23,430, which includes $895 for destination.